*MY SCORE IS BASED ON THE VISUAL NOVEL + ANIME*
First of all, do NOT be an 'animeonlyfag' if you want to know this show better, aight? Saying the anime is a complete shit without acknowledging the visual novel contents is a big mistake. However, 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 this should've been a 26 episodes adaptation:
Like I said, the catch is the visual novel - it requires a PSP or a neat PC to run the game or the PSP emulator. If you don't have any of those or if you're just lazy - watch on YouTube instead, but beware of the spoilers. 2016 edit: It's available on Steam! Check it out if you haven't yet. So, if you play this game, you're going understand the development of the show and the characters very easily, and you're probably going to like the show a lot more. Listen, if you only deal with the anime, I'm pretty sure you won't like from the beginning because it is confusing and stupid. For instance, the story is deep as fuck (mindf*cks everywhere) but they only made 13 episodes to make it understandable for everyone, and that's why the long time fans or even the newcomers, like myself back then were pissed off about it.
Lets backtrack a bit to when I decided to give Danganronpa a second chance. I was determined to understand this show, so I did some searching first (lies, I did a lot of searching) and I found out there was a visual novel! With some more lurking in the dark places of the internet (*cough* /a/), I read some people saying to play the whole visual novel first and watch the ongoing animation after finishing it.
So, with that in mind, I did the following: I played the visual novel, understood the story and finished the game with my point of view, like which characters I spent my freetime with and which ones I actually bonded with just for my first impressions. Hell, later I even watched other "routes" on YouTube just for character development and hidden plot knowledge purposes! Then, I finally got 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 was - the anime is a crappy summary of the visual novel.
The big question wandering in my mind at that time was - Was this thing 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 the negative hype:
The first question I got when I found the root of the fanbase was: Why there's so much anger, frustration and disappointment about this show? And most importantly, why are a lot of people are saying Dangit Ron Paul is a bad show? The answer came to me pretty clearly. Well, for starters, Dalai Lama: The Animation isn't bad, it's just another case of - the animation wasn't good enough to compete with the original, in this case, the visual novel.
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 scenes, the amazing soundtrack and most importantly, character development. You need to put together even the obviously charming downsides, like the pink freaking blood, the funny looking villain and/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 quickly 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 couldn't bond with dies suddenly if you continue the story (heart attack someone? It would be hella funny). Sadly in the anime everything happens SO DAMN FAST, it's so dynamic that we can't even understand what the hell just happened sometimes! Just like that in the middle of the series almost the entire cast is dead with nothing really explained to the viewers. My mind at that time was kinda like this: WHAT IS HAPPENING HERE? THAT PERSON ALREADY DIED? IT'S ONLY EPISODE 3, GOD DAMN IT! WHY THEY'VE SKIPPED SO MUCH LORE?! Not gonna lie, it's a clusterfuck, seriously.
The animation doesn't have too much on-screen character bonding too, like Mondo and Ishimaru becoming bros (Fujisaki included, but that's not really canon to be honest, it's more a fanfic thing), which the outcome leads people to think about a weird boylove thing (no offense to yaoi fans, butt fuck it). Listen, just because it is very brief in the animation, you should understand why they got so close and only the VN can explain it. Now, in the visual novel they appear together a bunch of times 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 because you helped them create this bond! Now, where is this in the animation? There's only like 5 minutes of broskis being broskis! 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. Character development, hello?! Seriously... Oh yeah, another thing - Fukawa stalking Togami appears on-screen but it is soooooo poooooorly developed. There's also Oogami and Asahina bonding and it can be a little misleading as well (to me it is misleading 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... well, you're alone in this one, Aoi-chan. Anyhow, bottomline is - there's a lot more that the animation do not show. It's a shame that all those good natured fillers got swerved big time. How can you be emotionally invested in a character if they don't have enough screen time or lore behind it? C'mon now.
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 in what they do - seems strange? (even I could be there if they needed some masturba- nevermind) Yeah, it's just because of that. Seriously, at first glance it seems shitty, but later on things get spicy... if you want to know more just GO WATCH/PLAY IT RIGHT NOW.
