Danganronpa V3 and Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney are both video games. I start my essay with the simplest of truths because that was one of the ways middle school English claimed was best for hooks, but I don’t think that is the most captivating first line. But, I’d argue, both Danganronpa V3 (DRV3) and Professor Layton vs. Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney (PLxAA) are captivating video games. Each of them take the player and its characters on a series of twists and turns before coming to a divisive ending that attempts to explain every crazy thing that’s happened before.
I think DRV3 sticks the landing extremely well in how it explains everything and executes its moral message, but that belief is hotly debated. There is probably a 50/50 split of people who loved or hated the ending of DRV3 because of how wild the twist is. However, to illustrate why I think DRV3’s ending was great, it would help to compare the ending to another game with a very similar structure and themes that very much did NOT stick the landing. It is wrong to call the ending of PLxAA “divisive” in the sense of people being divided on whether it was bad or good; rather, people are divided on whether the explanation is SO bad that it’s funny enough to make up for its ludicrousness, or not. But for this comparison of the differences between the games’ endings to work, I have to get you to agree that the games are similar enough to warrant this comparison. As such, let’s run through the important similarities between DRV3 and PLxAA.
Of course, to even discuss the similarities of the endings, I need to give a basic overview of each game’s ending which requires going through each game’s basic plot. DRV3 is the story of 16 high schoolers forced to play a killing game in their closed-off-to-the-outside-world high school. To win this game, a character must kill another person and then be found not guilty of the crime by a jury of their peers. Due to the threat of violence from a robotic bear, the 16 high schoolers play the game. After five rounds of the survivors figuring out each killer, the remaining five survivors figure out why they were forced into the game in the first place. It turns out that the game they’ve been playing is a reality TV show that is broadcast to the world 24/7. The remaining five are then told that everyone who played this game was a willing participant who had their memories and personalities erased and replaced. Outraged beyond belief, the remaining five make a plea to the watching world that, though their past selves were willing participants, their current selves are very unwilling after seeing 11 of their friends killed for the sake of entertaining the masses. Even though the show is the only form of violent entertainment left in the Utopian society that is the “real world” of the Danganronpa universe, the masses watching the killing game agree with the survivors and vote that the show be discontinued forever.
There is so much to unpack from DRV3’s wild ending, but we’ll get there later; now, it’s onto PLxAA’s plot. Professor Layton and his assistant Luke Triton receive a letter from one of the Professor’s old students. In this letter, the student claims that he is trying to save a girl from a gaggle of witches, and has sent the woman, Espella Cantabella, to the Professor so he can help keep her safe. The witches end up finding the Professor, Luke, and Espella in their home city of London, and the trio run away. Eventually, they come to a ship that they attempt to stowaway on, but Espella is found and Luke and Layton are “sucked into” her magical book. The lawyer Phoenix Wright and his assistant Maya Fey are called to defend Espella in court after she has been charged with trespass and assault on a ship, and the duo clear her name in the British court. However, they too get sucked into Espella’s magic book to the land of Labryinthia.
Layton, Luke, Phoenix, Maya, and Espella all somehow meet up in the weird medieval town of Labrynthia. Here, the worst crime is to be a witch that can use magic, because magic is real in Labrynthia. Espella has long been suspected as having been a witch by the residents within Labrynthia, and the four characters continue to try and protect her innocence in witch trials. Eventually, the four characters investigate Labrynthia enough to sniff out the mastermind behind the world, and have him explain what the deal with the town was. It turns out that Labrynthia is a research facility to test the limits of a mind-altering substance that’s in the groundwater of the town. The inhabitants are people who willingly signed up to be brainwashed into having a new, peaceful life as a member of a fake society, and the witch business… well, I’ll talk about PLxAA’s “explanation” of magic later. In short, the mastermind set up Labrynthia as such in order to help his daughter, Espella, cope with the trauma of her mother dying in a fire due to her own fault.
If you read those past two paragraphs and started laughing at the absurdity of PLxAA, I don’t blame you. Especially in comparison to how nice and compact the entire plot of DRV3 can be summarized. But it really helps to have a baseline understanding of the two games’ endings before I get into how they are similar, and how they differ. Even if the baseline summary of both leave out so much of what makes these games special. I probably should’ve put a spoiler warning in the title of this, but I still think the journey through each game is worth it–even knowing the endings.
So, you probably already picked out some similarities, but I want to start with basic, fundamental similarities in gameplay itself. Both DRV3 and PLxAA are visual novels. You spend most of each game pressing the same button to advance textboxes. The gameplay in each is centered around “trials” in the legal sense. In the world of Labrynthia, Espella is put on trial 4 dang times, 3 of which are literal witch trials where if she’s found guilty of being a witch, she’ll be burned at a stake. As for DRV3, the trial is one among peers only. The group discusses and determines who committed the murder that started the trial with the stakes being, if the group gets it wrong, everyone but the killer dies; if they get it right, the killer is executed. Both games have extreme, life-or-death stakes in these trials, and the way the trials ebb and flow make the games exciting.
Furthermore, both games are about the central truth of the world. The classmates (wrong term since they weren’t actually classmates prior to the game, but still) in DRV3 are trying to figure out what exactly happened to their families, to their friends, and to their world. Meanwhile, the group in PLxAA are trying to understand how magic in Labrynthia works, who the Storyteller is, and how all the strange pieces fit together. Both of these worlds have been expertly faked by a central figure or authority with a major financial backing. And, in one of the strangest shared details, both authority figures have managed to secure a large group of willing participants to not only join their fake world but also have their memories replaced with fake ones. Fake people for fake worlds. Of course, there is a slight difference here; the citizens of Labrynthia besides the Storyteller’s direct family are comprised of former criminals or poor people looking for a fresh start. The kids in DRV3’s classroom are made of young adults who were rabid fans of the TV show Danganronpa that wanted to be there, rather than it being a last resort. Still, it’s quite intriguing to me how both games have a vast majority of the cast being willfully brainwashed.
Another interesting piece of similarity is in the games’ execution. I mentioned earlier that the games are centered on trials, especially in gameplay. So it only makes sense that both games have the central figure flushed out and confess the truth of the world in the middle of a trial. Now, the two games differ greatly on how… “good” this confession is, but both games do the same thing! Furthermore, the central figure behind the shadows in DRV3 and PLxAA is always shrouded, but always hinted at. The Storyteller is fishy from the moment you step into Labrynthia since he has large parades in which he throws paper into the air that predicts exactly what happens next. The central cast member behind DRV3’s set-up is a mystery from the start–the first murder happens because one of the cast members is convinced another is the central mastermind, and pretty much each murder after has a similar motive.
But, not only is the truth of the central figure always foreshadowed in DRV3 and PLxAA, the truth of the world is constantly teased at. There is a mural in Labrynthia’s library that teaches the main cast the “mythical history” of the city, and cryptic hints come from other characters about the truth. DRV3 has a bunch of small scenes during the investigations and between murders that provide its own foreshadowing of the truth of the world. For both worlds, all this foreshadowing ends up being red herrings. There isn’t a single piece of history in Labrynthia that even HINTS at the truth of magic or the world, and each crazy reveal about the outside world in DRV3 is faker than the last. No one even thinks or speculates that the high school is simply the setting of a TV show, despite everyone noticing the amount of cameras around the school.
The last similarity between the two is another rather surface-level similarity, but provides a good jumping off point to talking more heavily about the differences between the games. Each game is a sequel in its respective series. DRV3 is the final game in the Danganronpa trilogy. Well, okay, there was an anime that was the “true” finale of the original trilogy along with a weird third-person survival horror shooter spinoff game between DR2 and the anime, and DRV3 is more the end to Danganronpa, the concept, than the series, BUT STILL. Point is, DRV3 was the much-anticipated closer after both the spinoff shooter and the anime left a sour taste in the mouth of most fans. PLxAA, on the other hand, is a spinoff crossover sequel between two extremely established franchises. It is here where we can finally start sorting out the differences between the effectiveness of each ending.
As I just said, PLxAA is the crossover spinoff of two franchises. This immediately puts real-world constraints on the game’s plot. First of all, nothing of major consequence can happen to the main cast. Imagine if Luke died in a spinoff crossover game–fans would be furious that something that big happened in such a way. Secondly, the game had real-world constraints put on its plot that went far beyond this basic constraint. At first, as the name would imply, PLxAA was originally planned to be a full-length battle of wits between Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright. But as the writing process went on, neither main character writer for either series could agree as to how this battle of wits would go on without making either Professor Layton or Phoenix Wright look dumb. Each writer had such a strong tie to their created character that they couldn’t bear to write them as a loser. Thus, PLxAA’s plot is at an immediate disadvantage for being unable to have an ending with meaningful consequences for either half of the main cast. The ending must wrap up the entire story with all characters unscathed, looking smart, and full freedom to go anywhere from there.
