The continuation and conclusion to the Danganronpa games and anime, as well as the end of the Hope’s Peak Academy story. This is the final battle between hope and despair.
After protecting the Remnants of Despair, the perpetrators behind the Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History Makoto Naegi stands on trial for betrayal. Shortly before his trial starts, he and the other members of the Future Foundation are forced to participate in one final killing game by Monokuma.
Since characters are getting killed off in every episode, just to be extra careful with spoilers we're going to post the latest episode takes under one another.
Episode 1: Third time’s the Charm
Airing July 11, 2016
Before I start with my analysis-recap, I want to say that I’m a huge Danganronpa fan. However, I must admit that I haven’t played Ultra Despair Girls (just recently bought it but I haven’t had the chance to play it yet) and I’ve never seen the other two anime seasons, instead choosing to play the original games because the Vita needs love. I’m sure the anime will have allusions to UDG that I will most certainly miss, so I’m asking for my readers’ understanding in this matter and hope (heh) that you’ll be able to fill in my blanks in the comments below.
Additionally, I will mainly focus on the Side: Future episodes, though I’m going to mention Side: Despair every now and then as well. Each entry in this blog will include my personal weekly prime suspect as well as a chart detailing which characters are alive and which have died, made by my good friend @tylershinigami. Having said all this, it’s time to finally dig in.
This episode was very much just a set-up, introdufing the colourful cast of characters to the viewers and setting the stage for what is to come. We were introduced to members of the Future Foundation, whose leaders consist of formers students at Hope’s Peak Academy. At two of those we got a closer look making it possible for us to get to know them a little better, while we only know of the others’ names and ultimate talents. Those two characters were Yu Narukami Kyosuke Munakata and Chisa Yukizome. I throughly enjoyed the chemistry between them and writer Kazutaka Kodaka did a great job breaking my heart. Well done, Kodaka.Danganronpa has always had a talent to really punch you in the gut with it’s shocking twists and turns and even though I feared that Chisa would meet an untimely demise due to how instantly likeable she was, I would have never expected to feel as devastated for a character I just met. I’m very glad that we get so see more of her in Side: Despair (maybe each time a character dies in Future, they’ll appear in Despair?). Still, I’m awfully saddend by her death and I feel sorry for Kyosuke, who’s last words ending this first episode showed his regrets and despair. Chisa’s death, Kyosuke’s reaction and their relationship served well in creating a desperate atomosphere that the anime will surely profit from.
Speaking of Kyosuke, I have a feeling that if this were a game, he would be our main protagonist even though he doesn’t have the ahogeDanganronpa-MCs are notorious for. He represents a different, more worldy-wise and contemplative form of hope in contrast to Naegi’s rather naive but philantrophic hope which makes me very excited for what will happen when those two hopes meet, as well as see how Kyosuke will persue the killer of his beloved (?) Chisa with Naegi’s help. This is also why I don’t suspect him of being the killer in their midst. I don’t have a real suspect yet as it’s just way too early. Ryota Mitarai, the Ultimate Animator, seems suspicious but that is because he was specifically staged to seem suspicious. Regardless, he will my Prime Suspect of the Week simply for the look Kirigiri gave him when she first saw him.
The next episode will really mark the start of the new and final killing game and I’m very eager to see what’s going to happen next. Maybe we’ll also get an answer to where everyone’s darling Byakuya is?
In one line: An intriguing set-up episode that easily managed to create an emotional connection between characters and viewers.
Prime Suspect of the Week: Ryota Mitarai, the Ultimate Animator
Character Death List by @tylershinigami:
Episode 2: Burn the Witch
Airing July 18, 2016
When I played the Danganronpa games, I couldn’t wait to get to the bottom of the mysteries they held. Granted, this happens with any mystery or suspense game I play, novel I read, etc. but in the Danganronpa games’ case there was something else. Unlike reading a novel or watching a series, I was seemingly directly involved, taking on the roles of the main characters Makoto Naegi and Hajime Hinata. The games made it very easy to identify with the MCs, allowing the player to immerse him/herself into the story and characters. Every twist and death made me feel something. The anime is greatly profiting from this as the death of Aoi Asahina showed me. I had a gut feeling that something would happen to her and hoped I was wrong. Foolishly, I believed that one death per episode is the limit and felt oddly relieved when the Ultimate Farmer (who may make an appearance in Side: Despair if my theory holds true) met his very tragic end. Now, just like last week, I felt desperate at the end of the episode again.
