The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild
Characters, part II
Gerudo Chief Urbosa is primarily motivated by two forces: her love for Princess Zelda and her pride as a Gerudo. These forces may sometimes appear to conflict with each other, as they did when she left her people to pilot Naboris, but they are deeply intertwined. Urbosa did not wish to abandon her people by piloting a Divine Beast; instead, she wished to redeem the blow to their reputation that was dealt when Ganondorf walked the earth in Gerudo form. Although her decision to serve as Zelda’s champion cost Urbosa her life, the scenes she shares with Link once he releases her spirit from Naboris show that she stands by her choices.
The depth of Urbosa’s connection to Princess Zelda is made apparent in the base game, but its origins are spelled out in her diary1, which was added as part of the Champion’s Ballad Downloadable Content (DLC). In this journal, Urbosa details some of her earliest memories of the princess, dating back to when Zelda’s mother was still alive. Urbosa repeatedly describes Zelda’s mother as her “dear friend” and claims that Zelda shares her smile. That smile leads Urbosa to proclaim: “I cannot help but cherish her already.” Several years later, when Zelda’s mother passes, Urbosa shows her continued love through concern. “She carried herself as a true princess,” Urbosa writes, “but I can sense the deep grief she is hiding within. I worry for her…”
Their connection continues to grow as Zelda ages and begins training to unlock her sealing powers. When Urbosa visits Hyrule to see the princess, they head to one of the sacred springs to pray, but the evening takes a dark turn when Zelda refuses to leave the freezing waters until Urbosa drags her out. Urbosa writes about the moment in her diary, saying:
“Zelda gazed at me for the longest time with heartbreaking vulnerability. Eventually, in a tiny voice, she told me of the pressure and panic she feels at not being able to fulfill her sacred duty. She whispered over and over, “Why can I not do as the royal daughters of the past have done? What is wrong with me?” All I could do was hold her close and listen… I pray that it is enough.”
Once Urbosa is named Champion, she attempts to lift Zelda’s spirits by strengthening her relationship with Link. She does so by inviting Link to meet with her after a long day of surveying with Zelda in the desert. Zelda, exhausted from the long day, sleeps against Urbosa’s chest as Urbosa shares some insight with Link. She notes how Zelda’s feelings of failure are tied up in his own success with the Master Sword but assures him he’s not to blame. As the night grows cold, she asks Link to protect her with his life, then summons a thunderbolt to jolt Princess Zelda awake. As the princess jumps up, terrified, she realizes Link is there and pouts with indignation. Urbosa’s reply is to throw her head back and laugh, knowing the Princess has nothing to worry about.
Urbosa and Zelda are torn apart when Ganon attacks, and Urbosa ultimately loses her life to the Calamity. Her will and her love for the princess are not destroyed so easily, however, and her spirit persists beyond death inside Naboris. Once Link clears out the beasts inside, Urbosa’s spirit appears to him and acknowledges his suffering. She speaks of Zelda’s suffering as well, saying:
“…This is how things had to happen. No one need carry blame. So please, make it clear so she understands that. Tell her to shed any worries. And let her know…I couldn’t be more proud of her.”
With her last words to Link, she reiterates her request for him to take care of Zelda, along with the rest of her kingdom.
Urbosa’s other motivation, her pride as a Gerudo, is part of what draws her into the fight with Calamity Ganon. She states as much in her diary after accepting the role of Champion from Princess Zelda, writing: “Ganon is also closely associated with the Gerudo…an association I deeply resent.” She expands on this further after her spirit takes its place atop Naboris, when she aims the beast’s laser at Ganon’s lair. “It was written that Calamity Ganon once adopted the form of a Gerudo,” she says, overlooking Hyrule. “And that… will make this victory all the more satisfying.” With a smile, she adds: “I like that. Now I can take this more personally.” At that moment, it is not simply her concern for Hyrule or Zelda that drives her, but her pride as Gerudo, as well.
Urbosa’s two motivations, love and pride, combine to give her character additional complexity. Her love for Zelda is particularly compelling, as it has a basis in Urbosa’s grief. The history behind her emotions gives her layers that sets her apart from the rest of the Champions, as well as other secondary characters in the Zelda series.
Daruk is the least complex of the four champions, but his simplicity is part of what defines his role in the group. Because he lacks his fellow champions’ conflicting ideals, he can view conflicts with clarity. His simplicity is not his only characteristic, though, as he is also driven by deep compassion for those in need. While the other champions share the desire to help others, Daruk’s empathy stands out due to his single-minded nature. When someone is in need, Daruk doesn’t waste time before springing into action—for better or for worse.
Daruk’s even-handed approach to life can be seen both in his personal journal2 and in flashbacks to his time as a champion. In his journal, he states the Goron ethos explicitly, writing: “They say all ya gotta do [with a journal] is write down stuff that happens. Us Gorons prefer the simple life, so I hope simple stuff counts.” True to form, most of his entries feature simple musings about the latest rocks he’s eaten, but they also feature basic accounts of his meetings with both Link and Zelda. These accounts show a limited understanding of the complexities of interpersonal relationships. He relates one such account, a meeting between Link and Zelda, as follows:
“I hear the little guy finally opened up about his troubles to the princess while they were shovelin’ food. Surprisingly, she opened up right back. Said somethin’ princessy like, ‘I guess we’re the same, you and I.’ Hmm… Sounds heavy. They must have been bondin’ over their food preferences.”
