Not me actually feeling guilty for not picking up Animal Crossing since last year. But have no fear Sydney – with the new update dropping (days early too, thanks Nintendo!) I am ready to have my life consumed again.
One of the many things that make Animal Crossing: New Horizons so attractive to play is the endless amount of potential for decorating your home and island. You also can’t go past the wholesome community you will meet when you join online groups and forums set up by enthusiastic fans designed to share items, turnips and ideas! In one of these groups, I happened to come across the marvellous work of Suzanne aka – MistyCove Isle.
Now, she does not just have an incredible eye for design, but she also mixes another huge fan favourite to her island – the beloved Studio Ghibli. I just had to share her magnificent work with you all, and she was kind enough to answer some questions and give some tips to anyone looking to spruce up their own island home. Take it away, Suzanne!
What inspired you to start this project?
Creators are continually looking for new ways to reinvent the game. Sometimes it can feel repetitive because there are a limited number of items to work with. My Studio Ghibli X Animal Crossing Crossover series began as a way to bring new life to a game that I love. Recreating scenes from beautifully rendered Studio Ghibli movies was a perfect way to challenge myself artistically. As a graphic designer, I’ve spent many years compositing and retouching photos. That experience has been really helpful for this series because many of the scenes are created by combining several photographs to create one image. The process of planning the items, angles, poses, number of photos, and editing has been a fun creative outlet that keeps the game fresh.
Which scene was your favourite to create?
While I enjoyed creating all of them, the one that stands out the most to me is Sophie in the hat shop from Howl’s Moving Castle. I had been wanting to recreate that scene for a long time, but the limits of the game mechanics would make grouping the items closer together in a similar way impossible. Using only in-game items, I knew it would take quite a bit of compositing. About a dozen photos taken at Harv’s were combined in this one. All the hats were individually isolated so they could be stacked. Sophie’s hair was also a composite of in-game hairstyles since the game only has a two-braid hairstyle option. Although it was a lot of work, this scene was so much fun to create and I’m happy with the outcome.
Is there a scene you want to do but don’t have the right items?
There isn’t one scene in particular that comes to mind, but many of them are definitely a lot harder to recreate because the items simply aren’t in the game. I think that buildings and wooden structures are probably the most challenging. With the update, we definitely have lots more options. I’m already thinking about ways to use the new items!
How do you find all the items you need?
I’ve been playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons since the day it was released so there really aren’t many items at this point that I don’t have. It’s very much a collaborative game. There’s a large community of players who join groups on Discord and other platforms to share ideas. It usually doesn’t take long to get an item if the need is mentioned in these groups. Friends can easily travel to one another’s islands to catalogue items too. Some of the Studio Ghibli scenes were created on Harv’s island, so if I had the item in my catalogue, it was much easier to access.
Sometimes the items just aren’t in the game, so alternate items with a similar shape, colour, or function need to be substituted for them. An example of this is the hat forms on the wall of Sophie’s shop. There aren’t in-game items for hat forms, so I substituted them with the mirror that has a white frame. It maintains the white shape and a mirror would make sense in this room. Preserving the overall integrity of the scene can often atone for the lack of specific items.
Do you have a favourite Studio Ghibli movie?
That’s a tough one to answer! Each one has such a unique story and they’re all so beautifully rendered, so it’s hard to choose just one. My Neighbor Totoro is such a sweet movie. I could watch Kiki’s Delivery Service and The Secret World of Arrietty over and over. I think the art in From Up on Poppy Hill definitely stands out. I guess the answer would be that I don’t have one favourite because I like many of them for different reasons.
How many hours have you spent creating these scenes?
I can honestly say that I have no idea how many hours I’ve spent creating them. Each one varies based on how many items are in the scene. I like to take my time, so I’ll often walk away from my screen for a while and come back to it later or the next day with fresh eyes. This helps me notice things that I hadn’t seen before because I’d been staring at the image for so long. Each one also varies based on the number of photos that need to be combined for the image. It takes time to isolate items and characters so that when all the pieces come together it looks like only one photo was taken.
What do you recommend to other Animal Crossing players who want to recreate their favourite scenes from films and anime?
I would absolutely recommend choosing scenes that you really love because it’ll be so much more fun to recreate them. You should enjoy the process. Also, I think it’s important to know what can realistically be recreated. Not every scene from film and anime will translate well, so sometimes you have to search a little to find one. Above all, don’t be afraid to try!
Who is your favourite villager?
My favourite villagers have changed often since the game was released. On my first island, Molly was my favourite little duck for a long time. Then on my next island, Beau was the villager that I always kept. Since then, I sometimes choose villagers based on what their houses look like and end up appreciating those villagers too. That happened with Wart Jr. and Broffina on Arbor Cove — animals I wouldn’t normally have chosen. I’ve reached the point in the game though where I am open to switching out most villagers to change things up a bit!
Is there anything else you would like to add?
Animal Crossing: New Horizons arrived at a time when everyone needed an escape from world events. When people were more isolated than ever from one another, it created an online community where new friends were made, and the world didn’t seem so small. When I started my Instagram account, I didn’t realise how it would change my outlook on the game, the community, and my creative pursuits. Finding new ways to enjoy the game, such as recreating Studio Ghibli scenes, has introduced me to an even larger community of people with shared interests. I’m looking forward to even more possibilities ahead!
Thank you so much for your time and the inspiration, Suzanne! You can find more of her work in the following places. Be sure to check her out and give her a follow!
Let’s go, Sydney – let’s add some magic to our island!