*MY SCORE IS BASED IN THE VISUAL NOVEL + ANIME*
First of all, don't be an 'animeonlyfag shit poster' if you want to know this show better, clear? Saying the anime is a complete shit without acknowledging the visual novel contents is a big mistake, but it's not your fault rushing to this conclusion.
I'll explain why you should give this a chance.
Why you should play the visual novel and why I think it should be a 26 episodes adaptation:
Like I said, the catch is the visual novel. If you play, (requires a PSP or a neat PC to run the emulator. If you don't have any of those or if you're just lazy - watch on YouTube instead, but beware of the spoilers) you'll understand the development of the show and the characters easily and consequently you'll like the show, because if you deal only with the anime, you'll probably won't like from the beginning. For instance, the story is deep as fuck (mindf*cks everywhere) but they only got 13 episodes to make understandable for everyone, and that's why the long time fans or even the newcomers, like myself in that time, became pissed off about it.
When I decided to give Danganronpa a second chance, I did a little searching first (lies, I did a lot of searching) and I discovered the visual novel! With some more lurking in the dark places of the internet, I read some people saying to play the whole visual novel first and watch the ongoing animation after finishing it. So I did the following: I played the visual novel first, understood the story and finished the game with my point of view, (like which characters I spent my freetime and bonded with) just for my first impression. Hell, later I even watched what I didn't make in YouTube just for character and hidden plot knowledge purposes! Then I finally got my eyes into the anime, and I must say all this work just to understand the series was damn worth my time, because the impression I got is the anime is kinda a crappy summary of the visual novel.
But the big question that I got wandering in my mind for a while is - It was supposed to be this rushed? If I'm right, it was a huge mistake agreeing to make this adaptation.
Further explanation, and what's behind of the negative hype:
The first question I got when I found the root of the fanbase was: Why all the anger, and why a lot of people are saying Dangit Ron Paul is bad? The answer came to me pretty clearly. Well, for starters, Dama Bomba: The Animation isn't bad, it's just another case of the animation wasn't good enough to compete with the VN/Manga.
If you want to make a good adaptation of a successful series you MUST gather all the great points of the show, like the investigation, the soundtrack and the main character development. You need to put together even the obviously charming downsides, like the pink blood, the funny looking villain or some goofy executions, everything that make this show unique. All it needs to make a grateful and enjoyable adaptation.
In the visual novel the entire development is pretty solid, you start to understand most of the characters and their personalities pretty well with the main story and more and more with the free-time events. Take your time and enjoy the ride. Also you can always load the chapters if someone you didn't bonded with dies suddenly if you continue the story (heart attack someone? would be hella funny). Sadly in the anime everything happens SO DAMN FAST, it's so dynamic that we even can't understand what the hell just happened! Just like that on the middle of the series almost the entire cast is dead with nothing else more explained with ease, your mind can be kinda like this: WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? THAT GUY DIED? BUT I DIDN'T EVEN KNEW HE WAS THERE IN THE FIRST PLACE! WHY IS THAT TEDDYBEAR KILLING THESE KIDS? AND WHY HE HAVE SUCH A FUNNY VOICE? SERIOUSLY GUYS I NEED HELP AROUND HERE. It's a clusterfuck, seriously.
The animation doesn't have on-screen character bonding too, like Mondo and Ishimaru becoming bros (Fujisaki included, but not that much on the series to be honest, it's more a fanfic thing - the bro trio that I love so much), which the outcome leads people to think about a weird boylove thing (no offense to yaoi fans). Just because it is very nonexplained in the anime. Now, in the visual novel, they appear together kinda frequently, and with all the talking is self explanatory that a man bond is thicker than blood, and you're part of their partnership aswell AND became respected by those two! But where is this in the animation? 5 minutes? That's unacceptable, just a forgetful frickin' beam and that was it? ONE THING I CAN'T STAND IS A RUSHED MOTHERFUCKING ADAPTATION! It was supposed to be there because it IS a important thing to make the story more understandable and enjoyable. Also, Fukawa stalking Togami (it appears on-screen but is poooooorly developed, goddammit), Oogami and Asahina bonding can be a little misleading as well (well, for me it is in a good way. God bless yuri). For instance - in the game you can see them practicing sports together, in the same room and eating donuts (you're alone in this one, Aoi-chan), and there's a lot more stuff they don't show us. It's a shame that all those good natured fillers got swerved big time.
