You know what game franchise would really lend itself to film well? I’m sure you all had different answers to that, but I’ll bet none of you said Animal Crossing. And why should you? It’s a repetitive game about collecting random rubbish with basically no story that many call “slightly less boring than watching paint dry.” And yet, it has a film adaptation. I’ve been thinking about checking it out for some time just out of curiosity and this seemed like a good time. So let’s look at the Animal Crossing movie.
The story opens with a young girl named Ai moving to the animal village, pretty much exactly like the games. She introduces herself at the post office and heads to get her key from a massive tosser, Tom Nook. Who instantly put her to work without giving her much say in the matter, just like the games. Nice to see that he’s still a giant wanker. We then spend the rest of the film watching Ai collect random rubbish, just like the games. Okay, that part’s a lie. We actually follow Ai as she interacts with the folks in the village. She makes good friends with a cat named Bouquet and an elephant named Sally who dreams of becoming a fashion designer. Most of the film is just a slice of life look at their interactions with each other and several other colourful characters. It’s all very simple, light-hearted and whimsical. Surprisingly, I don’t really have anything to complain about storywise. Sure it’s really simplistic, but it’s also a kid’s movie. The pacing is pretty well handled. There’s always something happening, but it never feels overly hectic. The humorous elements work pretty well and the overall theme of finding yourself works effectively. The cherry pie metaphor that they use for the theme is silly, which adds to the whimsical nature of the film as a whole.
The characters in this are pretty shallow, but they’re mostly a lot of fun. Halberd and Yu’s misadventures provide quite a bit of amusement. Kotobuki’s re-election side plot has a lot of amusing moments. Ai’s relationship with Sally and Bouquet is pretty well handled. The interactions between characters tend to be very lively and fun to watch.
The art in this is actually pretty amazing. I’m not a big fan of the art in the Animal Crossing games, but the translation into film is very vibrant. The characters look pretty much exactly like they do in the games. The flowers, fossils, and other various background features are amazingly detailed. The animation itself is very smooth and it all just looks really good.
The voice acting is well handled. There are some really good actors in this like Kanai Mika, Yamaguchi Mitsuo, and Horie Yui. The entire cast does a good job with their roles. The only real weakness is K.K Slider’s live performance. It sounds pretty much exactly like it does in the games. Like an overly-synthetic piece designed to empty a room.
The yuri factor is a 1/10. It’s Animal Crossing, what did you expect?
And that was Animal Crossing, the film. I thought this was going to be a crappy tie-in film with lots to poke fun at, but there was a lot of effort put into this. It’s almost like the production team said “Yeah, this is an Animal Crossing movie but let’s give it our all anyway.” It’s a simple but highly entertaining piece that’s sure to appeal to fans of the series, kids and people who can appreciate whimsy. For myself, I give it a 7/10. I found the whole thing rather charming and enjoyed it quite a bit more than the games themselves.