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Sometimes, it’s the most unassuming characters that make the most impact. Marin, the charming musician who accompanies Link on his journey throughout Link’s Awakening, has only appeared as a main character in one title from the Legend of Zelda series. Nevertheless, she’s become one of the most revered characters the franchise has ever seen.
Similarly to the off-beat and surreal game she’s found in, Marin’s impact on the Legend of Zelda franchise has been significant—a key part of a small but isolated world filled with mystery.
Her popularity amongst the community has led to numerous fan tributes, including artwork, cosplay, and even musical covers of the iconic music she sings in-game. She has become an enduring figure and remains one of the most earnest representations of hope, compassion, and the power of dreams we’ve ever seen in the series.
On the surface, the story of Link’s Awakening isn’t overly complex. Yet it’s in the subtle subtext in which Nintendo implored fans to delve into the character by sifting through a myriad of clues and hints to determine the real truth.
I’ve poured over the secrets and theories contained within the surprisingly deep lore of this character to bring you a definitive guide to Marin; I’ll cover everything from her key gameplay moments to the most pertinent Marin-related questions you will most likely have upon finishing the game.
Note: Given the nature of explaining the ins and outs of this character, please note that there will be spoilers ahead. Make sure you’ve finished Link’s Awakening before reading ahead!
Bottom Line Up Front
If you’re in a rush, here are the key details about Marin.
- Marin is a beloved character in the Legend of Zelda franchise who appears in Link’s Awakening.
- Her kind and optimistic personality, as well as her emotional arc and her impact on players, have made her an iconic figure within the Zelda community.
- Like many revered characters, there has been a great deal of speculation on the nature of Marin’s being: whether she is real or not, and if she was reborn into the real world.
- While the changes to her character in the Link’s Awakening remake are relatively minor, they add extra depth to her personality and help bring the game into the modern era with updated visuals.
If you have an extra minute, be sure to check out the Frequently Asked Questions section at the bottom of the article for some extra bits of information.
Marin’s Role in Link’s Awakening: Key Gameplay Moments
Getting Past the Walrus
While Marin could be described as representing the heart and soul of the island, there are not many occasions where she is required to progress further in the game, though there is one particularly notable moment.
Early on in the game, Link must find Angler’s Key to gain entrance to Angler’s Tunnel to reveal a dungeon entrance. This place is located in the Yarna Desert, but as he makes his way there, he finds the only path to be blocked by a huge Walrus.
Upon enquiring about the creature in Animal Villiage, Link learns that the Walrus’s laziness is a constant pest for the inhabitants, and they tell Link Marin may hold the key to the problem. Reportedly, the Walrus loves her beautiful singing voice, so in the hope that this will wake him, he seeks out his new friend to help him.
Marin is found contemplatively sat watching the ocean at Toronbo Shores — one of her favorite places on the island.
Before we can ask the favor, she asks Link if he will sit with her for a while. She and Link share a deep discussion: she reveals to him her dissatisfaction with the interminable cage that is the island — that she dreams of being a seagull so that she could fly off to distant lands singing her music.
It’s through this conversation with Marin that we hear the first hints as to the island’s nature: that the people believe that nothing lies beyond the vast ocean, which is a truth Marin wholeheartedly rejects.
After their conversation, Marin agrees to help Link with his Walrus problem, and the two continue their discussions as they walk.
Upon their arrival, we learn that the people of Animal Village all know Marin and are very fond of her, coming to greet her warmly as the pair pass through. As hoped, once Marin sings the song for the sleeping Walrus, he wakes immediately with sudden rapture and swiftly moves away from the path.
It also transpires that the Walrus is not the only animal who adores Marin’s singing. Beckoned by a rabbit, she decides to stay in Animal Village for a while and sing for the animals.
Marin Gets Trapped on a Bridge
The other main story beat Link shares with Marin; he is helping her as opposed to the other way around. This later meeting is much further on in the game: having completed Eagle’s Tower, the seventh dungeon, Link has obtained the Organ of Evening Calm and is making his way to Turtle Rock, the eighth and final dungeon. He hears cries from the distance, and having rushed to the scene; he finds Marin is trapped on one of the bridges.
Having tried to cross, loose slats on either side have fallen onto the rocks below, making an escape in either direction impossible. Some monsters had apparently carried her up there, and she shouts over to Link for help, extremely distressed by the situation given her fear of heights.
Thankfully, the disaster is easily remedied. Link must simply use his hotshot to grapple onto the wooden crate on the other side of the bridge behind Marin. Doing so rappels him forward, catching Marin and returning her safely to solid ground in the process.
