heman link

Illustrator and cartoonist Katsuya Terada’s pre-Zelda artwork looks like Link meets He-Man. These drawings suggest that he originally imagined Link to have a more muscular, masculine appearance, which was a popular animation style in the 80’s.


As you can see, Link’s outfit hasn’t changed much. The hat, boots, tunic and even sword are all very similar to the Link we have today.


This piece appears to be an early rendering of the Great Fairy. It’s interesting to note that while Terada drew this piece in the early to mid 80’s, we didn’t see this design come to life until 1998 with the release of Ocarina of Time.

Terada published many of his sketches in a book entitled Rakugaking, but unfortunately it is currently out of print. However, scans of the book are available for your viewing pleasure on History of Hyrule’s Flickr page.

Do you like the idea of a rougher Link, or do you prefer the softer version of the character that we all know?

Source: Go Nintendo
  • Thanks so much for highlighting this! However, interesting point, I don't think that the impression that these were early sketches, done as pre-planning or the like, could be easily assumed. (or I'm missing somthing, I have tons of derp moments) http://historyofhyrule.com/publications/artbook_t… Rakuga King was published in 2002 (and work on the book seems to have started in 2001.) There is no organization to the images, or dates, in the publication that I can find. But I would be surprised if these particular ones were his early work, like from the 80's -though he does say in the artist's notes that the sketchbooks represented in it go as far back as his early 20's so can't really be sure either. I do have a vague recollection that he started at Nintendo before that age, but I may be thinking of another artist either dropping out of High School for the job or joining right when they graduated. –But, honestly, I wouldn't be surprised if these were even doodles he did after leaving Nintendo.

    • Amanda

      Thank you for your comment. You make some valid points. The way I interpreted what I researched was that it was his early Zelda work, but I could be totally wrong and having a derp moment myself! It certainly could have been drawn later, and thanks for including info to back it up. One of the main reasons I felt it was his early work is because the art style was consistent with that of the 80's. On the other hand, he might just have liked that style. Either way, it's cool to see other characterizations of Link.

  • DTF

    I prefer this Great Fairy, looks more like how fairies are in mythology, rather than the sugarplum ones we see today. I like our link better though, don't think I'd be able to identify with him if he lioked like that.

  • DTF


  • Flouridation

    Haha I was about to say it was unneccesary to correct someone else´s grammar if you understood them but then I realized you were correcting yourself XD

  • zordons ghost

    I don't know, I'm trying to think what the Zelda series would be like with a "He-Man" Link. If that was the normal Link, we would probably be wondering what a softer Link would look like though. Either way, he'd still be slashin' up bad guys, muscled up or not. I do prefer "normal" Link, if I have to pick.

  • zordons ghost

    I don't know if this is just me, but it also seemed that a lot of 80s characters also had the chiseled face, dimples and drooping face. One example I keep thinking of is Frank Millers Batman.

  • Soundninja

    I have often imagined a zelda game that would take place in links 20's and find the more muscular link an attractive choice for it. like one that takes place after twilight princess 'cus face it, carrying all that gear and stuff for months would make you so buff, especially if hes also a farmer.