Danganronpa: The Animation – 03

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The classroom trials begin with many suspecting Naegi as Maizono’s murderer. However, as the events of the evening are reconstructed  the students determine that Maizono acquired the knife that killed her from the kitchen, attempted to lure someone into her room (actually Naegi’s), but was overpowered and killed by her would-be victim. Kirigiri and Naegi determine this was Leon: Maizono wrote his name upside down on the wall, Leon used his toolkit to unscrew the door he thought was locked, and he used his pitching skills to throw evidence into the incinerator. The students vote and Leon is found guilty. Monokuma executes him with a million fungoes.

We don’t have the best deductive reasoning and probably wouldn’t make terrific detectives, so we found the gradual the process this episode and the students go through to find the culprit both fascinating and clever, in that it introduced several potential clues last week and then expounded on them here. For his part, until the evidence starts to build against him, Leon keeps his cool, and when he doesn’t, it’s great to watch him squirm as it becomes obvious to all that he did it. Leon really got the short end of the stick, as he wasn’t trying to kill anyone that night, but Maizono was, and he had no choice but to defend himself. Maizono had a plan Naegi didn’t see coming, but wouldn’t go so far as to say Maizono betrayed Naegi by trying to frame him, because, well, she failed.

Kirigiri says this was because she was hesitant, both to kill someone and to frame Naegi for it. The need to escape and save her friends meant she had at least some will to kill, but the situation she ended up in – trying to stab a baseball star who had a decorative sword to defend himself – her hesitation got her killed. Had she truly been willing to kill someone and throw Naegi under the bus, she’d have succeeded, and been present at the trial to do so. She didn’t, which means she’s worth avenging. Naegi also rejects the cool, pragmatic Kirigiri’s advice to overcome the deaths that have and will occur. The righteous Naegi vows to drag all the deaths with him all the way to the exit…whether that’s the front door or his grave.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • The trial featured some very diverse animation choices, going inked manga style for scenarios, using lots of game show like cheesy graphics, and finally a very bizarre and elaborate execution scene making heavy used of 3D CGI.
  • The trial also featured many characters simply chiming in with some stupid line like “it’s like, obviously Naegi, right?” When they blurt out who they think the culprit is without knowing the facts of the murder, it makes them look foolish, since all their lives are on the line.
  • Kirigiri really helps Naegi out this week, not only in steering the suspicion away from him, but helping to steer it towards Leon. She’s also seemed to have taken an extended interest in his well-being and potential, as her post-trail visit proves.
  • The upside-down square numbers 11037 spelling out LEON – didn’t see that coming. Go ahead, berate us (just kidding, please don’t!)

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)