Shuttering the curtains, a figure draped in cloth glanced nervously from her left to her right, her face lit by fear. She, pleading anonymity, told me her story – a story shared by countless, falling victim to the actions of a single man – or, should I say, Racoon.
The world, for a lack of abetter term, is in a state of “unprecedented circumstances” – around us, we see countless countries lock down their borders, and urge their citizens to stay inside – all in an attempt to slow a pandemic previously only realized in that of fiction.
To remedy the spread of misinformation, global icons have leveraged their platforms for the good of the public – figures such as music giant K.K. Slider spreading essential information about the virus, and providing support to those who needs it. Yet some, despite the chaos our world as descended into, wave off the situation – and, rather than embracing the science, reject it.
Tom Nook, nicknamed the “Tycoon Racoon”, is a name worthy of no introduction. His face plasters billboards, his empire spanning from electronics to property letting – he is, no doubt, one of the most powerful figures in our modern world, a net worth amassing an unprecedented 40,000,000 bells.
Nook, despite his worldwide prominence and heavy reliance on social media, has yet to officially issue a statement tackling the current worldwide situation – with his twitter remaining sceptical, at best. Instead of answering queries about his response to the virus, he brushes the question off, instead referring to events occurring at his place of residence, a cluster of private islands that pepper both the northern and southern hemisphere – islands that I soon discovered, raised far more questions than answers.
For those who aren’t aware of Nook’s most recent venture, he and his nephews recently branched out into a somewhat niche market – a getaway package, where those wealthy enough can find a haven from the current affairs of the world. Coined the Nook Getaway package, the scheme has had a fair amount of traction – no doubt due to the current situation. But, as herds of the middle-class board their planes to greener pastures, something feels… off.
Why would a conglomerate like Nook Inc. continue to conduct business – let alone travel – at a time like this? What does he gain by refusing to address such a pressing matter as Covid-19?
Unable to stand the radio silence, I knew what I had to do.
On April 4th, 2020, I decided to take the plunge – ticket in tow, I boarded a plane to find out exactly what was at the root of this seemingly utopian story. Press Reload provided me with a fake identity, a clean slate – the perfect persona to remove any suspicion once I had arrived in the lion’s den – or, as some would say, the Racoon’s burrow.
On the plane, I met my two neighbours for this foray – a young, slightly condescending looking cat, who’s name (However lacking in creativity it may be) will remain anonymous – and a hamster, who’s hand-luggage contained little more than the weights his attention remained glued to.
Diverting off topic a bit, I feel it important to provide information on our mode of transport – a small seaplane, owned by a Nook subsidiary, Dodo Airlines. The seaplane, to put it lightly, clearly wasn’t built for the cargo it was carrying – and absolutely not in accordance with Government-issued guidelines on Social Distancing. When questioned about it, our pilot – a Dodo named Orville – shrugged off the question, stating that “It’s okay, because this is a seaplane.” Unable to conjure a response, I leave him to steer the plane to shore.
During my investigation of the Nook Getaway Package, I uncovered a variety of scandals – things that go far, far beyond the scope of this article – things like island construction being entirely left to the island inhabitants, for example, or the questionable business ethics of letting two children run the only active general store on the island. While the focus of this article will remain on Mr Nook’s approach to coronavirus, I’ve unearthed enough information to cover… well, several features on the injustices I’ve witnessed – injustices you’ll be sure to hear about as time progresses and investigations further.
But, back to the topic at hand. During my stay on the island, a myriad of issues were soon uncovered – my prime worry, being on the topic of communications.
Every morning, in a similar vein to a military “Reveille”, Tom Nook wakes islanders with a series of announcements – all of which, relating to the rich product line Nook himself pedals. No mention of Coronavirus, no mention of death tolls.
See, a chief goal of the Getaway package is, as the name implies, a getaway – a sort of escapism from the situation occurring beyond the city walls, or in this case the island coast. In the name of this, all inhabitants are required to leave all outside communication devices in the care of resident services – and furthermore, are prohibited from bringing any personal belongings with them to the island.
In place of contact to the wider world, Nook Inc provides inhabitants with a ‘Nook Phone’, exclusive to the Getaway package. Upon first glance, it seems like a standard Nook Phone, the very same that you may well be reading this article on – but, upon further inspection, the phone takes on a far graver meaning. On this ‘exclusive’ Nook phone, all apps are directly tied to the proprietary Nook ecosystem – you are unable to contact your loved ones, and only able to communicate with other patrons of the Nook Inc. Getaway package – whom, with the assistance of Dodo Airlines, you can invite over to your island.
Do any tests take place before the islander can visit you? Is there any enforced 14 day quarantine the individual has to be put through? Not to my knowledge.
Up to 8 people hailing from different islands can visit each other at any given time – and, unless Tom Nook has something far more insidious at play, I believe he’d have a very difficult time convincing the authorities that these individuals do in fact live in the same household.
This isn’t the only laissez faire attitude Tom Nook holds, though – with his workers being treated in ways that, even without the viral threat being present, would be considered amoral at best. You see, Tom Nook believes that his workforce holds a sort of “Community magic” – that, rather than seeing his employees as just that, they’re a sort of family to be cherished – a family that would do anything for one another. Ignoring the cult-like phrasing, Nook’s efforts allow him to force exorbitant hours upon his workers – with employees often collapsing and falling asleep at work due to the pressure they’re put under – with his assistant, and the museum curator being notable examples.
In an interview with one of Nook’s underlings in a rare moment of free time, they provided the following.
“He never gives us free time, and he refuses to furlough us based on the situation. He thinks it’s all fiction, that it’s all part of some ploy from authorities to control the public – or at least, that’s what he tries to convince us. I just want to see my mom again, it’s been too long.”
Another chimed in with a similar story.
“He pulls you in with the promise of a community – I’m now deep in debt, and stuck working in an establishment I have no passion for, and no interest in – I wanted to go into theatre! Anyhoot…”
This evidence, along with the testimonials of countless others, paints a damning picture for not only Tom Nook as a character, but Nook Inc. as a corporation. Countless individuals are now in talks to take legal action against the Raccoon, a developing story we’ll be sure to cover as the case evolves.
Perhaps my journalistic chops are betraying me, but I can’t help but feel that there’s more to this story to uncover – something darker at play. Countless loose ends leave me searching in different directions, leading me to different conclusions.
Surely there’s more to the story than Nook just not believing in the global pandemic?
And, say that it’s the case, then why would he be so bold as to actively discourage government guidelines?