And why they're trapped? Sorry, you're asking too much now (don't mind my delirium disorder, please), like I just aggressively ordered you, go 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 and Eve's live their lives forever... but because some shit that happened in the past things got messed up. Now we have this fucking bear saying 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 perpetrator, and without further doubts - the culprit is executed and everybody moves to the next place in the academy. Yep, that's it! Thank you New York and good night!!! But seriously, Monokuma is very strict and he plays around making moves 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 is gonna die and the malefactor is going to 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 thrilling when they start investigating, talking with each other and understanding who they really are, their reasons to survive and even their background life. So, as threatening every single kid is to each other, they team up, get their facts straight so in the end they're able to make the right decision for the sake of their own lives. Some are selfish and they pay for it, but that's the vital point of the entire series - it's all about survival. However, this is part of a (ANOTHER?) huge flaw in the both the animation and the VN.
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. There's even cases that you don't need to use your brain too much, but the satisfaction to finally close a case is great! I didn't really enjoyed the majority of the murder reasons to be honest. Some were just too stupid, but that is just me. Sadly, the anime didn't make a good job of the Naegi's point of view. What I'm saying is: He knows 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! By the way, if he's somewhat wrong, Kirigiri is right. It 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 apparently there's no time for that.
Why this is a huge flaw in the VN? Lemme tell you what the stupidest thing is - IF YOU FAIL THE TEST, SUDDENLY YOU'RE THE CULPRIT! IT WAS ME ALL ALONG, AUSTIN! And yes, even with all the exploration this was disappointing. That was their way to insert a Game Over in this VN? Fuck's sake. Honestly, it's half-assed. How are you supposed to be the culprit if you weren't even there in the first place? You have people that were with you and can vouch for your innocence but that four-eyed blond cunt seems to always doubt your ass.
Anyway, the whole point of the show's plot is trying to make is - 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... just like the story! *ba dum tss*.
Well, I must say the animation did not impress me thaaat much. I like the unique style of the characters, like their eyes for example, and I sure loved seing my favorite ones (Mondo Badass Oowada) in action instead of a weird paperboard figure trying to emulate life. Each and every character is powered up with a lot of funny, scary, cute and badasses reactions too. It is impressive. My favorite is when Celes gets angry.
Again, another thing I dislike that is still there from the visual novel is the MOTHERF***ING SHAKING CAMERA! What I mean is: WHEN A BODY IS FOUND THE GAME DECIDES TO SCARED THE CRAP OUT OF YOU! It seems like even the cameraman got scared and you're going to get scared too just because of this. Or it was just me... probably just me. Seriously, this is extremely annoying. What bugs me it's the whole OMG I FOUND A CORPSE! LET'S PLAY A TERRIFYING SCREAM, HEHOOO. I don't like to be scared outta nowhere, and this show isn't horrifying, that was just completely out of place in my opinion. This isn't Corpse Party, there's no need for jump scares. Shame on you, Donut Tampa.
Now I will beg your pardon, but my fanboyism is gonna take control for a sec.
OH MY GOD! WHAT KIND OF MASTERMIND IS MASAFUMI TAKADA? All the OST is MARVELOUS. I'll just mention that he worked on Killer 7 and on 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, it's just brilliant!
To me the entire show is great because of background instrumental orchestra, it fits perfectly when a song starts with a new scene or change of mood during an investigation - it can bring you hope or despair (puns, lovely) accordingly with the present scenario. If you couldn't figure out why the soundtrack is the best thing on this series, I highly suggest you to listen closely when it happens and you're going to understand what I'm talking about, it can be on the animation or just by playing the visual novel, it doesn't matter. 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 forgiving if you're kinda lost in the plot.
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 guy who voiced Shinji in the Evangelion series (yay he's a scared dingus protagonist too). Pretty good work if you ask me, but not as good compared to the visual novel since apparently, he wasn't giving his all. What I mean is - he seems bored all the time when he yells the classic DING DONG YOU'RE ALL WRONG. Unfortunately, the same happens with Monokuma 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're going to 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 and also yelling 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 love 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 is a good techno jpop with catching lyrics. Japan at its finest! Well done there.
We cannot understand the characters that well like we do in the visual novel just because we don't have the world in our hands here, but fortunately the animation got more than enough essence of each character 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 players who were trying 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 that person... Don't look at me like that, you know you've tried too!
Let's just wait for the PSVITA version with the School Mode, shall we? It 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.
2016 edit: SCHOOL MODE ROCKS!