The story is indeed deep and interesting, and may or not have some five or six twists. The hope of humanity are those 15 (*cough* 16 *cough*) kids, and they're trapped in the Hope Academy to grow a new population. Why? Well, that's because they're the best in the world on their jobs or hobbies, seems strange? (even I could be there if they needed some masturba- nevermind) Yeah, it's just because of that. Seriously, at first glance seems shitty, but later on things get spicy... if you want to know more just GO WATCH IT RIGHT NOW.
And why they're trapped? Sorry, you're asking too much now (don't mind my delirium disorder, please), like I aggressively ordered you, you must watch/play the series to know better. Anyways, what I can tell you is something very interesting, this was supposed to be a pacific and a calm place for the new Adam's and Eve's live their lives forever... but because of this fucking bear now they must KILL each other in order to 'graduate', and on top of that - it must be a silent dispatch, nobody can find out who is the murderer! Like, what the fuck? But if they manage to catch the assassin (so many synonyms for killer), and obviously have the proof needed to lockdown the guilty without further doubt - the culprit is executed and everybody moves to the next place of the academy. Yep, that's it thank you New York and good night!!! But seriously, Monokuma make his rules very strict, and plays around to always have something entertaining to watch, like giving the kids 'reasons to kill' or if they accuse and vote to kill an innocent person everybody dies and the former malefactor graduate. Well, you're obviously thinking that is fucking insane, huh? The flow of the show with all the murder mystery plot is actually pretty involving when they start investigating, talking and understanding who they are, their reasons to survive and even their background life. So as threatening every single kid is to each other, they get their facts straight in the end just to make the right decision for the sake of their own lives. Egotistical but that's the vital point of the entire series, all about survival. But, as bad news aren't exactly 'news' for the animation, this is part of a (ANOTHER?) huge flaw in the animation.
In the visual novel, Naegi, who is YOU (yay you're a scared dingus protagonist), need to search for clues and assimilate the whole damn thing. This is what develops the mystery and get you in the mood of the show, even in those cases that you don't need to use your brain too much - the satisfaction to finally close a case is great! I didn't like so much the most of the murder reasons to be honest, but that is just me. Sadly the anime didn't make very well from the point of view of Naegi. Basically what I'm saying is: He doesn't fucking know jackshit, and from the vastly dungeon of nothingness he suffers from a sudden lapse of knowledge and mysteriously knows what happened and who is the culprit! (if he's somewhat wrong, Kirigiri is right. Seems like House M.D all over again) Like, what the hell? Even some clues he and other cast members found in the investigation do NOT get mentioned in the class trial for better understanding just because he is the protagonist. And the stupid thing is, IF YOU FAIL THE TEST, SUDDENLY YOU'RE THE CULPRIT! IT WAS ME ALL ALONG, AUSTIN! And yes, even with the exploration this came of as unexplained. That was their way to insert a Game Over in this VN, and honestly - it's half-assed.
The whole point is apprehending the plot - this is not a senseless battle royale, but inauspiciously it is what the most people who didn't even knew the series before and went straight to the anime thought it was, just because the lack of information on the animation rushed storyline. I know, this is getting repetitive.
Well, I must say the animation did not impress me thaaat much. I like the unique style of the characters (their eyes for example) and I sure loved seing my favorite ones (Mondo Badass Oowada) in action instead of a weird paperboard figure. Each and every character is powered up with a lot of funny, scary, cute and badasses reactions too, (the priceless Celes angry reactions). But, again, another thing I dislike that is still there from the visual novel, because it's one of the charming downsides of the series, is the MOTHERF***ING SHAKING CAMERA! What I mean is: WHEN A BODY IS FOUND THE CAMERA SHAKES MORE THAN FREAKING SHAKIRA IN A HULA HOOP! Seems like even the cameraman got scared and you'll get scared too just because of this (or is just me, probably just me). But seriously, this is extremely annoying, but I can kinda (not really) understand that is a charm from the series, like the pink blood thing. What bugs me it's the whole OMG I FOUND A CORPSE! LET'S SHAKE WITH TERROR AND PLAY A TERRIFYING SCREAM, HEHOOO. I don't like to be scared outta nowhere!
Now I will beg your pardon, but my fanboyism side is gonna take control for a sec.
