From Zelda Legends Wiki
Jabu-Jabu is a kind of giant fish or whale that acts as guardian deity of the Zoras. He appears in two games: OoT and OoA. He is as big as a whale, but seems to be neither purely whale or purely fish. He has fins on both sides of his fat body, and flippers at the back. He also has functionally useless fins near his eyes. He has bulging, fishlike eyes, which have a film over them that can contract, allowing him to blink. Unlike fish or whales, he has lips, teeth and a nose with nostrils. He enjoys eating fish, and does not appear to talk, or make any noise other than "bwoop." In OoT, King Zora mentions that Lord Jabu-Jabu has "gills," which implies that, like a fish, he can breathe underwater. However, Lord Jabu-Jabu has most of his body out of the water, and there are no visible gills. He also seems to be breathing, since his body is bulging in and out, and breathing sounds are audible. In OoA, Jabu-Jabu appears to be underwater all the time. Perhaps, like the Zoras, he can breathe just as easily in or out of the water. Maybe he has gills for underwater breathing, and lungs and nostrils for above-water breathing.
The Zoras have a superstitious, reverential attitude toward Jabu-Jabu, while at the same time admitting his fragile mortality. In OoT, he is always referred to with utter respect as "Lord Jabu-Jabu." He is given his own altar in Zora's Fountain, where he is fed fish day and night. No one can see Lord Jabu-Jabu without King Zora's permission. The Zoras believe Lord Jabu-Jabu to be their patron deity or guardian god. According to the "Legend of Zora," the act of offering a fish to Lord Jabu-Jabu will make you happy. King Zora responds with disbelief when he hears that Lord Jabu-Jabu has swallowed his daughter, but admits that he has looked "green around the gills" ever since Ganondorf came around. Princess Ruto herself seems to have a carefree attitude toward Lord Jabu-Jabu. She is in charge of preparing his meals, morning and night, but she has been going inside his belly ever since she was little.
The Zoras in OoA share this reverential attitude, while admitting that Jabu-Jabu is mortal. When Link calls him a "big fish," King Zora is shocked. "But Jabu-Jabu is the guardian of us Zoras! Calling him a fish is an insult!" The Zoras see "fish" as the little things they, and Jabu-Jabu, eat. Jabu-Jabu is not himself a normal fish, if a fish at all. It is common knowledge among the Zoras that Jabu-Jabu can inadvertently swallow them, and that his stomach is a maze. King Zora's permission is needed to see Jabu-Jabu, and he will only let a hero inside. When Link asks to enter Jabu-Jabu, King Zora does not act surprised in the slightest. But he does admit that the dirty seawater has left Jabu-Jabu near death, and will only let Link in if he cleans it up. When he does, saving Jabu-Jabu, he is dubbed by the King as a "Zora Hero." So, while Jabu-Jabu is believed to be their guardian, he is seemingly as frail as the rest of them. And, like Lord Jabu-Jabu in OoT, he seems to do very little except sit around getting fat, and saying "bwoop."
It is unclear why the Zoras consider Jabu-Jabu their "patron" or "guardian" deity. He seems to do nothing but sit around and eat fish. Like the Deku Tree (who is guardian of the forest), he is mortal, susceptible to damage. But unlike the Deku Tree (whose wisdom and magical ability is easy to see), it is unknown whether Jabu-Jabu actually does anything to protect the Zoras. We cannot point to anything Jabu-Jabu has been known to do, and he can't even talk to tell us about any of his accomplishments, if he has any. In OoT, when Zora's Domain is frozen over by a curse, where is Lord Jabu-Jabu? Gone, who knows where. Perhaps he died from the cold, and was eaten. Or perhaps, if he really did have special powers, he tried to use them to protect the Zoras and failed. In any case, Jabu-Jabu has disappeared by the time Link wakes up, and his whereabouts are not told. It is easy to see Jabu-Jabu as just a bloated fish, and the Zoras as superstitious. But this may not be the case. Jabu-Jabu may have powers we know little about. And strange things, like precious jewels and essences of time, do tend to end up in his belly...