She thanks him profusely, and in the moment, she is just about to declare her feelings for him, her father, Tarin, calls her over to come home. She brushes off the comment and heads back down the stairs.
Traveling with Marin: Special Pieces of Dialog
One thing I suggest you do is to spend some time exploring with Marin before you go with her to wake the Walrus.
After she’s chatted with you at Toronbo Shores, she’ll follow you around until you reach your destination, where she will help you and then part ways, and you can find her to accompany you on Animal Island after this event and before it.
This allows you to go about performing the usual stuff Link does while listening to special pieces of dialogue only available when Marin is in your party. She’ll comment on many different actions, such as attacking Cuccos, breaking pots, and searching through the drawers in her house [I won’t spoil these for you, so experiment and see what you find!].
If you enter a dungeon, she’ll refuse to go with you and will instead wait outside until you return; in surprisingly minute detail, she even comments on Link’s recklessness if your hearts are low when you get back. During these periods of travel, there are also two unique sub-sequences.
When you fall down a well in the center of the village, Marin accidentally falls on top of you, jumping up quickly and apologizing. There’s also another fun moment if you enter the Trendy Game with Marin: when you go to play the crane game, Marin asks if she can play, and if she has a go, she picks up the store owner with the apparatus. Naturally, they are swiftly told to leave.
The Final [Physical] Encounter
Having saved Marin, Link can visit her on Animal Island once more before heading to the final dungeon to finish the game.
She tells him that once, she made a wish to the Wind Fish, but hesitates and doesn’t tell him what the wish was. Nevertheless, she expresses somberly that she knows that he must leave, instructing her to never forget him and to remember her song. She then sings Ballad of the Wind Fish one last time.
Marin’s Significance within the Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening
Given that Marin’s only main appearance in the franchise was in Link’s Awakening, it’s important to summarize the story events of the game and her involvement within them.
The evolution of Marin as a character has been argued to be one of Nintendo’s finest pieces of scripting; the game introduces her as a curious young woman befitting of accompanying Link on his own journey, but she also dreams of exploring the world beyond the island of Koholint.
Throughout the game, Marin’s love of music becomes a defining aspect of her character. In fact, most of the time we see her, she’s singing, and the song she sings is usually her most famous piece: The Ballad of the Wind Fish.
The piece is ultimately a foreshadowing of the events to follow, and many of her other songs also provide hints about the island and the reality it resides in. Her musical abilities are an anchor for the story, providing a threaded motif that ties the game together.
Aside from the gameplay elements I discussed above, we also get many tender moments between the pair as their friendship blossoms.
Marin becomes deeply fond of Link and believes he has been brought to the island for some special reason, and she opens up to him several times regarding her longing for more than the island offers. Above all, we bare witness to her incredibly kind and compassionate nature, always opting to put herself in harm’s way if it means helping someone else.
What Happens to Her at the End of the Game?
And now we get to the main topic of debate among fans: if the entire game took place within the Wind Fish’s dream, does that mean Marin never really existed?
And, more importantly, what happened to her once the island vanished? Given the character arc I described above, it would seem clear that Marin did not really exist, but it isn’t quite as clear-cut as that.
As discussed briefly in the gameplay section, Marin professes that if she were a seagull, she would fly off to distant lands singing her song.
At the end of the game, we see the closing cutscene: Link awakens tied to the log that he strapped himself to during the storm, and as he sits attempting to process what has happened, the Wind Fish sores above in the real world, now free thanks to Link’s pilgrimage and Marin’s sacrifice.
If the player has managed to beat the game without losing any lives, following this impressive event and the game’s credits, we see Marin appear in the sky. The image shortly fades away, immediately cutting to show a seagull flying off into the distance.
To me and many others, this implies that she has reincarnated as a bird and left the dream world behind. But if none of the events were real, doesn’t that mean she didn’t really transform at all?
Some fans speculate that Marin was actually a manifestation of the Wind Fish’s desire to escape the dream world and that her departure signifies the end of the dream—that, in many ways, she was the Wind Fish. Others believe that she may have simply returned to her original world, wherever that may be, and that she and Link will never see each other again.
One aspect is clear, though: Marin was a sentient character that had desires and emotions. To me, the debate isn’t whether or not she’s real, but what definition of existence the game is trying to convey through her character development. Let’s now turn to some of the theories that might explain.
