The word works on many levels to signify one who is with you on the long journey of life, standing by your side through thick and thin, sometimes annoying, sometimes helpful, and always there.
As the Hero of the Zelda franchise, we typically remember Link as going through his adventures alone. He is, after all, usually the only one we see actually fighting back against the menacing evil. But, quite often, he isn’t actually alone, per se. He has friends. They might be a fairy, a shadow, a ghost, a sword, or even a hat, but he has his friends, guiding him through the grand adventure he finds himself on.
And you know what they all have in common?
They’re annoying to no end!
Probably the single most famous example of this is Navi from Ocarina of Time. I know it’s my favorite, but I could really have done with less of the, “HEY! LISTEN!”
Midna from Twilight Princess and Fi from Skyward Sword aren’t much better, I’d say.
So, really, the first question I asked myself when deciding a “favorite companion,” was, quite simply: of those that I know, which one is the least annoying.
Easy answer: from Wind Waker, the King of Red Lions.
So, right there, already, the King could easily be my favorite. But as I’ve thought about it… well, there’s more to it than just a minimal annoyance factor.
Navi was a fairy sent to Link by the Deku Tree. She fulfilled her duty, and left.
Midna was the deposed princess of her people, who thought to use Link to serve her own ends. She got better about that, but after the victory was won, she left too.
Fi was an artificial intelligence created to guide Link. She fulfilled her duty, said good-bye, and faded away into nonexistence.
All three had their uses, but I find myself liking the King’s story more. He is a boat, but his soul is that of the last King of Hyrule. He is a man who utterly failed his people once, so terribly that the gods flooded the land, wiping out so many people and so much of civilization, and even that worked only as a temporary seal. Now that Ganondorf’s evil has reached the surface, the King joins the fray once more, not willing to give up and stay dead.
The King chooses to help Link simply because he feels compelled to, by the weight of his past failures, and the driving force of his own decency.
The King’s story ends powerfully too. As Ganondorf stands on the brink of his final victory, complete with a triumphant monologue, the King steps in and blocks his path. He touches the Triforce first, keeping it from Ganondorf’s grasp, and he makes his own wish: that the past kingdom be permanently buried beneath the sea, and the children, Link and Zelda, be spared.
After that, Link and Zelda may defeat Ganondorf once and for all, but the victory belongs to the King.
I do believe that is the only time I know of, in the entire franchise, where the companion plays such a pivotal role in both the backstory and the climax.
The King could do nothing for himself… or, he might have, with the power of the Triforce at his command, but instead, his last act was for the children under his care. He watched over them, guided them, carried them on his back, gave his all for them, and sent them out into the world, much like a parent.
Add to all of that how much more personable he is than the other companions, and I have to say, there’s no competition anymore.
My favorite companion is the King of Red Lions. 🙂
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