Danganronpa: The Animation – 12

dangan121

Monobear unlocks all the doors in the school, and Naegi and Kirigiri enter the principal’s office. Naegi uses her name as the password on his computer, revealing a secret passage where Naegi finds his bones, his electronic handbook, and a memory card containing a video of the students agreeing to spend the rest of their live sin the school. Naegi also finds Hagakure’s and Kirigiri’s lockers, the latter containing a notebook where she writes of “two despairs.”

Monobear distributes photos to everyone in which the recipient is the only one not present. The classroom trial begins, and after Ikusaba and Kirigiri are ruled out, it’s determined that everyone has amnesia. After analyzing Monobear’s behavior, Naegi concludes that Enoshima Junko is the mastermind, who faked her death by killing Ikusaba. Monobear transforms into Junko, who admits she and Ikusaba were twins – the “two despairs” Kirigiri wrote about.

dangan122

We say this a lot about Danganronpa, but we should have seen this coming. Maizono Sayaka was discovered as the first murder victim, but Junko was the only student who was neither a murder victim or an executed culprit; and while many have challenged Monobear, she was the only one to pay the price with his “Spear of Gungnir.” We also remember her admitting all of her modelling work was photoshopped, but in every class photo everyone accepts as genuine, her face is hidden.

It also makes sense now why we never saw nor heard from Ikusaba Mukuro, as Junko had long ago killed her off posing as her, then proceded with the mutual school killing arc with Monobear as her avatar. Finally, as revealed photos show, she and Mukuro both resemble one another, albeit with different hair and clothes. This show proves it’s full of devious surprises in bringing back a character we thought was an afterthought who quickly met her end by breaking the rules. All the students thought that too, which is why they’re equally shocked that Junko is the mastermind. But that’s the truth.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Danganronpa: The Animation – 11

dangan11

Before the students can confirm the identity of the body they presume to be Ikusaba, the classroom trial abruptly begins. Narrowing the timeline, Togami accuses the long-absent Kirigiri as the culprit, but Kirigiri turns suspicion upon Naegi. Monokuma calls for a vote, and Naegi protests. He’s voted guilty and sent to be execution, but Alter Ego hacks the system and saves him. He still falls into the garbage-filled basement, where Kirigiri saves him. After climbing to the top, they confront Monobear, who introduces a new challenge: the remaining students will win if they can discover all of the school’s mysteries.

The mastermind is all about despair. The whole intent “high school life of mutual killing” project is to put the students in a state of abject despair from which there is no escape, before killing them off. But as of recently, the project has stalled. The last student to die wasn’t a murder, but a suicide, and of Monobear’s agent, no less. The remaining six students aren’t in any hurry to kill each other, another student’s digital alter ego continues to cause trouble, the super-duper detective is regaining her memories, and perhaps most damaging to his plans, Naegi absolutely won’t give up hope, and his optimism is proving contagious.

Apparently the mastermind thought to eliminate Naegi by having Ikusaba murder him, then frame it on Kirigiri. But Ikusaba ends up dead (by Kirigiri’s hand? Who knows…), and even when Naegi is convicted and sentenced, he manages to escape death, and with Kirigiri’s help, emerges more hopeful and fired up than ever. Unable to bend more rules to get his way for fear of angering the reality TV audiences, and fairly convinced more mutual student killings aren’t on the horizon, Monobear/the mastermind decides to put everything on the line hoping his myriad secrets are safe from the students. That’s right, it’s come to this: the despair junkie himself, relying on hope.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • Nice use of the Droste Effect at the beginning of the episode. We love us som Droste.
  • Naegi survives quite a fall! His execution scene is quite creepy (well, they all are).
  • Kirigiri Kyouko: even with a noodle cup and naruto in her hair, she still looks dignified as hell.
  • As Naegi says, it’s really no surprise Kirigiri’s title is detective, considering her actions throughout the ordeal.
  • We still don’t know who killed Ikusaba, or even if that was Ikusaba. If she’s still alive, will we ever see her face?
  • It’s interesting to note that of the remaining students, none seem likely to commit a murder, and thus haven’t: Fukuwa is too scared; Syo is too obvious; Togami is too pragmatic; Aoi is too nice; Hagakure is too dumb; Kirigiri is too righteous, and Naegi is too…Naegi.

Danganronpa: The Animation – 08

dangan81

Naegi catches Oogami Sakura fighting with Monobear, leading him to suspect she’s the mastermind’s agent. The fourth floor contains the chem lab, music room, data processing room and principal’s office, but the latter two are locked, and Monobear creates a new rule prohibiting breaking down locked doors. Fujisaki’s Alter Ego AI discovers new facts about Hope’s Peak Academy, including a past incident that led to the plan to incarcerate students executed by the principal.

