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…
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)
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.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- 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.
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?
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- 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!
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.
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.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
- 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?
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.
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.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
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.
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)
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.
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.
Rating:7 (Very Good)
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)
- 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.