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Shout Factory presents
The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series (1989)

"That lazy Link. He said he'd go riding with me this morning and he's still asleep."
- Princess Zelda (Cynthia Preston)

Review By: Chuck Aliaga   
Published: November 02, 2005

Stars: Cynthia Preston, Jonathan Potts
Other Stars: Captain Lou Albano, Danny Wells, Jack Brown, Allan Stewart Coates, Paulina Gillis
Director: various

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 04h:10m:00s
Release Date: October 18, 2005
UPC: 826663481990
Genre: animation

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
D- D-D-D+ C-

DVD Review

Nintendo's endurance in the growing video game wars has been its most impressive and respectable trait. With stiff competition from Sony (the Playstation 2 and PSP) and Microsoft (Xbox), Nintendo is no longer the top dog that it was in the late 1980s and early '90s. All three gaming giants have new consoles being released within the next year, and again, Sony and Microsoft look to be the front-runners. However, if Nintendo sticks to their reliable gaming franchises, namely Mario and Zelda, they will continue to prosper.

The Legend of Zelda made the jump out of the Nintendo 8-Bit console and into the world of animated TV in 1989. This series aired around the same time that the mega-cheesy Super Mario Brothers Super Show (starring wrestling's Captain Lou Albano as Mario and Danny Wells as Luigi) was on. For some reason there are clips from that series book ending all 13 shows in The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series, as well as some of the pathetically bad live-action skits in-between. The result is a box set that had me waxing nostalgic for the first five minutes or so of the first episode. That didn't last long though, as my "wow, it's the Zelda music" reaction soon changed to "why am I watching this junk?"

The storyline is similar to the one that the videogames follow, telling the tale of young Link, a warrior who is on a quest to rescue Princess Zelda and save the Kingdom of Hyrule from the evil Ganon and his army. Ganon's interest in Zelda and Hyrule stems from their possession of the Triforce of Wisdom, which is kept in a tower that Link is in charge of guarding. His primary weapon is the Master Sword, which he wields without any problem. Still, there are times (in the animated series, at least) where the Princess throws her weight around after Link struggles against Ganon. Actually, Princess Zelda often fights alongside Link and sometimes seems even better with a sword than he does.

Therein lies the problem with turning a video game into a TV series or movie; the story is so limited that far too many liberties have to be taken with the original story to fit it into a lengthy running time. This problem persists today in video game-to-movie failures like House of the Dead (literally one of the worst movies of all time) and Super Mario Bros., while the upcoming take on the game Doom doesn't exactly look like it's going to be an action-film-classic either. With The Legend of Zelda, the simple act of turning Zelda, herself, into, basically, a warrior princess, kind of killing the original premise where Link's mission was a rescue one. Link also comes across as this super-confident hero that can land any woman he wants. I don't know about you, but growing up with this video games series, I always was given the impression that Link loved Zelda and that their love was undying. Not that Link wasn't going to be with Zelda forever in their little world, but our hero just seems to be a bit more concerned with himself than with the Princess in these shows.

The overall depiction of Ganon is a joke too. He is supposed to be an evil, menacing villain that is a constant threat to destroy all that Zelda and Link live for, but, instead, he's a buffoon. He even makes the super-whiny Megatron from Transformers seem like a stud. On top of the messy story, we get some of the worst animation quality you'll ever see. Things look to be along the same lines of other shows of the era, namely He-Man and G.I. Joe. Granted, those shows didn't look that great either, but there was something about their look that made their flaws seem minor. With The Legend of Zelda, every character just seems to suffer from a lack of detailed definition. This massive combination of poor quality kept me wondering why I watched this show as much as I did. Even after checking out some of the poorly-written animated series that are on TV today, The Legend of Zelda is bottom-of-the-barrel stuff at best.

Rating for Style: D-
Rating for Substance: D-


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: These shows appear in their original full-frame aspect ratios and they look terrible. Who knows what kind of shape the source material was in, but I have a hard time believing that a better clean-up job wasn't possible. The grain is overwhelming, leaving very little room for any image detail, and specks of dirt fill the screen also. The color rendering is pathetic, and there are even times where specific colors change drastically from frame-to-frame.

Image Transfer Grade: D-


Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: The audio isn't as atrocious as the video, but it's far from impressive. Everything stays up front and sounds very confined, but at least the dialogue is clear enough, and there isn't any hissing or other major distortions.

Audio Transfer Grade: D+


Disc Extras

Static menu with music
Scene Access with 13 cues and remote access
3 Other Trailer(s) featuring Heathcliff and the Catillac Cats, Home Movies, Punky Brewster
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
3 Discs
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extra Extras:
  1. Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Live Action Segments
  2. Legend of Zelda Match Game
  3. Legend of Zelda Trivia Game
  4. Character Sketch Gallery Slide Show
Extras Review: There are extras on all three discs, including five segments from the Super Mario Brothers Super Show. These are just as horrific as the clips that are integrated into the Legend of Zelda episodes, and even Moon Unit Zappa shows up in one of them.

There's also a Legend of Zelda Match Game on Disc 1. This interactive memory game has you answer five questions by remembering what cards were positioned where. Disc 2 has a Legend of Zelda Trivia Game, where answering six questions correctly will help Link and Zelda fight Ganon's forces.

The Character Sketch Gallery Slide Show on Disc 3 is actually an interesting look at early drawings of Link and the rest of the characters. These sketches can also be downloaded onto a computer via a DVD-Rom drive.

Extras Grade: C-


Final Comments

Taken at face value, The Legend of Zelda: The Complete Animated Series is a passable form of animated nostalgia that towers above the acceptable level of camp. Shout Factory has produced an equally passable DVD set. The audio and video are basically a joke, and, while there are some extras spread out over these three discs, they are pretty pointless and boring.


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