|Number of episodes||13|
|Purchase DVD collection||Click here to purchase from Amazon.|
|Purchase Blu-ray collection||Click here to purchase from Amazon.|
|Purchase Game (PC/Mac/Linux)||Click here to purchase from Steam.|
|Purchase Game (PlayStation Vita)||Click here to purchase from Amazon.|
Warning: This review is spoiler after spoiler. If you have never played the Danganronpa games, do not read unless you want to feel DESPAIR! Unless you don’t care, then by all means read ahead.
So last year, I wrote reviews of the Danganronpa video games.
- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc
- Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair
- Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls
And now, I am a fanboy. SOMEONE KILL ME PLEASE!
But in other news, 2017 seems to be a big year for the series. Sometime in September, we’ll get Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony for the PlayStation 4 and the Vita (if anyone actually HAS that paperweight at this point…) And of course, re-releases of all of the games so far for the PS4.
But hey. Next game in the series is a long ways away, so… let’s fill that gap with some anime!
If you haven’t figured it out, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc – The Animation is an anime adaptation of the first game, presented to us by studio Lerche. And of course, the English dub is by Funimation. Since I did play the first game, it may seem needless for me to watch this series. But for the sake of recommending media, I’ll give this short series a quick watch to see if it’s a decent substitute for playing the game.
As such, I will analyze each episode but keep it shorter than my usual reviewing style. Unless it’s something pretty bad and/or something I REALLY HATE, I don’t think much detail is required.
So without further ado, let’s watch some Danganronpa…
Episode 1: Welcome to Despair High School
So, Episode 1 is pretty much a brief, scene-by-scene portrayal of the video game’s prologue. Our protagonist Makoto Naegi (once again portrayed by Bryce Papenbrook) enters Hope’s Peak High School (called Hope’s Peak Academy in the game), a prestigious school for the most talented teenagers in the world. Upon entering the school, he loses consciousness and finds himself in the school, all boarded up from the outside world. Then he meets his 13 other classmates.
- Makoto Naegi – Super High School-Level Good Luck
- Sayaka Maizono – Super High School-Level Idol
- Kyoko Kirigiri – originally unknown talent, later discovered to be Super High School-Level Detective
- Byakuya Togami – Super High School-Level Heir
- Chihiro Fujisaki – Super High School-Level Programmer
- Kiyotaka Ishimaru – Super High School-Level Hall Monitor
- Celestia Ludenberg – Super High School-Level Gambler
- Toko Fukawa – Super High School-Level Literary Girl
- Aoi Asahina – Super High School-Level Swimmer
- Sakura Ogami – Super High School-Level Grappler
- Hifumi Yamada – Super High School-Level Fanzine Artist
- Yasuhiro Hagukure – Super High School-Level Fortune-Teller
- Mondo Owada – Super High School-Level Biker
- Leon Kuwata – Super High School-Level Baseball Player
- Junko Enoshima -Super High School-Level Fashion Diva
Then series antagonist Monokuma (a remote-controlled robotic bear) shows up and forces all of the students into a killing game known as the School Life of Mutual Killing, where everyone has only two choices: live in Hope’s Peak High School forever or kill a fellow classmate in hopes of earning freedom.
While everyone is trying to find a way out of the school, Makoto develops a quick friendship with Sayaka Maizono, who was a former middle school classmate of his who he never really gotten to talk to.
Unfortunately, the anime leaves out why Sayaka had taken a sudden interest in Makoto despite the two never interacting before—she once saw him nursing an injured crane back to health while they were still attending the same school, which touched Sayaka and made her want to get to know him. But because they graduated school, they never got to interact until now.
Towards the end of the episode, Monokuma presents the first motive for killing: showing everyone a video of those closest to them, only to imply that all their friends and family are dead. This drove Sayaka, among others, into a state of hysteria as Monokuma laughs at everyone’s pain.
Overall, this is a decent summary of the game’s prologue. It’s much faster-paced because the game required a lot of point-and-click to progress through the story.
So far, the most noticeable difference for me is the English voice actors. Everyone except Makoto Naegi has a different voice actor from the games, so it’s a little jarring for me to hear the Funimation anime voices.
But by far the most different performance for me is Monokuma’s, who has a more nasally, smart-alecky voice. Even his evil laugh is different (“nyeh-nyeh-nyeh!”) This makes him sound more like a petty conman than a sadistic mastermind, which I feel doesn’t fully describe the character. Maybe it’s my bias for the games, but I prefer the Brian Beacock performance.
I will admit that the ending scene with Sayaka’s freakout was handled pretty well, which foreshadows her later role in the story.
