Over four years after release, a popular Breath of The Wild fan animator is doing what even Nintendo can’t seem to do: making a compelling narrative centered around Zelda.
shar is an animator based in the Philippines who, per their social bios, is putting out these incredible animations while completing an undergraduate in computer science. Her YouTube channel’s first video, a montage of an increasingly puzzled Link collecting Korok seeds across Hyrule, has drawn over 2.7 million views since it was posted just over a year ago on Aug. 15, 2020.
From fluffy glimpses of Zelda and Link together in Hyrule to a nightmarish examination of Link’s fears (and more doodles and comics on Instagram), shar’s art quickly drew a wide audience from The Legend of Zelda’s fandom.
shar’s most popular videos are all a part of a series of Zelink highschool AU’s. For those of you that aren’t accustomed with fanfic, Zelink is the ship name for Zelda and Link — so a story that focuses on their relationship — while AU is short for Alternate Universe, a story that transplants characters to a different setting than their own. In this case, it’s a high school where Purah is a science teacher and Sidon and Daruk play on the school’s soccer team with Link.
In the series’ first animation, “texting,” Zelda anxiously tries to compose a message to Link to not sound like she’s asking him on a date. Posted a month after the channel’s first fan animation, it’s currently shar’s most popular video with over 7.3 million views. In the follow up “commute,” Zelda falls asleep on Link’s shoulder while studying on the train, establishing Zelda as a shy, nerdy girl while Link, ever the himbo, becomes an archetypal kind-hearted jock.
The latest entry to her AU, posted earlier today, has amassed over 100,000 views in 5 hours. “Connect” shows how the two met: Link saving Zelda from a stray soccer ball, their lingering eye contact. It shar’s longest animation yet, filled with saccharine details like pics from Zelda’s Instagram account (@_silentprincess) and Link tying up his longer hair (shown in trailers for Breath of The Wild 2) on the field. After much trepidation and stolen glances, they finally give in to messaging each other. shar intentionally keeps it ambiguous on which one hit’s send first, though my bet is on Zelda.
It’s not just shar who’s making Breath of The Wild AU’s. 1186 of the 8374 works posted in the Breath of The Wild fandom on Archive of Our Own, a popular fanfiction website, are tagged for AU. The popularity of such works capitalizes on Breath of The Wild’s loneliness. A game about isolation and disconnection in the wake of loss and collapse, I wouldn’t say relationships and character interactions were missing. But after spending hundreds of hours in Hyrule (or reading and writing about it), AU’s like shar’s present something novel to a work I already love. We only got glimpses of Zelda and Link together in cutscenes, but AU’s give us more from characters we already love without sacrificing the thematic interests of an entire setting, like Breath of The Wild’s post-post apocalyptic Hyrule.
And considering it looks like Zelda will soon be relegated back to her eternal damsel status in Breath of The Wild’s sequel, shar is giving us something more innovative from the series than even Nintendo can make. We’re certainly looking to see more from shar in the future and are certain Zelda fans are as well. You can check out her latest animation below.