Edits will be done in bold.
My humble review of a show commonly known as "Dang it, Grandpa." (Shouldn't it be more like "Doggone Rumba?")
Story: For people who have played the video game, this should be old news, but the story is that a young boy is invited to a school which he thinks is basically Ouran High. But, no, it is actually a death trap with a sadistic cartoony bear as its principal. There are a bunch of other people at the school who are equally surprised to hear that they are part of a game in which only those who get away with murder ("To tell the truth, I am getting away with muuuuuuurdeeeeer!") can leave the school.
The "hero" (if he can be called that) is Naegi Makoto, a generic shounen hero who despises the idea of anyone killing anyone else. He is the main character, and everyone else is either useless roadkill or someone with more than a shred of usefulness who won't be killed off for a while. After a few episodes it's pretty damn obvious who's who.
Now, I have heard multiple opinions of this show, and they tend to fall into three categories. The first, limited to only people who have played the game, is as follows: "What the hell, the game is so much better than this! This is just some advertisement to get people to play the game!" The second is this: "Okay, so this isn't the best anime to come out this season by a long shot, but worse anime have been created, and it's kind of entertaining." The third is this: "OMFG, OMFG, wonderful world of anime, this is beautiful!!!!!!!!1!!!!!one!!!" I, personally, am a member of the second category. I'm sure the game is better guys, and even if it isn't, how the hell should I know? And this isn't great, not even good. But it's way more entertaining than it should be, and I look forward to watching it every week.
But entertainment value can't save a show, and "Danganronpa Kibou Afjoi4janfpaiwojlkxflmailsdjk..." suffers from some glaring issues. First and foremost, the show makes Naegi the most knowledgable character. You know, the one who solves every case, shoots down every theory that is incorrect, and never misses a beat? That one. It's hard to believe in this show when every freaking character is just an assistant to our protagonist Mr. Wonderful. Another issue is that every case is wrapped up in a neat little package with a bow attached to it. There's never any sense of worry that the wrong killer will be chosen (and every innocent person in the room dies), or that anything truly terrible will happen to the characters who supply something to the plot. In addition, the story is very formulaic, with alternating "murder" episodes and "trial" episodes. The period of time after a "murder" episode keeps the viewer on the edge of his seat--who, what, when, where, WHY?--but the week after a "trial" episode is just boring.
One other thing, which is more of a gripe than a real problem, is that the story is told from first-person perspective. Instead of giving the story the feel of having an unreliable character, it just secures the idea that Naegi will never be in any true danger. But any character with half a brain could see that Naegi is the one solving every case, and should therefore try to murder him.
Animation: The artwork and animation are, for most of the show, terrible by today's standards. Sure, character designs are distinct (but most are mind-numbingly weird), but with that minor exception, the art sucks. The animation doesn't fare better, with stiff characters and uninteresting backgrounds. Still shots are used very often, and the moments with slightly-above-sub-par animation are reused.
But now, for the gore.
I have heard that the blood in the original game was colored pink for censorship issues (because everyone knows that red is super-effing-X-rated-extreme and pink is just cutesy), so the anime makes the blood pink.
=BAD! NOT FOR KIDS!
=GOOD! PARENTING APPROVED!
I know that many people hate this, but I actually find it kind of cool, but I would think it was stupid had I not heard about the game. The actual murders are rather tame in comparison to most anime in this genre, but the punishment scenes are clever and thoroughly entertaining. They also have some of the most interesting animation of the show.
Sound: I have noticed that many anime with boring stories, lackluster animation, and bland characters can still excel in the sound department. Now, this show doesn't take this to the extreme that, say, "11eyes" and "Amnesia" did, but it applies. The opening song is a pretty cool English-Engrish-rap-pop hybrid, and it meshes better than my description makes it sound. The OP also has some neat artwork to go along with it, and it avoids the despicable pitfall of containing spoilers. The ending song is beautiful in another way, but it doesn't have the coolness of the OP. The background music doesn't seem as great as it could be, but every seiyuu fits his/her character to a T.
Characters: This... is where it gets fun to write this review.
Naegi Makoto: If you couldn't already figure it out from this review, this guy is the main character. He is the protagonist, and is therefore a special snowflake and deserves your undivided attention. Now, while it does feel like the anime is desperate to make Naegi the likable one, he is ultimately just a bland character whom everyone (well... one super-important person, at least) just adores for some reason, and who can become Sherlock Holmes when the need arises. He is entrusted with luck and ability whenever the plot calls for it, and is probably the least interesting character in the series.
Togami Byakuya: I loved him from square one because, in a sea of weird-ass character designs, he stands out for being as close to a bishie as this series can manage. Hear me out, though. Aside from this, he actually IS a damn awesome character, and is easily the second smartest, and he doesn't even need a little thing called Deus ex Machina to help him out. In addition, he is very important, and is one of those characters a series like this needs--one who isn't just some goody-goody who is super friendly to everyone. Okay, so Byakuya is actually kind of a douchebag at times (other times he's just a jerk), but his cynicism and lack of trust in the others is crucial. In addition, he is half of a little something that will be mentioned in the next paragraph.
Fukawa Touko: (WILL CONTAIN MILD SPOILERS!) She initially seems like a cowardly girl with an obvious crush on Byakuya (you and me both, babe), but it is later revealed that she is a split-personality case, with her other personality being Genocyder Sho, a sadistic serial killer who loves to crucify her (hot male [this girl has some interesting traits]) victims with scissors. Well... damn. Didn't see that coming. But this is actually a blessing, as Genocyder Sho is effing awesome--she's like a flirt on crack, with some yandere thrown in and a whole lot of crazy. So, yeah, Genocyder Sho is the sexiest female character in this series (and I am not afraid to admit it). Plus, as I mentioned in the last paragraph, she (or even Fukawa, if you're more a fan of cute) and Byakuya are the best ship in this show BY FAR (in my very personal opinion), and their chemistry (if you can call it that) practically makes the show.
Kirigiri Kyouko: I have nothing against stoic characters. Really. I don't. But Kirigiri is just BORING! And when she's not solving a mystery or acting beyond suspicious, she's morphing into a tsundere. Basically, she's a character who's really important to the plot, but not to me. Episode 11 did some damn nice things for her character, and I am beginning to rethink my views on her. Unfortunately, episode 11 out of, I think, 13 is a bit too late in the game.
Monokuma: The creepy little stuffed bear who runs the game. The one who makes those damn bear puns. (If I hear any of those, I will BEARly be able to restrain myself from gouging your eyes out.) Other than that, he's just a typical sadistic game leader who doesn't have half the charisma of a certain other killing game leader ("Battle Royale," which if you haven't read or seen or whatever, you should), and is actually kind of... dumb. He overlooks obvious things and sometimes seems a step BEHIND Naegi and crew.
Everyone else: Yes, I am jumbling everyone here. The ones who die off early and even some of the ones who are still alive and kicking are equal, because they are either just filler or not awesome enough to warrant a paragraph. So I'm putting this people here.
Oh, yeah, character development! Ha, say what now? Considering the fact that many people die off early, development is asking for a lot, but even characters still living seem to be static. Character motivations are all the same (GET. THE F*CK. OUT!), and backstories are nonexistent.
So why the relatively high rating? Simple. Byakuya and Touko.
Overall: This show offers up some entertainment value, but it's mostly shallow entertainment. However, I plan to see this show through until the end (especially since episode 10 was practically a wham episode).