Danganronpa: The Animation – 13 (Fin)

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Enoshima Junko exposits at length before the remaining students, revealing that they’ve been at Hope’s Peak Academy for more than two years. A year after they enrolled, a calamity befell the world, which fell into despair. The principal turned the school into a shelter for its students, most of whom died, leaving only the sixteen surviving students, including Junko and her sister, whom she killed out of contempt. Junko announces it’s time to vote: either for her despair or their hope, sweetening the deal by saying they’ll all live if they sacrifice Naegi.

She also says the air in the outside world is contaminated, and if she’s killed, the school’s air purifier will shut down, killing them all. However, armed with “bullets of hope”, Naegi gives uplifting speeches to everyone, and they all end up voting for Junko. She willingly accepts her punishment: a combo of all the previous executions. Naegi uses her controller to open the front door to the school, and everyone steps out into the world. Monokuma reappears in the trial room, still talking and moving despite Junko dying…

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Call it hokey if you must, but it turns out this wasn’t a battle between hope and despair, but rather trying to reach a place where both coexist. The high school life of mutual killings was an exercise in despair and despair alone, but Naegi was accepted to the school as almost a fail-safe, in case despair went too far. His hope spread just as readily to his peers (who, as it turns out, were all his friends prior to losing their memories), and the world represents that place where they’ll likely run into both, but that’s life. Unfortunately we don’t see one bit of what becomes of them after stepping outside.

Prior to their escape Junko adopts multiple personas during her long-winded speechifying, but she doesn’t end up saying all much. She paints in very broad strokes that are somewhat dull and unsatisfying, a contrast from the intricate detail the murder trials brought to the table. Maybe she’s being intentionally mysterious…or more likely the series is withholding all the answers for a sequel down the road. But as with Blood Lad, we’re content with just this one season. It was fun, but the lack of a single 8 rating or higher is a sure sign of a series that  never really wowed us.


Rating: 6 (Good)

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Danganronpa: The Animation – 12

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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.

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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.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Danganronpa: The Animation – 08

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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.

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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.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Danganronpa: The Animation – 06

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The third floor is unlocked for the remaining students. When investigating the “ghost” of Fujisaki that Asahina saw in the baths, they discover a laptop with an AI that looks and talks like Fujisaki. That night, the laptop turns up missing, and Togami suggests there might be a traitor among them. The next morning Celes and Yamada are apparently attacked by a robot “Justice Hammers”, and both Yamada and Ishimaru are killed and their bodies moved. When they finally find the, Yamada is still alive, and names Hagakura Yasuhiro as the culprit before dying.

There’s a lot in this show we find patently silly and ridiculous. The idea that a huge academy in the middle of a city would simply be left alone and never investigated by outside forces. The extremely over-the-top, specific character design. The fact that the villain is a demented teddy bear with seemingly unlimited resources with which to torture and execute students. Fujisaki’s interactive AI. One place that has remained mostly grounded in conventional logic have been the motives behind the murders themselves, of which two have been solved, and of which neither was premeditated even if their actions after the fact were criminal. Kuwata killed Maizono because if she was trying to kill him. Ohwada killed Fujisaki in a sudden fit of passion.

The students have murdered people sure, but no one’s taken any pleasure out of it like say, Genocider Syo(Sho?) with her victims on the outside. Monokuma is forcing them to kill, but he’s not exactly breeding cold-blooded murderers. This week two more students are slain and their bodies moved, and by process of elimination, the only one not present for their discovery (and re-discovery) was Afro-dude, Yasuhiro, whom Yamada even names – so of course Yasuhiro probably isn’t the murderer. More interesting are all the clues that suggest some if not all the students actually knew each other before coming to Hope’s Peak, suggesting Monokuma had their memories altered. We wouldn’t put anything past him…not even the kitchen sink.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Danganronpa: The Animation – 05

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The second classroom trial begins with Togami pinning Fujisaki’s murder on Genocider Sho, AKA Fukawa Touko, who suffers from Dissociative identity disorder.The shock of him telling her secret draws the serial killer out, who tells them she didn’t do it, which is confirmed by the numerous inconsistencies in Fujisaki’s murder that go against Sho’s M.O. The killer turns out to be Ohwada Mondo, whom Fujisaki asked to help him (she was really a he) get over her weakness through training.