OH MY GOD WHAT KIND OF MASTERMIND IS THIS GUY MASAFUMI TAKADA? All the OST is MARVELOUS. I'll just mention that he worked for Killer 7 and the No More Heroes franchise too. I can't get enough of the songs. I listened to this OST a LOT, the entire thing for weeks and weeks, over 4000 executions on my last.fm account I believe, it's just brilliant! At least for me, the entire show is this great because of background instrumental orchestra, it fits perfectly when a song starts with a new scene or change of subject - it can bring you hope or despair (puns, lovely) accordingly with the present scenario. But if you couldn't figure out why the soundtrack is the best thing on this series, I suggest you listen closely when it happens and you'll understand what I'm talking about, it can be on the animation or in the visual novel, doesn't matter to say no less, at least the anime couldn't get any wrong with this OST. You really know when the shit is about to hit the fan just because of the music direction. The change of pace is very friendly if you're lost in the dialogues.
Aside from the extraordinary soundtrack (and my fanboyism), let's talk about the voice acting. First of all there is something that everybody should've already recognized: Naegi's voice actor is the same as Shinji from the Evangelion series (yay he's a scared dingus protagonist too). Pretty good work if you ask me, but not that good compared to the visual novel as the effort was not the same. He seems bored all the time when he yells the classic DING DONG YOU'RE ALL WRONG. Unfortunately the same happens with Monokuma's acting as well - in the visual novel he is a lot funnier, even his iconic laugh is dissatisfactory in the anime. A downside of playing the VN is - you'll grow tired of this if you played the entire game. But the good thing is, that finally we can hear the characters actually talking to each other instead of just being souless paperboard figures just standing there motionless. Also yelling more and shouting a lot more instead of just grunting or repeating the same words all the time, that is the beauty of the animation. Because in the visual novel you don't get that many different sounds. I did loved Hagakure saying more words than dabe all the time. And yes, during the class trials and the outcome of the murders, we can still have the conversation with the characters fearing the worst, accusing each other, losing their sanity and crying rivers (I feel you, Ishimaru). That is indeed a spectacular voice acting! I must say I personally love Fujisaki's and Mondo's voice acting. (no shit sherlock)
On a side note - the OP and the EP of the animation are pretty well done too. OP with a few rap spots that seemed original and lore-friendly for me, and the EP with a good techno jpop with catching lyrics. Japan at the finest! Well done there.
We can't understand the characters that well like we do in the visual novel just because we have the world in our hands there, but fortunately the animation got the entire essence of each one to make a neat adaptation, like Kirigiri's mysterious aura, Togami's jerkface attitude or Fujisaki's scared cat personality.
In the beginning we can't see what the first victims are up to, what they do and who they are. Sadly this happens in the visual novel aswell, even though we can chitchat with everyone. That's a big downside for who tried to bond with some of the soon-to-be-dead characters better, well you can kinda try to, but you cannot save whoever you want and that got me mad. It's a shame the VN was this linear, because I tried my very best to save her (YOU TRIED TOO)... bitch. But, let's just wait for the PSVITA version with the School Mode, shall we? Seems like you can really control the story with the choices you make, and the game doesn't bamboozle you just faking the feeling that you're in control, and I'll finally gonna be bro with Mondo and Ishimaru and get my scheme going with the millitary girl, OOPS.
Overall and my conclusion:
* You can enjoy the anime like any other psychological/mystery one, could be a LOT better if was a 24~26 episode with a few OVAS on the way, but it's fine the way it is, could be a masterpiece (fanboyism), but it's just fine... it could be, but isn't... IT'S STILL REAL TO ME, DAMMIT.
* It's a nice murder mystery, the plot is not forgivable in the anime for the lack of information because it's so linear, if you try to search for infos you might get huge spoilers! Be careful!
* Monokuma is an incredibly funny, love to hate villain at most of the times, but eventually you'll start to understand his true reasons. I can say his theme music helps with the shits 'n gigs atmosphere, but his acting gets kinda boring and predictable too, later on you'll eventually start slooooowly disliking him, and I say slowly getting pretty annoyed at his appearances just because he doesn't seem all that 'super genius mastermind' anymore. The first theatre is actually decent to make you think about the characters safety, but after two or three stories later on it's just a "oh well we got a scene here, again!" To top that - the kids start to get along with the environment, with their colleagues and they turn out to be more confident. They stop getting scared or frustrated about their situation and they actually engage in a quest to get the F out of that academy. For me, he's just an angry teddy bear who fell sideways on black grease and is pissing mad about it.
