Recently, after getting a Hulu subscription, I decided to start a series called The Bravest Knight, a Hulu original animated series that came out in 2019. The story centers on Sir Cedric and his husband, Prince Andrew, and their adopted 10-year-old daughter, Ri. In the sixth episode, “Cedric & the Dark Castle,” Cedric and his friend, a troll named Grunt, enter the Dark Castle, in an attempt to find the dragon who released all the villains from jail. The knights, which represent the authorities, are seen as incompetent as they can’t even find the dragon and later laugh off tips from Grunt and Cedric which inform them where the dragon is hiding. I was pleased to see that this episode featured a Hall of Records but disappointed at how it was portrayed in the episode itself. Recently, the show’s creator, Daniel Errico, said that he understands and said “I can assure you that the Hall of Records was abandoned for nefarious reasons outside of the archivists’ control. But those books and papers have more to come, and their fate in the present storyline is very different.” That’s definitely a valid point, as Cedric and Grunt had to leave the hall of records because otherwise, the dragon would have burned them alive. Anyway, I’m glad he responded, which is rare for animation directors, as often they don’t respond to people directly, with criticism like that. So, that’s progress.
For one, this hall of records appears to be a bit like a library, unless I’m missing something. Couldn’t the writers have used an actual archives as a model? If they wanted to call it a library, they could have done so, rather than calling it a “hall of records.” Too many animated shows confuse libraries and archives with each other, which is understandable based on the popular conceptions of them in the media itself, but creators should try to do better. Anyway, they enter this room of the castle which is dusty and has cobwebs growing covering areas of the room, another archives stereotype, sadly. Clearly, it is not well-tended. While Grunt reads a book, Cedric is excited about the information there, remarking that the maps and plans for every castle are kept there. Grunt states that all he sees are blueprints of the Fairy Jail, where the villains were imprisoned. When they both look at the blueprint, they hear a woman’s voice, which happens to be from a messenger raven named Saylor. They soon realize the dragon has been hiding in the castle and Cedric desperately goes through the records in an attempt to find a map of Grunt’s bridge. He is not successful, and they escape just in time. Later, the dragon sees the pumpkin that Cedric left behind holding down the blueprint and growls in anger.
So, on the one hand, the episode does highlight the value of archives in maintaining and keeping records. On the other, it appears to be like the Star Wars franchise, Lore Olympus (to an extent), possibly Little Witch Academia, That Awkward Magic!! (partially), and the Mystic Archives of Dantalian, in that it appears to confuse archives and libraries, acting like they are the same thing. Again, archives can be within libraries and often are in the form of special collections rooms, which can be called mini-archives, shown in series like Hilda and Cleopatra in Space. Additionally, libraries can be inside archives, without a doubt. From what I remember about the Maryland State Archives, they have a set of books on an upper level available to archivists and on a lower level available to the general public, often books that summarize records within their collections. That set of books can be called a library. After all, the SAA’s Dictionary of Archives Terminology defines a library broadly as “a collection of published materials, including books, magazines, sound and video recordings, and other formats.” At the same time, the same resource defines archives in several seperate ways, when it is used in a singular sense :
- “an institution’s or individual’s entire preserved body of interrelated and interdependent records; a fonds”
- “a selection of digital records or digital surrogates of records made available as a curated online collection”
- “a collection of manuscript collections managed as a thematic unit and representing a collecting specialization of an archival repository”
- “an organization that collects the records of individuals, families, or other organizations; a collecting archives (usually construed as sing., earlier treated as pl.) the division within an organization responsible for acquiring and maintaining the organization’s records of continuing value; institutional archives”
- “the official repository of a nation, state, territory, or institution’s records of continuing value“
- “the building, buildings, or portion thereof housing records of continuing value“
- “the professional discipline, practice, and study of administering such collections and organizations; archivy”
The Hall of Records does reappear in the episode “Cedric & the Dragon,” where it is being destroyed, like the rest of the castle, by the pixies run amok. I hope to find some more archivy themes in other media, and I’m not referring to the discipline, going forward. Recently, Enrico said that he spoke with “an archivist about this soon after the release actually,” saying that “the way we depict the conservation of knowledge, history, and culture is an important subject to raise.” I completely agree with that assessment and Samantha Cross’s response that it is good to “hear that you’re looking into issues of conservation and history” because not many creators go to that effort.
 This is not referring to those records created or received by an institution, family, or organization which are preserved, inactive records of continuing value, or records of continuing value which are organically created, or “non-record material selected, preserved, managed, presented, and used in the same manner as archives.” Archives can also be used when noting “reference to a particular archival organization” or when something is archival.