Also, this is a little nitpick from me but there is an oddity in the scene where Makoto watches a video of his family. Despite Komaru Naegi being his younger sister, Komaru in the video called him “little bro.” Yeah… I’m pretty sure this is a mistake in the script. In the games, Komaru is younger than Makoto by at least a couple of years.
Anyways, decent episode that presents its premise in a straightforward fashion. The pacing is pretty rushed, but we have to remember that the games are deliberately slower-paced to get to know the characters better.
Episode 2: Kill and Live: (Not) Normal Arc
Yeah… that’s really the title of the episode. For whatever reason, the anime decided to have this theme of nonsensical episode names. So, take that as you will.
The episode covers about half of Chapter 1 in the game. It begins with Makoto adjusting to his new life at Hope’s Peak Academy. Right now, there’s a sword made of gold in his room for his own protection—since the anime is kind enough NOT to mention this little plot device in the previous episode.
After having a talk with Sayaka, the two decide to switch rooms for the night. Little did Makoto know, this little decision is going to be the end of her.
The next morning, Makoto discovers Sayaka’s bloody corpse in his room. So now, it’s up to everyone to enter the main portion of the killing game: conduct an investigation and decide who among them is the killer. If the correct classmate is chosen as the killer, then that classmate gets executed. If the wrong classmate is chosen, then everyone else dies except for the culprit.
Later on, one of the classmates (Junko Enoshima) ends up losing her temper and tries to leave herself out of the game while attacking Monokuma. In response, Monokuma immediately has her executed with throwing spears, using her as an example for what happens if the students dare defy him.
The rest of the episode is a summary of the investigation of Sayaka’s murder, where Makoto discovers the motive behind the killing: one of the videos that Monokuma provided, specifically the one for Sayaka.
Because of pacing issues, this is a rather dull episode. Sayaka Maizono is rather underdeveloped in the anime (spending only a small portion of two episodes dedicated to her), giving less of an incentive to care about her character. I think this goes without saying, but the game portrayed her much better. I will explain later why that is.
And of course, most of the episode is about learning how the class trials work and what would happen if you break the school rules. So aside from the murder, nothing truly exciting happened. Important for the plot, but….. YAAAAAWWWWNNN.
Episode 3: Kill and Live: Not Normal Arc
Yes, a nearly identical episode title to the previous episode. Why? I guess it’s to clarify that this is the “trial” episode while the previous one is the “investigation” episode. Based on how the rest of the episodes are named, this is going to be the common theme here.
Episode 3 picks up from the last episode’s cliffhanger, where the students commence the class trial to determine who murdered Sayaka Maizono. And as you can see from the screenshot, “DETAILS! DETAILS! WHO CARES WHAT EVIDENCE IS THERE!” All those “verbal bullets” were supposed to specify individual pieces of evidence.
And this is pretty much where you can see a difference in narrative. The first Danganronpa game tells the story from the first-person perspective of Makoto Naegi, and he spends a lot of time in the game gathering much of the evidence used in the class trials.
Makoto seems more clueless in the anime adaptation of the first class trial, as the other characters beat him to the punch in certain pieces of evidence.
And for those wondering why there is a random overlay and some random arc shot animations during the class trial episodes… they were in the games. So in the Danganronpa anime, it ends up looking more like a game show. It just so happens to involve murder, that’s all! As for the gun and bullet motifs, the series name “danganronpa” means “winning an argument with a bullet.”
The progression of the class trial is also fairly choppy because much of the evidence is skipped over in the previous episode. So now, we’re just getting the details of the evidence right when they’re useful to the trial. So how solutions are reached in the class trials feel more convoluted than before.
So eventually, Makoto finds out that Leon Kuwata is the one who murdered Sayaka. And I’m not gonna lie… Leon’s freakout towards the end is very entertaining to watch. It’s even funnier with the Japanese audio.
Okay, I confess. Those subtitles are not what they’re actually saying. Still…
So with Leon found guilty, he becomes the first killer to meet a gruesome execution, complete with a gritty, deliberate art style.
Overall, this episode isn’t bad but not that great either. The quick pacing makes the class trial hard to follow at times. Aside from Leon breaking down towards the end and his execution, there isn’t that much emotional impact. We barely know who Sayaka or Leon is at this point, so both of their deaths feel rushed out.
There is also this exchange between Makoto and Kyoko Kirigiri regarding what happened in the class trial.
Kyoko: I’ll be frank. It may be undeniable that Maizono meant to frame you for murder. The facts paint too clear a picture. That said, what do you imagine her dying thoughts were?
Makoto: How the hell should I know?
Kyoko: Naegi, I’m serious. You knew her well enough to speculate. Personally, I believe her last thoughts were how to save you. I think we can surmise that’s what she wanted in the end. Why else leave the message, correct? She certainly didn’t have to.