* You can enjoy the anime like any other psychological/mystery show. Let it be know this show could've had a much better reception if it was a 24~26 episodes adaptation with a few OVAS on the way, but it's alright the way it is. It could be a masterpiece (fanboyism), but it's just fine... it could be, but isn't... IT'S STILL HURTS, OKAY?
* It's a nice murder mystery, the plot is not that forgivable in the anime because there's not enough time to show everything off. The show is so linear and the lack of information is HUGE. Listen, if you try to search for more information you might read spoilers! Be careful!
* Monokuma is incredibly funny. One of the "love to hate" character, at least most of the times, but eventually you're going 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. Later on you will start slooooowly disliking him, and by disliking I mean getting pretty annoyed at his appearances just because he doesn't seem all that 'super genius mastermind' anymore. He loses his magic after a couple episodes. The first theatre is actually decent to make you think about the characters safety, but after two or three murders later he's just like "oh well we got a scene here... again, zzzz". The good part is that the kids start to get somewhat "comfortable" with the environment, with his threats and they start trusting their colleagues more, so they turn out to be more confident towards Monokuma. He loses his magic pretty quickly because the kids stop getting scared or frustrated about their situation and they actually engage in a quest to get the fuck out of that academy. To me, he's just an angry teddy bear who fell sideways on black grease and is pissing mad about that.
* There's not so much gore (if any) or bloodshed, and in my humble opinion - they missed an opportunity here. This is a case of a show that could've been much more gruesome but not guro. Let me explain my disappointment with this little semi-spoiler - In a specific execution there's nothing remaining of the body, like, it SHOULD be something there, I mean, c'mon. That wasn't a disappearance... well, this is something that they never explained to us viewers, and it 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, which may be 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) Anyway, the thing that would scare you the most is the camera. Trust me, is the motherfreakin' camera.
Err... enjoy yourself.
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 mysterious plot. I invested 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 solving mysteries. 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 kinda out of place, otherwise it would be a crappy edgy show that 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! Rule 34 never fails.
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 the next murder scheme, and yes, only Naegi is the one who doesn't know shit about it. Well, that is my perspective. You're going to probably have your own too. Like I said, this aspect of the show is very forgiving, but I can't spoil more for you. If you got really interested, I highly 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 editing: 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'm always finding mistakes! Learning process, everybody.
2016 edit: Stop deleting the pictures you tumblr cunts. Every time I come here to edit this review I have to find another image because someone deleted their tumblr, ffs. And there's even more Danganronpa games out there! JESUS CHRIST!
~FORGET IT BEAM~
I hope my review was helpful and I hope (it's not a pun, I swear) I didn't spoil some crucial point to you, and I hope (SERIOUSLY IT'S NOT) you're going to love it as much as I did! I'm deeply sorry about any grammar errors. I work hard on correcting them.
I did this review because I treasure Dragon Mamba 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 such an annoying fanboy. 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!
I'm kidding, don't do that.
I AM NOT RESPONSIBLE FOR ANYTHING THAT HAPPENS WITH YOU, YOU FREAK.
Another death game anime, where a bunch of people need to kill each other for some silly reason; in this case, the orchestrator being a psycho who loves murder. Yeah, it is shallow and stupid but HEY unlike the villain of SAO, at least he has a purpose. 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 an attempt to keep things exciting, and ends up passing as completely retarded. I mean, the orchestrator doesn’t simply love murder, he is also a robotic talking bear with magic powers. And don’t try to tell me all that are technology, because they are so improbable, they become magic. And also don’t try to convince me that just because there is motive, the show makes sense, because 5 minutes after the series began I was wondering why is a talking bear the manager of a prestige school, or what drove it to become so sadistic, and I never got any answers.
The over-the-top nature of this anime does not stop at the bear, since most participants look like mutants, while the rest dress and behave in ways that make even Yu Gi Oh seem normal. How is it possible to feel sympathy for something so bizarre? They don’t even bleed like normal people; their blood is pink! Call it a form of censorship all you like; it still looks like their veins are full of strawberry juice.
Another excuse is that this is done deliberately as an artistic touch, so the characters will be more memorable. If they were normal-looking, they would blend in with characters from thousands of other shows and you would have a hard time remembering them. This expands to their personality, which is made simple and extreme, so it will be easily noticeable and memorable. This though, does not make them good characters, since all you see is external. They are defined by a silly voice, and a single personality quirk that is based on what they are good at. Technically, they are not even characters but caricatures of archetypes.
