Imprisoning War

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The Imprisoning War, or the Seal War in Japan, is an event from the Legend of Zelda series. The Imprisoning War is first mentioned in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. It is covered in detail in the manual, but the North American localization differs in several key places from the original Japanese, making it inconsistent with the story told in other parts of the series. Despite this however, it is stated that the war occurs after a conflict over attempts to acquire the Triforce from the Sacred Realm. Later, dark forces under the control of Ganon come forth from the Sacred Realm, and the war ensues as they battle the forces of Hyrule. The war ends when the Sacred Realm is sealed. The events of A Link to the Past take place a long time afterward.

According to the Hyrule Historia, the Imprisoning War occurs in an alternate continuity in which Link, the Hero of Time, is defeated by Ganondorf during The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Ganondorf then claims the entire Triforce, which eventually leads to the Imprisoning War taking place, ending when the Seven Sages seal Ganondorf in the Sacred Realm.

Continuity Errors and Theoretical Explanations

Most fans believe the events of Ocarina of Time chronicle the Imprisoning War spoken of in A Link to the Past. The main events of the Imprisoning War do seem to occur within Ocarina of Time, such as the opening of the Sacred Realm, the scattering of the Triforce, the Sacred Realm’s transformation into the Dark World, Ganondorf’s imprisonment within the Dark World and the involvement of the Seven Sages (presumably the Seven Wise Men). In an interview conducted at the time of Ocarina of Time's release, the game's character designer, Satoru Takizawa, and the game's script director, Toru Osawa, stated that the Imprisoning War and the Seven Sages seen in Ocarina of Time are the same ones mentioned in A Link to the Past. However, there are several continuity errors that come into question between the games. Some of these errors appear below:

  • The King’s commanding of the Seven Wise Men in the legends of the Imprisoning War, and his presumed death in Ocarina of Time following Ganondorf’s assault on Hyrule Castle.
  • The Seven Wise Men being all elderly, male Hylians whereas in Ocarina of Time, only two of the Seven Sages are male, and Rauru is the only one of the two who matches the A Link to the Past description.

While there are several other questionable events, these two prominently stand out since they are present within A Link to the Past, the first game to give an overview of the Imprisoning War and mention the war at all. The exact reasons for these supposed errors are of course not known for sure, leaving many gamers to merely speculate on the differences between the games. Hyrule Historia, however, rectified this error by explaining that the Imprisoning War occured as a result of the Hero of Time, Link, being defeated by Ganondorf. Possible theories explaining the continuity errors appear below.

The King of Hyrule

It is not known for sure whether or not the King of Hyrule is killed in Ocarina of Time, although this is heavily implied by his absence following Ganondorf’s siege of Hyrule Castle. Due to the fact that the Hyrulean Civil War was fought over the Triforce, it is possible that the King of Hyrule may have commanded the essences of the Sages to seal the Sacred Realm shut shortly after the conclusion of the Hyrulean Civil War, seeing as it caused this war. This would be in keeping with the King’s command spoken of in A Link to the Past, since gamers are not told explicitly that the King's command to seal the Realm came at the particular moment of Ganondorf’s invasion of the Sacred Realm.

The Wise Men

The Seven Maidens of A Link to the Past are supposedly the descendants of the Seven Sages of Ocarina of Time, and yet while the Seven Sages are of differing races, the Maidens all appear to be human. This is furthered by the fact that the Seven Wise Men are all depicted as human as well. This all seems to be a form of retcon however, and these details of the A Link to the Past backstory have come to be considered non-canonical by many.


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