At first glance, Mobliz looks like a thriving Animal Crossing town. As you enter, you’re greeted by a whimsical tune, and there are fruit trees as far as the eye can see. When you explore its borders further, you’ll discover a river filled with fish, a beautiful white sand beach, and a downtown area full of brightly lit shops.
But those once-bustling shops now sit empty, with no customers in sight. Grass that was covered with flowers has been overrun by weeds. Lavishly decorated properties are infested with cockroaches. Many villagers have already abandoned their homes, and many more intend to follow them.
The town’s deteriation began with the mysterious disappearance of its mayor. While the mayor once oversaw every aspect of Mobliz life, she has since vanished completely. No one has seen her for more than six months, and the town has suffered greatly in her absence.
But when I suggested they hire a new mayor, residents were less than receptive.
“The mayor wasn’t like other people,” said Jay, a brightly-colored bird whose weary face showed traces of regret. “You could come to her with any kind of problem, and she’d solve it in an instant. If you needed bells, she could get them together out of nowhere. It was like she could interact with the world in a completely different way. No one else could do the things she could.”
He lit up a cigarette and took a long, lingering drag. “Heeeeeeyy,” he added softly, almost as an afterthought.
“Things were different before the mayor came,” a cat named Mitzi told me as we browsed the town’s empty art museum. “We didn’t have much, but we didn’t expect much either. No one ever thought to ask for renovations or remodels, or even a bench. We were content with the things we had.”
She bit her lip, fighting back tears. “But now, we’ve had a taste of the good life. And we can never, ever go back.”
Local real estate broker Tom Nook stood quietly in his office, waiting out the end of another slow day. Nook, who’s sold properties in a number of other towns, said he’d seen this sort of thing before.
“It happens no matter where you go,” Nook said, nodding towards his bespectacled co-worker. “One day, you’re renovating homes like crazy, and the next, the bubble bursts. It doesn’t matter if you have a mayor or not. Nothing lasts forever. Eventually, you have to move on to a new town.”
Nook still sells real estate, but business isn’t what it used to be.
Inside the town hall, the mayor’s secretary, Isabelle, continues to work tirelessly.
For a brief moment, her facade crumbled.
“I try to believe that the mayor will return, but it’s getting harder and harder,” she said, her voice breaking. “I don’t know what I’ll do if she doesn’t come back. I just don’t know.”
She quickly wiped away her tears and forced a smile back on her face. “But I’m sure she’ll be back soon.”
Outside, two villagers were engrossed in conversation.
“Do you drink a lot of coffee or something, Felicity?” asked one, casting a sideways glances towards her companion.
“Woot! Woot WOOT!” the cat exclaimed in response.
A flag emblazoned with Sakamoto from Nichijou waved in the distance.
But the expression on her face told a different story.