An islander is an inhabitant that lives on Animal Island in Animal Crossing and Doubutsu no Mori e+. While similar to the mainland villagers, they offer fully unique dialogue and display some unique behaviors. In Doubutsu no Mori e+, however, no islanders are present on the island by default, including the original Animal Crossing islanders, and can only be brought to the island through the use of their e-Reader cards. In installments after Doubutsu no Mori e+, Animal Island was no longer a feature, and various islanders returned in later games as regular villagers.
There are 36 islanders in total, starting with the original 18 islanders in Animal Crossing, and an extra 18 added in Doubutsu no Mori e+. In Animal Crossing: Wild World, only six islanders return as regular villagers. City Folk sees a return of four more islanders absent in Wild World, New Leaf sees a return of twelve—six in the initial game, and six more in the Welcome amiibo update—and New Horizons sees a return of two, both of which were only available after the release of the 2.0 Free Update. As of New Horizons, 12 islanders have not reappeared since Doubutsu no Mori e+.
Although all villagers are technically "islanders" in New Horizons (as the main setting of the game is an initially deserted island), none of the special behaviours such as fruit preferences that applied to islanders in Animal Crossing and Doubutsu no Mori e+ carry over to the later game.
Islanders are similar to mainland villagers in that they share the same set of personality types. However, the islander variants of the personality types differ slightly to drastically from their mainland counterparts. Lazy islanders are stoic and philosophical, in many ways the opposite of their mainland counterparts, often talking about forgoing worldly pleasures and society. Jock islanders are more casual and laid-back than their mainland counterparts, more singularly interested in surfing and frequently using surfer lingo. Cranky islanders are suave and romantic, unlike their mainland counterparts; they are similar to the smug personality introduced in Animal Crossing: New Leaf though slightly more old-fashioned, often trying to woo the player. Normal islanders are fanciful and nature-loving hippies, more prone to daydreaming and peculiar thoughts than their mainland counterparts. Peppy islanders are headstrong and bossy rather than their sunny and upbeat mainland counterparts; peppy islanders often reminisce about the past and coach the player as if they are older than peppy villagers. Snooty islanders are talkative and vain; they are warmer than their mainland counterparts and focus on being well-liked as well as beautiful, but they can still be catty or rude in some situations.
Because the island is a small, contained area, players cannot ask islanders for work or favors. Instead, islanders will request specific pieces of furniture from the player during conversation; they will also commonly ask for furniture pieces that are already in the player's inventory. Unlike mainland villagers' homes, islanders' houses have very little to no furniture. If the player gives them the requested furniture, they will use that furniture to decorate their house. All of the Doubutsu no Mori e+ islanders request the same furniture as the original Animal Crossing islanders (For instance, Madam Rosa in e+ requests the same items normally requested by Ankha in Animal Crossing). The female islanders also wear Red Aloha Shirts by default, while the male islanders wear Blue Aloha Shirts. Additionally, prior to Doubutsu no Mori e+, all female islanders (with the exception of Ankha) wear a flower in their hair, while cranky islanders wear a straw hat. Islanders can also ask for clothes in the player's inventory for them to change into. Since it's not possible for the player to exchange letters with islanders, islanders will instead ask the player to write something in their guest book.
Game Boy Advance connection
If a connection between the Nintendo GameCube and the Game Boy Advance is present, the player can interact with the islander on the Game Boy Advance via a small minigame. If the player gives the islander fruit, the islander's mood will improve; giving them additional fruit will result in them dropping varying amounts of Bells. Each islander has one mainland fruit that is their favorite and one they are allergic to. Giving the islander their favorite fruit will improve their mood more quickly, while giving them the fruit they are allergic to will upset them so that they will not give any more Bells until their mood is improved again. It is also possible to upset the islander by tapping on them repeatedly. Giving the islander a tool will allow them to perform various actions. For instance, they will use a fishing rod to catch fish, an axe to chop down trees, and a net to catch items flying over the island. Islanders can use a shovel to dig up buried furniture and replace them with other furniture, including island-exclusive furniture such as the NES games Wario's Woods and Baseball. They will also replace gyroids with other gyroids in this way. Any changes made to the island in the minigame will be transferred to the island on the Nintendo GameCube by talking to Kapp'n with the minigame connected. This feature is removed in Doubutsu no Mori e+, due to the player no longer requiring a linked Game Boy Advance to access the island.