Alright. Okay. FINE. Let’s talk about the characters in that new Tears of the Kingdom trailer that just dropped last week.
Who are we talking about?
There’s a lot of questions I could ask. Who’s our new little Rito friend? And where did Teba go? Who are these mysterious new robots? Who is it telling Princess Zelda that Link is “our last line of defense?” Will we see the original Champions again? Where are the Divine Beasts? Why is Prince Sidon wearing the royal crown of the Zora?
A lot of these questions have already been answered (Nintendo confirmed the new Rito is actually Tulin!) and the answers to more of them can be reasonably assumed (if Sidon is wearing the Zora crown, that means he’s probably king now!). But let’s be honest with ourselves here… no one’s actually wondering about any of that. What people want to know is, who in Hylia’s name are these two?
Let’s get into it
Based on what we’ve seen in previous trailers, gameplay previews, and other materials surrounding Tears of the Kingdom, it’s relatively reasonable to assume that the Zonai play somewhat of an important role in the game and story. If you’re not familiar with the Zonai, I don’t blame you—they’re not actually present in Breath of the Wild, and there’s only one explicit mention of them in the game: the Zonai Ruins.
Where most of our knowledge about this ancient tribe of barbaric, magic-wielding warriors comes from is the Creating a Champion book, which has given us more concept art and details. There’s nothing about the Zonai that suggests they’re a race of people (like the Zora or the Gorons), however the introduction of this new, reptilian-looking character raises the easy question of, “is this a Zonai?” There’s something about the character’s horns and scales in particular that evoke the “barbaric” nature the Zonai supposedly embody—and we can speculate that the Zonai were at least humanoid, based on the Barbarian Armor set.
And if the Zonai are a new race, one that’s supposedly been hidden away, suspected to be extinct, it’d make sense that their appearance would be teased in this way in the final trailer before release.
Something else I haven’t seen anyone mention is this character’s supposed relation to the character that tells Zelda that Link is “our last line of defense.” While we never see that character’s face, we do see their hand.. And there are a couple things I noted. The first being that the hand seems relatively reptilian, with short, sharp claws, as opposed to fingernails. Their skin also appears to be a dark gray color—the same as the warrior whose face we do see. Could they potentially be the same character? I think it’s fair of us to assume that they’re at least from the same newly-revealed race of people. And if that’s the case, then we need to examine the robes the faceless character is wearing.
Their robes are adorned with decorations that resemble the Zonai technology we’ve seen scattered around Hyrule. Perhaps even more telling are the eye symbols on the center of his robe, which evoke the same eye symbols we’ve seen on several Zonai artifacts.
All of this to say… it’s fair to assume that our new reptilian friend might just be a Zonai.
But who exactly are they?
What do we know?
Well… to be honest, we don’t know much. Outside of what I’ve already discussed, there’s not a lot that we’ve seen that suggests what this character’s role might be or what their relationship to Link and Zelda is.
If we look closely at the background in the shot, we can see two extra details. The first is that this character isn’t alone—there are, at the very least, two others like them. The second is that we can see what is best described as the red aura present whenever a Blood Moon rises in Breath of the Wild.
While I don’t want to say anything definitively, this could suggest that our new friend isn’t exactly… the friendliest. Pair that with their menacing look, and the supposed reputation of the Zonai (assuming these are the Zonai), and we’re in for a recipe that could be a new, antagonistic tribe.
I might even go so far as to say that, if they are antagonistic, that they might have something to do with the return of Ganondorf.
I’ve got one last detail I’d like to call out that might support this theory. While we tend to associate a lot of the Sheikah technology from the first game as enemies, it’s important to remember that that technology was all originally developed as part of an allyship with the Hylians. It was only corrupted by Ganon later. Thus, wouldn’t it make sense that the only other technology we’ve seen on par with it, the Zonai’s technology, would work on the opposite side? Especially if they’re as powerful in magic as the ancient rumors claim… I don’t think it’s such a far leap to guess that their magitech could have aided in Ganondorf’s revival.