* There's not so much gore (if any) or bloodshed, and in my humble opinion - they missed an opportunity there, a case that could be much more gruesome. Let me explain my disappointment with this little semi-spoiler - It should have a little more creepy aspects, at least in this specific execution -- because there's nothing remaining of the body, like, it SHOULD be something there if I recall correctly. That wasn't a disappearence... well, this is something that they did not explained to us viewers, and sounded more like a joke than an execution. You'd think this academy is entirely dark and grim but, after that one I was starting to doubt the whole 'despair murdering madness I'll drink your tears in the breakfast yar fucker' show.
* There's not much horror, for the good or for the bad. The Hope Academy 'dark aura' it's there because the horror is tagged with his buddy mystery. But hey, the blood is fucking pink so who cares about horror? (Andy Warhol and your PopArt influences) But the thing that would scare you the most is the camera. Trust me, is the motherfreakin' camera.
Err... enjoy yourselves. Aaaaaaanyways, moving on. The thing is that you MUST understand you won't get all the prestigious information that could possibly make you a big fan of the show if you don't play/watch the visual novel. Again I'll reinforce this with an example: Myself! I got very interested in all the characters (mainly Mondo. Yes it's true, it's true) and the mystery plot. So I spared a considerable amount of time to research the show's world and I did enjoy a LOT when I got things straight. I must say I'm not much a horror/gore lover, I like more when they're together with a mystery plot, oh I love the mystery more than anything else... Actually I'm lying, I love boobs much more, but there isn't much fanservice on this show, which is kinda good because, with a plot like this the fanservice is the least you want it, otherwise it would be a crappy show which ends on a boat [SHOTS FIRED]. Well, actually there is a little from Asahina in the episode 6... god I love her round donuts! And if you want to get nasty... search for fanfics!
Lastly, this show is very easy going on the mystery solving, and offers a BIG AMOUNT OF PERSPECTIVES. In my opinion the whole plot could be a big reality show, and when a person 'die' - him/her starts to help on the next murdering schemes, and yes, only Naegi who doesn't know shit about it. Well, that is my perspective. You'll have your own too. Like I said, the show is very forgiving in this aspect, but I can't spoil more for you. If you got really interested I suggest you do the same as I did - spare a couple hours to acknowledge the awesomeness that is this show, because it is worth it your time.
Now I only need to learn freaking japanese to play Dammit Panga 2 (yes there's a 2, where the story get more and more interesting, or more and more fucked up, your choice).
2015 edit: I wrote this review in 2013, but now the second Danganronpa is already available and in English, iirc.
Forever editting: Grammar mistakes. Like I said, I wrote this in 2013 and my english is a lot better now, so I'm always returning to this review to check if I wrote something wrong... and guess what? I always find a mistake! Learning process, everybody.
~FORGET IT BEAM~
I hope my review was helpful and I hope (it's not a pun with the show, I swear) I didn't spoil some crucial point to you, and I hope (SERIOUSLY IT'S NOT) you'll love it as much as I did! Sorry about any grammar errors, I did this review because I treasure Dragonmarpa a lot and I thought people will get more interested if I shared my *ahem* vast knowledge about it, and of course I tried to not be an annoying fanboy so much. (hey, I didn't even talk much about Mondo anyways, HUH? HUH??? AM I RIGHT GUYS?)
Swig of water for the reviewing man, I'll catch your ass down the road.
Jesus Christ, Ishimaru. Are you for real?
~Hey, what about a drinking game? Read my review again and, everytime I said 'rushed show' you take a shot, be careful to not throw up! hahahah... oh dear.
AHAHA WHAT’S WITH THOSE SKETCHES?!
… Ahem, one thing at a time. This anime is another one of those death game shows where a bunch of people need to kill each other for some stupid reason. In this case, it is because the orchestrator of the game loves murder. Yeah, it is shallow and stupid but HEY at least there is a motivation for the villain. Remember the one in Sword Art Online, who was making you think there was a major reason and turned out he had none? So at least this one is honest about what it’s all about. LADIES AND GENTLEMEN I AM A NUTJOB WHO LOVES TO FORCE PEOPLE INTO KILLING EACH OTHER!
