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 – 11

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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.

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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 – 10

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The surviving students reach the fifth floor, and Fukawa finds a knife, which is entrusted to Naegi. Kirigiri asks him to distract Monobear while she uses his key to investigate things. In the night Naegi wakes to find a masked figure looming with the knife, followed by Kirigiri. The next morning the class finds Monokuma in pieces. Fukawa finds a masked body in the garden, stabbed by the knife Naegi lost. Beside it is the key to data processing room containing cameras and monitors. A new Monobear arrives, telling them they’ve been on a live online reality show all along. Kirigiri returns identifying the dead body as Ikusaba Mukuro.

The one student who least comes off as a caricature is and has always been Kirigiri Kyouko, and that’s not an accident. She’s the only one whose “super-duper” specialty remains unknown, and she’s always going on like she knows a lot more than she’s saying to anyone, including Naegi, whose unspecific, dull but decent nature is the easiest to connect with. Like Naegi, we’ve more often than not given her the benefit of the doubt and trusted her despite her penchant for secrecy. Also, she’s never been proactively hostile to anyone, nor shown Naegi anything but courtesy and even a certain bonhomie: we tend to trust people who are willing to trust us.

Clearly, Kirigiri has been busy throughout the run of this series, but mostly in the shadows. To our knowledge, she’s never been on the wrong side of a trial either, in terms of suspecting the wrong person as a culprit. But so much in this episode points to her as the killer of the mystery masked person whose face was burnt beyond recognition. Naegi saw this person with his knife, then sees Kirigiri, and then that person ends up with that same knife in her(?) back. Those scnes and her extended absence make her a prime suspect. And yet, can she even be tried and executed for killing someone nobody else knew existed?

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • This season features not one but two instances of animatronic stuffed animals filling in for their human controllers: Chief Momoi in Servant x Service, and Monobear, whom we see disassembled for the first time.
  • Naegi makes Kirigiri pinky swear. Get a room, you too!
  • Monobear’s spiel about authorities shrugging off a reality TV show about high schoolers killing each other struck us as farfetched, but then we still don’t know the full scope of the mastermind’s power. Maybe, like Biff Tannen in the Bad Future, HE OWNS THE POLICE.
  • We’re not a fan of her huge tongue (what’s with that, anyway?) but we do love it when Fukawa suddenly switches to Genocider. Sawashiro Miyuki sells the crazy well
  • As for Fukawa herself, she’s actually a pretty sympathetic figure when it comes to how much she’s obsessed with Byakuya…and how shittily he treats her.
  • “It’s safe to assume that the victim was killed by the knife stabbed in the chest.” That’s crazy talk!

Danganronpa: The Animation – 09

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In the fourth trial, Hagakure and Fukawa admit to hitting Oogami with bottles, then Asahina confesses to killing her, but can’t explain the locked door. Kirigiri finds a glass shard in the poison bottle, meaning Asahina switched the poison bottle with the protein shake cup after Naegi broke the window.

In an effort to stop the infighting, Oogami locked herself in the rec room and committed suicide, and Asahina tried to kill everyone by making them vote for her. As punishment, Monobear destroys Alter Ego. Kirigiri learns and tells Naegi the name of the sixteenth student: Ikusaba Mukuro.

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When you have a dead body in a room with only one door locked from the inside, suicide is the most likely culprit. Of course, this series never jumps right to the most likely culprit, but none of the other possibilities hold up against that one certain fact: once that door was locked, no one could get in or out.

As someone with warrior’s physique, we expected her to also possess warrior mindset, in which if the most profitable move for the greater good is to give up your life, you do so. Combined with her remorse for working as Monobear’s agent, Oogami was the most likely of the remaining students to off herself.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

Stray Observations:

  • We believe this is the first instance of a studnt trying to kill everyone, in this case Asahina, who felt that it was her and everyone else’s fault Oogami killed herself, and so none of them deserved to live either.
  • Funny how Monobear knew about Alter Ego all along. So much for their digital ally!
  • Monobear lets slip that the mastermind “did something” to the students’ bodies, but doesn’t elaborate.
  • Kirigiri discovers the sixteenth student’s name…so where is he/she, and what’s their story? 
  • More to the point, how did Kirigiri learn of this, and is all of her helpfulness simply setting Naegi up for an eventual betrayal?

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)