The Wind Waker begins in Outset Island, the home of Link and his little sister Aryll. Link is sleeping late, and Aryll has come to wake him up. Today is his birthday!
It’s a tradition on the island for young men who have come of age to wear the clothes of the hero, which include the green tunic, green sock hat, and white tights worn by Link in Ocarina of Time. Other than this occluded reference to an otherwise forgotten war, the island is idyllic. Although it has a dock and a wooden watchtower along the beach, Outset Island seems like a place that not many ships visit, and there are only a few families living there. Young children run around playing, and if he wants Link can capture three wild pigs that are tame enough to allow themselves to be carried.
Link is an orphan, the circumstances of which are never explained. He and Aryll live with their grandmother, a tiny old woman. She helps Link change into the hero’s clothes, which is too bad, because his khaki cargo pants and oversized blue lobster shirt are adorable.
Now that he’s dressed appropriately, Link goes back to the viewing platform to find Aryll, who had promised to give him a birthday present. This turns out to be her telescope, which she allows him to carry around for the day. When he uses it to look out over the island, he watches a winged postman delivering the mail before Aryll directs his attention upward.
A giant bird is carrying a blond girl through the sky. The girl struggles in the bird’s claws, and it drops her into the forest on top of the hill rising up from the island. Aryll insists that Link act as the hero he’s dressed as and go save her.
Before Link can climb the hill, however, he needs a sword. He gets one from the island weapons master, who lives in a house underneath his scholar brother, who has all sorts of texts on game basics tacked to his wall. They’re actually fairly interesting and useful, but honestly, the best way to learn how to play a Zelda game is to play it. I therefore take Link straight up the mountain, where he crosses a decrepit rope bridge before entering a small grove of trees.
Sure enough, Link rescues the fallen girl, or at least he stands at the base of the tree she’s landed in when she wakes up and frees herself. She tells him that her name is Tetra, and that she’s the leader of a dashing gang of pirates. She leads him to a cliff in order to point out her ship; but, as they’re looking down, they see the huge bird from before swoop down and scoop up Aryll. Like the cinnamon roll that he is, Link plunges forward to reach out to her, but Tetra grabs him before he can fall to his death.
Once Link and Tetra return to the shore, the winged postman, who has witnessed the whole thing, tells Tetra that she bears some responsibility for Aryll’s plight, and that she and her pirate buddies should take Link to the Forsaken Fortress, where someone has been collecting girls with pointy ears. Tetra agrees to allow Link to board her ship, but only if he can find something to defend himself.
Link heads back to his house, but the shield that had been hanging on the upstairs wall has disappeared. When he climbs back downstairs, he finds his grandmother waiting for him, shield in hand. She gives it to him but tells him to be careful. A sword can be dangerous and used for evil just as it can be used for good, she says. Then she lets him go.
I don’t know about you guys, but I’m pretty sure Granny has done some adventuring in her day. Did I mention that she’s got a chest full of rupees stashed in a hidden cellar underneath her front porch? Where did that come from?
If I were to come up with a crazy headcanon – not like I’m coming up with crazy headcanons all the time or anything – then I might say that Granny probably picked up Link and Aryll somewhere on the Great Sea and brought them back to the island. Where else would their parents have gone? Why else would she keep the hero’s clothes and shield in her house? Just saying.
Outset Island is a sort of Garden of Eden, a self-contained paradise where everyone’s needs and wants are immediately provided for. Judging from their ability to pass down the legends of the past, the people on the island have lived there peacefully for generations. Instead of a snake, a bird has brought sin to garden. It is not Link’s disobedience that has gotten him cast out, but his unthinking courage and bravery. In other words, his temptation is adventure. Although he never completely loses his innocence, the knowledge he will acquire in the world beyond the island is terrible.
But it’s not yet time for this game to get heavy. First Link needs to rescue his sister!
( Header image by DaYo on DeviantArt )