*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, and 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 does not fucking know jackshit of anything, 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. MC protection, everybody!
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, GODDAMMIT! Seems like even the cameraman got scared and you'll get scared too just because of this (or is just me, probably is). 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.
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 in 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. You'll grow tired of this if you played the VN. 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)
In a side note, the OP and the EP of the animation are pretty well done too. OP with a few rap spots, 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, 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 scary 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 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 because he isn't that 'super genius mastermind' anymore. The first theatre is actually decent to make you think about the characters safety, but later on it's just a "oh well we got a scene here, again!", and the kids start to get along with the environment and be more confident about their situation. 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 a opportunity here, it 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 dissapearence... well, this is something that did not got explained, and sounded more like a joke than an execution. Because of that 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, 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? (damn you Andy Warhol and your PopArt influences) But the thing that would scare you the most is the camera, trust me, is the mothershakin' camera.
Err... 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 the fanfics, welp - swig of water for the hentai men!
Lastly, this show is very easy going in 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.
Goddammit 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.
~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.
Goddammit 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)
I must admit, it was rather good, for anime which happens completely in-doors, what kills prettiest girl at the very start of anime & which gives way too much confusion at the beginning. This was actually one of those animes, what I did wait every week and what makes me yet again wish for second season. And it looks like it will have, if we look the very last few seconds of last episode.
So, story is about super duper high school students, who actually are held as prisoners in school. They meet pedobear (That’s what I like to call him), who tells them that they need to stay in that school forever. Of course students don’t like that, so pedobear introduces a way out. Someone must kill somebody else. And that is not all, after murder, there will be detective work from everyone to decide, who killed. If they decide on innocent person, murderer will be set free and everyone else will be punished. In case it is opposite, murderer gets punished and everyone will have to live on in that place… forever… or till new murder happens.
So, since this show was made, murders of course do happen and so does basic detective work. I still think that Detective Conan is better with detective side thought.
There are tons of mysteries thought and most of them do get answers, while some of them were left unanswered. But considering that there was huge for second season, they also might get fully answered.
Anime itself was very good thought and very entertaining. But at the same time, it wasn’t anything that special, as I did feel a little bit bored once in a while.
Oh, also, by punished, I meant death.
Thus it gets 8 / 10 from me.
It was really good! They did amazing animation, considering it was always inside the building, especially punishing part. Character design, movements looked really good. Emotions were really well animated, when somebody panicked, you could read it from their faces. There were really question mark points, where you think “is he really depressed or is he… sarcasm styling or something?” It was probably just me.
But yeah, not only animation, but the graphical part was also amazing. Huge thumbs up on that part. Well done!
I simply have to give this anime max for that: 10/10.
Another great category what actually describes this anime. It has amazing intro music, outro music and every background sound. I really enjoyed every single soundtrack it had. I don’t know what else to say. Simply great, enjoyable.
Sadly, it is something, what was mission from anime. Characters were half built, in my opinion. Since over half were punished, we didn’t get to know most characters and those who we did get to know, were rather mysterious. Especially Kirikiri (who looked damn hot), she was simply mystery itself. We did get few answers, but a lot of actions weren’t explained.
Also, who is monokuma? What does he really want? Personalities were well made, but still with lot of holes. I think, if they could have done that part better, it could have been amazing overall.
Voice acting was rather okay. Some parts were annoying, as they simply felt like they were faking. But else, it felt good enough.
I really did not get to know characters very well. They were interesting, no doubt, but they could have been built a better. Also, I took a notice, which annoyed me a lot, that almost every single one of them were way too ‘depressed’, which made them look like idiots. It might fit with the anime, but to me, it was too much. In the end, there were 2 solvers, 1 wannabe solver and everyone else simply… were there.
Can’t give it more then 6/10.
Anime itself was very good, I recommend watch it, especially for those, who like detective style animes. And I do hope for season 2, as then I feel, like it will be more complete.
Total score: 8.5/ 10.
Why you guys are hating on danganronpa?
it has good crimes investigations and some mystery
but bad ending
anyway it's not too bad for watching
Warning This review will contain spoilers read at your own risk
Welcome to my review of Dangan Ronpa The Animation. First off I'd like to say I'm one of those people who played the Visual Novel first before watching this anime so I will be making comparisons between the two. Well let's get started.
Dangan Ronpa starts off with a high school student named Makoto Naegi entering Hope's Peak Acadamy. A school where only the most talented of students can enter. Naegi got in by winning a lottery ticket and was named Super High School Level Luckster, as each student holds a title to represent their talent, Naegi getting his because he's lucky. Anyway Naegi then goes to walk into the school, only for his mind to go hazy and fall unconscious.
