Animal Crossing: New Horizons, the latest entry in Nintendo’s video game series simulating a pastoral life in villages run by anthropomorphic critters, came out a few days ago. It’s not surprising, especially considering that people love Animal Crossing so much that they were willing to line up outside game stores to buy physical copies during a pandemic, that the internet has been filled with images of newly built towns and a flood of memes based on the game—especially memes starring Tom Nook, a sleepy mortgage-providing raccoon dog who sets players up with housing, goods, and anything else he can offer so as to put them in his debt.
Nook’s unorthodox approach to business—he lends a currency made up of bells without charging interest, loves extending credit, and happily buys whatever random stuff the player fishes, harvests, or just finds lying around their village—has been capturing the most attention. As always, Nook’s ability to act as both ruthless entrepreneur and fair-minded angel investor has led Twitter to imagine him as either a malicious figure ...
... or a complete sucker who the player is duping through shitty deals.
Aside from endless observations as to the quality of Nook’s character, many people have been thinking about the raccoon man not in terms of his intelligence or moral integrity, but as the new star of ominous memes.
None of these, unfortunately, come close to matching the insight provided by Nier: Automata director Yoko Taro, who once looked into the malevolent undercurrent that runs beneath all of Animal Crossing and found an entire “dark forest” of horrors to reckon with. And none of them match the terror of knowing that the path of internet obsession inspiring such intense Nook interest can lead to destinations even more unsettling than murder and financial ruin—that it can find its horrible terminus in, uh, wanting to have sex with the animal people.
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