While thankfully this part of Sayaka’s death isn’t glossed over, the impact still feels weak overall. Much here wasn’t explained well.
The game gave Sayaka a brief backstory to how she ended up becoming the Ultimate Pop Sensation. She was a child raised by television. The beautiful j-pop stars she saw on TV gave her hope, so she decided to become like them so that she could be a symbol of hope for others as well.
While she is truly a sweet girl as a person, she cares about her career and her friends in her pop group above all else. She even mentioned that she did ANYTHING to make her dreams come true—implying that she might have gotten in bed with some people in the industry. The video that Monokuma had shown her depicted her friends apparently dead on stage, which was what drove Sayaka to attempt to murder Leon Kuwata and sacrifice her classmates.
While I don’t really know why she specifically targeted Leon, Sayaka could have targeted Makoto anytime. She managed to win him over with her feminine charm, so she could have easily catch him by surprise. In short, Sayaka acted out of impulse but hesitated, which ended up becoming her demise. It was implied that she still cared for Makoto in the end, actually valuing her brief friendship with him.
So… yeah. This adaptation of Chapter 1 is a missed opportunity.
Episode 4: Weekly Shounen Despair Magazine: (Not) Normal Arc
Episode 4 is the beginning of Chapter 2 of the game. For whatever reason, the episode starts with a bizarre Japanese Monokuma song that runs for two minutes. Yay.
Having previously sealed off most of the school building, Monokuma decided to allow the students to access the second floor. However, tensions build up between the students. Byakuya Togami sees the School Life of Mutual Killing as nothing more than a game to be won. This upsets the other students, especially Chihiro Fujisaki.
So this episode actually does a decent job in launching some subplots. There is Toko Fukawa’s crush on Byakuya and the rivalry of manhood between Mondo Owada and Kiyotaka Ishimaru, which ended in an unexpected friendship.
Later on, Monokuma introduces the new motive for the next murder: exposing everyone’s deepest secrets if a murder doesn’t happen within 24 hours.
The next day, the body of Chihiro Fujisaki was discovered in the girl’s locker room. So the investigation occurs and goes by pretty fast. Towards the end of the episode, Byakuya tells Makoto that an infamous serial killer known as Genocider Syo (known as Genocide Jack in the game) may be among them due to how Chihiro’s body appeared at the crime scene.
Alright. So this episode actually does a decent job with the setup despite the small amount of time it has to introduce all these subplots. There was also a bit of time to show that the victim, Chihiro, was a gentle lamb who sadly met a brutal demise—of course, the game portrayed this better so what do you expect?
So next up, the second class trial.
Episode 5: Weekly Shounen Despair Magazine: Not Normal Arc
So the second class trial gets crazy pretty fast. We learn that Toko Fukawa has dissociative personality disorder, her other personality being none other than Genocider Syo.
At first, Genocider Syo appears to be the primary suspect, but she only targets cute boys and murders them with her specially designed scissors. Then Byakuya appears to be the apparent prime suspect, but it is revealed that he tampered with the crime scene to make the game more interesting—yeah, he’s pretty fucked up that way. Kyoko also found out that Chihiro was really a cross-dressing boy.
After a slip of the tongue, Mondo Owada ends up becoming the prime suspect… within ten minutes of the damn episode. Seriously?
So the rest of the episode is Monokuma divulging the secrets of Chihiro and Mondo. Mondo’s motive for killing is to hide the fact that he had his older brother killed. There is also the fact that Chihiro plans to confront his secret head on, by beginning a workout program with Mondo Owada. Seeing Chihiro’s inner strength made Mondo jealous because he was too weak to confront his past, so he acted impulsively and smashed Chihiro’s skull in with a dumbbell.
Kiyotaka Ishimaru is broken up that his friend is the murderer in this case and that he will be facing execution. So after a rather fucking weird execution sequence, we get a cliffhanger ending where Monokuma is speaking to an off-screen character. And this character is apparently a spy among the group of students.
Alright, so final thoughts: this class trial is a little better than the first one since the last episode took the time to set up its subplots. But like the first trial, this one suffered from pacing problems—the whole trial was decided within ten minutes for fuck’s sake! The rest of the episode hashed out the backstories of Chihiro and Mondo rather quickly as well. So the reveal of the big twists in this trial have a weaker impact.
It really sucks because the deaths of both Chihiro and Mondo were even sadder in the original game. There was more time for their deaths to sink in, not to mention the reveal of the secrets of three characters made more of an impact.
So… this episode is pretty average.
Episode 6: Return of the New Century Galaxy Legend! O Armored Hero, Stand upon the Earth! (Not) Normal Arc
Geez, I am not digging these weird episode names.
Also, we’re treated to fanservice from Aoi Asahina! Whoo!
