(BONUS) Majora's DLC: Carnivals, Death Arrows, and Mummies
Three Additional Meditations on Majora's Mask and Its Major Themes
This bonus post expands on this week’s feature article, “The Masks We Wear,” exploring additional themes that, while beyond the original article’s scope, are still fascinating and worth exploring.
Like all bonus content, the full post is only available to Game & Word’s paying subscribers. But the following free preview is available to all! If you enjoy reading it, you can unlock the rest of this post—and all of Game & Word’s bonus content—by upgrading to a paid subscription:
It’s kind of like DLC.1 Only, you know, you actually get your money’s worth.
Majora’s DLC: Carnivals, Death Arrows, and Mummies
Three Additional Musings from The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask, for Your Reading Pleasure.
While rushing to complete Majora’s Mask in time for this week’s post, I couldn’t help but stop and notice a few extra things. I often do this with games—get distracted from my main mission by the most trivial things—and especially with games that emphasize exploration, like the Zelda series.
Even Majora’s Mask, with its three-day in-game timer constantly bearing down on the player as much as the angry moon above, seems to strangely encourage slowing down and taking in the experience, as Termina is not a vast land, but it sure is dense.
These extra themes don’t quite fit thematically with Sunday’s article, nor am I able to flesh them out into proper features of their own.2 So instead, I thought I’d bundle them up together and share them with you in this “DLC” post.
A Time of Carnival, and a Carnival of Time
One of my “moments of density” that led to a “moment of clarity” flashed in my head as I donned the All-Nighter Mask, about to hear Granny tell me about Clock Town’s annual Carnival of Time.
It then hit me—another connection to the subject matter, one I couldn’t explore in the free piece this Sunday: that of carnivals. I mention the IRL holiday of Carnival, and the fictional Carnival of Time that Termina celebrates in Majora’s Mask (well, as long as you take care of that pesky “moon crashing into the land and incinerating every living thing around” problem first).
I’ve already written about the basics of Carnival, so feel free to take another peek at Sunday’s post if you need a refresher. As for Termina’s Carnival? It turns out it took quite a bit of cues from the revelries of New Orleans, Rio, or Venice:
In IRL Carnival, people flock to a storied city wearing jester masks, singing, dancing, and swilling
hand grenades3 cheap beer in go-cups well into the night. The revelry commemorates the moment before the celebrants’ chosen deity left their company to do some important deity work, before coming back to perform one final task to redeem the land and all in it.
In Majora’s Mask’s Carnival of Time, people flock to a storied city wearing giants’ masks, singing, dancing, and swilling
spiked milk well into the night. The revelry commemorates the moment before the celebrants’ chosen deities left their company to do some important deity work, before coming back to perform one final task to redeem the land and all in it.
Of course, the mythology behind Majora’s Mask’s Carnival of Time ends up being quite a bit more literal than its IRL counterpart, but the ritual is practically the same, and undertaken for similar (though not quite identical) reasons. One is theological, the other is practical.
Let’s have a look at them: