An Apology of Sorts to the Luminary of the Stars
There are certain character types that have always been far less relatable to me than others; and it can be quite eye-opening to dissect the degree to which my general perception of them can shape my impression of their particular depictions. Not long into my first playthrough of Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony I was certain that I would have a difficult time liking Momota Kaito at a personal level. The signature hot-headedness of a self-proclaimed hero, who simply assumes to be in the right even if all signs point to the contrary, has never sat well with me. I quickly grew concerned that his recklessness would sooner or later endanger the rest of the killing game participants if he were to stick around until late into the story. My initial expectation was that Momota would be obnoxious at best and an outright liability to the others at worst.
This apprehension was largely grounded in the real world. After all, Momota’s frustrating (male) cockiness lies at the heart of so many persistent societal problems with seemingly easy solutions. Stories have long had an unfortunate tendency to go fairly easy on characters like Momota who frequently fail to learn valuable lessons and are often ultimately justified in their problematic ways. In this regard, narratives may mirror reality — or in reverse, in light of the power of fiction that is explored in Killing Harmony, provide a questionable blueprint for the latter.
And still, among the various red flags and unsavory tropes, I believe I unwittingly pushed Momota into a much more ancillary position than the narrative intended for him. This does not mean that my first impression was wrong. It still feels fairly accurate in many regards — but insufficient and with notable blind spots. Too late did I realize that I had been overlooking Momota’s significance to the overarching theme of truth versus lies, or reality versus fiction, for the longest time.
I had focused most of my attention on the rift between protagonist Saihara Shuichi and antagonist (of sorts) Ouma Kokichi instead of recognizing the former as located closer to the center of an ideological clash represented by the other two as its poles. Momota’s wide-eyed willingness to believe in others was the story’s foil for Ouma’s philosophy of doubt and Saihara pushed into a situation where he needed to strike a suitable balance between trust and suspicion to carve his own path. Through the insightful analyses of others I have subsequently come to understand the interplay between the three as a tripartite conflict. But it was late enough that I am certain to have missed important bits and pieces hinting at this conflict from the very beginning. These will be mine to uncover at last during an inevitable return to Killing Harmony in the future.
With all this being said, I am left with a feeling of short-sightedness and the realization that I perceived Momota as much less complex and relevant than he truly was. And I believe an apology of sorts to this fictional astronaut might be overdue. Perhaps the Luminary of the Stars can serve as a cautionary tale to me during future encounters with similarly foolhardy troublemakers.