They are also not fleshed out much, since the show lasts only a dozen episodes, and half of the duration is spent on solving murder mysteries. When you have over a dozen characters and you kill them off one after another, you don’t give the viewer the time to get to like them. It also doesn’t help when all you see is teenagers in a school setting. For a show that tries to be creative with its visual presentation, it uses the most overused and unimaginative of all premises in recorded history.
Also, for a show that is supposed to be about people solving murder mysteries with super talents, there is very little actual usage of said talents. They are just there as a reminder of the personality quirk they have. Many of them are not even useful in a death game. How does being a model or an otaku can be considered equally important as someone who is good at martial arts or hacking computers?
The biggest offence is the protagonist, whose super amazing talent is being… average in everything. And since skills define personality in such a type of a series, he ends up having none. While everyone else easily stands out for that something he is good for, the protagonist is duller than a rusty hammer. He is a blank piece of paper, whose only feature is being nice and helpful to everybody, someone the audience is supposed to self insert, and imagine him acting as they do. For a show that tries to have eccentric behaviors, it left the very protagonist with the most basic and boring of all behaviors since the dawn of civilization.
As I mentioned earlier, half the show is also supposed to be about gathering clues and questioning suspects. That’s supposed to be done in a serious and logical way, but imagine how well that will be done in a story about deformed clowns and magic bears. The clues they find in the murder scenes are usually pretty vague, and the protagonist figures out what they mean at the last moment, without ever showing us his train of thought. Meaning, the solution comes out of nowhere, and the interpretation of the clues could be done in many ways, making the outcome very arbitrary.
Adding to this, are the suspects who deliberately don’t reveal vital information up until the last second, making it impossible to figure out what happened on your own. Some go as far as deliberately changing 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 on top of that, the clues and the deduction procedures don’t even matter, since the guilty person usually gets revealed by a slip of the tongue, or the victim writing down his name.
The only thing that is very predictable, is knowing who will die next. Since the show has very few episodes, it just goes for the laziest of methods, and fleshes out a character a few minutes before it kills him. And yes, I do know this is not so obvious in the source material because it doesn’t cover only the major events, but that doesn’t excuse the adaptation being so shitty, nor it makes it better just because you played the game.
Not even the ending attempts to wrap everything properly, since it simply goes for some random last moment plot twist that makes it feel like everything was caused by self-inflicted mass-amnesia. Yeah, that makes sense to use in a story running on logical thinking. It also neglects a lot of side stories, and leaves everything open for a sequel that can’t possibly link with said side stories because most characters are dead. So in all, it is a braindead show that tries to be attractive with a ridiculous artstyle, and fails miserably at being a detective story with characters you care about and mysteries that make sense.
Sigh, if you want the short version of how I feel about this series then imagine a really drawn out loud, wet fart noise.
The concept of this anime is pretty simple, it's like Clue played in a locked down high school that the students can't escape. The students are told they have murder one of their own without getting caught to be able to leave the school. And just like Clue, after each murder the students have to get together to figure out who the murderer is. Somehow though, the anime managed to fuck it up royally.
Danganronpa didn't have to suck. It could have been a great series if the direction had been at all competent and if it had had more episodes. Even with the it needed more episodes excuse the show didn't have to suck this hard. Every bad decision that could be made with this show seems to have been made. From convoluted explanations for everything to zero characterization for any of the characters and finally the boneheaded trials that spoon fed everything to the viewer rather than letting them figure anything out on their own. One of the keys to any good mystery series is giving the viewer enough info that they can figure it out for themselves if they want to. Danga fails on even this most basic level. Instead the investigation portion is always kept so short and the trials happen so quickly that there's no time to process the information, much less understand it's context until it is explained to the viewer.
It hard to talk about the plot of a mystery series without getting into spoilers, but I will do my best to avoid them. The basic plot of the students forced to murder each other in a high stakes game for their freedom could have been a compelling one. The first episode actually sets a nice tone and grabs the viewers attention with it's flashy introduction. However, the warning signs for later problems do start in that first episode with half baked characters taking implausible actions or acting in irrational ways right off the bat. It's not something that can excused by the extreme circumstances either. The character are bombarded with so much exposition that they should be in shellshocked. The true horror of situation should slowly dawn on them, especially if the goal of the series is to make them feel despair. Despair is a slow creeping this that consumes you slowly, not a sudden nervous breakdown. It never feels like the series understands the difference between despair and fear.