And if the Yiga clan don’t return this time around, it’d only make sense to have a new clan or tribe of people at Ganondorf’s beck and call.
Now what about this princess?
Flowing blond hair. Long elf-like ears. Light magic. The yellow tear pendant hanging from her necklace. The same freaking jewelry that Zelda wears in several of the cutscenes we saw throughout the trailer.
I think it’s safe to say that this new face, at the very least, has an innate connection to our favorite princess.
It’s hard to say exactly what her purpose or origin is, as I think there are even less context clues about her than there are for the other mystery character. That being said, my long history with the franchise has me pulling ideas from all corners of the Legend of Zelda universe. And, well…
My thoughts? This is the true goddess Hylia, reawakened from within Zelda.
So I’ll be the first to say this isn’t the most solid of theories. For one, I think it’s worth noting that there are no familiar Hylian symbols on anything she wears. The closest there is on her breastplate, where there’s a wing symbol that looks close enough to the familiar wing symbol of Hyrule that we’re all so familiar with. But outside of that, and the fact that she shares jewelry with Zelda from other cutscenes in the trailer, there’s nothing that she wears that indicates a relation to Hyrule.
“But!” You hear him retort. Here’s the thing! Hyrule didn’t exist until after Hylia, which means that… of course she wouldn’t wear Hylian symbols! Those symbols were created in her honor. The model of her statue in Skyward Sword does depict her with the winged Hylian symbol, however, again, that statue would have been constructed after the fact.
Additionally, the image of Hylia with the ancient races from Skyward Sword depicts her as wearing what looks to me like a crown of leaves…
The same kind of crown that this new mystery princess wears… hm…
We know that Hylia is reincarnated every generation through Zelda, but with the return of Ganondorf after Calamity Ganon, and considering the physical and mental strain that Zelda underwent after 100 years to keep him at bay, is it such an unreasonable leap to assume that the true spirit of Hylia could break through?
Ultimately, I think the character bears too many resemblances to Zelda (and let’s seriously not forget about that shared yellow Tear…) to consider her as anything other than related to the princess in some way. And given that the light magic Zelda wields isn’t ever really seen as used by anyone else in the series, and is implied to be divine in nature through her connection to Hylia… it doesn’t seem quite so coincidental that this character also seems to use it.
Oh, and don’t even get me started on the previous trailers’ suggestions that Fi might make a return, or this very Demise-esque looking shot from the most recent trailer…
It all seems to line up a little too conveniently to not be Hylia. But that’s just my little opinion.
Ultimately, is there a lot to go off of for either of these characters? Not really. Small, head-on shots of them in the latest trailer do not give us a lot of details or context that could be helpful in sussing out who they are, the roles they play, or why they’re here. But it’s always fun to speculate, and if you’re like me, you’ve spent too much time playing these games to not immediately start theorizing.
There’s so much rich history and lore within this universe, and while the timeline is admittedly messy, Nintendo typically does a pretty good job in trying to keep things as tidy as possible. Of course, take all my ideas with a grain of salt—I know just as much about the game as you do, and am only basing this off of what I’ve seen, and what makes sense to me. Tears of the Kingdom feels like such an important, shining beacon in the franchise, and if it’s truly the second half to Zelda’ biggest story to date? Feels like as good a time as any to go in full swing.
And if you don’t like my theories about these characters? Well, the most fun thing about this kind of speculation is that you get to make up your own? Maybe this princess isn’t Hylia, but one of the three golden goddesses we’ve heard mention of in past games. Or maybe the Sages are back, and where Riju is Spirit (with her orange Tear) and Sidon is Water (with his blue Tear), this is our new Sage of Time. Maybe the warrior character is some convergent evolution of the Zora, or even Lizalfos? The possibilities are endless! At least until May 12th.
We’ll only truly know the answers to these questions when the game comes out next month, and if you couldn’t already tell, I for one couldn’t be more excited.
Stay tuned for more Tears of the Kingdom content leading up to its release on Nintendo Switch on May 12th.
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