He then wakes up to find out he is trapped inside the school along with 14 other students with a sadistic bear known as Monokuma, who proclaims himself as the headmaster. The 15 students are then told they are to live here for the rest of their lives and the only way to "graduate" is to kill another student. Naegi then states this isn't a school of Hope but a school of despair.
That sums up the prologue of Dangan Ronpa and from this introduction you can tell this has a survival game vibe to it and its a psychological mystery. If you dislike these kind of settings then you know this anime is not for you.
Continuing on from here the entire story of Dangan Ronpa is told from a first-person perspective, that person being Naegi Makoto, as he ventures around the school, trying to figure out what is really going on with some assitance from the other characters. The main person being Kirigiri Kyoko who can be considered the main heroine of Dangan Ronpa.
This is done In the Visual Novel which isn't a problem, however with only 13 episodes to cover the entire game, this doesn't work out as well because there isn't enough time to cover it all and by keeping true to the game and sticking with Naegi's view all the time, you never get to know how the other students feel about the current situation or more about them as a person. With only 13 episodes to cover the game, they should of told the story from multiple characters' point of view, as that way Visual Novel players like myself could of seen something new and for anime-only viewers the characters wouldn't of felt left out as much as alot of them did.
And there comes the main problem with this adaptation, 13 episodes is just not enough time to cover everything properly. With 24 episodes keeping the first-person perspective wouldn't of been as problematic as there will be enough time for Naegi to socialize with the other students.
After a murder occurs the remaining students have to figure out who the culprit is in a class trial if they fail to catch the culprit, all students except the culprit are executed and if they suceed, only the culprit is executed. This is where the mystery aspect of Dangan Ronpa comes in, trying to figure out who killed who with the current evidence you have found at the crime scene with the anime being formulaic with one episode "murder" next episode "trial" etc. I'm sure most people are watching Dangan Ronpa for this very purpose but here's the problem again, the investigation part is rushed through so quickly they not only don't show you all the evidence that the Visual Novel does but it also only shows you pictures of the evidence without explaining its purpose so you'll have to guess what it means which again isn't so in the game. This takes some of the mystery aspect out from the game whereas you can tie pieces of evidence together to come up with your own theories, however in the anime it seems more like guessing who it is just based on how they react with the biggest example being the third case.
Moving on to the actual trials now, this is the best done part in the anime adaptation as you can still feel some tension in the courtroom and even though i've seen it before hand I still got some emotional impact particulary from the 4th case. However it still does not live up to its Visual Novel version where I always felt at the edge of my seat wondering what's going to happen next, the shock I received when finding out the truth and the sadness I felt as they went through a life-or death situation only to see one of their fellow students executed right in front of them.
In the Visual Novel Naegi has to figure the case out from the evidence he finds at the crime scene and find contradictions in what the other students claim. As you take on the role of Neagi in the game its as if you the player is figuring it out which is fine. Again in the anime it is more of an issue as it seems like the only students in the courtroom with a decent level of IQ are Naegi, Kirigiri and Togami with the rest being fodder. In the anime version they should of changed things around and gotten the other characters more involved in the trials. For example instead of Naegi noticing something wrong and using evidence to support his claim they should of gotten someone else to do it instead.
Overall I give the story a 7/10 mainly out of respect for the game as well as keeping to the overall plot. My main concern for this is I think the studio should of taken a different approach to the story with only 13 episodes to cover it. I guess they wanted to keep to the game as much as possible to please people like myself which would of worked if they had more episodes, unfortunately they didn't and therefore didn't work out.
The main issue anime viewers will have when it comes to the animation will be the blood being pink, now why is that? And to answer your question they censored the blood in the game to pink to prevent it from receiving a Cero D rating which in America is the equivalent to a Mature rating (17+) afterwards it became popular amongst Danga Ronpa fans and is now a tradition in the Dangan Ronpa franchise.
The animation compared to other anime recently is not good, a lot of still shots are used frequently and unless the character is focused on, they look pretty bad particulary the faces. On the good side of things they animated certain characters well when focused on and the executions are well animated.
Overall 4/10, some viewers may not also like some of the designs of the characters but personally I like them as it makes them stand out more.
