Yesterday an uninvited guest visited my Animal Crossing: New Horizons island - and I, like many others, found him a little creepy.
This is Zipper T. Bunny, the rabbit who appears before the annual Bunny Day event to task you with collecting limitless amounts of eggs for a reward. Or is he? As the name may suggest, Zipper has a zip on his back, and despite his protestations of being a real rabbit something is definitely amiss.
"I know what you're thinking," Zipper tells you under his breath, after reciting some horrible lines in rhyme. "No. This is NOT a costume. And don't you go snoopin', got it?"
Although for many this will be their first encounter with Zipper in an Animal Crossing game, the dubious bunny has a history. He first appeared in City Folk for the Wii back in 2008, and has since appeared in New Leaf, Pocket Camp, and now New Horizons. So who is Zipper T. Bunny, really, and should we all be scared of him?
To really go down this rabbit hole, we have to go back to the beginning. From the very first conversation in City Folk, Zipper's identity is undermined ("doesn't it just make the inside of your mask all hot and sweaty?"), and just like in New Horizons, he's not too keen on players taking a peep at his back. It's heavily implied that he's in a suit, but the identity of the character underneath remains a mystery.
One clue is that Zipper is able to blink - suggesting that the skin fur suit could be rather tight, and the person underneath similar in size. Zipper could be a real bunny hiding within a bunny suit, like a russian doll. Or perhaps the middle "T" stands for the name of the villager hiding within. Which, frankly, still leaves the field rather open. One long-standing theory is that Zipper is actually Tom Nook, and given Zipper doesn't seem to be present during all-town celebrations (and Tom Nook is), that's still a possibility... although it would require some quick changing for Tom Nook to get out the town hall in time. I still like the idea of Timmy and Tommy standing on top of each other, which would explain the whispered asides.
And then there's the most disturbing possibility of all: Zipper is, in fact, a real rabbit. Maybe he was born with a zip, and ever since then has questioned his existence. I'm not sure how I feel about this one.
Anyway, it's easy to see why players are getting so creeped out by Zipper: not only is he hiding his identity, he requests the player doesn't "tell anyone ya ran into ol' Zipper", and stalks the villagers by creepily hopping around in the distance. He also just looks like he's come straight out of Five Nights at Freddy's. So it comes as little surprise that players are doing all they can to prevent him from moving around: creating cages, barbed wire and pentagrams to contain the hopping.
Yet you might want to hold your horses before treating Zipper in such a manner, as when Zipper's cheery mask slips, he's a very pitiful figure. In his dialogue, Zipper sadly says "ugh... I've got so much prep work to do" before launching back into character. In New Leaf, bringing Zipper to the campground would prompt the following description:
"Camping gives Zipper a chance to finally get out of that stuffy old costume and-er, we're being told in no uncertain terms that it is NOT a costume."
Zipper clearly isn't enjoying his job - and no evidence is more damning than when the player moves out of Zipper's line of sight in New Horizons. The hopping stops, Zipper lets out a sigh, and walks away... showing that the whole thing is an act.
Despite being aware that neither you nor the other villagers entirely trust him, Zipper continues to do his Disneyland-worker job in his sweaty costume, putting in maximum effort for something he doesn't truly believe in. He's probably been asked to stuff the island with eggs by his boss.
So perhaps we should stop asking who is Zipper, and start asking how is Zipper - as that poor bunny is a victim of the capitalist system. If he is a bunny, that is.