In Majora’s Mask, Link is searching for a friend whom he had to part with after his heroic destiny was fulfilled. Many people consider Navi to be this friend. I disagree fully. I believe the game itself implies that Link was searching for Skull Kid.
Why do I say Skull Kid? The answer can be found by examining Majora’s Mask on its own, and ONLY Majora’s Mask. While some people may examine Ocarina of Time, the Zelda mangas, and Nintendo of America’s statements, examining Majora’s Mask itself makes sense. Other sources have questionable authority, while the game stands as its own authority. If you’re going to study a form of entertainment, study the product itself instead of relying on other studies to make your point.
Skull Kid, in fact, previously knew Link from the forest, and this is proven in this quote from the end of the game:
“Could you be my friend, too?
Eh-hee-hee…You have the same
smell as the fairy kid who taught
me that song in the woods…”
This is the same Skull Kid from Ocarina of Time. Ocarina of Time contains a side quest in which Link must play a song to Skull Kid, and in return Link gains a token of friendship from Skull Kid. This means they were friends before Majora’s Mask.
Two simple facts can lead to a surprisingly useful conclusion. (1.) In the beginning, Link was searching for a friend. (2.) In the end, Link finds and helps a friend he knew from before, which is Skull Kid.
No other friends are mentioned, so why would you believe anything other than what the two previous facts implied? Simple deduction just gave us a good lead!
If Skull Kid is taken to be Link’s friend, the story and its morals are not only clearly apparent, but are also paralleled through a sub-plot. Notice the story surrounding the Four Giants. Tatl tells this to Link:
“Tael and I drew this with the
Skull Kid when we first met him…
He told us that he had been
fighting with his friends and that
they had left him all alone…
I’m sure it was because he was
always playing tricks, so nobody
wanted to play with him.”
His friends turn out to be the Four Giants, which is proven in the ending cinema:
You hadn’t forgotten about me?
You still thought of me as a
Did you save me?
I thought they didn’t want to be
friends with me…
They hadn’t forgotten about me…
Friends are a nice thing to have…”
Of course, we learn that the Four Giants do not leave Skull Kid because they were offended, but because they had a duty to stand guard at the four corners of Termina. Skull Kid, misunderstanding the motives of the giants, gains evil powers from Majora’s Mask and proceeds to imprison the Giants within the masks of evil deities (the bosses in Majora’s Mask are the transformed versions of the four Giants, which explains why all the bosses are gigantic in size).
Does this sound familiar? The same thing happens to Link. Link parted with Skull Kid because of his “heroic destiny,” and Skull Kid perhaps takes this the wrong way, so he imprisons Link in the Deku Child form. A nice parallel occurs in the story here, as the Four Giants and Link had similar, unintentional motives to leave the poor Skull Kid, and were dealt vengeance as a result by becoming imprisoned within masks that have the power to transform bodies.
Another parallel with Link and the Giants is how they deal with the evil force which possesses Skull Kid. Link nor the Giants forget about Skull Kid, and despite all the tricks and evil deeds, they don’t go for Skull Kid’s throat; instead, they free their friend from the evil force, and hence, they save Skull Kid. Link does not try and defeat Skull Kid, but instead calls the Giants. The Giants don’t try to slay Skull Kid, but instead just prevent the moon from falling. Neither of them want harm to come to their friend, even though they were dealt injustices earlier in the story.
In addition to plot parallels, Majora’s Mask contains morals which are clearly apparent if Skull Kid is taken to be the friend Link was searching for. First off, as Skull Kid says, “Friends are a nice thing to have…” In fact, friendship is important, and this is repeated time and time again through all the side-quests of Majora’s Mask. Friendship was so important to
on a journey. A secret and
A journey in search of a
beloved and invaluable friend…
A friend with whom he parted
ways when he finally fulfilled his
heroic destiny and took his place
Link had to part with Skull Kid, but the Happy Mask salesman says it best when he states:
“I must bid you farewell.
Shouldn’t you be returning home
Whenever there is a meeting, a
parting is sure to follow.
However, that parting need not
Whether a parting be forever or
merely for a short time…
That is up to you.”
In fact, the choice WAS up to Link, and he chose not to let his parting last forever, so he looked for his friend.
But wait, there’s more! If Skull Kid was Link’s friend, the player unfamiliar with Ocarina of Time would be hit with another cool story element: the “Fooled You!” ending. I’m talking about an ending which completely blindsides the audience and forces it to re-evaluate the entire story with the ending’s facts on the table. When you first play Majora’s Mask, you read that Link was looking for a friend. You come across an evil imp wearing a mask who imprisons Link and Four Giants in masks with evil powers. This imp is completely ruthless, and even appears to be behind Termina’s crushing fate. Near the end, the imp turns out to be Majora’s Mask’s puppet. The imp was innocent all along, and was actually a friend of the giants’. This is somewhat surprising, but aggravated ex-friends sometimes go to extremes to get revenge. Although the audience may be surprised when the Giants aren’t angry with their imp-like buddy, the real twist occurs when the player discovers that Link was friends with this imp all along! A good “Fooled You!” ending has you re-evaluate the whole story, and beckons a second gander. Upon reading the opening dialogue, the player thinks, “That’s right, he found his friend in the end. This must be the friend he was searching for!” The story is also re-evaluated when Link meets up with Skull Kid for the first time; this imp really isn’t evil, but through a combination of Majora’s Mask’s power and Skull Kid’s need for revenge thanks to a misunderstood absence by Link, the player really was fooled the whole game.
However, one question remains: Couldn’t Link have been searching for Navi or Saria? A video game story should make sense on its own, and this has been proven with all the other Zelda titles. Navi nor Saria are ever mentioned in Majora’s Mask, yet Skull Kid is a main character of the game. Why would Navi be the sought after friend when she is not even mentioned once, while Skull Kid is part of the major plot and is said to have had ties with Link in the past? If you look at the big picture of the story, it wouldn’t make sense for Link to have been searching for a different friend all along.
The following quote which can be used to suggest Navi to be the friend also contains a degree of ambiguity:
“A friend with whom he parted
ways when he finally fulfilled his
heroic destiny and took his place
Many people think it’s Navi because she left him at the end of Ocarina of Time, after Link “fulfilled his heroic destiny.” Think about the quote this way: Link’s destiny was to go on his adventure to retrieve the Spiritual Stones and awaken the Sages. Fulfilling this destiny would mean to begin the journey. Interpret the quote this second way, and it says that he left a friend when he had to accomplish a journey. This points to Skull Kid, and also allows the parallel sub-plot about the Giants’ and Link’s duties to make sense. This quote is the only in-game evidence that suggests Navi to be Link’s friend, and this evidence is ambiguous.
When I first played Majora’s Mask, the plot parallel, morals, and “Fooled You!” ending came to me naturally. If Skull Kid was Link’s friend, then the whole story fits together perfectly and ends on a nice note. If someone else was the friend, then the story elements would have various holes and wouldn’t end on the tone that it does. The only conclusion to believe is that Skull Kid was searched out by Link from the beginning.
***Special Thanks to OldBeane for giving me the quotes from Majora’s Mask, which he found by searching through text-dumps tediously.***
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