And if you’re wondering… yeah, that scene was in the game too. And it served the same purpose: Hina got some delicious thighs.
The next morning, Kiyotaka Ishimaru is still traumatized from his friend’s execution. Monokuma introduces the next motive for a murder: the killer will receive millions of dollars after leaving the school. Though the students try to convince themselves that no one is going to get killed for money, all of us already know what’s going to happen so just you wait…
Meanwhile, Aoi claimed that she saw the ghost of Chihiro Fujisaki at the bath area. But when everyone came to investigate, they discovered Chihiro’s laptop, which shows an extra-smart artificial intelligence donning his feminine face simply known as A.I. And A.I. wants to aid everyone to discover the secrets of Hope’s Peak High School and hopefully a way out. The classmates are relieved that a part of Chihiro still remains with them. But most of all, A.I. gives Kiyotaka a heartfelt pep talk, resulting in this bizarre scene…
He’s gone Super Saiyan!
So basically, what happened is that Kiyotaka got so much encouragement from A.I. that he ended up turning into a different entity (Kiyondo Ishida) that combines the personalities of both himself and Mondo.
A.I. also revealed a mysterious photo to the group of students, showing Leon Kuwata, Mondo Owada and Chihiro Fujisaki in a group photo as friends.
We also get the bizarre subplot of Hifumi Yamada becoming infatuated with A.I., since A.I. listens to his conversations ever so eagerly. This brings him into conflict with Kiyondo, who also wants to keep A.I. for himself. To make sure A.I.’s work goes uninterrupted, Kyoko forbids anyone to enter the bath area without permission.
The next day, the laptop was stolen anyway, which further raises tensions between Hifumi and Kiyondo. Byakuya points out the possibility that there is a traitor hiding among the students. And the next day after, Celestia Ludenberg and Hifumi Yamada were apparently attacked. After a confusing sequence of events, Kiyotaka Ishimaru was found dead and Hifumi Yamada was barely alive. His last word was the name of his killer, “Yasuhiro.”
Alright. As far as this episode goes, it’s probably the best one in this adaptation so far. At this point in the story, tension had been rising and the stakes had gone up. While quite a bit happened in this short runtime, this episode managed to raise some questions and pulled off a double murder. So compared to the previous episodes, this one is relatively easy to keep up with.
Episode 7: Return of the New Century Galaxy Legend! O Armored Hero, Stand upon the Earth! Not Normal Arc
So oddly enough, this episode doesn’t go straight to the trial. Instead, it continues the investigation that began during the last episode.
Kyoko Kirigiri, who had previously gone missing, managed to find Yasuhiro Hagakure stuffed inside a locker wearing a robot costume. The rest of the investigation finished up within the first five minutes of the episode and we jump to the class trial.
So as you expect, the trial begins with everyone suspecting Yasuhiro of being the murderer. And of course, Makoto had to save his ass from getting convicted.
However, Celestia Ludenberg accused Kyoko of being the murderer since she disappeared for some time and had no alibi. Of course, this was disproven and there seem to be no leads left. However, Makoto remembered a slip of the tongue from Celestia (somehow knowing there is more than one victim before everyone discovered two bodies).
So we get a battle of wits between Makoto and a now terrifying Celestia, where Makoto is trying to uncover her true name. After a heated debate, Celestia eventually concedes and her real name is revealed to be Taeko Yasuhiro. She also manipulated Hifumi into being her accomplice, staging the murder of Kiyotaka. And after Hifumi outlived his usefulness, Celestia murdered him. And all this was for Monokuma’s prize money, so she could use it to buy herself a castle and live in splendor for the rest of her life.
So Celestia takes her loss with grace and her execution commences. After the class trial, Makoto convinces Kyoko to be more open about her investigations since everyone is a friend. Based on her suggestion, Makoto enters one of the boy’s restrooms and finds a secret room with mysterious documents. However, he was attacked by an unknown masked assailant. And when he came to, he finds Sakura Ogami and Monokuma fighting in the gymnasium.
Alright, so my thoughts. This episode moves WAY too fast. So much shit happens in a short time despite the weirdness of this one particular class trial. We get a brief investigation, the trial, Celestia’s motive, Makoto and Kyoko’s talk, the masked person and Sakura fighting Monokuma. Very little time is spent developing the scenes or letting things sink in.
This is pretty much the main problem with the anime adaptation. Because the entirety of one game is getting condensed down to a 13-episode anime, the pacing goes much faster.
Episode 8: All All Apologies: (Not) Normal Arc
Continuing from the cliffhanger of the last episode, Makoto eavesdrop on Sakura and Monokuma. Makoto learns that Monokuma is keeping some people as hostages from Sakura, meaning that Sakura is Monokuma’s spy all along. The fight between the two happened because Sakura is tired of the pointless killings. But Monokuma kept the leash on her after threatening to harm the hostages.
