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9.6 1 10
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What a throwback! I'm glad this is out there. This show made a surprising impact on me despite only airing for 3 months in 1989. I remember trying to get up early enough to catch this on the one day of the week it played on The Super Mario Show. The live action segments on that were horrible, and I didn't love the Mario cartoons either. But the Zelda cartoon seemed a bit cooler, with actual fighting and the great music from the games. It's awesome to have all those bits pulled out from the Mario drek that surrounded it. Plus, it's all edited together here very professionally in a tidy package with nice menus and credits.

That said, upon rewatching, it's apparent that this is one of those cartoons that's just for kids. This isn't Pixar or some Bugs Bunny cartoon with stuff that you will only appreciate as an adult. There's actually very little consistency from episode to episode either, both in terms of what the characters competency and in terms of their connections to each other and their goals. The faneditor attempts to organize the episodes so that more depth and clarity is apparent over time, but it's a stretch to be honest. Sometimes Ganon seems to just want to bring Link down, sometimes to marry Zelda, and often just to vaguely want to "rule Hyrule". I remember thinking as a kid that Zelda was very cool and progressive here, not just waiting to be rescued but actually a competent adventurer in her own right and taking no crap. However, on rewatching, she ends up as the damsel in distress more often than not, squealing to be rescued and honestly seeming kind of bitchy in her constant nagging of Link. If you're concerned at all with kids picking up values from cartoons, this isn't setting the best example.

On that note, there were two constants that I forgot until rewatching, and they REALLY stood out here. Firstly is Link's annoying catchphrase, said probably 3x per 15-minute episode: "Well, excUUUUUuuuuse me!" Secondly, the running gag of Link always wanting to be rewarded for his heroism with a kiss from Zelda, which he never gets (spoiler?). In some episodes, Zelda seems like she genuinely likes Link and is up for it, but in a disturbing number of episodes, Link pawing at Zelda and badgering her to kiss him comes off as super creepy. The first two episodes here are actually really jarring in this respect. I'm not even sensitive about this stuff, I guess it's just really different times now and these cartoons don't age well. It got me thinking about the whole trope of kids' villains trying to kidnap princesses and marry them, supposedly to rule the kingdom. It's really a stand-in for saying that rulership comes from patrilineal heritage, so if you want to rule, you have an heir with the womb-in-line-to-rule. So basically this trope is a kidified version of the medieval practice of forced (rape) marriage. Heavy thoughts for a kids' show, but hey, literally every episode here has weird sexual undertones.

All-in-all, I'm glad I finally got to catch the cartoons I missed as a kid. I don't know if I'd show them to kids of my own, though. Maybe there's a great opportunity here for a 2nd audio track that redubs this in the style of those GI Joe PSAs! (And btw, if you ever wondered what the voice actress for Princess Zelda looks like, she was basically her in real life:
She later played on the soap opera, General Hospital, for many years. I think that even as a kid, I could tell that voice belonged to someone gorgeous!)

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