It would be more than enough if they left it as simple as that but that is the thing with this show. It tries to be over-the-top in everything. And this is why the orchestrator is the president of a prestige school.
… and is also a talking bear.
… make that a mutated talking bear with magic powers.
… ok, actually it is a remote controlled robot that uses high tech but come on, it is so impossible to believe it can do all that, you might as well call it magic
Now you may start wondering why is a bear managing a prestige school, or what drove it to become so sadistic. You can stop thinking about such trivial issues after you take a look at how the participants of the death game look like.
AHAHA! WHAT ARE THESE CLOWNS?
Seriously, they all look ten times more eccentric and ridiculous than even those in Yu Gi Oh. In our world they wouldn’t be able to take a single step outside their houses without being pointed at and laughed about but over here that is supposed to be normal. Not even the blood looks right; it’s colored pink! Because red would make sense; get it? They say it is a form of censorship and stuff but come on; it looks like everybody is bleeding strawberry juice.
But anyways, if you suspend your disbelief you can excuse it as a way to make the characters more memorable. If they were normal-looking, you wouldn’t have a reason to remember them. And that expands to their personality as well, which is nothing more than a ridiculous pinch in the voice (two of which are even traps) and a couple of quirks based on what they are good at. Technically they are not even characters but representations of archetypes. So yeah, easy to remember but nothing much besides that.
Now, said participants are all teenagers (since we can’t have adults in teen shows) that just transferred (we must always have transfer students) to a new prestige school (there is absolutely nothing else teenagers can go to besides schools). Each one of them is a genius in a specific subject, with the only exception being the protagonist who is … well, good at being average at everything. Yeah, he is one of those vanilla characters the audience is supposed to pour itself into. He seems to be the most balanced of the bunch but for the same reason he is duller than a rusty hammer. While everyone else easily stands out for that something he is good for, the protagonist is a blank sheet that cares only about the retarded ideal of friendship is magic.
So, anyways, they get trapped inside the school and the sadistic magical mutated talking bear tells them to kill each other if they want to graduate. Of course the graduation part is just a troll; the real reason is simply because the bear gets orgasms by looking at people getting killed in brutal ways. And no, they can’t escape the school since all the doors are locked, everything seems to be made of steel, and the bear cannot be captured since it has magic powers (or super technology if that sounds less ridiculous to you) that make it teleport anywhere it likes and can summon deadly weapons out of nowhere (you know what, screw calling it technology; it’s magic). They can’t even rely on the outside world for aid. Nobody out there gives a damn. Literally.
The laughs don’t stop here, since despite all the ludicrous premise so far, the show is also supposed to be a detective story. You know, solving murder mysteries by gathering clues and questioning suspects. That’s serious stuff but when you have a show about clowns and magic bears, you can just imagine how well that will be done. There is no reason to believe the clues they find in the murder scenes are offering the slightest hints of intelligence, since most of them are laughably bad. There is absolutely no way to connect the pieces and figure out who did it since they make no sense and many suspects deliberately refuse to tell you vital information that can save the innocent. Or ever worse, some deliberately change the evidence to help the murderer get away just because it is a fun thing to do, even if this way everybody but the killer dies. And the funniest thing is how after all the clues and the deduction procedures, it never comes down to evidence pointing out the killer but some ridiculous revelation, such as the victim having written the name of the murdered before it died, or the murderer making a slip of the tongue which incriminates him.
Another thing is that not even the tension of who dies next is good, since it is very easy to figure out the next victim. Since the show has very few episodes, it just goes for the laziest of methods, where you try to offer some exposition to a character only a few minutes before you kill him. This is a problem that springs from the fact the series is based on a silly attorney videogame, where you interact with people for a long time before you reach a verdict. The show only focuses on the major events, thus everything feels rushed and just the bones of what the original game was supposed to offer with its ludicrous premise.
Not even the ending attempts to wrap everything properly, since it simply goes for some random last moment plot twist that leaves you scratching your head, since it pretty much neglects a lot of side stories and leaves everything open for a sequel that can’t possibly link with said side stories. You are just left to think it was all pointless and petty.
So in all, it is just another braindead show to waste your time instead of doing something more productive.
And now for some excused scorings.