Even though Daruk understands that Link has troubles he needs to share, he still fails to grasp how Zelda could relate. Instead, he assumes they’re talking about something Daruk can grasp: food. This simpleminded approach could make Daruk hard to work with, but fortunately, Daruk is willing to admit this particular shortcoming to others. He does as much when speaking to Link in the memory ‘Daruk’s Mettle,’ when he admits: “I may not know much about this Calamity Ganon thing, but mark my words, I’ll protect this land to the death!” In Daruk’s eyes, he doesn’t need a sharp mind to help; all he needs is a good heart.
Daruk’s compassion is featured prominently in the flashbacks included in both the base game and the Champion’s Ballad DLC. In the base game, Daruk’s desire to help others is first shown in ‘Daruk’s Mettle‘, in which he protects Link from a boulder that goes flying off Death Mountain. While his desire to protect Link is the most obvious sign of his empathy for others, the conversation before that point illuminates the subtler aspects of his caring nature. He offers Link advice on protecting Princess Zelda, saying: “The princess is a strong personality—so strong she can’t quite see the range from the peaks. Remember that and you’ll be fine.” His compassion is also on display in the DLC flashback ‘Daruk’s Song,’ in which he hurls himself into a pack of monsters to protect what turns out to be a dog. Even though Daruk turns out to be terrified of dogs, he wishes it the best, saying: “Good riddance…and stay safe.”
Through a combination of Goron simplicity and compassion for others, the character of Daruk fills a niche left open by the other Champions. His lack of internal conflict gives him the ability to take a single-minded approach to overwhelming problems, making him a valuable source of emotional support for both Zelda and the other champions.
Princess Mipha, Champion of the Zoras, is motivated by an overwhelming love for Link and a sense of responsibility towards her family. These two motivations create a conflict for her, as the Zora and the Hylians are not on universally good terms. Hylians also have much shorter lifespans than Zoras, which puts Mipha in an awkward position. This awkwardness is compounded by the presence of Zelda, a fellow princess and Hylian rival for Link’s attention.
Mipha’s primary motivation, her love for Link, influences almost all her actions and decisions in the narrative. There is little ambiguity about her feelings, either, as she specifically crafted the Zora’s Engagement Armor to fit Link’s body. Unfortunately, she was killed before she could share the full extent of her feelings—and the armor—with Link, so her feelings remain hidden until her brother, Sidon, reveals them a century later. When speaking of her devotion, Sidon says: “I grew up hearing my father tell stories, some of which were about my sister’s undying love for a Hylian named Link.” In the DLC, Mipha herself confesses to her attraction in her journal, writing: “His kindness and determination to help those in need… His strength and skill… My heart is drawn to his. I am doomed.”
Mipha’s sense of doom comes not only from the fear of falling in love, but also from loving a Hylian. Due to their different lifespans and lifestyles, the Zoras have a difficult relationship with the neighboring Hylians. Sidon says as much to Mipha’s former tutor, Muzu, when Muzu asks why he never knew how Mipha felt about Link. “You have always disliked Hylians,” Sidon says, “even before the Great Calamity. That is why Mipha never told you.” Mipha was also aware of how the Hylian lifespan differed from her own. When she first met Link, he was only four, but she found him different when they met again. “Link came to visit the domain,” she writes in her diary.3 “It feels like forever since he was here last. He no longer resembles the child I first met.” Nevertheless, she refuses to be deterred by their differing biologies, later writing: “According to the old legend, long ago a Zora princess fell in love with a Hylian swordsman. Perhaps there is hope.” Unfortunately, her hopes prove unfounded, as death separates her from both Link and the Zora people, including her family.
Mipha’s relationship with her family is left largely unexplored during the base game and is only slightly elaborated on during the DLC. However, there are hints of her feelings of devotion towards her father when her spirit is freed from Vah Ruta. As she stands atop the Divine Beast, she looks out over her homeland and says:
“Father, are you well, I wonder…I want you to know…I have always followed my heart. I’m sorry I made you worry. I wish I could see you again. Even just once more…”
While her relationship with her brother is more distant, due to their age difference, the DLC flashback ‘Mipha’s Song’ shows her teaching a young Sidon to scale a waterfall as Princess Zelda looks on. When they reach the top, she tells him: “Sweet Sidon, should fate ever part us… I’m counting on you to protect our beloved home from harm.” It’s a heavy burden to place on a child, but she softens it by offering to take him up the falls one more time.