On the other side, though DRV3 was a highly-hyped sequel in an established series, the main cast of DRV3 can be messed around with much more easily. After DR1, DR2 had a full turnover of the main cast, aside from two stragglers. The games already told fans that they shouldn’t get too attached to any characters since they probably won’t be back again. Furthermore, the series’ hook of solving murders necessitates dire consequences for the main cast, so anything goes as for plot purposes. Thus, DRV3’s writing staff had a lot more ability to do whatever they felt when it came to writing an ending. This isn’t to say the writers had no pressure–I think that both PLxAA and DRV3 are very comparable in terms of the amount of pressure placed on the writing staffs since all three series have rabid fanbases and equally rabid haters that’ll be immensely disappointed with any sort of weakness (just look at how people trash DR’s anime or case 3 in Justice For All)–but the DRV3 writers had so much more freedom.
I already said that PLxAA suffered from having to use pre-established characters that couldn’t suffer real consequences. Another major issue with the game using pre-established characters is a far more meta problem: a player cannot identify themselves as Professor Layton or Phoenix Wright. These characters have personalities and appearances that are well-established by the point of this game. Unlike in, say, Skyrim, where a player can customize their character’s appearance and govern their personality, players more guide Professor Layton or Phoenix Wright through their obstacles. A player cannot even speak for Professor Layton or Phoenix Wright the same way a player might think of their own comebacks when playing as a silent protagonist. This fundamental problem of being unable to identify with the main character (unless the player is an archaeology professor that solves puzzles or a defense attorney that always believes in their clients) is a hindrance for many players in emotionally attaching themselves to said character. I’m not saying it is impossible to be wrapped up in a video game character’s life, otherwise I would have never enjoyed the Ace Attorney or Professor Layton series, but it is much harder to convince a player to care as much if their character has their own personality.
On the other end of things, the main character of DRV3 (who will go nameless for the fact that though I’m spoiling this ending I think the ride to get there is absolutely worth playing the game for) is easier to identify with. They are introduced at the start of the game rather than existing as a character that players are already familiar with. They have amnesia, a common trope that hooks players because the character knows as little as they do. This character is also the only character you play as in DRV3; in PLxAA, the perspective switches between Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright from time to time. There is a longer time to establish a connection between the character and player. Furthermore, this character feels like they discover and unravel the truth at the same time as the player. Much more so than the characters in PLxAA. Especially when, at the end of chapter 9, Professor Layton takes one look through the Storyteller’s home and decides he’s figured it all out while the player gets no clues.
I will say that the main character of DRV3 also has their own voice and personality. They make decisions that the player might necessarily not. They voice things the player might not say. They might be dumber or smarter, but the journey to the truth taken by the main character in DRV3 is much easier to empathize with than the journey taken by the PLxAA cast. This character also does something far more shocking than any character in PLxAA does: they convince the outside world that they are human.
The ending of DRV3 pits the member of the main cast who was all along a member of the TV show’s writing staff versus the main character. The writer makes the claim that the people of Danganronpa’s universe need the show to have such high stakes and to continue until there is only one survivor because it is the only violent outlet left for the Danganronpa world, regardless of the actual humanity of the members of the show. It’s a similar argument to what a reality TV show executive would say in defense of their “art”.
When the main character begs the writer to let them and the rest of the surviving cast to be freed from the show, the writer shows the cast a live feed of the worldwide audience cheering for the show to continue, for everyone to die until there is a winner of Danganronpa. Because the twisted thing about DRV3 is that it isn’t actually the third time the Danganronpa show has been recorded and broadcasted–it’s the 53rd time. As I know all too well, the Roman numeral “V” stands for 5. Danganronpa, the TV show, is a heavily ingrained part of the worldwide culture in Danganronpa’s, the game, universe. It is the last form of violent entertainment left for the masses consumption as the rest of the world has reached a seeming utopia in the brief glimpses DRV3 affords.