ART SECTION: 6/10
General Artwork 1/2 (crude)
Character Figures 0/2 (ridiculous)
Backgrounds 2/2 (fitting with the feeling of the series)
Animation 1/2 (basic)
Visual Effects 2/2 (semi-artsy)
SOUND SECTION: 7/10
Voice Acting 2/3 (retarded but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Music Themes 3/4 (not great but fitting with the feeling of the series)
Sound Effects 2/3 (ok I guess)
STORY SECTION: 3/10
Premise 2/2 (interesting)
Pacing 1/2 (erratic)
Complexity 0/2 (it seems complicating but in reality it is as random as it gets)
Plausibility 0/2 (none)
Conclusion 0/2 (messy)
CHARACTER SECTION: 3/10
Presence 1/2 (generic)
Personality 1/2 (basic but well founded)
Backdrop 1/2 (generic and simplistic but it’s there)
Development 0/2 (messy to the point it doesn’t matter)
Catharsis 0/2 (messy to the point it doesn’t matter)
VALUE SECTION: 3/10
Historical Value 0/3 (none)
Rewatchability 1/3 (low because of too much randomness)
Memorability 2/4 (weird enough to remember it for awhile but nothing that will stick with you)
ENJOYMENT SECTION: 3/10
Art 1/1 (looks crazy)
Sound 1/2 (music is ok, dialogues are not)
Story 0/3 (over the top and makes no sense)
Characters 1/4 (they look crazy but are shallow and forgettable)
Danganronpa is one of the best animes I have ever seen. I really hope that they make a second season based of the game Danganronpa Goodbye Despair like they did this one. The story plot is amazing and find yourself chosing charaters to survive and the punishments they get make you feel bad even if you did not like it a first. Anyway 10 out of 10 would watch again and again.
Premise: Makoto Naegi has been randomly selected through a lottery to come to Hope Peak Academy. Before he goes in he suddenly falls unconscious and later wakes up in what is presumably is his room. When he goes into the gymnasium to meet the other classmates, they meet a stuffed talking Bear named Monokuma who is the principal of the school, declares that they are trapped in the school and the only way to get out is to kill one of your classmates without getting caught.
Story(8/10): The story is a survival/elimination game in the style of Future Diary/Hunger Games/Battle Royale, which while not entirely original, still provides a fresh take on the concept through the various plot twists that happen near the middle and end of the show. The story has a general progression of one student who kills another student, and after a student discovers the body, Monokuma announces to everyone that the body has been found and that investigations must start, after the investigation, the class members go to a "court room" where they interogate fellow classmates and cross examine them Ace Attorney style. The thrill comes where they have to guess the correct culprit or else everyone except the culprit dies. The psychological aspect of the show feels similar to Death Note which is what makes up the main thrill of this anime as well as the best part.
Animation(6/10): The characters themselves have generally strange designs which seem like they are trying to be exotic. It is likely the main turn off point of the show, but you will get used to it and it won't be a distraction after the 1st murder starts and the show's psychological detective phase gets going. I still question what the purpose of the wacky designs are despite that.
The blood in this show looks bright pink instead of red which is typical of most anime. I even had to ask myself whether it was really blood or not the 1st time I saw it. Like the wacky character designs, it takes getting used to. Since this anime is based off a visual novel of the same name, there may be a reason for this that can only be understood from playing the vn.
Sound(7/10): The opening and soundtrack overall were good. The soundtrack isn't memorable to the degree you'll listen to it in your head on a regular basis outside of the anime, but the investigation themes fit well.
Characters(9/10): The wacky designs aspect was discussed in the Animation section of this review and it is just one part of a character, the other part is about the character's personality. To put it simply, there aren't really any "evil, psychopathic" characters in this anime even though it is a survival game(Well there is one with a split personality, but its played for laughs for the most part since they only killed people outside of the School). The main motive of trying to kill someone here is simply to try and escape the academy for the most part. Even the true antagonist behind Monokuma had their reasons for making the classmates kill each other (whether they can be agreed with or not is another issue).
As the show goes on you really get to feel for the characters who are killed, and the culprits as well when they're caught. There's a good mix of 15 personalities and each character comes from a different walk of life, representing many types of people.
