There is a long list of manga that are based on or adapt a variety of genres of video games. And while not all of them are licensed, we do have access to quite a few of them; my personal favorite being the Legend of Zelda series, but that’s a story for another day. Animal Crossing has had many but this is the first one we’ve gotten licensed here in the US and Canada. With Animal Crossing New Horizons being the best selling game in the series and one of the best selling games on the Switch, it seems like a no-brainer that we’d get at least one of the two currently running Animal Crossing manga fresh out of Japan.
For anyone unfamiliar with the series, Animal Crossing is a simulation video game that revolves around social interactions. Contrary to my belief when I was 14, it isn't about helping animals cross roads and/or train tracks....yeah, I don't know where I got that either. In the games, you play as a human who moves into a village inhabited by anthropomorphic animals with different personalities. New Horizons, which this manga is based on, is a bit different because you have to start the whole village -or in this case: the island, from scratch. Every day you can walk around, talk to the animal villagers to raise your friendships, plant and water flowers, shake trees to gather and sell fruit, or fish in the rivers and sea, or catch bugs. The games run on real time so 2 PM your time would be 2 PM in the games, and the weather and seasons change as they would in real life. This makes catching bugs and fish more interesting as you can't just go out and catch anything you want at any given time. It's actually quite relaxing and doesn't involve gaming skills, although I can see how some people can find it boring and somewhat tedious. But I digress, let's pull out our shovels and dig into the manga.
The story for Deserted Island Diary By Kokonasu Rumba is simple, four friends go on what they think is a vacation, but as it turns out there was some miscommunication and the island is actually deserted. So they bid adieu to Tom Nook and fly back to their homes and that ends that.
We at WSSTB would like to remind readers that we don't keep Jecka for her bad jokes. Now back to the review...if you can call it that.
Of course, they take the whole thing as you’d expect they would for a comedic children’s manga. Coroyuki, Benben, Himepoyo, and Guchan find themselves as the island’s newest (and only) human residents. Tom Nook may have gotten more than he can handle with this cast of hilarious characters: Coroyuki seems to have no fear and is up for anything. Benben is constantly learning and let’s just say his heart is in the right place. Himepoyo lives up to her name as the princess of the group, and Guchan, though a man of few words, is the role model we can only dream of. Nook tells them to make their new surroundings into “an island of your dreams” and off they go. From here we follow Coroyuki and company unsure how to proceed in creating their dream island, and getting help and inspiration from some familiar animal faces.
The new villagers are all drawn uniquely using actual styles found in game. The art is expressive and cute making this appealing to the younger audience. The NPCs are recognizable and endearing even with their over the top reactions. The characters are reintroduced in each chapter of this first volume which is a source of comedy as Guchan’s description changes with each chapter and it’s fun to see what he puts on his resume. While all of the characters are enjoyable in their own way, Guchan is my favorite of the four. Side note: of course the lettering in this is top notch, but Guchan's magical snot bubbles are especially nicely drawn. I’m hoping the other characters get more chances to shine as the series goes on, especially Benben and Himepoyo.
Something else I enjoyed was the comedy. The first two chapters are just silly jokes-- puns that I am not really a fan of, but I found myself laughing out loud for the rest of the volume. The chapters featuring Raymond, Lucky (one of my favorite villagers), and Gulliver actually had me in tears. I'd talk more about it but these jokes are funnier experienced while reading. Though I will remark that the chapter with Lucky reminds me of the first time I saw him. Coroyuki, the fearless leader™, quickly makes befriends him despite the others caution. Unlike Coroyuki, I wondered if he was meant to be scary. However, like Benben and Hime, once I spent time with Lucky, I quickly learned he’s just misunderstood and lazy. As far as personality types in the games go, lazy villagers are my favorite.
The series is serialized under Shougakukan's CoroCoro comics label in Japan which is primarily for grade school children. Though really this can be enjoyed by the young and the young at heart. CoroCoro comics tend to be on the wacky and over the top side which some people may see as too silly, but that’s the charm! The comedy reminds me a lot of Monthly Girls Nozaki-kun mixed with a bit of Sleepy Princess in the Demon Castle (with far less death) so if you're a fan of either of these, definitely check it out. This manga can also be great for people who have never actually read manga before as it’s a franchise millions are familiar with, but not everyone reads manga. It’s not text heavy which makes it great for the younger audience and a light read.
Overall, Animal Crossing: Deserted Island Diary volume 1 is a fun lighthearted read for all ages. Fans both new and old can find something they like about the series. The manga comes at a great time to rekindle the lost motivation for the game. I’m also guilty of pushing New Horizons aside because of work, life, and burnout from the game, but after all these years I’m still a huge fan and the manga only adds to my excitement. A limitation however is this series isn't available digitally in Japan and that is the same for this English release as well. Animal Crossing fans are probably used to DIY crafting, so it might be worth getting out the tools and crafting a bookshelf for the series (which is still ongoing in Japan!) Luckily, the volumes are smaller than most so I guess I can spare some space. With that this diary entry is done, and I hope it's convinced you to visit an island with some friends soon! Just avoid taking a Nook loan. Trust me, it's not worth it.