Despite seeing the massive audience calling for their and all of their friends’ heads, the main character of the game that you, the player, have been playing as comes out with an impassioned speech in defense of him and his friends as humans that deserve to live and respect. They may not be the same people they were when they willingly signed up and had their personalities altered, but the main character argues that the people they have become over the course of the game are just as human as anyone watching. Really, the plea from DRV3’s main character is the most convinced I’ve been of a video game character’s sentience–apart from perhaps Monika from Doki Doki Literature Club. The voice actor absolutely nails the delivery of the lines. I truly think that the execution of this scene makes DRV3’s ending incredible on its own. But let’s compare the execution of the main characters pleading for their very lives in DRV3 to the mirrored ending scene in PLxAA.
I’ve already said that, fundamentally, there is much lower stakes possible for the cast of PLxAA than in DRV3. However, the game does try to up the stakes by introducing and using side characters as the lives on the line. Espella Cantabella is put in direct harm’s way for being burned at the stake for being a witch 4 times. Eve Darklaw is revealed to be the dangerous leader of the shadowy figures that chased Professor Layton’s assistant in the wilderness. The Storyteller’s best friend and father of Eve commits suicide before the final act. They are not the characters the player will spend a majority of time with, nor are they characters that the player ever gets to control, so there is a lesser connection between player and characters.
Furthermore, the stakes of the main characters in PLxAA are quite low. Yes, they are unable to find an exit from Labrynthia once coming in, and, yes, all four characters in the main cast want to find out the truth about the world, but these are simply smaller goals in terms of scope than DRV3’s characters putting their lives on the line. I’ll also admit that there are times in the game that the stakes are raised for Professor Layton and Maya to the point that their lives are on the line, yet the game quickly lowers those stakes within a few hours after raising them. I won’t reveal what I mean just to keep the journey interesting, should someone decide to play these games after seeing this.
Meanwhile, as said before, the side characters of PLxAA are the ones with skin in the game. Yet we never see them suffer in-game. All the suffering is off-screen. The Storyteller saw his wife burn to death because of Eve’s actions as a child well before Professor Layton or Phoenix Wright come into his life. Espella is already under fire for being suspected a witch by Labrynthia’s citizens prior to her escaping, coming into contact with Professor Layton, and returning to Labrynthia. Eve’s father commits suicide during the events of PLxAA, but the player doesn’t meet him before or see him kill himself. Not only does PLxAA fail to make the main characters meaningfully involved in the plot, the game neglects to show why the events happening matter to the side characters. The game instead tells the player why those characters care, and we all know the famous “show, don’t tell” advice is true for a reason.
DRV3, on the other hand, has taken the player first-hand through the main cast’s journey. The player has seen for themselves people they’ve grown attached to murder and be murdered in pursuit of escaping the horrendous prison they’ve found themselves in. DRV3 truly shows rather than tells the player why these characters care and makes a much better appeal for the character to care. The player sees the direct consequences of the DRV3’s cast of characters rather than getting told about it.
But not only does the player see the direct consequences for the characters in DRV3’s ending, the player can come away with a change on their real-world perspective. I said earlier that the main character of DRV3 sounds human in their impassioned speech to the audience. The in-game audience is convinced of their humanity, but I think so too is the player convinced of the main character’s humanity. This has far-reaching implications beyond DRV3. I believe that a player that becomes sympathetic to the main cast’s pleas for freedom from their torture may start to look at other fictional characters in a far more sympathetic light. Specifically, a player may become more sympathetic to what they force other characters in other video games to go through, and to consider them as people. I’m not saying that DRV3 makes someone try to play Master Chief as a pacifist or give Mario a chance to catch his breath rather than run at a sprint the whole time, I’m simply saying that DRV3 makes a very convincing argument that characters in video games deserve more respect than they are traditionally given.
There is nothing for the player to take away from PLxAA. Other than another reason to distrust rich pharmaceutical CEOs like The Storyteller. In all honesty, what separates this man from Martin Shkreli? PLxAA does try to leave the moral that it’s important to tell the truth instead of creating elaborate lies that require far more effort to keep up. But, come on, what crazy person would play this game and come away thinking The Storyteller is a role model for coping with tragedy? Instead of telling his six-year old daughter and her friend that they may have started a fire that caused the death of his wife, this guy made up a story that put the blame on a “Great Witch Bezella”, used his vast resources to create a fantasy land where magic is real, and then proceeded to recruit people to live in this land and brainwashed them. Like, I get that you don’t want to tell her she caused it at that age since she might not be able to handle it, but you could’ve made up literally any other explanation at the time and not have to jump through all these hoops. DRV3 may have convinced me of the potential of a video game character having sentience, but PLxAA has a bunch of idiots that arbitrarily decide things that make them far less convincing as human. Or, maybe because the characters in PLxAA have no rationality they are actually closer to human than the very rational, very emotional DRV3 cast… hmm.
