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)

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Danganronpa: The Animation – 07

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Due to Yamada’s last words, the students initially believe Hagakure Yasuhiro to be the culprit, while Kirigiri could also be the killer or his accomplice. Naegi finds Kirigiri, who leads them all to Hagakure, who was stuck in a locker wearing the “Justice Robo” suit. After investigating the bodies, the classroom trial begins, with Hagakure and Kirigiri still the most suspected. However, Naegi remembers Celes saying something incriminating, which leads to her conviction. Afterwards, Naegi follows a lead by Kirigiri and gets knocked out.

The most obvious suspect – the one named Yasuhiro – is ruled out as the killer, and while Kirigiri lacks an alibi, she also lacks the name Yasuhiro. The true culprit is the one who had been talking the most, perhaps hoping to stand out and hide in plain sight. Alas, her mouth gets her in trouble, as she mentions more than one person was killed before she should have known such a thing, and it leads to her downfall. For what it’s worth, we didn’t think her stakes for winning were that compelling – surely a “super” gambler would have already amassed a handsome fortune.

While she goes a little nuts and puts up a fight, once she knows she’s lost, she accepts the verdict and her punishment (getting burned at the stake and smashed by a fire truck in a haunting sequence) with grace. So with the execution of the lovely Celes, more than half of the students are gone, and we’re no closer to knowing who’s going to end up winning in the end (Though it’s probably going to be the protagonistic Naegi). The final scenes of this episode were very ambiguous, showing Kirigiri possibly betraying Naegi and the bear and amazon possibly dueling…very odd.


Rating: 6 (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 – 04

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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.

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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.

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Rating:7 (Very Good)

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)