A new area in the school opens up and Makoto keeps what he witnessed a secret from everyone. He and Kyoko later have a talk about the secret room in the boy’s restroom. And somehow, Kyoko learns that Makoto is keeping secrets from her, which upsets her because of what he said about how everyone should be more open earlier.
Meanwhile, A.I. discovered that the principal of Hope’s Peak High School is somewhere inside the building and it’s possible that he’s the one controlling Monokuma. There was also a group photo of Sayaka Maizono, Celestia Ludenberg, and Hifumi Yamada, showing that they were enjoying themselves. This puts the students in a state of confusion.
Monokuma calls the students into the gymnasium to reveal that Sakura is the traitor among them. This especially shocks Aoi Asahina, who tries to reason that Sakura had no choice. Makoto confirms this by explaining to everyone what he witnessed earlier, but Byakuya dismisses his claims and confirms that Sakura was to kill someone next if no murders occur after a certain amount of time.
And then we get ourselves a moment of awesome from Aoi Asahina. Byakuya says that Sakura is better off dead, but Aoi bitch-slapped him and tells him to shut up. But this causes tension to further escalate, where Byakuya dares Aoi to kill him and Toko threatens to harm Aoi if she dares to harm “her beloved.” Kyoko breaks up the fight and warns Byakuya not to take people’s emotions so lightly (or else it will bite him back in the ass).
Later on, Toko (under her Genocider Syo persona) cuts Aoi with her scissors after a heated argument. Makato, Yasuhiro and Aoi meet up in the nurse’s office to patch Aoi’s wound. Sakura storms in, furious about the attack and vows to take matters into her own hands.
Makoto gets another chance to talk to Kyoko, who seems to have forgiven him for keeping Sakura’s double-agent role a secret from her.
See what I mean with the pacing of this anime? This little subplot happens and gets resolved in the first fifteen minutes of this episode.
So to learn more about the school, Makoto connects A.I. to the school’s network to do some more searching. However, an upset Kyoko finds him and leads him to a deceased Sakura. A distraught Aoi looks on in horror and believes that everyone else suspecting Sakura is the reason why she’s dead.
An investigation is conducted by Makoto and Kyoko and find that they’re looking at a locked room murder. The rest of the students come into the room, where Aoi accusses Byakuya, Toko and Yasuhiro of being the murderer since they were the last people that Sakura had talked to before her death.
Alright, my thoughts.
I actually liked this episode. Yeah, it suffers from the same pacing issues like before, but the tension between the students is played out reasonably well. It allows Sakura’s betrayal to sink in as well as her efforts to try to amend relations with everyone.
It does help that Sakura Ogami is one of my favorite Danganronpa characters due to her exceptional strength, bravery and nobleness. Even in her role as a spy for Monokuma, she despises her role and she hates the senseless killings going on, ultimately leading her to break ties to Monokuma. There is also one more reason, which I’ll expect to see in the next episode.
Episode 9: All All Apologies: Not Normal Arc
The fourth class trial is underway. Oddly enough, I’m able to follow what’s going on here better compared to the other trials. It’s probably because the setup of any possible evidence is done decently during the previous episode.
And for whatever reason, Byakuya Togami is actually kinda NICE in this trial. In fact, he’s rarely the grade-A asshole we know and… hate from the original game. Did the anime simply look over that fact?
So during the trial, we learned that Byakuya had never actually met Sakura. However, Yasuhiro and Toko did and even managed to assault her without provocation. Aoi, as unsubtle as she is, attempts to move the trial along straight to the voting. But after being worked into a corner, Aoi admits to murdering Sakura. However, Makoto doesn’t believe her, explaining that it would be impossible for her to kill Sakura in a room that had been locked and had only one exit.
The conclusion comes to that Sakura committed suicide. Aoi desperately tries to take the blame, revealing her real plan: getting everyone to choose the wrong culprit, so that they all get executed, including herself. The reason: she found a suicide note apparently left behind by Sakura, voicing her sorrow from the lack of trust from her fellow classmates.
However, it’s revealed that Monokuma forged this suicide note and decided to read out the real note left behind by Sakura. And this note reveals that Sakura killed herself, so that there will no longer be any reason for the remaining classmates to mistrust one another. And it turns out her plan worked, because the classmates are more fired up than ever to escape their situation.
But Monokuma reveals a sinister twist: an execution for not the killer this time, but for A.I. And of course, this puts a damper into everyone’s plans to learn more about the school.
Furthermore, Makoto and Kyoko have another brief talk after the trial. Kyoko reveals that there is yet another student in the school, a girl named Mukuro Ikusaba.
