Image Source: Animal Crossing UK on Twitter

Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp just got released worldwide for smartphones, and it has brought gamers back to their childhoods. However, if a mobile game isn’t enough, you might be interested to know that there’s actually a feature-length Animal Crossing anime movie.

This film was released in December 2006 in Japanese theaters—and tickets came with downloadable gold items for the then newly-released Animal Crossing: Wild World for the Nintendo DS. It was never released outside of Japan, but has some fame amongst Western fans.

Image Source: Animal Crossing UK on Twitter

The film revolves around Ai (a pun on the English word “I”), a girl who is basically the female protagonist of Animal Crossing: Wild World, who arrives in a new town. Though she knows no one there, she encounters many familiar characters from the games—including Rosie, Whitney, Apollo, Blathers, Celeste, Tom Nook, and more. She especially becomes close to Margie, an elephant with dreams of becoming a fashion designer.

However, while everything seems perfectly hunky-dory, Ai’s wild world begins to lose color when Margie suddenly moves out of town out of the blue. Ai is obviously hurt, and has to learn with the sadness she feels over losing her best friend. However,  besides this one dramatic plot point, the film is mostly just filled with little peaceful anecdotes illustrating how a player might experience Animal Crossing. It’s a fairly long film, but it’s filled with peace and relaxation.

This movie is filled with elements from the games. Villagers fall in Pitfalls set by Yu (a pun on the English word “you”), who looks like the basic human male protagonist of the games, Ai visits the museum’s coffee shop only to listen to K.K. Slider’s tunes on the shop’s radio, villagers look for a UFO (which players can shoot out of the sky in the game), and Margie designs her own clothes at Able & Sable’s store. It was perfect promotion for the game at the time, showing kids what kinds of features they could actually access by playing. If you watch today, you’ll also feel a shock of nostalgia due to the movie’s score, which is mostly directly based off of the game’s.

One of the most focused-on mechanics, however, is the previously-mentioned “moving away” feature. If you’ve played Animal Crossing, you know how devastating it is when an animal resident moves away from your town. You’ve met an animal you really like, whether it be because of design or personality or both. You give you favorite animal presents, accept all their requests, maybe send them a letter or two… And then one day, out of the blue, and find that the resident, along with their entire house, have disappeared. Seasons later, the animal might return. But the damage is done… To your heart. Ai’s reaction to Margie leaving—and to her returning in the winter—could be very accurate to how children felt when this happened in Wild World.

What Animal Crossing: The Movie succeeds most at is using as many actual gameplay mechanics as possible, and weaves them into a cute story. And you know what? After watching the movie again after ten years, now I’ve got a hankering to play Wild World again. Guess I’ll have to settle for Pocket Camp on my phone for now.

Animal Crossing: The Movie is not available in English. It is available to buy in Japanese on DVD on Amazon.com’s Japanese branch. Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp is available for iOS and Android devices now.

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