Princess Zelda’s working relationship with Mipha began when she asked Mipha to be her champion, but they had no rivalry until Link became Zelda’s appointed knight. Even though Zelda initially disliked Link, Mipha sensed that the arrangement would create intimacy between them. After having her photograph taken with Link, Mipha writes in her diary: “Oh… I did hear something that shocked me enough to almost overshadow that happy moment. Link has been chosen to guard the princess wherever she goes. They shall… be spending much time together…” Sometime later, it appears her fears have been realized, as she notes that Link and Zelda are rarely apart, writing: “This will be a rare occasion that Link is not accompanying the princess. We should have some time to ourselves.” Although Mipha ultimately backed down from giving Link her armor on that occasion, as she had planned, she still informed him that she would always be there to heal his wounds. Even after her spirit was trapped in Vah Ruta, she made good on that promise, offering Link her healing power once freed.
Although Mipha is primarily motivated by her love for Link, her duty to her family forces her to consider the needs of others ahead of her own. In the end, she is willing to sacrifice herself for the greater good, even when it results in Link spending his life with someone else. The result is a tragic character who lost her life pursuing someone who failed to reciprocate, which makes her more human than her aquatic appearance first suggests.
Revali, Champion of the Rito, is motivated by pride and a relentless need for self-improvement. He sees Link as his rival, even if he would never admit it, and is deeply bitter that Link was chosen over him to be Zelda’s knight. Both the base game and the DLC focus on his all-consuming pride, but the DLC explores the darker side of his work ethic, revealing how hard he pushes himself when he thinks no one else is around.
From the first flashback in the base game, ‘Subdued Ceremony’, Revali makes his feelings about Link clear. After noting Zelda’s hesitation during Link’s inauguration as her knight, Revali proclaims: “I think I’m on the same page as the princess regarding…this boy.” He’s much more direct when he meets Link one-on-one in Rito Village, as he goes out of his way to show off his aerial skills. “My ability to explore the firmament is certainly of note…” he says, unprompted, “but let’s not—pardon me for being so blunt—let’s not forget the fact that I am the most skilled archer of all the Rito.” His frustration with Link is clear as he adds: “Yet despite these truths, it seems that I have been tapped to merely assist you.” He then challenges Link to fight him one-on-one atop the Divine Beast Rah Medoh, then laughs when he ‘remembers’ Link can’t fly to reach it. The memory ends with him soaring away, making his contempt for Link all too clear.
For all Revali’s anger at Link, he’s begrudgingly willing to acknowledge the swordsman’s skill once Link frees his spirit from Vah Medoh. Although he cautions Link not to be become full of himself just for ‘doing his job’, he adds: “I do suppose you’ve proven your value as a warrior.” Once Revali is alone, he goes even further, saying:
“After all these years, I simply must admit the truth…Even without the power of flight, Link made his way to this Divine Beast…And accomplished something that even I could not…”
It would be a powerful revelation from him, except he immediately undercuts it with a caveat: “Guess I was wrong…how lucky he would be.” That’s the extent of Revali’s pride: even though he knows Link saved him, and even though he’s alone, he’s still unable to admit that he’s been bested.
The root of Revali’s pride, his relentless need to improve, is explored in the DLC cutscene, ‘Revali’s Song.’ This cutscene depicts the moment when Zelda recruits Revali to be a Champion. As Zelda rides up the Rito training grounds—a structure built just for Revali, as revealed in his diary—she finds him struggling to perfect his aerial whirlwind attack. When he falls out of the cyclone, panting, he says to himself: “I must stay in the eye of the whirlwind…must push myself harder…” Once he realizes he’s being watched, his mood changes completely. He reprimands the princess for eavesdropping, then accepts her request to become Champion. To celebrate the occasion, he demonstrates his aerial skills without missing a single shot, then suggests Link will lose his confidence once he sees Revali in action. It’s an unnecessary comment, especially since Link isn’t present to defend himself, but it makes sense within the context of the scene. To Revali, pride is everything, and the princess just saw him fail. In his mind, he had no choice but to reassert his superiority.
With the addition of the Champion’s Ballad DLC, Revali is given a new degree of depth. His all-consuming pride can be found in every one of his scenes, but the DLC offers insight into the fragility of his ego. This fragility is part of what motivates him to improve himself at any cost and also explains his bitterness towards Link. Despite Revali’s best efforts, he was not chosen for the front lines in the fight against Calamity Ganon, and that slight colors his every action throughout the story.
Coming November 27th: Breath of the Wild, Characters, Part II
1 Zeldapedia. Urbosa’s Diary. 2017, zelda.fandom.com
2 Zeldapedia. Daruk’s Training Journal. 2017, zelda.fandom.com
3 Zeldapedia. Mipha’s Diary. 2017, zelda.fandom.com
* Reference Footage: Gamespot. All 18 Memories In Order – Zelda Breath Of The Wild **SPOILERS**. YouTube, 2017.
** Additional Reference Footage: Funderburk, Joey. All 18 Memories In Order – Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (No Subtitles). YouTube, 2017.
*** DLC Reference Footage: Funderburk, Joey. DLC Memories – Zelda: Breath Of The Wild (No Subtitles). YouTube, 2018.