The plot follows a pretty basic formula a murder happens. The students investigate and then there's a trial to identify the culprit. It's a simple formula but one the show manages to fuck up. The relationships between the characters are never sufficiently explored, and yet these relationships are often quite important to understanding what is going on during the trials. Characters scream about friendship, but especially in a show like this that's not good enough. These relationships need to be shown and given depth. Otherwise, those screams of friendship can easily be mistaken as lies meant to divert attention away from the true murderer. The lack of development in the characters and their relationships makes it really hard to care when anyone is murdered or to understand some of the motives the characters have.
The plot goes through it's formula a few times before the final arc which is a bit different, and also by far the worst arc of the series. The problem is everything is rushed, but worse than that the show always decides to explain things in the most obtuse manner possible. It never says anything straight. Instead it wraps everything in long blocks of exposition with no substance. The series could cut out half the exposition and it would actually make it easier to understand, because there's nothing complex going on here. It's actually a very simple story that didn't need all the fluff to be interesting. Some of these padded out explanations could have been replaced with interactions between the characters which would have been a big improvement.
The characters in this series are all cliches. However, with a cast this large they kind of have to be, because it's the best way to make them easy to tell apart. This makes the characters kind of boring from the very start, but it's no excuse for not trying to develop them a little and give them some personality beyond their basic cliche. Instead the series avoids character development even for those characters that stick around as the cast is whittled down. Character interactions outside of murders or trials is limited. It gives some small hints of them forming bonds or relationships, but there's never enough of it to make the relationships believable. Instead the characters remain just what they are cliches waiting their turn to be murdered or to commit murder.
The art style of the series is interesting. It's a very colorful series with very exaggerated character models. Everything looks very cartoonish, which actually could have made for a good juxtaposition with the dark tone of the series if it had been able to establish any kind of atmosphere. Instead the art style and animation are wasted on this series and are probably the most interesting thing about it. My favorite parts of the series were the punishments when the culprits were found guilty which were very stylized and energetic. The OST was mostly forgettable, expect for the terrible rap opening and the surprisingly good ending theme which had a real 8-bit feel to it, one of the tributes to this being an anime based on a game. The voice acting was way over the top and often quite cheesy which helped to ruin some of the more serious moments.
Overall I hated this series. It had the elements to at least be interesting if not outright great, instead it became a complete mess from the second episode onwards. Rushed, poorly thought out and a plot that got cheesy whenever it could, ruining any sense of despair that kept getting mentioned. I would definitely recommend avoiding this one. It's not even good service for fans of the game.
This review contains lethal doses of spoilers, handle with care.
This review is only based on the anime material, and first season only; i played the first visual novel start to finish, with all the backstories unlocked etc, but this won't have any influence in my judgement, despite eventual callbacks to the game contents.
I watched it with original audio sub ita, downloaded from bam fansub
15 (16?) students are trapped in a school whose principal is a robot bear; one rule: get away with murder, or die trying.
Skip to the "Thinking this again" section if you know what happens, anyway.
The 13 episodes are divided in 2 episodes arcs (exceptions are the first arc, composed by 3 episodes, with the first one being the introduction, and the last one, created with 4 episodes); in the first one a character dies, in the next one the murderer gets discovered and punished;
This is pretty much the way it's presented to you; inbetween these events there is little to no way to know about the characters, as the whole first episode is spent narrating the new explored areas and those 1/2 events that'll directly lead to the next murder; in Chihiro's case, his bond with Mondo is not even showed, as they showed the one formed between the latter and Kiyotaka instead. And that's bad.
Generic episode n (narration time)
No character bonding, no people trying to keep the situation under control, even less tension than in the vn forming. Insult to injury, not even time for Byakuya to be an hateful jerk, further lowering any kind of fear/mutual suspicion forming. You can be sure since the beginning that the only character whose personality has been deepened even an inch will kill/get killed within the next episode (little to no exceptions).
Generic episode n+1 (Investigation begin)
Solving a "complex" murder in less than 15 minutes and with that amount of thinking skipped, can make even Sayaka's death pretty damn hard to follow. Most of the clues are cut out, too, like the broken wrist and the scratches on the katana in the first murder, and the extremely important detail about the way the garbage disposal is available only to the one who owns the key (that is, Hifumi).