Overall(8/10): Danganronpa is an enjoyable "survival game" anime based off of a visual novel with the thrills coming from the psychological investigation and figuring out the culprit and their reason for the act. As well as finding out more about Monokuma. The main flaws being that the characters have strange designs that make it more difficult to get into the anime, as well as the pink blood that makes you think they are inside of a holographic world. These flaws are minor compared to the thrill of Death Note and Ace Attorney style "action"
Ridiculous. Childish. Completely and utterly moronic. Lacking any depth or philosophy. Forcefully unsubtle. Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation is definitely all of those and then some. Still, I can't bring myself to hate it, no matter how much I want to. It is a hybrid of the "play or die" genre and courtroom drama, with a high school flavor to boot. It has all the cliches you'd expect in all of them.
The plot is idiotic, the characters so silly it has to be deliberate, and generally it takes all of the cliches of all the things that make it and turns them up to eleven. Even the names of both the series and the chapters are ridiculous, let alone the titles ("super duper", really?!) that basically state what each character is. Not only that, the mystery bit is juvenile at best.
On the other hand, the art is fantastic. The animation is fantastic, with clever uses of different styles, clever cuts and original use of cliches from other genres. The soundtrack is fantastic, giving energy and depth to the series. The voice acting is proudly over the top, the effects are also. Say what you will about Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation, it is definitely a top notch production.
And yet... Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation is enjoyable. Turn off your brain (because you are forced to in order to watch it anyways), and what you are left with is a stupidly fun and ridiculously cool ride. Just don't expect there to be anything aimed at your intellect.
Writing (Story and Characters):
Stating the obvious: the writing is terrible. But, it is proudly terrible, and falls well into the "so bad its good" category. Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation is perfectly aware of its own stupidity and revels in it to great success. There is so much working for it, forcing the viewer to not help but snort, giggle, and laugh at the over the top antics.
The story itself is outlandishly stupid. Kids get stuck in a high school and have to murder each other without getting caught... and that's it. They start killing, they get caught, plenty of death, the end. The courtroom in which people are accused is a particularly cartoonish legal process, which is just as moronic as the rest of the stuff. The drama is so retarded that you can't help but give a nice introspective chuckle at it.
Characters which are all super duper something (and that is a quote). Luckily, the fact that they are stupidly cliched and ridiculous makes everything work. That is assuming that at some point during the first episode you stop thinking of this as anything. If you stop and analyze the characters for things like "development" and "depth" and "not being retarded", then this show falls apart and is laughably bad. But that's just it - the characters are laughable, so just sit down and giggle like a schoolgirl at their over-the-top antics.
Self-awareness is a huge strength of Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation. It is a parody of other things, and cleverly enough, of itself at the same time. While the story and characters are laughably bad, the writing is just the right kind of "terrible" to enjoy.
Art (Animation and Sound):
Fantastic, absolutely fantastic. There is a crude charm to everything. Intelligent use of camera angles, gimmicks all around used to perfection, switch-ups in art styles according to the type of scene, clever use of soundtracks and background noises, and basically great art direction give this series a huge edge. I have nothing but respect for the studio for pulling this off.
The animation cleverly uses different camera angles, movement that at times is fluid and at other times proudly cartoonish, switch up in animation styles to fit the scene, clever use of cuts, overlays, and other artistic tools really makes Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation both a technical and artistic success. The character designs are at times particularly crude (villain), ridiculous (scarred musclehead in a cute schoolgirl outfit), but most of all distinct and well styled. There is a wide selection of backgrounds and settings, and there is intelligent use of over the top visual aids (huge bolts attaching steel plates to windows, a giant safe door at the front enterence, etc). Overall, this is a victory.
The sound is fantastic. There is good voice acting that is unashamed of going over the top. There is clever use of audio positioning and effects on the voices. The soundtrack is a brilliant fit to the story and animation. The music adds a lot of energy and a cool-factor to everything. The antagonist's particularly grating voice is such a brilliant fit that I am actually floored at the sheer balls of the director for taking such a brave choice to allow such a high annoyance factor in order to get people to despise it.
Gushing about the merits of the art is such an easy thing to do. Playing up the so-bad-its-good aspect through the brilliant use of artwork makes this so much better than I expected. Without the artwork, this would end up being a particuarly obscure semi-parody. Instead, it becomes a complete package, and I cannot help but praise the director for making the writing work.
Danganronpa Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation is not for anyone expecting depth or intellectual satisfaction. It is also not for anyone who wants suspence, a clever plot, or well rounded characters. But if you are willing to turn of your brain, then you will find the viewing surprisingly enjoyable.