Monobear announces Oogami was his agent, causing strife amongst the students and leading to a fight between Asahina and Fukawa. Later, Alter Ego tells Naegi and Kirigiri he wants to fight with them; they connect him to the network in the hidden room. Later, they and Asahina find Oogami locked in the Rec Room. Naegi breaks the window to unloc the door, and they discover Oogami is dead. Asahina believes the culprit could only be Togami, Fukawa, or Hagakure.

dangan82

This was a hefty episode with a lot going on, hence the long synopsis. Not only is progress made in discovering who’s behind all this in the first place (thanks to Alter Ego), Monobear’s mole is revealed, and turns out to be the person we least suspected (other than Naegi). In order to ensure the safety of certain unnamed hostages, Oogami was to kill someone if there was ever a lull in the killing. But with a steady pace of murders more than half the student body is gone, and Oogami must have had enough to decide to turn on her master.

At first we were wondering why Monobear was being so lenient with her (Junko met a sticky end for opposing him, after all), but then it’s clear he turns her into a catalyst for more murder by outing her. The Togami/Fukawa/Hagakure alliance clashes with the Oogami’s loyal friend Asahina, with the calm, logical Naegi and Kirigiri in the middle. Oogami ends up dead in a classic locked-room murder mystery. As usual, while there’s a list of obvious potential culprits, Oogami’s actual killer may well be none of them.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Danganronpa: The Animation – 04

danga41

With the first classroom trial overcome, Monokuma opens up the second floor of the school, where there’s a pool, locker rooms, and a library. The students learn that Hope’s Peak Academy has been shut down for some time, meaning someone else took the place over and imprisoned them there. One night, Naegi catches a smitten Fukawa Touko stalking Togami Byakuya, who sends her away.

The next day, Fujisaki Chihiro is found dead crucified in the locker room, apparently killed by a blow to the head with “Blood Bath Fever” written on the wall in blood. The students start collecting clues; Togami recognizes what happened to Fujisaki as the MO of the serial killer Genocider Syo. Just before the second trial begins, Naegi witnesses a very suspicious exchange between Togami and Fukawa.

dangan42

The students may have just voted to send one of their own to their doom, but it was the first time that had to happen, and they had to do it in order to save their own lives. Because of this, many are still willing to give friendship and coexistence a chance. Oogami and Asahina were friends coming in; Ishimaru and Ohwada clash at first but an all-nighter in the sauna makes them friends; even Celestia deigns to allow Yamada to serve her tea. Fujisaki considered everyone friends, too, only to become the latest victim.

That brings us to the unlikely “pairing” of the ambitious, rich and powerful conglomerate heir Togami Byakuya and the plain, paranoid, antisocial girl, Fukawa Touko (voiced very nervously by Sawashiro Miyuki). He’s playing to win this sick game, but he wants to be challenged and entertained. She admires him and drools from afar. And their proximity and interactions suggest Togami got her to kill Fujisaki, despite her apparent aversion to blood. Though knowing the twists the trial can throw at us, it’s just as likely neither of them had anything to do with it.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Danganronpa: The Animation – 01

denpa1

Plain, average Makoto Naegi is excited about starting a new year at the prestigious Hope’s Peak Private Academy, having been chosen by sheer luck. When he enters he passes out, and wakes up in a classroom. He heads to the gym where fourteen elite students are assembled, each experts in a particular field. A strange two-toned bear, Monokuma, appears, claiming to be the principal.

He tells the fifteen students that they are trapped inside the academy with no hope of escape, and the only way to leave is to kill somebody else; he doesn’t care who or how. The students are all against killing at first, so three days, later, Monokuma gives them videos of horrible events designed to make the students want to leave at all costs; in Makoto’s case, the belief his family is dead.

dangan_cast

We’re always weary of huge casts in anime, especially, when they’re all introduced at once in a “character dump.” It’s not that we dislike them, just that with upwards of a dozen series on tap this summer, keeping track of the casts can be taxing on the ol’ noggins. That’s why we spent a big chunk of time familiarizing ourselves with the cast: names, appearance, and any familiar voices before watching the episode. As a result, we could focus more on what was being said, not on who was saying it.

This will get easier as we watch more, and watch more we will! How can we not? We’re no strangers to the murder-mystery genre, and we’re already seeing thematic shades of Mirai Nikki, Another, Deadman Wonderland, and even Battle Royale. Only this is a locked room murder mystery, and there’s a survivor count at the end of every episode. Everyone survived this week, but with thirteen planned episodes, that number is bound to drop soon, in an order and by twisted methods we couldn’t possibly predict.

7_very_good
Rating:7 (Very Good)

Here’s the key to the class portrait above, along with their most distinguishing features. They’re quite a colorful bunch!

1. Hagakure Yasuhiro (dreads)
2. Asahina Aoi (boobs/swimmer)
3. Ohwada Mondo (biker, greaser hair)
4. Togami Byakuya (blonde/glasses)
5. Kirigiri Kyouko (silver hair)
6. Ishimarru Kiyotaka (red eyes/white uniform)
7. Kuwata Leon (red hair/piercings)
8. Makoto Naegi (small/normal)
9. Maizono Sayaka (blue eyes/idol)
10. Fujisaki Chihiro (short/hacker)
11. Celestia Lundenberg (red eyes/goth)
12. Fukawa Touko (dark braids/glasses)
13. Yamada Yifune (fat/cat mouth)
14. Oogami Sakura (street fighter)
15. Enoshima Junko (blonde/big hair)