On Ganon and His Big Bird Nose

Ganon from The Legend of Zelda series is one of the most iconic Nintendo villains, despite having undergone a number of redesigns and reimaginings until his current incarnation solidified sometime around Ocarina of Time.

Prior to Ocarina’s wholesale reboot of the Zelda universe*, Ganon had usually been portrayed as an old-school orc pig-man.

ganon nes

Still not exactly kosher. womp womp

When he became a large-nosed, dark-skinned desert nomad, well… here we are in Current Year, with this being considered problematic for reasons. [Seriously, there are arguments that the Gerudo are supposed to be Semitic, and Ganon is an offensive Jewish stereotype].

ganondorf

One of the most recent high-profile examples has been some fan-art that came under criticism because Ganon’s nose was TOO exaggerated:

ganon

ganon 2

Now, the interesting thing about this art that the artist got pilloried for is that it presents Ganon with a more bird-like nose.

The Gerudo don’t have big noses because they’re supposed to be Semitic, they have big noses because they’re based on Hindu bird people.

First, here’s the Garuda, who was a villain in Zelda 2, both in SE Asian art and as Boruba, the Thunderbird in 8-bit.

garudaThunderbird-thumb

The Gerudo tribe, of which Ganon is a king, have bird-like facial features and bear a striking resemblance to icons of Garuda:

geruda

Garuda is known as The King of Birds, and Ganon is shown as both a King of birdlike people and as having command over birds, such as the rocs in Windwaker. There’s also the possibility that the Thunderbird which Link faces at the end of Zelda 2 is just another aspect of Ganon.

So this is a far more likely reason for why Ganon has that big-honking beak than that the Japanese were making a dig at middle-eastern people.

*Pre-Ocarina fanon used to hold that the chronology was Link to the Past, Zelda 1, Zelda 2, then Link’s Awakening, all featuring the same Link.

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