Let’s keep talking about the fundamental believability of both endings. I think this is primarily the reason why people find PLxAA very hard to take seriously. Let me just add one more very glaring reason I’m sure many people have been screaming at me in the comments to mention earlier: the truth behind magic in Labrynthia. This is, without a doubt, the worst explanation for magic in any universe ever. So I’ve said before that Labrynthia is an enclosed area owned by The Storyteller who made all his money as a CEO of a pharmaceutical company. Now, the reason he bought all this land is because it has very strange groundwater. See, some weird mineral that is only found in this land causes a person who has ingested said mineral to fall unconscious or wake back up whenever they hear a silver bell ring. So! Whenever someone in Labrynthia wanted to cast a spell, they would say the spell’s name while having a magic book open to the page with the spell on it, and an “invisible” person in a cloak would immediately ring a silver bell within earshot of all nearby parties to knock them unconscious, set up the scene to make it look like the magic spell happened, and then ring the bell again to wake everyone up.
I am 100% serious that this is the canonical explanation for “magic” in the PLxAA universe. So the true explanation for the fire that killed The Storyteller’s wife is that he had already bought all the land Labrynthia would be built upon and even put in a nice silver bell on the top of his clock tower to commemorate the land. Espella and Eve were playing on the top of the clock tower when they accidentally bumped into the bell, thus causing it to ring and knocking everyone in the town who had already drunk the groundwater unconscious. Somehow or another, there was a previously controlled fire burning before the bell got rung that then got taken by the wind and set the town ablaze, killing The Storyteller’s wife and injuring others. Frankly, this truth is also godawful because it also hinges on the really dumb explanation of hearing a silver bell causing knockouts. But, like, man. That is just really dumb. The Storyteller really should have just told Espella and Eve that it was a complete accident, which is what it turned out to be anyway. The Storyteller thought that the two young girls had purposely rung the bells because he found them unconscious in the belltower and neither of them had memory of what had happened. But that’s not reasonable!
The Storyteller’s deal in general is extremely unreasonable for doing basically anything. He states that starting Labrynthia is a science experiment for the effects of the groundwater on humans who consume it, as well as an experiment on what would happen if humans lived in a magical society, I guess. But he spurs his citizens into action by having weekly parades where he tosses a bunch of sheets in the air that “predict” the future. Due to the “Barnham” effect (yes I know it’s Barnum but the prosecutor in Labrynthia is “Barnham” so it’s a funny pun), these predictions get fulfilled one way or another. But they’re written to predict stuff like his daughter getting tried for being a witch, and if he made Labrynthia to protect Espella from the guilt of killing her mother, why the heck is he making sure she gets psychologically tormented anyway? And why does he pretend to not be her father the entire time since founding Labrynthia? He could have actually protected her and whoops I’m getting off-track. The point is that the characters in PLxAA are forced into action from their relatively-peaceful lives for no good reason—there is no incentive to the citizens of Labrynthia to follow The Storyteller’s fortune cookies, it only sends the rank and file into fear while also putting the actual group of uncontrolled witches on watch. It’s so dumb! Just let these people live their weird fantasy lives they all signed up for when they got brainwashed! And protect your daughter for god’s sake!
Any comparison to PLxAA at this point would make said thing getting compared look like Citizen Kane. But I want to be clear that DRV3 goes above and beyond in general in making the central instigator’s actions look sensible. To remind you, everything up to the ending of DRV3 has been livestreamed to a global audience, 24/7, just like in The Truman Show. Unlike The Truman Show, the audience, or, really, the TV producers, has a little less patience for everyday life. In order to keep good ratings, the writing team behind season V3 of Danganronpa understands very well that there needs to be action. As such, the writing team introduces a sadistic, robotic bear named Monokuma to act as their mouthpiece to get the main cast of characters to start actually killing each other. Without consistent prodding or incentives to kill beyond “get out of here”, the classmates could actually live together without conflict, in theory. That’s why it makes sense that Monokuma constantly BEARates the cast of characters to kill each other.