The Main Theory: Marin Is Not from Koholint Island
This is the most discussed theory online and is the one I personally consider the most likely, in whatever form it might take. The theory that Marin is not from Koholint Island suggests that she is not a manifestation of the Wind Fish’s dream.
We know that Marin expresses a desire to explore the world beyond the shores of Koholint, and she’s the only inhabitant besides Link to feel this way. Like Link, Marin is distinctly different from everyone else on the island, adding validity to the idea that she is something other than a conjuring of the Wind Fish’s mind.
It’s difficult to determine exactly what she would be, though. I briefly mentioned above that she may represent the Wind Fish’s own consciousness—an embodiment of his personality where everything and everyone else is a mere subconscious construct. This would explain her extraordinary abilities.
Another possibility I like better is that she is a real being trapped on the island, just like Link, and in my mind, her most likely true form is a seagull.
It’s clear that if she is from another world, she doesn’t fully remember who she truly is or remember how she got to the island — only, perhaps, a flicker of her former life as a seagull as the longing I mentioned earlier.
If this idea were true, it makes the post-credit scene make total sense. Like Link, Marin wakes from the scene and returns to her body, flying off into the distance as she previously dreamed of. With the scene being a secret ending, it’s clearly intentionally added to give players some closure on what happened to such a central character.
A third take on this theory is that Marin is a manifestation of Link’s mind. She does share many of the same values and virtues as our main character, and it’s maybe possible that Link manifested Marin as his own guide without knowing.
We’ve all had dreams that feel more real than real, whereby we meet people who, upon waking, we were surprised could exist with such vivid detail in our own minds.
This could have happened to Link. He also mistakes her for Princess Zelda at the start of the game, and another theory I found postulated that if Marin has been created by Link’s subconscious, she is a version of Princess Zelda in his mind’s eye.
Finally, there’s also the idea that Marin is some sort of spirit, separate from both Link and the Wind Fish, that has somehow been brought to the island for a reason. We know Link was brought to the island with the express goal of waking the Wind Fish — a revelation revealed by the owl when he confesses to being an embodiment of a free part of the Wind Fish’s consciousness, who brought Link here to solve the problem.
Regardless of Link’s central role here, he would never have achieved any of it without Marin’s help and her music: she’s crucial to the plot and the only other character with a wish to wake the Wind Fish [the majority of the inhabitants of the island are opposed to the idea].
As you can see, there are many possible interpretations, and it’s difficult to argue against the idea. Marin is simply too distinct from the other people on the island, and knowing that, even in his slumber, the Wind Fish can directly influence the world, it seems likely that such an important character as Marin has been brought there for a reason.
Still, the theory isn’t bulletproof. None of it explains the existence of her father, Tarin, and the narrative framework of her having been born there as a result.
Link’s role is clear, as we know exactly when and how he was brought to Koholint and that he came alone. He is a true anomaly, whereas Marin already seems to have an established life. If Marin was brought here too, how would she have another family member who also resides on the island?
Other people have suggested that Marin has not been brought to the island for a specific reason, but is part of a shared nightmare along with every other inhabitant of the island: that all of these people have lived in the real world and are trapped here just like Link. In my opinion, though, there’s too much evidence to the contrary for this to work.
While the above contextual elements seem to suggest Marin is different from the rest of the residents, all of these other characters are directly depicted to fade away into thin air. If they were real like Link [and possibly Marin] that would be a very strange, oddly melancholy way to mark their return to the real world.
Ignoring everything described in the main theory, we could also just assume that Marin’s apparent depiction as a seagull is merely symbolic: a poignant way to end the game in remembrance of a character we’d come to care about.
Marin through History
Marin has only appeared as a main character in The Legend of Zelda: Links Awakening, and by virtue, the 2019 remake, but she has made cameo appearances in a few other titles. That said, the following cameos are considered non-canon: they don’t contribute to any of the established lore. Let’s take a quick look!
Link’s Awakening DX: Now, technically this isn’t a different game than the original Link’s Awakening, but I do consider it to constitute a different appearance due to Marin’s slight artistic redesign.
The original was in monochrome, whereas the DX version gave some more color — well, a little more, anyway: the result is that we see Marin depicted in an enhanced color pallet, but it still only has two colors of orange and cream which are used to represent her hair and skin.
Players do get to see the DX color pallet in full effect at the end of the game, however, when she appears as a much more detailed graphic in the sky.
Super Smash Bros Melee: Following the release of Link’s Awakening: DX, it was a long time until we saw Marin again in a Nintendo IP, but that changed when fans got a small cameo in Super Smash Bros Melee in 2001.
