|Animal Crossing character|
Tom Nook as he appears in Animal Crossing: City Folk
|First game||Animal Crossing (2001)|
|Created by||Nintendo Entertainment Analysis and Development|
|Voiced by||Naoki Tatsuta (film)|
Tom Nook, known in Japan as Tanukichi (たぬきち), is a fictional character in the Animal Crossing series who operates the village store. He first appears in the Nintendo 64 game Dōbutsu no Mori, released in Europe and North America on the Nintendo GameCube as Animal Crossing. Nook sells a house to players at the beginning of each title in the series, giving them a set mortgage for them to pay and allowing them to upgrade it over time after the mortgage is paid off. He has made several appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series as well. Nintendo's Treehouse localization members Rich Amtower and Reiko Ninomiya argued that, in spite of his perceived greed, he is a nice person due to taking the risk of hiring someone who was new to the town.
Concept and characteristics
Tom Nook is based on the tanuki. While Tom Nook is considered to be greedy by 1UP.com, Rich Amtower and Reiko Ninomiya, members of Nintendo's Treehouse localization team disagreed, describing him as a nice person. Amtower described him as "that first boss you ever had," adding that despite being all business and sometimes not having time for pleasantries, he is not a bad person. He adds that Nook's hiring of someone new to town involved risk, which shows generosity. Ninomiya agreed, and both felt that Nook's greed is diminished by the city's price index compared to that of his shop. Amtower jokingly alludes to an "anti-Nook bias" several times throughout the interview with 1UP.com.
- Dōbutsu no Mori (April 2001, Japanese release only on the Nintendo 64)
- Animal Crossing (December 14, 2001, GameCube port of Dōbutsu no Mori)
- Animal Crossing: Wild World (2005, Nintendo DS)
- Animal Crossing: City Folk (2008, released as Animal Crossing: Let's Go to the City in Europe and Australia, Wii)
- Animal Crossing: New Leaf (Released November 2012 in Japan, June 2013 for other regions, Nintendo 3DS)
- Animal Crossing: Happy Home Designer (Released in 2015 as a spinoff of the franchise focusing on designing houses and public buildings, Nintendo 3DS)
- Animal Crossing: Amiibo Festival (Released in 2015 as a spinoff requiring amiibo to play. One of the 16 amiibo figures playable in the game is Tom Nook, Wii U)
- Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp (Released in Australia in October of 2017 and worldwide on November 22, 2017. Tom Nook appears as a minor character available for purchase for only 45 days after starting the game, free to play mobile game)
Role in the series
Tom Nook first appears in the Nintendo 64 title Dōbutsu no Mori (ported to the Nintendo GameCube as Animal Crossing in non-Japanese regions) as the town's main shop owner and continues his job in the next two installments. Nook's role in the series remained virtually unchanged from 2001 until 2012 with the release of Animal Crossing: New Leaf. In addition to being the main shop owner, Nook will also sell the player a house at the beginning of the game for around 19,800 bells (in game currency). Because the player will only have 1000 bells in his or her pocket, Nook will request that the player work in his shop for a bit to pay off some of the debt. The chores Nook assigns you to do are meant for the player to get used to the controls of the game. After planting flowers, writing letters, and talking to villagers the player is sent off to do whatever they want, but have to pay the remaining amount of their mortgage on their own. Each time a mortgage payment is completed Nook will upgrade or add on to the players house, each time putting the player more and more into debt to Nook, with the last addition being the most costly.
Nook's store also goes through three upgrades and changes throughout the game. The time of the upgrade depends on how many bells are spent in the store. Eventually his humble "Nook's Cranny" shack-like store with basic tools and very little objects to buy will become "Nookington's Department Store" - a large, two story building with a wide variety of items for purchase. It is in this expansion that the player meets his two nephews, Tommy and Timmy, who run the second floor of the store. In every game, no matter what upgrade the store is on, the items in the store will be changed everyday. This means that no two days will ever have the exact combination of items for sale.
- In Animal Crossing, at the end of the month Nook will host a raffle with rare items to win. This was not continued in any sequel.
- In Wild World, with the Nookington's expansion the player meets Harriet, a poodle who will do the player's hair for 3000 bells.
- In City Folk, Harriet has moved her shop to the city. With the Nookington's expansion, Nook will randomly ask the player a series of questions. How the player answers could change the store to a former appearance.
