Archives in Video Games: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
Updated: Aug 20, 2021
I really need to start thanking more streamers and YouTubers for playing so many games that are starting to fill this website! Seriously, there's no way I would've ever found these games with archives if not for the dedicated people provided content in these plague times. In the case of Danganronpa I want to thank Jacob and Julia of Secret Sleepover Society and Arin and Dan of Game Grumps for this discovery!
Also, SPOILERS ahead!
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is the first in a franchise of video games featuring a group of teenagers trapped by a sadistic robot bear where the only condition for escape is for someone to kill one of their friends and get away with it. There's also a trial component where the game's protagonist gathers evidence and proves the identity of the killer. In the case of Trigger Happy Havoc, you play as Makoto Naegi, a student accepted by Hope's Peak Academy along with other students known by their "Ultimate" status. Makoto, unfortunately, is the most average of the lot, making him the Ultimate Lucky Student, but you may as well call him the Ultimate Blank Slate. Makoto spends most of the game being led around by the other characters and forced to come up with conclusions while everyone repeats the same information over and over again until you want to bash your own head into a brick wall.
It's definitely a bizarre but enjoyable game to watch being played, and the soundtrack is amazing. The repetitive nature of the narrative, however, is a bit too much for my tastes. It also came out in 2010 and has some really outdated and harmful ideas about gender identity, gender roles, and mental illness that I would caution everyone on before either playing the game or watching gameplay online.
For the purposes of this article, we'll be focusing on Chapter 2 of the game. While investigating the murder of Chihiro, the Ultimate Programmer, that's presumably the work of a notorious serial killer known as Genocide Jack, Makoto is led to the library by Byakuya and directed to a room he was previously denied access to by Byakuya because sometimes it be like that. Also, Byakuya is a straight up asshole with a superiority complex bigger than the state of Texas. The adjacent room turns out to be an archives that's filled with scattered boxes, files, and books. Makoto even goes out of his way to point out how "dusty" it is so we can understand how little use the room has gotten.
But that's not all! Byakuya reveals that the archives contains the greatest secrets of the world: high profile criminals, cold cases, and government secrets abound. It's all part of the clandestine council that actually runs the world and Byakuya, the Ultimate Affluent Progeny, is a member of one of those families who're part of the cabal. His family even had a room similar to the archives where he'd read and study the classified information. After that descent into conspiracy theories and arrogant bragging, Byakuya shows Makoto the Genocide Jack case file, which documents each murder as well as the information never revealed to the public that Chihiro's killer supposedly knew to implement.
So, yeah, a dusty archives containing secrets unknown to the rest of the world except for a handful of people who're really running the show. Ya know, when you boil it down, it kinda makes sense. Huh.
Anyway, so far, the archives hasn't come back into play since it was open to Makoto to peruse. I doubt it will be featured again in any meaningful way since its usefulness is contingent on adding something new to the investigation. Each chapter amps up the level of complexity and brutality of the murder, but they don't like to repeat the same methodology even if they like to repeat the same questions over and over and over again.
But I've been wrong before. It happens. Not often, but it still happens.
Well, dang, it turns out I was wrong! The archives makes a second appearance in the 5th Chapter of the game! Makoto even specifically states that the archives contains information the public doesn't have access to, which...depends on the archives and the materials contained therein, but sure. We are dealing with a very specific archives that contains very specific information about a very specific Council that actually runs the world.
Though, it's a bit strange that only Makoto and Byakuya are ever shown entering the room and reading the materials. What if someone else wanted to conduct research? Granted, the amount of living bodies available to make such a request are low, but it's still worth pointing out that a place purported to contain classified information has only been accessed by two male characters and one of them, the smug-looking punchable face known as Byakuya, doles out access at his own discretion.
I'm sure there's nothing to read into. Nope, nothing to see or overthink here.