It is almost certain that the Jabu-Jabu in OoT, and the one in OoA, are different, not the same. This is because, in most reasonable single-Ganon theories, the Oracle games must come after OoT. It is even more likely that they come after ALttP, which happens centuries after OoT. Now, when I say that OoA comes centuries after OoT, I don't just mean a few. I mean a lot. This is especially true in the standard NOA order, though it is not so clear in Miyamoto's order. Since there is only a 400 year difference between the OoA present and past, I conclude that the OoA past happens after OoT. Now, in OoT, Lord Jabu-Jabu is already full-grown. In the OoA past, Jabu-Jabu is still a baby. Obviously, Jabu-Jabu is not going to be grown, then a baby, then grown again. And even if you say that the OoA past somehow happens before OoT, it is just as unlikely that, during the 400 year gap, the Zoras moved from Labrynna, to Hyrule, and back again, with Jabu-Jabu. So, in any case, it is untenable to consider the two Jabu-Jabus in OoT and OoA as the same.
The Jabun connection
It has been speculated that Jabun (TWW) is the same as, or has some connection with, Jabu-Jabu. There are some facts that may suggest they are just one character:
- Jabun's name is really similar to Jabu-Jabu's. (Jabun's name is even more similar in the Spanish version, Yabú, this is pronunced by a Spaniard very similar to "Jabu")
- Jabun speaks only Hylian so he must be a really ancient creature.
- The music that sounds in Jabun's cavern is an adaptation from the music that sounded Inside Jabu-Jabu's Belly.
- The symbol of Nayru's Pearl is the Zora's Sapphire, the Spiritual Stone that Ruto lost inside Jabu-Jabu.
On the other hand, unlike Jabu-Jabu, Jabun speaks and does have magical powers (maybe we are just underestimating Jabu-Jabu's powers). He also looks completely different, more like a whale. What's more, Jabun seems to have never met the Hero of Time because, unlike the Great Deku Tree, Jabun doesn't recognize the green garbs. Perhaps Jabun is a descendant of Jabu-Jabu, or has simply taken on a similar role and name because of Zora traditions.
(Above, Below) Front views of Lord Jabu-Jabu from OoT. Note the Zora's Sapphire design on his forehead, the bulging eyes which can blink, and the nostrils.
(Above) Side view of Lord Jabu-Jabu. Note the corpulent body, and his position at his altar, designed for easy eating of fish.
(Above, Below) To eat the fish Link has offered him, Jabu-Jabu opens his mouth and inhales. Link gets sucked in too. Note the teeth.
(Below) Inside Jabu-Jabu's mouth, looking at his teeth.
(Above) Jabu-Jabu. Official Strategy Guide.
Baby Jabu-Jabu, in the OoA past.
Adult Jabu-Jabu, in the OoA present.
Ocarina of Time
- Zora standing outside shop, second time:
Zora's Fountain is the source of the river. Lord Jabu-Jabu lives in the fountain. Lord Jabu-Jabu is the patron deity of the Zoras. Princess Ruto is in charge of preparing his meals, morning and night.
- Zora by Lake Hylia warp:
Have you seen Lord Jabu-Jabu? (Yes) According to the "Legend of Zora," the act of offering a fish to Lord Jabu-Jabu will make you happy. (No) Oh, that's not good. Everybody who comes around here should see Lord Jabu-Jabu at least once! Zora's Fountain is just beyond King Zora's throne. That is where Lord Jabu-Jabu swims. But... unless you have King Zora's permission, you can't go to Zora's Fountain.
- King Zora, when Link shows her Ruto's letter:
She's inside Lord Jabu-Jabu? That's not possible! Our guardian god, Lord Jabu-Jabu, would never eat my dear Princess Ruto! But since that stranger, Ganondorf, came here, Lord Jabu-Jabu has been a little green around the gills... The evidence seems clear. Of course, you'll go find Ruto. You can pass through here to the altar of Lord Jabu- Jabu.
