The “Other” Hemisphere


I deliberately chose to make my island a Southern Hemisphere island in Animal Crossing: New Horizons. The main reason was that it was offered as an option, as in New Leaf before, I opted to have my male character generally wear skirts in some form since that was an added feature at that time. While the gender lines are practically non-existent, at least for player characters wishing to not adhere to them, in the new game, I was thinking more about another line, the Equator, and how the global stage seems to center around the Northern Hemisphere.

As a current resident of the Northern Hemisphere, and not having left it any time yet, I’m not the best source of information on the Southern Hemisphere. What I know about it, I’ve only seen from other sources. I am pretty sure it’s not “opposite land” as Homer thought, even though the seasonal patterns are offset. What I do know is that most things I see are generally Northern-centric, of course residing in a Northern country exacerbates that. Especially with news pertaining to that specific country. With the utter bombardment of information from that particular angle, it’s easy to forget the actual size of the planet.

Under different spheres of influence, they increase in scope from the personal, to the familial, to the municipal (a single or multi-city area), regional (possibly a state or similar territory, or several), patriotic (the country), hemispherical, and global. Taking into consideration the possibility of the “end of the world”, if this was to be human-caused, the most significant consequences would likely hit the Northern Hemisphere most directly, with the Southern Hemisphere more being hit by aftershocks as a sort of indirect consequence, relation or not, and which could possibly be even more severe in effect. The global stage focuses on the Northern major players as they want to flex the most power, also from how they generally have staked a major influence on global media. The main influence seems to be the availability of land, as humans are not primarily aquatic, yet live near water. Plus there’s the whole “cradle of civilization” thing to consider about where that’s located.

Going back to Animal Crossing, it is a bit weird to see that despite the option to have a Southern Hemisphere island, where it is currently winter, the next update is labeled as a “summer” update. It should be noted that Japan is also in the Northern Hemisphere. It also focuses around diving into water, which is probably still possible in winter, but more meant for daredevils or cold-climate creatures. Given that the updates before that were about green plants while Southern plants were turning orange and brown for fall, and wedding season probably being more of a Northern concept in relation to the time between spring and summer, it seems this pattern will continue. Of course, it should be noted that a lot of holidays spread by the global setting do also come from the Northern Hemisphere. The concept of a “white Christmas” is probably not familiar to Australians outside of film and such, but not having been there, I can’t say for sure. But it has been interesting thus far to be seeing seasons that don’t match up with the ones out my window, or even with those whose towns I’ve seen. Certainly the planes going between them are racking up miles.

At least there hasn’t been a lack of things to do for the Southern Hemisphere islands. While Northern islands were struggling with catching cherry blossom petals in the middle of the egg season, Southern islands got an equivalent sort of thing later with maple leaves falling from wherever. As of now, they have to deal with snowflakes and snowpeople, now just referred to as “snowboys”. Whatever updates are coming for around December are going to be interesting. Will Jingle show up in a summer outfit or be sweating his hide off in a full-on coat? Are igloos going to show up and immediately melt, or be made of sand or plastic?

While the differences and unique aspects to each hemisphere should be celebrated, the Equator shouldn’t be a line to divide the global scope, and reminding myself that the Southern Hemisphere exists, and along with it, the rest of the world, helps add to the catharsis that the game is meant to provide from daily life. The planet is still giant, and political borders shouldn’t divide as geographical features may. The ideal approach isn’t homogenization, but openness, so while traits may spread worldwide to mix with others, they aren’t all the same. Even with disagreements on certain cultural aspects between regions, there’s typically a lot to celebrate about each.