The Greatest Father in Video Game History
As we celebrate our fathers and father-like figures today, many of us on the internet have also been examining the paternal characters that turn up in our favorite media. I’ve seen a lot of celebratory posts around Tumblr today about the dads in a lot of books, movies, and video games I’m familiar with, but I’d like to direct everyone’s attention to an often overlooked video game dad that deserves some attention. There are some pretty badass fathers out there, but there’s one that is not only an amazing caretaker, but that works his proverbial ass off and keeps on trucking no matter what sort of mishaps the world throws at him. Who am I talking about, you ask?
Okay, I suppose the Great Deku Tree isn’t exactly a guy, since trees don’t really have a gender, but… Shut up.
Honestly, though, this guy has a rough job. He’s responsible for the maintenance of forest life in general, but on top of that he’s the single parent of hundreds and hundreds of little magical forest babies — and he can’t even actively take care of them. I mean, he’s a fucking tree. It’s not like he can go check on them; he’s rooted in that one spot. And it’s not even a CONVENIENT spot. He’s tucked away in a little clearing that’s only accessible via one path that’s full of deku babas. It’s like babysitting 50 children while handcuffed to a radiator in a basement that has stairs infested with termites.
Don’t ask me why I know that.
In spite of all this, he still gets the job done. I used to muse over how it is he actually produces kokiri, and I eventually reasoned that they probably germinate out of little pods as fully-formed and functional kids. Koroks most likely start off as his actual leaves, and detach and flutter down when they’re ready. I guess that sort of makes him like a queen bee. A gigantic, magical bee. Made of wood. With a mustache.
He really is a great father, though. He loves and cares for both his natural children and his adopted child, Link. I have to imagine that parenting the regular kokiri is tough enough in and of itself, but just imagine what he was undertaking when he took in a hylian baby. Link may look like a kokiri, but plants and animals are two entirely separate biological kingdoms. Taking care of Link meant taking on the responsibility of looking after a kid that probably had fundamentally different needs, neverminding the fact that his peers found him to be a fairyless weirdo and picked on him. And he had to rear this kid while permanently attached to the ground down the street and around the corner. Give this tree a fucking medal.
Even when he was on his death flowerbed, the Great Deku Tree was still thinking ahead. He had the foresight to drop off a seed and literally re-plant himself prior to his death, so that he could continue doing his job. But I can’t help wondering more thoroughly about what that was like; did he have less power in sprout-form than he did as a fully formed tree? Even if it wasn’t less, he certainly couldn’t devote as much of it to his duties as before, because he’d need to spend a significant portion just on growing and getting back to how he was. Hell, it took seven years just for the sprout to make it above the soil. How much more work did it take to get back to his old size? And don’t forget that in Wind Waker, the world of Ocarina of Time is below the ocean. It’s not like the Great Deku Tree can just move (well, I suppose he moved about five feet between his first form and his sprout), so that means that he literally had to pull his hunk of land up high enough to get up out of the water — all so he could keep looking after the plantlife and spawning his leaf babies.
This also brings to light just how long he’s been doing this. As the story of Wind Waker unfolds, we not only discover that Old Hyrule is buried beneath the ocean, but furthermore that no one actually remembers that it’s down there. Just let that marinate in your head for a minute.
According to the Wind Waker intro sequence, the events of Ocarina of Time had become legend after having been passed along through uncounted generations. When a catastrophic event happens, people are quick to tell the story of what happened and how they got through it, and for something this life-changing, those stories would’ve been passed down in vivid detail for a very, very long time. Just think of how many generations it would’ve taken before the passing of the stories went from, “This is a true story as told by witnesses that experienced it,” to “This is a story floating around our culture that could maybe have happened but probably didn’t.”
And now imagine how long it would’ve taken for the fate of Old Hyrule to actually become “unknown.” We eventually learn in the game that the realm was flooded until the highest mountains became islands. Again, this is the sort of life experience that would’ve had a dramatic impact on the survivors. However long you imagined it took for the Ocarina of Time events to become obscured, multiply that by a healthy dose of holy shit to estimate how long it’d take for a flood like that to transition from history to fairy-tale-without-an-ending.
The Deku Tree faced all of it. Despite having been poisoned, buried with water, and most likely losing a bunch of the kokiri in the flood, the Great Deku Tree keeps going forward, but doesn’t forget his past. He still remembers everything he’s been through, and he still mournfully remembers the kokiri. My personal head canon is that he switched his babies over to korok form because the post-flood resources were more limited, and kokiri probably couldn’t live very long on such a small island, let alone manage to travel to far-off locations. He’s making use of what he’s got and adapting so he can keep taking care of his children.
I don’t care how badass other video game fathers are. I’m sure there are some great ones out there, but I can’t fathom any of them having the dedication, patience, resourcefulness, or wisdom of the Great Deku Tree. No matter how much shit he faces, he still finds a way to take care of his kids, and he’s been doing it for hundreds, maybe even thousands, of years.
…But he does have one flaw. He unleashed THIS THING.
WHY, DADDY?? I THOUGHT YOU LOVED MEEEEEE.
The Great Deku Tree, Link, Hyrule, kokiri, koroks, and all other characters and places related to their games of origin (Ocarina of Time and The Wind Waker) are © Nintendo 1998 and 2002. All opinions expressed are my own and not a reflection of Nintendo.
Posted on June 16, 2013, in Feature Articles, Game Characters, Humor, Journalism, Retro Games, Video Games and tagged Father's Day, Great Deku Tree, Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, Wind Waker. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.