- Nook returns in Animal Crossing: New Leaf. Instead of being the local shop owner, Nook is now in charge of "Nook's Homes" and instead sells things to upgrade the exterior of the players house. He also will expand the player's house for a price, which increases with each expansion. His nephews now run the town shop by themselves.
- Nook makes a minor appearance in Animal Crossing: Pocket Camp with the player being able to purchase him to put in their camp for 250 Leaf Tickets (Only available for purchase 45 days after starting the game)
In other media
Tom Nook has made several minor appearances in the Super Smash Bros. series of video games; appearing as various collectibles in Super Smash Bros. Melee and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. as well as a background character on the Smashville stage, which is based on the Animal Crossing series. Tom Nook's shop music also features in Super Smash Bros. Brawl as part of "Town Hall and Tom Nook's Store". Tom Nook has also been featured in several promotional items, including plush toys.
Tom Nook has received mixed reception since his appearance in Animal Crossing. IGN listed him as the ninth most-wanted character to appear in Super Smash Bros. Brawl. They describe him as devious, diabolical, and sinister, commenting that while he may not be a good fighter due to being from a video game without any fighting, they would enjoy seeing him get beaten up. Another article by IGN compares a talking baton given to the protagonist of Major Minor's Majestic March to Nook, calling it the second only to Nook in annoyance. GameSpy listed Tom Nook as one of their favourite bosses; editor Brian Altano specified that he passionately loves to hate Nook, stating that while he provides appreciated services to the small village, he keeps his reality grounded in that he lives in Nook's town, not his own. UGO.com ranked him the fifth best Animal Crossing character, stating that while Mr. Resetti was an irritant, Tom Nook was a jerk. They added that they love to hate him, jokingly suggesting that he was a "kingpin".
In spite of the negative reception, Tom Nook has received some positive reception. In author Katherine Isbister's book, "Better game characters by design: a psychological approach", she cites Tom Nook as an example of a mentor character, one who indirectly helps players. GamesRadar also listed him as one of the 25 best new characters of the decade, stating that he has earned his place amongst the hearts of gamers and people on the Internet as both a viral meme and a deceptively devious character. In 2012, GamesRadar ranked Tom Nook as the 80th best villain in video games in their 2013 "Top 100", saying despite raccoons are "stripy, furry and cute", "Tom Nook can go to Hell." That same year, Complex placed him as the 49th coolest video game villain of all time.
Game-studies scholar Ian Bogost described Nook as central to Animal Crossing's effective depiction of the economics of consumption and debt:
None of the townsfolk ever appear in Tom Nook's shop... In contrast, the player participates in a full consumer regimen; he pays off debt, buys goods, and sells goods. Tom Nook buys goods, which he converts to wealth. ... While the player spends more, Nook makes more. By condensing all of the environment's financial transactions into one flow between the player and Tom Nook, the game proceduralizes the redistribution of wealth in a manner even young children can understand. Tom Nook is a kind of condensation of the corporate bourgeoise.
Parody and analysis
Tom Nook has been satirized in several articles, often compared to a mob boss or kingpin or otherwise a bad person. IGN listed him as the 72nd video game villain, suggesting that Tom Nook has a nice face, but the "cold, dead heart of a megalomaniac whose sole desire is to make a quick bell". Fellow IGN editor Patrick Kolan described Nook as the Animal Crossing equivalent of Al Swearengen, a pimp from the 1800s, due to his business sense, as well as both the character's position and disposition. Tom Nook has also been personified as a devious character, as well as a gangster, including an issue of the web comic VG Cats, which depicts him roughing up the player's character for his rent money. He has also appeared in the web comic PvP, in which Tom and Rowan threaten to destroy the players home for owing 500,000 bells. In a satirical article written by GamesRadar, they suggest that the cast of Animal Crossing, most importantly Tom Nook, were setting the player up into a "furry cult". GameSpy listed Tom Nook as a video game character who would be disliked in real life, stating that he is annoying in the video games, and would be terrifying if he was a landlord in real life. 1UP.com editor Jeremy Parish, in his review of Animal Crossing: Wild World, he makes a parody documentary of the in-game world. In it, he suggests that Tom Nook's keen business sense allows him to effectively control the village.
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