Ohwada, who killed his brother in a motorcycle race, got angry at Fujisaki’s sentiment he could change, and in a fit of rage, slugged him with a barbell. He swapped the locker rooms to try to preserve the secret of his gender, and Togami tampered with the body to test his fellow students. Despite Ishimaru’s protestations, Monokuma executes Ohwada by having him ride a motorcycle into a spherical cage and shaking him up until he expires from G-LOC.

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So, five episodes in, five students gone, ten to go…plus a sixteenth acting as a spy for Monokuma, who coyly won’t reveal to us. Like the previous “trail episode”, this one treated the students’ deliberation like a battle with manga-style storyboards, “verbal bullets” and “contradictions”, of which Naegi had three. It also confirmed that the Togami/Fukawa “alliance” was indeed just a red herring; while we didn’t suspect Fukawa was actually a serial killer (with a huge tongue), she nevertheless didn’t kill Fujisaki.

Still, the fact that Togami crucified Fujisaki postmortem just to test his peers shows he’s a pretty sick puppy himself. We’d also always considered Fujisaki to be of ambiguous gender at best due to her strange voice, so it wasn’t surprising that the truth was among the students’ dark secrets Monokuma distributed. The thing is, even though he knew Fujisaki’s secret, Ohwada of all people was fine with it, right until Fujisaki involuntarily struck a very raw nerve relating to Ohwada’s dark secret about his brother. The CGI execution is suitably whacked-out and morbid.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Danganronpa: The Animation – 02

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Just before Lights Out, a scared Maizono visits Naegi, who agrees to swap rooms with her for the night. In the morning, she doesn’t show up for breakfast, he finds her in his bathroom with a knife in her belly. Monobear summons them to the gym to announce the rule that in order to “graduate”, one must not only kill someone, but get away with it. To that end, there will be periodic “class trials” to determine who killed whom. Junko objects to this and steps on Monobear, but he punishes her by having her impaled by numerous spears. The class suspects Naegi killed Maizono, and as he’s investigating Maizono’s murder, the hour of the trial arrives.

And so we bid adieu to idol Maizono Sayaka and model Enoshima Junko; we hardly knew either of ye. Maizono died under mysterious circumstances, and many cryptic clues were presented before and after it happened, and we have at least five possible culprits in mind, (in no particular order):

  • Togami Byakuya (he was the last person to arrive for breakfast, and expressed a willingness to do what was necessary)
  • Naegi (he may have done it then repressed the memory)
  • Maizono herself (suicide after learning of the fate of her idol group and snapping)
  • Oogami Sakura (the brutal marks all over the dorm suggest immense brute strengt;, resemble her battke scars)
  • Kirigiri Kyouko (she wants to limit confrontations with Monobear, and so “obeys the rules”)

It may be none of the above, but at least we won’t be executed for being wrong, like the class. This is an odd choice for a villain who wants the spectacle to last as long as possible; it could all be over at the first trial. However, because this is just the second episode, we know they’ll either choose correctly, or something will come up and postpone the trial. Either way, while he may be thoroughly stupid looking and sounding, Monobear is deadly serious, as poor Junko found out.


Rating: 6 (Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The blood in this episode was violet rather than red, possibly to avoid blur censoring. Star Trek VI did the same thing, making Klingon blood a pinkish-violet in order to avoid an “R” rating from the MPAA. We don’t mind.
  • We have to imagine the supplemental rules about getting away with the murder and class trials weren’t in the handbook until Monobear announced them, which is why not even someone who read the whole thing (Kirigiri, Togami, and Ishimaru, for instance) knew about them.
  • Maizono and Junko are blacked out in the body count at the end of the episode, and their 8-bit sprites are x’d out in the credits.

Danganronpa: The Animation – 01

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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.

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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.

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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)