Speaking of the Ultimate Farmer, Daisaku Bandai’s death was not meaningless. Not only did it teach the other characters about the importance of their “Forbidden Actions” but it helped characterise Juzo Sakakura. The first episode already gave us some insight into the hot-blooded Ultimate Boxer but this episode proved that he and his best buddy Kyosuke are much more complex than meets the eye (not that well-written characters are something that should surprise Danganronpa fans).
Last week, I called Kyosuke’s hope world-wise and contemplative compared to Naegi’s and I still feel like that. However, most likely due to his “worldy-wiseness”, his hope is also much more jaded, resulting in a very extreme, even radical form of hope. Whereas Naegi has no qualms to hope against hope in the most dire situation, Kyosuke and Juzo prefer to completely rid the world of despair, a notion many in the Future Foundation seem to share if Ruruka and Sohnosuke’s very intriguing comments on Seiko are any indication. They believe that when someone goes “desperate” once, they can never really be “hopeful” again. In case you missed the mentioned comments, they were addressing Seiko apparently having belonged to Despair before joining the good side. It will be interesting to see what exactly happened in future, or in Side: Despair, episodes.
Regardless of the comments on Seiko, she is not my Prime Suspect of the Week. That title belongs to the heroic Great Gozu. The reason is not that he seemingly disappeared after Naegi woke up to find Asahina’s corpse, though that is suspicious as well, but that Gozu immediately picked up Naegi and ran with him on his back. How did he know that Naegi’s Forbidden Action was running in the hallway? Asahina didn’t tell him and he wasn’t there when Naegi mentioned it. My suspicions are raised and I will keep an eye out on Gozu in the next episode.
In one line: The real survival game starts and brings us our first taste of despair.
Prime Suspect of the Week: The Great Gozu, the Ultimate Wrestler
Character Death List by @tylershinigami:
Episode 3: Cruel Violence and Hollow Words
Airing July 25, 2016
A couple of people have asked me whether knowledge of Danganronpa 2 is necessary in order to watch and understand both Sides of the anime so I want to address this topic before I start the analysis. The analysis will be after the next image break.
I had a discussion with a friend of mine who hasn’t played Danganronpa 2(and I have only just started Ultra Despair Girls). He told me he was very confused as to what is going in Side: Future so I’m very inclined to say that those who haven’t played the second game are better off playing it first. Knowledge of Ultra Despair Girls doesn’t seem to be required (yet?) but Side: Future very much builds upon Danganronpa 1 and 2. Danganronpa 3 doesn’t use the anime, but the games as their basis, as such these write-ups will contain spoilers for both games as well. There are certain theories that point towards Ultra Despair Girls becoming more relevant in the future, as well, and - though I think of them as highly unlikely - I will address those further down nonetheless.
Side: Despair can be watched on it’s own (as of episode 2), however, you’d do yourself a great disservice because it spoils the whole second game and you miss tons of very charming and intriguing allusions. Then again, it may be possible to watch Side: Despair first and then watch Side: Future afterwards, depending on how Side: Despair ends... though the creators meant both Sides to be watched in their airing order and I’m quite sure there’s a reason for this.
All in all, here’s my advice: Play the game first. Take your time, try to avoid spoilers (I’m pretty sure you’ll manage that since Danganronpa isn’t that big, after all) and enjoy it. Danganronpa 2 is, in my opinion, the superior game and a great experience that you shouldn’t deprive yourself of. It’s also regularly on sale, too. Your watching-experience of both Sideswill greatly benefit from having played the second game.
A final reminder: These write-ups will contain spoilers for all Danganronpa-related media, be it games, anime or otherwise.
Well... forget everything I said last week, I guess? My main suspect is dead, but, luckily, Hina is still alive. For now. Anyhow, leave it to Danganronpa to use the death of one of its characters in order to allow for more fanservice. The buttoned-down look never suited Asahina, anyway. I’m glad to see she’s still alive since she’s such a cinnamon roll and I’ve grown very fond of her over the course of the first game but her Forbidden Actions, to be hit with a punch or kick, seems to be one of the most dangerous and brutal Forbidden Actions revealed yet, and is a great cause for concern, especially, if you consider the hot-blooded fighters that are among the participants of this time’s killing game. It really makes me wonder what the others’ Forbidden Actions are going to be. I’m sure we’re in for some nasty surprises.