Alright. So this episode is actually a pretty decent adaptation of the Chapter 4 class trial. It is more straightforward and there’s actually some tension here. Since it was established that Aoi Asahina and Sakura Ogami were good friends, it’s actually painful to see Aoi writhe in agony over the loss of her best friend.
This trial was also a major reason why Sakura Ogami was one of my favorite Danganronpa characters. Her sacrifice served a noble cause, which is to bring hope to the remaining students to keep fighting on and bring Monokuma down a notch.
In the game, Sakura’s backstory explains that she had been undergoing intense training as a martial artist since she was a child and her goal was to defeat the most powerful martial artist on the planet, who turned out to be her one and only true love. Though she was a fairly reasonable character, despite her intimidating appearance, she was previously a bit selfish about her goal and was a bit of a lone wolf. But her close friendship with Aoi Asahina made her realize that people gain strength from their friends, so she was willing to sacrifice her dream so that her friends may live and keep on fighting in the name of hope. And this sacrifice solidified her role as someone who is both strong of body and strong of heart.
Sadly, the anime doesn’t cover this much depth in her character, but the nobleness was definitely there.
Episode 10: The Junk Food of Despair for Racing through Youth: (Not) Normal Arc
The next day, the remaining classmates have explored the fifth and final floor of Hope’s Peak High School. There were two major discoveries: a bloody room, which may have been the site of a horrible event in the past, and a combat knife, which was handed to Makoto for safe-keeping. Once again, Kyoko vanishes for the day.
However, Monokuma summons everyone to the gym, really pissed off about someone stealing his “treasure.” And admittedly, Monokuma beating a dead fish is pretty entertaining to watch.
Later that night, Kyoko goes off to see Makoto and hands him a mysterious key, which came from the principal’s office and is apparently Monokuma’s missing “treasure.” Sometime before Sakura’s death, she managed to destroy the door to the office, allowing anyone easy access. Kyoko has managed to learn more about Mukuro Ikusaba and indicates the possibility that she might be the mastermind behind the School Life of Mutual Killing
Makoto and Kyoko decide to work together to further their investigation of the school. Makoto distracts Monokums while Kyoko accesses a remote part of the school. Afterwards, Makoto goes to bed but wakes up to a mysterious masked person carrying the survival knife he kept earlier. Makoto passes out and wakes up to see Kyoko in the darkness of his room, uttering something unintelligible. I will admit that this scene is pretty suspenseful and creepy.
The next morning, a new bizarre event happens. The remaining students, minus Kyoko, are taking a defunct Monokuma apart in the gymnasium. Everyone seems to be getting closer to solving the mystery of the school, but…
It seems another murder has taken place. But this time, the victim is unknown. Though Byakuya suspects it’s Kyoko’s corpse since she is the only person not among them, the corpse self-destructs, making the body unidentifiable. Makoto brings up that the body may have belonged to the 16th student, Mukuro Ikusaba. On her corpse, they discover a key that leads to a camera room, which shows the monitors of all of the school’s cameras.
However, Monokuma makes a surprise appearance despite being apparently in disrepair. He reveals that the events in the school were broadcasted all over the world, and announced a fifth class trial since the discovery of the unknown victim earlier. At the last minute, Kyoko shows up, well and alive, and reveals that the murder victim was indeed Mukuro Ikusaba.
So yeah, this is a decent summary of Chapter 5 in the game. The pacing is actually not too bad in this, as it seems to include every major scene and giving them enough time to be coherent.
Episode 11: The Junk Food of Despair for Racing through Youth: Not Normal Arc
So in less than a minute, the investigation finishes up and the fifth class trial begins. Right off the bat, Byakuya accuses Kyoko of being the one who murdered Mukuro Ikusaba since she was the only classmate lacking an alibi. In the previous episode, Kyoko gives Byakuya her dorm room key since she had frequently disappeared under everyone’s noses.
For the first time in the series, Kyoko is visibly nervous and claims that she is not the killer. However, Makoto knows she lied through her teeth because he knows that she was in possession of a skeleton key, which would allow her access to any room in the school, including her dorm room (where there is a certain piece of evidence lying around).
However, Makoto decides to not rat Kyoko out and puts his full trust in her. He also notices the strangeness of the whole trial, since no one has any idea if the murdered victim is truly Mukuro Ikusaba, so he confronts Monokuma about it. This prompts Monokuma to end the trial prematurely and get right to the voting. But Kyoko steps in and argues that Makoto is the killer. And everyone else just agrees.
Wow. Way to throw him under the bus there, Lavender Locks…
But of course, Makoto isn’t actually the killer but the voting was decided anyway. Makoto tries to convince everyone that the whole trial was just a setup, but Monokuma begins his execution immediately.
