Sunday, November 29, 2020

Island Life: My Top5 ACNH Spooky Villagers

Pull up a log and help yourself to a marshmallow.

Relaxing on my little island, I take the time to admire the beautiful sunset and sparkling ocean. Sure, I owe a ridiculous amount of money to a Tanuki, and I've been stung by wasps after shaking a tree from the wrong side, but life doesn't get much better than this.
It's just a shame it isn't real life.
Yes, like so many other gamers, I've fallen in love with Animal Crossing New Horizons. Despite everything I planned to do with my time during the national Lockdown that took place this year, most of that time was instead spent playing Animal Crossing*. The question is, why make a blog post about it? Isn't this blog meant to be about ghosties, ghoulies, long-legged beasties and things that go bump in the night? The answer is yes, yes it is, and that's exactly why I've written a post about it. With characters straight out of folklore, mythical creatures and haunted artefacts, Animal Crossing has always had one foot firmly planted in the paranormal. That's actually one of the reasons I, and a lot of other people, love this game so much. With so many subjects to cover, I thought I'd start with the villagers themselves with a Top 5 list. So sit back and relax, as we enter the world of Animal Crossing and I introduce you to my Top 5 Spooky Villagers.

I think you can already see why he's on this list, because clearly Lucky's luck ran out at some point. Wrapped from head to toe in bandages, with only his ears and tail free, this lazy dog villager is well and truly mummified. And if you need more proof that this good boy is among the walking dead, his only visible eye is an unearthly glowing yellow. That's not normal, that's the sort of thing you need to have a serious talk to your vet about.
Some people seem to think that the only animals mummified by the ancient Egyptians were cats, but this isn't the case. While some animals that suffered this fate were beloved family pets that had passed on and were treated the same way in death that any other family member would be, others were sacrifices to various Deities. These included a wide variety of animals, including man's best friend. Evidence of this is recorded every year, one of the biggest finds being found in 2015 when around eight million mummified canines were unearthed by Archaeologists in the catacombs dedicated to Anubis, located in Saqqara, South Cairo.

Coco is a rabbit villager, with the Normal personality and, let's be honest, is a complete sweetheart. A lot of players make the mistake of assuming that her name and appearance are influenced by coconuts, which also have three holes, very similar to the ones Coco has for her eyes and mouth. The truth is a lot darker than that. This charming bunny is actually based on a Haniwa. 
Haniwa are clay figurines of a ritual nature, specifically funerary objects that were buried along with the dead in ancient Japan, or used to mark burial sites. They first started off as simple clay cylinders, but over time they evolved into more intricate forms; human figures, houses, military equipment and even animals. These items were meant to serve or act as a companion for the dead; which of these was Coco's purpose we may never know. Coco isn't the only example of a Haniwa figure to appear in Animal Crossing either, others exist in the form of Gyroids.

Out of all the villagers on this list, Clay is my favourite. He's
adorable, delightful and I discovered him by accident while on a hunt for Pietro. Yes, that's right, I gave up my hunt for everyone's favourite killer clown sheep so that Clay could take the last empty spot on my island. I initially mistook him for a Cub villager, but he's actually a Hamster and comes with the Lazy personality.
Like Coco, he's also based on a type of ancient Japanese figurine and, although sometimes found in graves, a type that's not always of a funerary nature. Clay is based on a Dogū figurine, which were made only during Japans Jõmon period, making some of the oldest of these figurines around 10,000 years old. Their true purpose is debated, but they're considered to be evidence of a form of early religion, having been found in many places. It's possible that they could be depictions of some unknown deity or fetish of some sort, but some historians theorise that they may just have been toys. Even in modern times, these mysterious objects have captured peoples imaginations, inspiring everyone from artists to conspiracy theorists.

Villagers with the Smug personality type can be an acquired taste,
you either love them or you hate them. I can't stand most of them, but I'll make an allowance for Julian because, despite being classed as a Horse type villager, he is actually a Unicorn. And who doesn't like unicorns?
Versions of these mythological beasts have been recorded since the Bronze Age, in countries all over the world. In fact, nearly every country seems to have their own version of the Unicorn, making it a very widely recognised creature. Often seen as a symbol of purity, they're also seen as a symbol of royalty and are a popular fixture on peoples coats of arms. The horn of a unicorn was especially in demand, as it was said to be able to purify poisons and heal all manner of illnesses, the tricky part was getting your hands on one. According to legend, only a virgin pure could tame a unicorn. They were used as bate in hunts, distracting the beast while hunter took advantage of the Unicorns sudden docileness. Smart merchants could make a small fortune selling cut down narwhale horns as the genuine article, the Vikings used to do so regularly. Most people back then had no idea what a narwhale was, it was an easy trick to pull off.

Hans is another Smug villager and is a Gorilla type villager. While
Gorilla types may be one of the most disliked varieties of villagers, I feel like we should give Hans a break. After all, everyone agrees that he's a Yeti, not a Gorilla. 
Also known as the Abominable Snowman, the Yeti comes to us from the Himalayas and is similar to other cryptids such as Bigfoot. Reports of these creatures go back centuries and many people have searched for them in an attempt to prove their existence, including Alexander the Great in 326 BC. Personally I'm split 50/50 on the topic, as I believe that an intelligent creature that's evolved for that type of climate could easily out-fox anyone hunting it and, as previously stated, reports of the Yetis existence go back thousands of years. Even the scientific community seem a little torn on the subject, despite extensive tests having been done on hair that's been found. Traditionally depicted as being covered in white, shaggy hair just like Hans, there are reports of Yetis sighted at lower altitudes with ginger or black hair, and it has been suggested that there may be more than one type of the creature roaming around. I wish I could say that they are entirely solitary creatures, but over the years there have been some reports of them harassing shepherds and attacking their herds.

So what about you, readers? Are any of your favourite spooky villagers in this list, or do you prefer one of the ones I've left off? What are your favourite spooky bits of Animal Crossing lore?
Let me know in the comments below or tag me in a post on Twitter, I love hearing your stories.

*Well, that and Gwent. Lots of Gwent. 

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