When Nintendo announced a new Legend of Zelda game, tentatively titled Legend of Zelda Wii U, at E3 2014, hero Link’s appearance sparked conversation and controversy. The trailer depicted an androgynous youth, wearing a blue tunic and sporting a golden-brown ponytail, doing general Link-like things, such as riding a horse and using an archery set. Immediately, fans began to speculate as to whether or not Ponytail Link – as fans so dubbed them – would finally take a female incarnation.
On Link’s Iconic Look
It certainly bears mentioning that Link’s design has always been, and hopefully will always be, androgynous. One of Shigeru Miyamoto’s goals for the Legend of Zelda franchise was to make it possible for any player to identify with its iconic hero; Link’s long hair, feminine features, and gender neutral clothing reflect that. Furthermore, because there are multiple Links, it wouldn’t break canon to make the next Link a woman.
Regardless of Link’s iconic androgyny, Ponytail Link does appear remarkably more feminine than previous incarnations. Although Eiji Aonuma confirmed that Ponytail Link is a male character, he has stated that he remains open to the idea of adding female protagonists to the Legend of Zelda franchise. In particular, Aonuma cited the success of the upcoming Hyrule Warriors – which includes characters of both/null/all genders – at broadening the franchise’s female fanbase as a factor in the future of the series’ heroes.
‘Hyrule Warriors’ Revives Female Link Rumors
Shortly after Ponytail Link made waves at E3 2014, images from the Japanese Hyrule Warriors artbook surfaced that depict – among a collection of unused character designs – a female character bearing a striking resemblance to Link. Named Linkle, she sports a crossbow and a more feminized version of Link’s iconic earth-toned costume. According to the accompanying text, including Linkle as a hero was an idea Nintendo toyed with at one time.
Linkle might have fallen from memory were it not for the recent release of the Hyrule Warriors trailer, in which a cast portrait includes a tiny crossbow identical to Linkle’s. Given the fact that no one else in the Legend of Zelda franchise has wielded that weapon, fans have concluded that the crossbow’s presence indicates Linkle’s inclusion in the game. Fans whose hopes were dashed by Aonuma’s announcement regarding Ponytail Link’s gender are now waiting anxiously to learn whether or not Linkle will finally make her playable debut.
Ponytail Link Lives On, Despite Zero Presence at E3 2015
Ponytail Link failed to appear at this year’s E3, and fans took to Twitter to express their disappointment.
But where’s Ponytail Link and slow motion arrow shooting??
— VeeVee (@clarityvee) June 16, 2015
They weren’t shy about telling Nintendo exactly what they wanted.
i need more shots of ponytail and strong sideburn pretty cel shaded link
— andy (@netnavis) June 16, 2015
Some were more demanding than others.
SHOW ME PONYTAIL LINK
— #justiceforbap (@trafaIgar) June 16, 2015
Without Legend of Zelda Wii U at E3, Ponytail Link’s fanbase began sharing their own images of the hero.
Anyway, looking forward to more fan art of Link tying their hair back just sayin. pic.twitter.com/3cpK85uvZe
— Niamh Schönherr (@sjontofa) December 6, 2014
Guess it’s time for someone to revive the Ponytail Link Twitter account. Here’s to hoping for more Legend of Zelda Wii U coverage in the coming months.