Animal Crossing: New Horizons Player Models Island After K-pop Group LOONA

Stan LOONA.

K-pop fans aren’t just replying to random tweets with fancams to promote their favorite idols — they’ve got much more creative ways to accomplish that goal, too. One Animal Crossing: New Horizons player, in particular, has gone as far as building a 5-star island to promote LOONA, one of the fastest rising groups in the current K-pop scene.

YouTuber TagBackTV regularly tours interesting islands and shows them off to the Animal Crossing community as part of their Animal Crossing: New Horizons content. On April 17, they uploaded a video titled, “Check Out This Urban Themed 5 Star Island! Animal Crossing New Horizons Island Tour.” As they walk around the island, they point out the consistency with a particular custom design — which happens to be the logo for K-pop group LOONA.

There are clear references to the group, such as the entry walkway displaying scanned posters of the group’s various mini-albums, or the stand where albums are piled on top of boxes, ready for selling. However, most references are subtle and look like purely aesthetic choices to those who don’t know of the group’s unique identity.

Landmarks like the lone apple tree in between various waterfalls, with lights around it to illustrate it as a sort of beacon, or the displays of random colorful outfits, have more meaning than it might initially seem. Even the island’s name, Eden, might seem like solely a creative reference to the biblical paradise many are familiar with — but it’s actually a reference to the K-pop group in and of itself.

This is because the island is modeled after the Loonaverse — a complex and developing lore universe that the group has formed since before its full debut.

LOONA is a group that has attracted many fans, especially international fans, due to their unique background. Most K-pop groups are formed from a select group of trainees who have trained at a company for up to several years, and who are then debuted together under one group. However, Blockberry Creative — the record label company behind LOONA — dedicated itself to making LOONA have the most unique debut in K-pop history by debuting the group’s members one by one.

The group’s Korean name is Idarui Sonyeo (이달의 소녀), which translates to “Girl of the Month.” And this was the group’s core concept — every month leading up to its full debut, a new member was revealed. In between the solo debuts were also the debuts of sub-units with various specific members. Starting with member HeeJin in Oct. 2016 and ending with Olivia Hye in March 2018, each member debuted with their own artistic music video and mini-album.

Altogether, the group is comprised of 12 members: HeeJin, HyunJin, HaSeul, YeoJin, Vivi, Kim Lip, JinSoul, Choerry, Yves, Chuu, Go Won, and Olivia Hye. Each member has her own signature color, animal, fruit, and storyline in the “Loonaverse” that can be deciphered through their individual music videos. All 12 members finally debuted as the full group in Aug. 2018 with the singles “FavOriTe” and “Hi High.” Since then, they have released two more albums, with their most recent comeback having been in Feb. 2020 with the title, “So What.”

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Once you become familiar with the lore of the Loonaverse by watching every member’s music video, the references on the creative Animal Crossing: New Horizons island are much more clear. The outfits displayed in front of the album covers are the main outfits each member wears in her music video. The lone apple tree is a reference to member Yves, whose fruit is the apple. The sub-unit she is a part of, LOONA yyxy, introduced a storyline in the Loonaverse that explores each member’s connection to Eden, a mirrored version of Earth with sinister twists.

There are even references to the latest single, “So What,” that can be seen throughout the island tour. Gowon — the island’s creator who has named and customized their appearance after LOONA member Go Won — changes to a custom outfit titled “So What” at 1:14. In reality, this outfit is worn by Go Won in the music video. Other references to this specific member can be seen in the island creator’s house; one of their rooms mimics the dark aesthetic of her music video, “One & Only,” and incorporates the color teal along with several butterflies. Go Won’s color is teal and her representative animal in the group is the butterfly.

Perhaps the most interesting room is the upstairs bedroom. TagBackTV observes it and notes, “We’ve got cameras up here… or lights, maybe? This is, like, the changing area of all the amazing outfits, I suppose.” While they’re stylish on their own, the outfits are all in the LOONA music videos. He laughs as he sees the island creator change to an outfit titled “Beauty & the Beat,” which is, unbeknownst to him, a reference to the mini-album by sub-unit LOONA yyxy.

Another fascinating room is a studio with guitars and an entire wall with posters of each member’s mini-album. In that same room is also a drawing board, an allusion to how LOONA’s fans, named “Orbits,” are always speculating and theorizing about the latest developments of the Loonaverse with every new piece of content the group delivers.

While K-pop fans are generally passionate, LOONA’s fans are known for their extreme dedication to the rising group. They have helped LOONA already achieve their first #1 hit on Billboard’s World Digital Song Sales chart at the end of 2019, among many other incredible achievements. Like other K-pop groups, LOONA has earned much love because of not just the group’s incredible music, but also because of the members themselves. The members of LOONA have even openly embraced the group’s large LGBTQ fandom, which has greatly contributed to the group’s international popularity through the creation of memes like “Stan LOONA” that have taken social media by storm.

Eden (the Animal Crossing: New Horizons island, not the biblical paradise) is a lovely island that is easily appreciated by anyone who isn’t a fan, as evident through TagBackTV’s positive reactions. However, if you’re an Orbit, it’s a marvel to behold such a fantastic way of promoting the group. It’s a monument to not just LOONA, but also the love and dedication of the group’s fans — and what one can achieve with the creative freedom Animal Crossing: New Horizons offers.

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Natalie Flores

Natalie is Fanbyte's weekend writer. She's also a contributor at Paste Magazine with bylines at other Gaming™ websites. She loves few things more than Final Fantasy, BioWare games, Yennefer of Vengerberg, and K-Pop.

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