*MY SCORE IS BASED IN THE VISUAL NOVEL + ANIME*
First of all, don't be a 'animeonly' if you want to know this show better, right? 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, and i'll explain why.
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, which was rushed a lot, you 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: 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. Hell, i even watched what i didn't make in youtube just for character and hidden plot knowledge purposes! Then i finally got my hands in the anime, and i must say all this work just to understand the series was 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 the show is bad? The answer came to me pretty clearly, well, for starters, 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, it's all that 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, and take your time, you can always load the chapters if someone you didn't bonded with dies suddenly (heart attack someone? would be hella funny), but 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 PEOPLE? AND WHY HE HAVE SUCH A FUNNY VOICE? SERIOUSLY GUYS I NEED HELP AROUND HERE.
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! Just because it is very nonexplained in the anime, because 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, 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 preeeetty poor), Oogami and Asahina bonding can be a little misunderstood too, 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 screwed 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 (oooor 16?) kids, and they're trapped in the Hope Academy to grow a new population. Why? well, that's because they're the best in their jobs or hobbies, yeah, just because of that. Oh what? That seems wierd? And why they're trapped? Sorry, you're asking too much now (don't mind my delirium disorder, please), but 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 must be a silent dispatch, nobody can find out who is the murderer, 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, 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 a innocent person everybody dies and the former malefactor graduate. Well, i must say that is fucking insane, huh? The flow of the show with all the murder mystery plot is actually pretty entertaining when they're start investigating, talking and understanding who they are, their reasons and even their background life, so as threatening each other to get the facts straight in the end, just to make the right decision for the sake of their own lives, which is the vital point of the entire series, but unfortunately this have a huge flaw in the animation.
In the visual novel, Naegi, who is YOU, need to search for clues and assimilate the whole damn thing, this is get you in the mood of the show, even in those cases that you doesn't need to use your brain too much, the satisfaction to 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 suffers from a sudden lapse of knowledge and mysteriously he knows what happened and who is the culprit, (if he's somewhat wrong, Kirigiri is right) like, what the hell? Even some clues he and other cast members found in the investigation doesn't get mentioned in the class trial for better understanding. The whole point is apprehending the plot, this is not a senseless battle royale, but inauspiciously 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.
Well, i must say the animation did not impress me thaaat much, i like the unique style of the characters (it seems a lot different from the usual animes i've being watching, like their eyes for example) and i sure loved seing my favorite ones (Mondo Badass Oowada) in action instead of a weird paperboard figure, powered up with a lot of funny, scary, cute and badasses reactions too, (the priceless Celes angry reactions) and 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, it's the whole OMG I FOUND A CORPSE! LET'S SHAKE WITH TERROR AND PLAY A TERRIFYING SCREAM.
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 incredible AWESOME, mentioning that he worked for Killer 7 and No More Heroes franchise too. I can't get enough of the songs, i'm listening the entire thing for weeks, 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. If you want to be a little more fanboy than me, well, you can even read the manga with the OST on the background, how that sound? Well that's is just beyond my purpose on this review, hahaha. Also, take your time to listen to the anime ending song, it's pretty badass.
Aside from the extraordinary soundtrack (and my fanboyism), lets talk about the voice acting, first of all there is something that everybody should already know: Naegi's voice actor is the same as Shinji in the Evangelion series, pretty good work if you ask me, but not that good compared to the visual novel, the effort was not the same, he seems a bored all the time when he yells the classic DING DONG YOU'RE ALL WRONG, the same happens with Monokuma's acting, in the visual novel he is a lot funnier, even his iconic laugh is dissatisfactory in the anime. 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. 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)
Like i said , the show is rushed as hell, so we can't understand the characters that well like we do in the visual novel, but basically they 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, that's a big downside for who tried to bond with some of the dead characters better, which you can do, kinda of, but you cannot save who you want to, that pissed me up, because i've tried my best to save her (YOU TRIED TOO)... but, let's just wait for the PSVITA version with the School Mode, shall we? Then i can be bros with Mondo and get my scheme going with the millitary girl.
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 COULD BE, DAMMIT.
*It's a nice murder mystery, the plot is not forgivable in the anime for the lack of information, if you try to search for infos you might get spoilers, be careful!
*Monokuma is a incredibly funny villain at most of the times, but eventualy you'll start to understand his true insane form, i can say his theme music helps with the shits 'n gigs atmosphere, and 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, and the kids will became more confident about their situation. For me he's just a angry teddy bear who fell sideways on black grease.
*There's not so much gore (if any) or bloodshed, i think it should be a little more gruesome, i will explain my disappointment with a little spoiler: the reason i think it should have a little more creepy aspects, at least in this specific case, it's because there's nothing remaining of the body, like, it SHOULD be if i recall correctly, this is something that not got explained so well, and sounded more like a joke than a execution. Because of that i was doubting the whole 'despair murdering madness i'll drink your tears in the breakfast' show.
*There's not much horror, the Hope Academy 'dark aura' it's 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, 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 a example: Myself, i got very interested in all the characters (mainly Mondo, YES! THAT IS 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. (lies, i love boobs more, but there isn't much fanservice on this show, which is kinda good, with a plot like this the fanservice is the least you want it, otherwise it would be a crappy show [SHOTS FIRED]. Well, actually there is a little from Asahina in the episode 6, god i love her round donuts, and if you want some dirty thoughts search for the fanfics, thank you /a/.)
Lastly, this show is very easy going in the mystery solving, and offers a BIG AMOUNT OF PERSPECTIVES, for me is that 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 get 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 days 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 Danganronpa 2 (yes there's a 2, where the story get more and more interesting).
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 Danganronpa 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 a fanboy so much. (hey, i didn't even talk much about Mondo anyways, HUH? HUH??? AM I RIGHT GUYS?)
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.
overall score: 7/10
overall score: 9/10