Oh man, all these people are playing Animal Crossing New Leaf and it’s their first Animal Crossing game ever and they’re totally missing out on some poignant story elements.
In each game you can talk to Sable every day and she’ll gradually open up to you and tell you more about her life.
When the Able Sisters were young their parents passed away. Mable was too young to understand the situation, and Labelle was older and frustrated and ran away to the big city leaving Sable to act as the sole parent to Mable. These events left Mable introverted and withdrawn. She works so hard because she had to take on the responsibility of raising Mable after their parents died and her big sister abandoned her.
In Animal Crossing City Folk, you can enter Gracie’s shop to buy high-end clothing and one of her employees is Labelle, the lost Able sister. Through a series of conversations with various characters you can trick Labelle into dropping her phoney proper accent and speaking in a more relaxed “country” accent. She opens up and talks about her past and her family. In New Leaf, Labelle has moved home. In the back of her shop you can see a newspaper clipping and a ribbon that used to be part of her old uniform.
If you consider that newspaper clipping compared to the backstory from the previous games it paints a sad picture. Labelle moved to the city to get away from her family but she fell on hard times and her family took her back. People who haven’t played the previous games don’t realize what a big deal it is to see those three sisters finally reunited in the same store!
In Wild World, Sable would get sad sometimes around January. If you talk to her consistently she’ll tell you this story about Tom Nook:
“Well, the first letter I got from him arrived at just around this time of year… The other day, before bed, I pulled that letter out… and just looked at it. Tee hee! It was adorable! Sure, the handwriting was a little messy, but… You could hear his determination in every word of that letter… Sweet, young Tom Nook… His call to arms, his ethos, was “Dreams before money!” He was so pure that people wondered if he’d survive this crazy old world. I did too. Every night before falling asleep, I would wish him… ‘Please keep Tom Nook’s pure spirit protected,” I’d whisper in the darkness. “Keep him safe from the apathy that breeds in the alleys of the big city…’
I don’t know why I’ve told you so much about Tom Nook and I… All those memories of our shared youth must bore you. Please forgive me.
[Tell Me More!]
…Ohh, OK, if you insist!
“The Tom Nook that left for the big city… He sent me letters quite frequently, actually. One day, I received a wooden box, not a letter. When I opened it, I was quite astonished!
Oh goodness, no! Are you kidding?! [NAME], I think you’ve been watching too many made-for-TV movies! …Ohh, I’m so sorry. Heh, I didn’t mean to snap. That just took me off guard.
No, inside the box, there was a pair of fancy, burnt-orange colored… scissors. Incredibly strong and sharp scissors! The finest scissors I’d ever laid eyes on. The enclosed letter said, “Happy birthday, Sable!” So…sweet… At the time, I was so busy that I’d even forgotten it was my birthday. To think Tom Nook had remembered it… I’m sure life was hard for Tom Nook in the city during that time… I know his job paid poorly, so for him to buy those scissors for me… When I think about it, it makes me so happy that I cry!
Oh really, [NAME]… You want to hear my memories again? I’m warning you, not all my memories are fond ones you know…
Well, we shared a lot of good times, Tom Nook and I. Before there was an observatory in dear old [TOWN NAME]… We used to climb up the roof when we wanted to look at the stars… Ohh, yes! We even made constellations together, I remember! I made one called the “Star Shirt.” Tom Nook’s looked like one of those old-time markets. He called it… “The Farmer’s Market Bargain Bin Constellation.” Ohh that takes me back…
Yes, it is… Shortly after that, Tom Nook moved to the big city… Yes, he left to chase his dreams… When he returned to [TOWN NAME], he came back a totally different soul… I still believe that… if he had just clung to those sweet memories like I do… he would have shaken off the heartsickness of those city years… Memories can be sad, but they can also save you…”
There seems to be a general theme in the Able Sisters storyline of the city representing running away. The implication is that the fast lifestyle of the city can make you sick with ennui and that taking it easy in a small town is the cure. The Animal Crossing series, as a whole, is about not running.
The literal act of “running” is the only thing that the game ‘punishes’ you for doing - you’ll destroy flowers, scare away fish and bugs, and gradually tear away the grass. But the game still gives you the option to run, because it’s about choosing to slow down and enjoy the journey. It’s not about beginnings or endings, it’s about the calmness between those events. It’s sort of like the video game version of the Japanese concept of ma. Animal Crossing is a really beautiful thing and I’m so happy it exists.