Masked boy tries to kill the mc, but is stopped by something (possibly Kyouko, who subsequently disappears)
The survivors find a masked body, made impossible to recognize through a bomb. It's the hidden 16th student, Mukuro, stabbed to death by someone, with a dozen of extra holes in her body, while the cause of death is reported a blunt hit to the head. And only the mc thinks this is strange.
There's an extremely hurried up trial, and Kyouko manuevers to frame the mc, who's then saved at the last moment by deus ex machina.
Kyouko saves the day, and the final investigation starts: all the doors are now open, there's a bit of a tearjerking moment about Kyouko's father, then the last trial begins.
The mc accuses Junko of faking her own death; Junko appears, here comes a ****load of exposition (about huge disasters striking the world, the school becoming a shelter, and Junko's manipulating everyone's memories so that they'd forget about all of that in order to start the game), then the final vote; the mc spews some hope and everyone teams up with him against Junko, who then gets executed. 6 times. In a row. NOW THAT'S SOME PHYSICAL PROWESS!
The mc gets the Ultimate Hope title, and the last episode ends with the doors opening on a new light.
As much as i didn't like the open ending, i understand the reasons it got pulled like that.
What i can't understand is the following
Thinking this again
So, after looking around on the wiki, i found out about "The Tragedy", or "The Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History" (calm down, dude, World War 3 is enough); pretty sure about not having missed anything important, here's how it went:
Using a couple tricks, Junko made the paying students rebel about the murderers that happened in the school. This revolt somehow took hold on the whole outside world, who got trashed to oblivion and is now in the hands of the "Despair".
This includes, but is not limited to:
all committed in the name of "despair".
During this time, Jin (Kyouko's father) made the school (who got, in order, a classroom and a floor on the completely opposite side of the building, but not the principal's office on that same floor, thrashed) a shelter for 16 of the surviving students.
In that shelter he put (ordered from who makes the most sense at being there to the one who makes the least):
Now, after less than 2 years since the beginning of The Tragedy, here we have Jin's very personal fallout squad, in a completely armored school (armored by those 16 students themselves).
Then Junko (and in a lower part, Mukuro) take the lead, erase everyone's memories and start the first episode.
Now, i'm no expert about building, but armoring doors/windows, automating the food gathering, setting up automated defenses (i won't believe people telling me "those machineguns got placed by Junko"), creating monokumas (for god knows what reason), and probably partially rebuilding the structure itself will take way more than 2 years, especially for an unspecialized crew.
So, how did they make it happen?
But even more: How the **** did a specialized crew build an accademy with 4/5 floors worth of classrooms (let's say 2 each floor, with a 4x4 desk pattern each, for a total of 128 students AT LEAST), and a grand total of 15+13 (20 ******* 8) single rooms to host ALL of those students?
But maybe i just missed the actual dormitory.
Last, but less important question: how did the school survive the whole fight in the outside world?
And now, for something completely different
The vn did it both first, and right: the characters are "properly" introduced since the beginning; you have a chance to deepen your bond with them, and get to know them better (hard to do so in an anime, as you have no power on who to bond with), and even if you could put it on autoplay, you'd still have a way to understand what's happening, why's it happening, how did the mc reach the solution, and what in the world is that glittery thingie on Sayaka's wrist.
On the other end, i found the handolding during the investigations quite unnerving, and most of the murders trivial to solve.
Aka, you can either rush it throught the help of your designated guardian angel (be it Kyouko, Byakuya, or the murderer itslef) or you can take your time and, most probably, your order at finding clues.
Now, for the differences:
Obvious lack of explainations during the trainwrecks that are the mc's thoughts
Was it really necessary loading some bullets in an unexplained gun barrel every time the trial starts? And the other bullet animations? Apart from the last episode's hope shots i found them pretty useless.
In the first trial (vn mode), one thing happened; call me naive, but Sayaka's betrayal (glaringly obvious when you see the note Kyouko's uncovered for you) hit me like a punch to the guts. As far as i should've seen it coming, i really wouldn't have tought it so sudden, and so actual: my first and only friend tried to frame me, after promising to help me (one more subplot not even started, just mentioned, in the anime). This obviously didn't happen in the anime: Sayaka didn't think about our own self defense, nor she didn't seek relief to us after the video; we had no chance to worry about her, because we had no reason to think of her differently then as one more character sent to that slaughterhouse. And this is a pity.