But then deus ex machina happens in the form of A.I. Just as Makoto was about to be crushed into human mush, Makoto falls into a pit. This action shocks the whole group, even Monokuma himself.
Makoto, having survived his execution, finds himself in a garbage dump in the depths of the school. With no food or water around, Makoto falls asleep. However, Kyoko manages to enter inside as well. Kyoko confirms that Monokuma did, in fact, rig the trial in order to find Kyoko guilty. But because Makoto spoke out in her defense, Monokuma decided to kill him off instead.
As they try to escape, Kyoko reveals that her memories are slowly returning , that she is the Super High School Level Detective (like, no shit…), and that her father was the principal of Hope’s Peak Academy.
After their escape, Makoto and Kyoko confront Monokuma for the cheating bastard he is to reopen the case of Mukuro Ikusaba. Kyoko manages to put the pressure on Monokuma to convince him, but there is a catch: if everyone fails to solve the mystery of the school, they will all get executed. But if they win, Monokuma will have to let everyone walk free.
Makoto and Kyoko return to their crestfallen classmates and prepare for the ensuing battle for hope and despair.
This episode is just okay. Because of the pacing, the possibility that Kyoko may have killed someone was much less dramatic. Considering she is one of the most important characters in the original game due to her detective prowess, that particular twist had a much stronger impact.
And seeing how there are two episodes left, I’m actually looking forward to seeing our batshit insane mastermind behind the School Life of Mutual Killing. So yeah, let’s see if that turns out awesome.
Episode 12: The Reason Super High School-Level Bad Luck Attracted Super High School-Level Murder, Super High School-Level Execution and Super High School-Level Despair
JESUS FUCKING CHRIST DO YOU THINK THAT SUPER HIGH SCHOOL-LEVEL TITLE IS SUPER HIGH SCHOOL-LEVEL LONG ENOUGH HUH HUH SUPER HIGH SCHOOL-LEVEL HUH!?!?!?!
Makoto and Kyoko investigate further into the school. They discover that Kyoko’s father, the principal, had passed away long ago and that his skeleton remains on campus. Kyoko admits that she came to Hope’s Peak Academy to reconnect with her father, but dismisses the idea thinking it was foolish of her to have such hope.
Makoto discovers an SD card with a video file on it, showing that all of the students of Hope’s Peak Academy conversing with the principal and having agreed to live in the school, including Makoto himself. However, Monokuma comes in to sabotage the computer to eliminate the evidence. Kyoko then asks Makoto to leave alone with the remains of her father, presumably to grieve for him.
Meanwhile, everyone is conduct an investigation. Byakuya discovers the student profile of Mukuro Ikusaba, bringing him closer to the truth. Makoto finds a class notebook apparently owned by Yasuhiro and a diary owned by Kyoko, which reveals that there are “two despairs.”
Makoto finds a morgue in the top floor of the school and discovers that a body is missing. Monokuma shows up to give everyone a different class photo, and the final trial is set to begin.
Everyone comes to the conclusion that everyone except themselves is the mastermind (uh, really?) Makoto points out that this was only a tactic played by Monokuma to turn everyone against each other. Using the clues he found, he concludes that the photos were real and that everyone has amnesia. At first. everyone doesn’t believe him but Monokuma outright admits that they do have amnesia.
Though Monokuma attempts to point the murder to Kyoko, Makoto comes to the conclusion that Mukuro Ikusaba was the Junko Enoshima who died earlier in the series and that the real mastermind behind the School Life of Mutual Killing is the real Junko Enoshima. And so she finally reveals herself.
Simply put, this episode has a lot of stuff happening and so it’s a bit hard to follow. The reveal of Junko Enoshima is also downplayed by the fact that the credits run over her, which is pretty annoying.
One episode left.
Episode 13: Goodbye, Despair High School
So we’re now at the final episode. Unlike the previous episodes, which run for about 25 minutes, this episode runs for about 35 minutes.
So as stated in the last episode, Junko Enoshima and Mukuro Ikusaba are fraternal twins and have been working together to put the whole School Life of Mutual Killing into fruition. However, Junko has very little regard for her sister’s existence and considers her more of a nuisance.
Also, Junko is Mukuro’s true killer, and the reason for murder is for shits and giggles. As you can imagine, she’s a crazy bitch who seemingly had multiple personality disorder—truthfully, she’s a supergenius who is so easily bored with life that the only thing that gives her life purpose is to bring despair upon the world. And she has this habit of switching appearances and personalities on a whim, to keep herself from getting bored.