- Sign in front of Lord Jabu-Jabu:
Zora's Fountain Don't disturb Lord Jabu-Jabu! --King Zora XVI
- Princess Ruto, when Link finds her:
I'm OK. I've been going inside Lord Jabu-Jabu's belly since I was little, but... Lord Jabu-Jabu is very strange today... There are electrified jellyfish and strange holes around...
- Ruto, after finding Zora's Sapphire:
I finally found... My mother's stone... I got very upset when Lord Jabu-Jabu swallowed it... While I was feeding him, he suddenly swallowed me! I was so surprised I dropped it inside...
Oracle of Ages
- King Zora, after you save him:
What do you wish for, Link? Huh? A big fish? Do you mean... Jabu-Jabu? But Jabu-Jabu is the guardian of us Zoras! Calling him a fish is an insult! Watch your language!
- King Zora, after Link cleans the seas:
You have even given us clean seas again! I must thank you once more! What? You wish to enter Jabu- Jabu? I wish I could tell you to do as you please, but Jabu-Jabu is still young. He's too small to go inside him. You'd better give up.
- Random Zoras:
You want to go inside Jabu-Jabu?!? But Jabu-Jabu is just a baby! You can't fit inside him!
Jabu-Jabu resides beyond here. It's said to be quite a maze inside his belly.
We must take care around Jabu-Jabu! He can even swallow us!
King Zora will only permit a great hero to enter Jabu-Jabu.
- King Zora, in the present:
Great healer! What do you ask? You wish to enter Jabu-Jabu? My permission is needed to enter Jabu- Jabu, but I can't permit just anyone to see our guardian. Anyhow, the filthy seawater has left Jabu-Jabu near death. If you say you must, then find a way to get rid of this filthy seawater and save Jabu-Jabu.
- King Zora, after Link cleans the ocean:
Thanks to you, our seawater is clean again, and Jabu-Jabu's health has returned. All is well. I never go back on my word. I dub you Zora Hero and permit you to enter Jabu-Jabu. You may go see Jabu- Jabu.
The Japanese name of Lord Jabu-Jabu, in Toki no Ocarina, is ジャブジャブ様 ("JABUJABU-sama"). "Sama" is an ultra-respectful title, used in very polite conversation. The French version of OoT most often calls him "Le Grand Jabu-Jabu," which means "the Great Jabu-Jabu." The game refers to him once as "le Seigneur Jabu-Jabu," which means "Lord Jabu-Jabu." This isn't significantly different from the original sense "sama" in the Japanese version. In Toki no Ocarina, Ganondorf is called ガノンドロフ様 ("GANONDOROFU-sama"), and this is usually translated as "the great Ganondorf." So the same sense should be applied in Jabu-Jabu's case: one of respectful awe.
A sign in front of Lord Jabu-Jabu in OoT reads, "Don't disturb Lord Jabu-Jabu!" In the German version of OoT, this same sign reads, "Bitte nicht den Wal wecken!" which translates to "Please do not wake the whale!" It looks like the translator assumed that Jabu-Jabu was a whale. Or perhaps the Zoras consider Jabu-Jabu to be more of a whale than a fish, though he really seems to be neither.
If you talk to the fisherman in OoT, he'll tell you,
What? You want to know if I'm a good fisherman? Of course I am! I'm an old pro! Do you know what a pro is? I'm telling you the truth!
In the French version of OoT, however, he makes an even bolder claim:
Quoi? Tu veux savoir si je suis un bon pêcheur! T'étais pas né que le grand Jabu-Jabu se balançait au bout de ma ligne! J'suis un pro! Une pointure!
He is saying that he had Jabu-Jabu swinging on the end of his line before Link was even born! This is undoubtedly a tall-tale, probably invented by the French translator to give the quote more color.