Manga Review: Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diary Volume One

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diary Volume One is a manga adaptation of the Animal Crossing: New Horizons videogame.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diary Volume One
Publisher: Shogakukan
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: September 14, 2021

This manga adaptation of Animal Crossing: New Horizons is published in CoroCoro Comic in Japan, which is aimed more at a young demographic. Because of this, I have to go into this review not judging this material through my adult eyes. I was interested in reading this manga, because my kids introduced me to the Animal Crossing: New Horizons videogame in Fall 2020, and I really enjoy it. At the time this review is being written, I still play the game rather frequently.

What I have to give credit for here is that the chapters pretty much follow the series of steps the player takes in the game. For example, the first chapter sees the human characters arriving on the island for the “deserted island getaway.” The concept of DIYs is introduced, the characters move into a tent, then they build a house, and Blathers comes to the island and opens the museum. We also see the islanders encountering the characters of Wisp and Gulliver and having adventures with them.

Some of the expected characters from the Animal Crossing franchise make an appearance here: Tom Nook, Timmy, Tommy, and Blathers are the most notable. Isabelle hasn’t appeared yet, but I have a feeling she will appear in a subsequent volume of the series. The island has to get far enough for her to be needed. This volume also introduced Raymond, one of the animal villagers from the series. Raymond is a villager I have on my island, and I have to say that his depiction here has been exaggerated from how he acts in the videogame. Yes, Raymond can be a little cocky, but the Raymond that’s presented here is a complete narcissist. My guess is that KOKONASU RUMBA wanted young readers to be able to quickly grasp what kind of character he is. It probably also helps that Raymond’s over-the-top narcissism made it easier to write humor for the series. Bill and Dom also appear in the main story.

Now to introduce the human characters. Coroyuki is a boy that is obsessed with fish, Benben is a boy that loves learning, Himepoyo is a girl who loves money and is the “princess” of the group, and Guchan is always sleeping and spells out words with his snot bubbles. As an adult, I may have found these characters to be “over the top,” but the children who are the intended audience will find amusement and humor in the humans characters’ depictions.

When it comes to the art, KOKONASU RUMBA gave the animal characters very “cute” looks. The human characters look more exaggerated, and the exaggeration of this art makes it clear that the manga is being aimed at a younger audience.

The manga also includes an “animal guide,” which provides pictures of the various animal characters in the series, as well as descriptions, trivia, and a mini comic to show the character in action. The characters featured here include Tom Nook, Blathers, Mabel, Gulliver, Saharah, Wisp, C.J., Isabelle, Wilbur, Harvey, Dom, Raymond, Knox, Marcel, Ribbot, Gaston, Limberg, Chester, Al, and Joey. This is a great feature to include for readers who may not already be familiar with the Animal Crossing: New Horizons videogame.

There are also some “Island Life Guides” for the series, with explanations of concepts and tips for things players can do with the game. All of these are accompanied by mini comics. There are also a couple of “Happy Harvesting Life?!” comics that show a little more of island life.

There are also two “bonus diaries.” One is labeled as, “Quartet Breakdown,” with pages for each of the human characters. There’s a drawing of the character, and some quick bite-sized trivia about each one. The other one is “RUMBA’s ACNH Game Diary.” In it, the author is drawn going through the island she’s set up on Animal Crossing: New Horizons, showing off locations she’s created.

Animal Crossing: New Horizons Deserted Island Diary is labeled as being for “All Ages,” and there’s no content that is inappropriate for children. However, after reading the first volume of the series, I feel safe in saying that this title is going to have a much stronger appeal for children, especially for children who play Animal Crossing: New Horizons. Adults who play the game will likely find the character depictions to be “over the top,” but children should be able to identify and understand the exaggerated characteristics that each human character has.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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