So this final class trial is pretty much a big wall of exposition on how the world had effectively ended before the events of this series and Junko was broadcasting the School Life of Mutual Killing across the world to kill off the most hopeful people on the planet. She also added some extra rules to the final class trial: everyone must unanimously vote for one person to die, or else everyone dies. And because Junko hates Makoto, the classmates can choose to sacrifice him to gain their freedom. However, the world outside is barely inhabitable, so there will be despair no matter where they go.
Also, this episode has a funny obsession with zooming into Junko’s cleavage.
Everyone falls into a state of despair, but of course Makoto ends up being their totem pole of hope. Kyoko even gives him a corny nickname: the Super High School-Level Hope. So everyone unanimously votes for Junko to lose. Junko, seemingly getting a taste of her own medicine, actually revels at her own failure and despair. It’s to the point where she even willingly executes herself to seal the deal.
So everyone leaves the school, Makoto makes his corny “hope speech,” and we get a weird epilogue of Monokuma rising from the ground, and…
Don’t be late for your first day of school, boys and girls!
No really, that’s what she said.
Anyone not familiar with the series will be wondering why the flying fuck is there a female animatronic rabbit wearing a diaper showing up at the last second to say that. For those curious, that character is Monomi, who has a big supporting role in Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. I guess that was meant to be a minor teaser for the sequel, but… ehh.
So that was Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc – The Animation. It’s…. ehhhhhh… hehhhhh…
This anime adaptation is okay. Just… okay. The main reason I say that is because the faster pacing, meaning a lot of character interactions get left out. One of the problems that is prevalent in the Danganronpa series is that most of the characters you get to know will get killed off pretty quickly, so the best way to get to know them better is to spend your free time in the games to unlock new conversations. In this anime adaptation, this is a lot more noticeable and therefore many of the character portrayals fell flat.
The characters themselves are fine. But when you have to work with so many in just 13 episodes, of course there’s going to be very little time to get to know each one. So ultimately, the survivors of the School Life of Mutual Killing and Monokuma are going to get the most screentime. And because of the repetitive nature of the plot, the whole premise of a killing game gets tired out pretty quickly. It’s a lot more tolerable when you, as Makoto Naegi, are doing the investigations and the debating.
The artwork is pretty good, keeping true to the look and feel of the visual novels. The animations are lacking and you can tell the animators are trying to replicate the look and tone of the visual novels, but haven’t quite made it to that point. As a result, the class trial episodes have a lot of slow-moving panning shots. In the visual novels, there’s a lot more energy, bright colors and style to the animations, despite the character portraits themselves remaining mostly static and changing to different expressions every now and then.
The English dub cast is okay, though some of the actors sound like they’re straining their voices to achieve a specific voice, which may come off as unnatural and even hard to understand at times. So I preferred the dub cast of the visual novel.
The soundtrack recycles music from the visual novel, but it seems to only aim for a few key songs. The music also tends to play a bit too quietly in contrast to the voiceovers, so you can’t really appreciate it too much.
The overall tone of the anime feels pretty different from the visual novel. While the anime faithfully recreates the key scenes of the visual novel for the most part, it never really lets any of the horror and intense situations sink in. The visual novel, on the other hand, feels grim and hopeless, due to its slower pacing which allows suspense to set in. But because of the anime’s faster pacing, there isn’t that much suspense and the momentum goes on for too long.
Furthermore, every episode ends with the credits rolling while an upbeat j-rock song plays in the background. Yes, even after the grim execution scenes. This is a jarring and seemingly unimportant choice, but I feel like it does take away the horror that we, the audience, are supposed to feel.
In the end, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc – The Animation helped me realize that even the first visual novel had its faults. While people who have never seen this show before may get some entertainment value from its interesting premise, people who have played the visual novels are not going to find much here. This anime is pretty much a watered down version of the first visual novel and doesn’t really do things differently. So unless you want to see your favorite characters fully animated, there isn’t much for fans of the visual novels to see. Because of that, I have to wonder what is even the point of this adaptation if it’s just going to follow the game almost scene by scene.
And for those people new to the series, this is a decent entry point but you are much better off playing the game instead.
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - The AnimationPrice Varies
- Plot-wise, the anime keeps true to the original visual novel . It even has all of the key scenes.
- Many of the characters are fairly likable, despite receiving little backstory.
- The artwork is pretty well done and comes pretty close to emulating the look of the visual novel.
- The English dub is okay, despite nearly all roles being fulfilled by different voice actors.
- Because of the anime's much faster pacing, everything is watered down. The plot gets stale quickly and the characters feel underdeveloped.
- The class trial episodes are clumsily paced and feel like they're trying to finish as fast as possible.
- The animations are lacking.
- The English voice actors at times sound like they're trying too hard to portray a specific voice.
- The overall tone of the anime feels different from the visual novel, as it fails to let the horrific and intense moments sink in.