The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker is my favorite Zelda game and one of my favorite games of all time. I love the combat, the adventure, the plot, and even the sailing. I originally played Wind Waker as a kid and even without the recent HD remake, it still looks and plays amazing.
I liked Tetra as a character. She was witty, helpful, and had a general charm about her. She helps Link plenty of times to advance the plot and, although I didn't cognitively realize it as a kid, I thought it was cool that she was a prominent female character of colour who was even around my skin tone... And then, this happened. This scene disturbed me as a child and I didn't really know why. I was only able to articulate why it made me so uncomfortable as I grew up and I realized it's because this was pretty racist. I have no problem with the plot twist that Tetra is Zelda, even though she becomes useless immediately after this, but I don't know why being claimed as the heir to a dead royal family and becoming a princess IMMEDIATELY requires her to magically become white. It becomes even more bothersome because that's the moment when she is considered important by the plot and the King doesn't seem to care about his apparent great great grandaughter until after the transformation.
I have looked up if there is some sort of explanation for this and... There isn't. Tetra doesn't just have sun tan. She's by far the youngest person in her Pirate Crew, full of really pale dudes, of which she is the captain. If anyone on her ship had a mere tan, it wouldn't be her, and if it was, tans aren't something you take off like clothing. The flimsiest excuse I found is a fan theory that her skin color is just makeup... Which is bullshit... Especially since she immediately reverts back to her original skin tone when she emerges from the depths of the ocean out of Zelda form at the end of the game and forever after canonically (and even if that rumor was true that would be a bigger problem). Tetra just has naturally dark skin, which really isn't up for debate. Seriously, what was wrong with have a dark-skinned Princess Zelda, Nintendo? I understand Japan is a culture with a relatively skewed view when it comes to representation, but having Tetra keep her original complexion would've literally changed NOTHING and she would've looked perfectly fine.
This was also a buzzkill since this happens immediately after the giant Darknut Castle fight, which is one of my favorite Zelda levels ever.
Even now this scene really bothers me as the biggest blight in an otherwise masterpiece of a game. I love Wind Waker with the passion of a thousand suns... But this scene is still pretty messed up.
See you next comic!