As has been a staple in the series since, players can unlock rotatable 3D trophies upon the completion of certain milestones, and a figure of Marin can be obtained once the player has unlocked all stages and all characters.
The trophy also came with a brief summary describing Marin as a compassionate individual and a talented musician. This was the first time we’d see Marin rendered in full 3D: take a look below. It’s worth noting that she also has a very minor role in Smash Bros Ultimate as a Spirit that grants the player resistance to inverted controls.
Hyrule Warriors: The third and last time we’d see Marin outside of media relating to Link’s Awakening was in Hyrule Warriors from 2014: she was even a playable character here, using a giant bell as a weapon that carries the element of water. She can even utilize a special attack where the Wing Fish is summoned to aid her. Fittingly, Marin is unlocked following the final battle on the Koholint Island Map.
Link’s Awakening Remake: And finally, we have Marin’s most recent depiction in the remake. As is the case with everything else in the game her design is of a much more simplistic, cutesy style than any of her previous iterations.
Nevertheless, she retains much of her classic style. All of the iconic items of apparel are present, but the clothes have been dialed down to be less ornately woven.
This original aesthetic was used to full effect in the remake which featured fully animated, anime-style cutscenes. The developers successfully rekindled the magic of Marin’s final appearance in the sky with a stunning new visual:
It’s also worth mentioning that there’s actually quite a bit of official artwork out there for the character. As was the case with many games of the time, the manuals for Link’s Awakening and its DX rerelease have some real standouts. The one below is my particular favorite:
Manga artist Ataru Cagiva unofficially expanded on Marin’s character in the serialized graphic novel The Legend of Zelda: A Link’s Awakening. The manga ran from 1994 to 1996 and wasn’t released in English until over a decade later in 2011.
The piece follows the original story very closely, but being a novel, it provides a more detailed exploration of Marin’s character. The motivations and virtues we discussed were explored in greater detail, and the manga also includes new scenes that you won’t find in the game.
It might not be an official work, but it’s most definitely worth your time if you’re interested in delving deeper into Marin’s character. So much of it is speculation anyway, so having a read may provide you with a new perspective. Naturally, there’s also a ton of awesome Marin artwork.
You can read the English version of the manga online here.
Question: What is the significance of Marin’s name?
Answer: The origin of Marin’s name is not explicitly stated in the game, but it is likely a reference to the word “marine,” which, when considering Link Awakening’s island setting, makes a lot of sense. Marin also expresses a deep love for the ocean numerous times, making her name particularly appropriate.
Question: Is it likely we’ll see Marin appear in any other Zelda titles?
Answer: It’s difficult to say. However, given Marin’s popularity among fans and the continued references to Link’s Awakening in other Zelda games, it is certainly possible that she could make an appearance in a future title.
Nintendo has a history of including references and callbacks to previous Zelda games in new titles, often in the form of recurring characters or items. For example, characters like Tingle and Beedle have appeared in multiple games in the series.
Given Marin’s importance to the story of Link’s Awakening and her popularity among fans, it’s possible that she could be included in a future Zelda game in some capacity. If Nintendo were to explore a sequel to A Link Between Worlds on the 3DS, this would be a good opportunity to slot her back into the timeline.
Question: I’ve read that Marin could be a version of Princess Zelda. Could this be true?
Answer: Given the lack of consensus, anything is possible, but I consider the possibility of Marin being an incarnation of Princess Zelda very unlikely. If we consider the ending discussed above, it would seem completely out of character for Zelda, an interminable fractal of the very fabric of an interconnected timeline, to just vanish or turn into a seagull.
Moreover, Marin’s personality is completely different from the consistent portrayal we’ve seen over the years, and if Link’s portrayal is constant, why wouldn’t Zelda’s be?
Now, that’s not to say Link couldn’t have somehow manifested a version of Princess Zelda from his own consciousness, but a direct embodiment doesn’t really work given what we know. That’s just my opinion, though, because who really knows? The Zelda universe is complex and at times, convoluted, and while I’ve discussed each possibility I personally consider worth investigating, there may well be more options!
Marin Zelda Guide: Conclusion
I had a great time researching the backstory of this character, and I hope you enjoyed reading all about Marin and her deep significance within Link’s Awakening. For more on Marin, I highly recommend visiting the True Zelda board on Reddit and doing a search for the character. There are a ton of interesting discussions to read through, with more theories and tidbits than I had time to cover in this article. Have fun!