Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc – The Animation

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Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc The Animation banner

Director Seiji Kishi
Studio Lerche
Original run 2013
Number of episodes13
Purchase DVD collectionClick here to purchase from Amazon.
Purchase Blu-ray collectionClick 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.

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

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.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - The Animation Makoto Naegi Aoi Asahina Toko Fukawa Yasuhiro Hagakure

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 Animation

Price Varies
Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - The Animation
6.8

STORY

6.0/10

CHARACTERS

6.5/10

ART & ANIMATION

7.5/10

SOUNDTRACK

7.0/10

Pros

  • 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.

Cons

  • 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.
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