Not much for me to say about this, most of the soundtracks were copy and pasted from the game but since I enjoyed the OST from the game its a nice treat to get to listen to them. Most of them fit in with the curret mood in the episode with my favourite OST being the executions. The Opening was excellent not only did it not show any spoilers but the lyrics of the song go really well with the theme of Dangan Ronpa. I can also say the same with the ending.
Overall 7/10 My only negative was they did not play the Hope-VS-Despair OST in the final trial.
Be Warned, This Section Will Contain Spoilers.
Now this is where the main problem lies with the anime adaptation, the lack of development really made alot of them seem cannon fodder, waiting in a queue for the next person to walk the plank, which is a real shame as it ruins any chance of you trying to get attached to them.
Naegi Makoto : This is the protagonist of the story, he is your typical generic average student with the only thing going for him is his optimism. As he is the main character it goes without saying that he is protected by plot-armour and will not die no matter the situation he is currently in. In the visual novel you see everything from his perspective as I said earlier in my review and unfortunately in both the game and the anime you really know nothing about him, apart from his optimistic personality enables him to interact with all the other students, despite all of them being vastly different. Which is why no one attempts to murder him despite him appearing to be like Shelock Holmes during the trials (especially when he reveals the mastermind) making him a threat. At the end of the show it is revealed he is actually SHSL HOPE. One of the parts I didn't like in the game and they didn't really improve on was how easily the remaining students were convinced with Hope after falling into despair.
Leon Kuwata : Personally my most disliked character in Dangan Ronpa and along with Maizono Sayaka, I really didn't care about his death at all. I even felt he deserved it. Using the excuse of self-defensive when Celes points out it was clearly intentional. He has no role at all in the anime he says a few lines, has a breakdown when he is accused of being the culprit, then two minutes later dies. I would honestly be suprised if any anime-only viewers actually cared about him.
Sayaka Maizone : At first she appears to be the main heroine of the series and a damsel-in-distress. Subverted as she ends up being the first one to die and is revealed it was all an act to frame Naegi for murder. Apart from a few things, the anime didn't leave much out of her character as she dies so early on. I enjoyed this twist as I was not expecting it at the time and for her to even frame Naegi when she seemed so pleasant. I was shocked that she died but I didn't really care enough to feel sad about her death.
Chihiro Fujisaki : Similar to Leon he doesn't really do much in the anime either, says his occasional lines then kicks the bucket. Even though they tried to make his story from the second trial upsetting its impact was nothing compared to the game. I don't usually like trap type characters but even I felt bad on what happened to him,. He strengthens his resolve only for his dreams to be shattered a moment later. Despite his early death he still plays a big role with his Alter Ego program he created. In the anime he's more of a character you appreciate after his death.
Kiyotaka Ishimaru : The anime portrayed his sadness at losing his bro well as a Visual Novel player I felt it, as it took me back to their relationship. However for those who haven't you know its there but I doubt many people will care so much about it. Even in the game I felt he was too naive when he was supposed to be a prefect, he should of been more intelligent. Overall in the anime they definately showed some development in him with his Ishida transformation but is killed shortly after which would make people think he was a waste of potential.
Celestia Ludenberg : I'm not surprised that she is one of the anime fans favourites, as even though she dies just over halfway through, she played a prominent role during the time she was around. Though she has an active role, she didn't have development until moments before her death and as they never showed her other side of her in the anime it comes out badly. I never particulary liked how she behaved in the 3rd case, considering she's SHSL gambler she should be a professional at lying and the anime made the 3rd case horrendous.
Kyoko Kirigiri : The most popular character in the Dangan Ronpa anime which is not surprising in the slightest as she actually has good development to her and plays such a major role in the series. They still missed out parts of her character as personally I think she was made too emotionless in the anime, as she rarely shows any emotion making her seem like a robot. The reason why she appears stoic to begin with, is because she puts her emotional feelings aside when playing detective, as she believes emotions can interfere with finding out the truth. In the game you find out she is just as affected and as scared as everyone else and she shows this when interacting with Naegi alone. The anime doesn't fully portray why she hates her father so much either. She is one of the few decent characters in this anime and would of been an excellent one if they showed everything about her.
Byakura Togami : Despite his dicky and jerkass attitude, it is essential to have someone like him in this kind of setting. This character you will either like or hate him and just after Kirigiri has the next most development in the anime. Personally I like him, having somone with an arrogant personality and never trusting others around him, always looking for any suspicious activity from any student. At first he considers the "school life of mutual killing" as nothing more than a game to him and has no chance of losing, until he learns his place in the 4th case and afterwards starts opening up to the others. He also plays a major role in the class trials so its nice to see that he also has a good level of intelligence. He is also one of the few characters in the anime that you would somewhat care about but again like Kirigiri would of been great if they showed all his interactions.