This didn't happen any more later, as i stopped caring about the characters when CelestiaTaeko died, if not earlier (i still shed a tear for Sakura)
What in the world is despair? The cast knows the meaning of fear; Mukuro, when on the verge of death, learnt the meaning of "what the ****'s happening?", and in the meantime Junko gets hit by what really means to have no idea what you're doing, as she was about to experience regret. No despair among the main cast.
Maybe, just maybe, if it really is as bad as it's described, part of the external world learnt about despair, but when you're brainwashed you don't learn about anything.
Muder spreas start because of rage, not despair.
If you're a possible victim, you may fear for your life (or the ones of your friends), or know the rage of the vengeance; same with war, you're not a victim of despair, just of mass rage.
So, what's the point i'm missing?
To sum it up - PLOT
The plot definitely isn't brilliant, but it relates to the source material. It comes off as a 4/10 because of the butchering suffered in the animation process, in addition to lacks of the source material itself.
This definitely isn't my stile to begin with, and most of the assets are ripped directly from the game. More than a couple scenes start with a still picture and only a couple of characters moving, in order for the whole cast to suddendly snap into reality a second later.
Then, all of the straight haired characters, at certain times of the daycamera angles, seem to have arses on the backs of their heads (most notably Sayaka and Kyouko). I couldn't stop noticing this, and this really bugged me off.
A detail i just hated is, in the last episode, the way Junko's boobs where in the center of the screen; did they notice they didn't put in any fanservice up to that point?
A thing i loved, instead, is the way the studio animated CelestiaTaeko: her playing with her hair in the first episode, and how all of her exhagerated movements appear both completely natural and with a decent dose of majestic to the side.
Better than the game's cardboard cutouts (ironic, since the characters are pretty damn flat), still not ticking with me.
They're all pretty bland and boring, most have a single definig trait (eg: Kyouko is clever, the mc never loses hope, Sakura wants to protect Aoi, Byakuya is a jerk, Toko is the host of a serial killer who doesn't murder anyone, and pretty much insane to begin with)
Out of these basic traits, none of these people have any kind of important relationship between them (but the love interest from Toko to the Big Bad Boy with glasses and tons of money)
Let's get this over quickly:
Hironically, the character i liked the most of the bunch is Monokuma; the way the artists made him look alive and expressive despite being able to only animate an eye, a cheek, a mouth and 2 puffy hands really hit me harder than Sayaka's betrayal, and some of his gestures during his appearances pleasantly surprised me. For example, his tea drinking skill makes sense for a stuffed robot bear.
My ignorance strikes in this field, so i'll leave this unmarked
Not disgusting, far from good; it could've really used some extra episodes (just a couple more) to make the characters deeper.
Being only 13 episodes long, it's a decent time waster, with no need to remember what happened in any previous episode whatsoever (all but the last arc are completely interchangeable)
It suffers from plot holes, and a graphic style that really doesn't tick with me (if you can call it a fault, as it's completely subjective whatsoever).
Maybe, its actual fault is depicting the source material TOO perfectly.
I give it a beware of despair/10. That means 5, i guess.
Danganronpa is a series that takes place in a renown school named Hope's Peak Academy. Makoto Naegi, an ordinary student without any specific talent, wins a lottery to attend the prestigious school. However, instead of starting a school life full of enjoyement and hope for the futur, Naegi's life becomes a real nightmare because the only way to leave the school and graduate is to kill a classmate.
Danganronpa is a series that was rated as "good" by Anime News Network's users.
This series is really fascinating, because during the whole anime I wanted to know what was going to happen next 100% of the time. The suspense and the mystery are really well done and make the viewer willing to see the next episodes. Even if the plot is not extraordinary, the way it is written achieved to make this series very interesting and worth seeing. The soudtrack behind this gives goosebumps and I think that it is one of the strengths of this series. The characters are very differents one from another, each with their own capacities, specialities and personality, which make the anime very rich and keeps it from being redundant and boring. The main character, Naegi, is the most interesting because the way he evolves and finds himself some talents through the series is very interesting. The animation is good, but isn't extraordinary. That's why this series deserves a rating of 8.5 on 10.