The Animal Crossing graphic novel is an interesting spinoff from the beloved Nintendo video game franchise, and since it features several dogs and cats, we figured we ought to review it.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons – Deserted Island Diary, written and illustrated by Kokonasu Rumba and translated from Japanese by Caleb Cook, is a middle-grade graphic novel published by Viz Media in September 2021.
It is written in a Japanese manga style, so everything reads right to left, which is a fascinating reading experience.
It features series standbys like Tom Nook, mummy-loving Lucky the Dog, and other fan favorite villagers as they interact with several human residents of the island.
The Animal Crossing graphic novel is a good introduction to Japanese manga.
The Animal Crossing graphic novel opens with four humans – fishing expert Coroyuki, studious Benben, social media influencer Himepoyo and the always-sick Guchan – arriving on a deserted island after accepting Tom Nook’s Deserted Island Getaway package. (This is also where the game opens, so it makes sense.)
Along the way, they meet animal residents like seagull Gulliver, vain cat Raymond, and more, as they “help” Blathers the owl run the Museum (that doesn’t go well), get scared senseless by Lucky and Wisp the ghost, and build a variety of odd housing structures.
What we thought
While the art style and NPC character dialogue comes straight from the game, the humans’ often zany actions are often out of left field. This could be because of its target audience, or it might be a cultural difference that doesn’t quite make sense to a reader unfamiliar with manga storytelling techniques.
This is a cute, speedy read, however, and would work well as a gift for both the Animal Crossing fanatic (the kind who has the Monopoly set, the makeup kit, etc) and a child or teenager looking to get into comic books.
After the story ends, there are mini-profiles on about fifteen or twenty of the animals, which helps get readers familiar with the AC universe, and then a few pages looking at the author’s personal ACNH island, which is neat, as seeing how players customize their islands to their own tastes is a big part of what makes the multiplayer mode enjoyable.
It seems likely that there could be more Animal Crossing graphic novels published in the future, providing even more wacky adventures as other NPCs like the hedgehog Able Sisters and Saharah the camel enter the picture.