The most recent April update in Animal Crossing: New Horizons has brought with it a host of new features, not least of which is a new wing of the museum and a new merchant to stock it: Redd. Redd – “Crazy Redd” to longtime players – is a fox who sells the player fine artworks and rare furniture. The artworks are especially valuable, as you can donate them to your island’s Museum. There’s just one catch: not everything Redd sells you is legit.
In fact, some of his paintings are counterfeits. Not only are they unworthy of display in the museum, but they’re probably not deserving of their hefty price tag, either. That’s right, Redd may be the closest thing the usually-wholesome Animal Crossing has to a criminal, defrauding you of your hard-earned Bells! But just who is Animal Crossing’s Crazy Redd?
Before we get into that, if you haven’t yet met Redd in New Horizons, here’s how you can get acquainted. First, make sure to upgrade your Resident’s Services building at least once and have at least 60 specimens in the Museum. Afterward, Blathers will mention an interest in expanding the Museum to showcase fine art. The next day, Isabelle will warn of a suspicious character selling illegitimate artworks. Following her announcement, you should be able to run into Redd wandering around your island. If you talk to him, he’ll sell you one of his infamous paintings, but not to worry; the first piece Redd sells you is guaranteed to be real. Donating this piece will open up a new wing of the museum and if you encounter Redd after this point, it will unlock access to his ship where he sells artworks of more, ah, varying authenticity.
After interacting with Redd, several things will quickly become apparent. First, that you can trust him about as far as your wimpy little villager arms can throw him. Second, that he’s got quite the notorious reputation for himself if Isabelle’s warning is anything to go by. And lastly, he seems almost like a foil to Tom Nook. After all, he’s a salesman looking for new business opportunities on your little island, with a logo on his shop that looks suspiciously similar to the one for Nook’s Cranny.
So just who is this conniving little fox? As it turns out, his role in Animal Crossing lore is deeper than many players know.
To understand Redd, we first need to understand Tom Nook. The first thing to know about our portly raccoon overlord is that he isn’t actually a raccoon. Rather, he is a tanuki. What is a tanuki? A tanuki is a kind of yōkai, or a spirit from Japanese folklore. Known for their mischievous natures, tanuki play all sorts of tricks on hapless humans. One of the most well-known? Disguising leaves and pebbles as fake currency and valuables. Sound familiar?
So, what does Tom Nook’s demonic nature have to do with Redd? Well, quite a lot when you consider that tanuki and kitsune, or fox demons, are often portrayed as enemies in Japanese folklore and art. And what do you know, it seems Tom Nook has a certain enmity towards foxes as well. In Animal Crossing: Happy Home, Tom Nook asks the player if they have ever worked with a fox before. He then adds that foxes are “never to be trusted.” In another instance, he vows that he’ll never again work with a fox, not after “the incident”.
To what incident could he be referring? We get a hint in Animal Crossing: Wild World, where Tom speaks more in-depth about his backstory. In particular, Tom confides in the player about his time trying to find success in the big city. According to Tom, he lost everything when he bought into a get-rich-scheme orchestrated by a former friend. Penniless, he slunk home and fell into a deep depression, haunted by the betrayal he had experienced.
If this is the “incident” Tom referred to in Happy Home, then the implications are clear. The former friend who betrayed Nook in the city and left him destitute was a fox—a fox with a penchant for dishonesty and running cons. I wonder if we’ve seen any of those hanging around?
We’re left with one undeniable conclusion: Animal Crossing‘s Redd may seem like a lovable scamp, but in truth, he’s a dangerous, dream-crushing con-artist who nearly ruined Tom Nook’s life. The villain even has the gall to mock Nook’s attempts at post-city success, sneering at his home design business in Happy Home.
That said, even knowing about his unsavory character and backstory, I’m sure most of us will continue to buy his rare art and furniture. Sorry, Tom, but do Timmy and Tommy stock the actual Mona Lisa at Nook’s Cranny? No? That’s what I thought.