Touko Fukawa/ Genocider Syo : To be honest I never expected her to be one of the survivors at the end, considering she's a serial killer. This character is someone I like and hate, yes that meaning I hate Touko as I just found her irritating and creepy in a disturbing way but I liked Genocider as her craziness is hilarious and she always lightens up the atmosphere whenever she's around. In the anime she doesn't get the development on Byakura and Kirigiri's level, she still recieves some but she's mainly been givin the role of the crazy yandere for Byakura who will do crazy shit to creep the other students out. She has small development but she's an entertaining character nonetheless.
Mondo Oowada : This character in the anime is similar to Chihiro, in that he says a few lines then walks the plank. In the game I liked this character and his story in the second case was upsetting. He truly regretted what he did and felt he deserved his punishment and I could really sympathise and respect his character. Not at all so in the anime as it never showed his interactions with Chihiro and it seems like a sob story to give him an excuse for what he did. In the anime he's another character you don't really care about as I only did as I've played the Visual Novel.
Hifumi Yamada : Unfortunately all the parts I liked about this character were never even shown in the anime as despite his fatass size his interactions in the game were quite funny and interesting. However it doesn't change the fact that he was completly tricked like an idiot into following Celes' plan. In the anime he would be treated as a weirdo and viewers would be cheering when he finally becomes a corpse.
Aoi Asahina : The interactions between her and Sakura were definately shown in the anime. It wasn't as deep as in the game but you know these two have a relationship with each other, so when it comes to the 4th case even anime viewers would feel some emotion poured out of Asahina as she weeps at the loss of her best friend. For Visual Novel players I felt they delievered the emotional side of this case really well in the anime as those two really were close friends and her determination to get revenge at the cost of her own life is praiseworthy. From the 4th case onwards in the anime however she takes a back seat and doesn't do much afterwards. Her only development in the anime in the end was in the 4th case.
Sakura Oogami : Truly badass what she did, truly badass despite being found out as the mole she went down like a boss. To prevent anymore murders from occuring she sacrificed her own life believing in the other students as her friends until the very end. I have so much respect for this character as she managed to unite all the remaining students as one to fight off the mastermind. Despite her vicious looks she is actually a kind person, with the anime she's the character who does not play much of a role at first but when the focus comes to her you realise how badass she was too late.
Yasuhiro Hagakure : He is the comic relief of the entire cast, he is a complete joke and his stupidiy is taken to the extreme point of being unrealistically stupid. Best example being in the 5th case where you debate on weather Kirigiri is a ghost or not. He's not a character to be taken seriously, especially in the anime he is there just for laughs and you will either enjoy his ridiculous moments or wish he had died earlier on.
Mukuro Ikusaba : Despite being present in the setting, I can't really say anything about her without spoiling from other Dangan Ronpa sources other than she is the twin sister of Junko and follows her orders no matter what. Which is why she was dressed up and acted like Junko, as she was told to.
Monokuma/ Junko Enoshima : Personally my favourite character in the entire cast as I adore her insane, crazy personalities and it was thanks to her that I still enjoyed this adaptation despite being inferior to the game. Monokuma always cracked me up whenever he was around and would often say ridiculous things with his troll logic and pissing off the other students. Junko Enoshima has the ultimate fetish for despair, all she wants to see is despair including her own which is why throughout Dangan Ronpa she is giving the students hints on the mysteries behind the school, to either bring their hopes up and crush it back into despair or their hope overcoming the situation giving her despair which is a win-win case for her. That's why she does it to prevent getting bored.
Overall 5/10 whew that took some time to write all that up, alot of these marks go to Monokuma for being just as entertaining as he was in the game. Despite having 16 characters only 4 of them are actually decent in the anime (Monokuma, Kyoko, Byakura, Genocider) with all of them being so much better in the game.
Overall As An Adaptation 8/10
As A Stand-Alone 6/10
Despite all its flaws and crticism I have givin to Dangan Ronpa The Animation it is still an entertaining and enjoyable show to watch as you try to solve the mysteries behind Hope's Peak as well as trying to figure out who the culprit is. For Visual Novel players we get a nice treat of seeing the Dangan Ronpa characters animated as well as all lines being fully voiced.
However If you can I would strongly reccomend playing the Visual Novel first over this adaptation anyday as it is vastly superior.