Before I just gloss over this, it also makes sense that DRV3’s high school setting is simply the setting for a TV show. Especially a TV show that rakes in that much money with that large an audience. Yes, there are parts on the site that seem outlandish to build from a cost standpoint (like the section with the rocket or, really, the incredible VR system in case 4), but from a writer’s perspective, they make sense. They’re just very well-made sets for a TV show that makes enough money to justify the realism. They make so much more sense than Labrynthia getting built from the ground up so that Espella would never think that she had been lied to her whole life about the Great Witch Bezella and magic actually existing. How on earth has The Storyteller’s pharmaceutical company not fired him from the CEO position yet?
Finally, I just have one last point of perspective about these settings. The player has no idea until the ending of DRV3 that they have been on a TV show’s set. Rather, there’s so many crazier theories about the truth of the outside world that the game does a great job of trying to convince both the in-game characters and the player of being true. I won’t say what they are because the journey to the center of the DRV3 world is super enjoyable. Meanwhile, there is extreme dramatic irony with Labrynthia. Each of the main cast knows that Labrynthia isn’t the only place in the world, and so does the player. The cast and player all travel to Labrynthia and want to eventually figure out its deal, but it’s not as interesting a journey to the truth because the player knows in the back of their head that Labrynthia and all of its magic is fake. I believe that this small barrier of foreknowledge prevents Labrynthia’s truth from being anywhere near as interesting for the player, and another reason that PLxAA’s ending falters. Perhaps if all of the main cast simply woke up in Labrynthia with no memories and eventually worked out how Labrynthia functioned and came to be rather than knowing it to be a false town would have helped make the explanation for magic easier to swallow. I mean, the explanation would still sound insane, but it’d be more forgivable since finding the truth of Labrynthia would have been a far more immediate and central question. I fear that the central hook of the game of putting Professor Layton and Phoenix Wright together meant that such “abuse” of their characters was impossible from the start.
So, there you have it. A comparison between DRV3 and PLxAA’s endings, why I believe the games are similar enough to compare, and why I think DRV3’s ending is much more effective. I think some people might still say that there is no comparison because of how fundamentally poor the PLxAA explanation for everything is, but I believe the comparison is a worthy one due to how weirdly similar the games turned out to be. Plus, I wanted to put in context why I think DRV3’s ending is worth an extreme amount of praise; it’s nowhere near the first piece of literature to try and make its characters “human”, but it’s one of the best because it takes full advantage of a video game’s ability to make a player empathetic or, failing that, a sympathetic accomplice with its characters. Amnesia in games is complained about as a schlocky, overdone trope, but it is used to extremely good effect with the cast’s journey to understanding the world they were “born” into in DRV3. PLxAA had fundamental problems with its conception that prevented it from taking its players on that same sort of gripping journey. I think it manages to make really well with the hand it was dealt until the ending which is about as bungled as it gets.
I hope that reading this won’t dissuade those on the fence from playing it because I really think PLxAA is a great game. There are many moments along the way to that bombshell of a reveal and nonsensical explanations that are immensely entertaining. I also hope that those who read this without having played DRV3 will play through that game regardless of knowing the ending. The journey to the truth of DRV3 along with the truth of each and every murder is absolutely fantastic. It is probably the second-best visual novel I’ve played, with the title of “best” going to either Ace Attorney: Trials and Tribulations or Phoenix Wright: Spirit of Justice. The very first murder might be the best written section of any visual novel out there. It is 100% worth playing even if you’ve not played 1, 2, the spinoff, or watched the anime. I cannot recommend it enough. But if you don’t feel you have the time for a 40 hour visual novel yet are interested in the genre, Doki Doki Literature Club (DDLC) is only 5 hours and is nearly as shockingly interesting in the same meta way DRV3 ends. I said earlier that perhaps Monika from DDLC is the only match for the main character of DRV3 in terms of extremely human video game characters.
I really appreciate anyone who read any word of this. Or listened to it, if I did turn this into a video essay. My sister recently said to me that words on the internet don’t go into a void, even if we might think they do; they do reach somewhere. Maybe not the place you expected—perhaps Labrynthia will introduce the internet into their medieval society and the baker that took in Phoenix and Maya will read this—but they do reach someone eventually and the ones writing those words should care. Whomever that is, thank you.