It very well may be that Kyosuke’s Forbidden Action will prevent him from killing Naegi, as I don’t expect Naegi do die just yet (I have a “Messiah of Hope-theory”). The very meta confrontation between Naegi and Kyosuke at the end of the episode was pretty much what redeemed this rather lacklustre episode for me. The relationship between Kyosuke and Naegi, the clashing of their hopes continues to be intriguing and very tense and their conversation served to further showcase their contrasting views on hope which can easily be summed up as Kyosuke being against Despair, Naegi being for Hope. This contrast is one of the anime’s main draws and most fascinating aspects, so there’s no way the people behind it will just end it with a cheap cliff-hanger.
Apart from the last scene, not too much happened as this episode mainly served as a set-up for what’s to come with tons of allusions to past and future events. As a whole, this episode felt rather anti-climactic, mostly due to the cheap, forced and very unneeded cliff-hanger. I really hope that cliff-hangers, though this week’s gave us a killer last line from Kyosuke, won’t be a regularity in the anime. Danganronpa doesn’t need them. There’s enough intrigue and suspense, that cliff-hangers are simply perceived as cheap thrills. There’s just no way the next episode will start with a dead Naegi. The cliff-hanger asks “Will Naegi survive?” when the question should be “How will Naegi survive?” I predict the Truth Bulletswords “Chisa” and “hope” will be used.
The episode gave some of the new characters more screen-time at least, including the mysterious Gekkogahara. There are a lot of fans speculating that Gekkogahara is actually Chiaki or Monaca due to the fact that her VA is never revealed and that Gekkogahara resembles them in some ways. I’m going to dismiss the Monaca theory immediately, simply because the age doesn’t add up at all and while I’m not going to dismiss the possibility that the Chiaki theory may be true I will still stay very cautious of believing in them. Why? Because this isn’t the first time Danganronpa gave us new characters that were designed to feel reminiscent of known characters. In Danganronpa 2, Nagito Komaeda, Akane Owari and even Usami/Monomi were initial dead ringers for Naegi, Asahina and Monokuma in appearance and superficial behaviour, yet as we got to know them we quickly realised they were their very own individual characters. So is Gekkogahara Monaca? No. Is she Chiaki? Past experience tells us she may just be a red herring but maybe, just maybe, writer Kazutaka Kodaka wants us to believe she is merely a red herring?
As for my Prime Suspect of the Week, I’m going with the Ultimate Animator again. Kirigiri clearly mistrusts him, always giving him the side-eye, and she’s the slightly better detective. Not to mention that the Ultimate Imposter
Let’s hope the next episode profits from all the set-up that was done in this one. A lot of questions were certainly raised and I demand answers. In any case, we still have this week’s episode for the currently superior Side: Despair to look forward to. Depending on how the Twilight Syndrome Murder Case is depicted, I may recap-analyse it as well. We’ll see.
In one line: A rather lacklustre set-up episode.
Prime Suspect of the Week: Ryota Mitarai, the Ultimate Animator
Character Death List by @tylershinigami:
Episode 4: Who is a liar
Airing August 2, 2016
That’s right. You are a liar.
Okay. One thing is clear now. Both Sides of Danganronpa 3 are a giant love letter (is this the right term?) to the fans of the games and to the fans of the games only. You have to have played Danganronpa 1 and 2 as well asUltra Despair Girls. (Who knows, maybe by the week’s episode viewers are expected to have read the light novels as well?) If you haven’t done that, you’re going to have trouble following and understanding what’s going on. That final reveal in this episode made that very clear. So again, if you’re still watching and reading this, play the games instead. You’ll do yourself a great disservice if you don’t play the games because a.) they are great and b.) the Vita needs more love it will make you enjoy the anime so much more. I haven’t finished UDG yet but I’m going to finish it in time for the next episode so I can deliver the best possible write-up for Side: Future.
This week’s episode shed some light onto some of the mysteries. So let’s start with the big final reveal. I was so sure that Gekkogahara isn’t Monaca. I dismissed the whole theory because their ages didn’t add up and because it was way too obvious but never did I pause to consider that this is Danganronpa. A series with utterly insane plot twists and turns. Here’s a character who so obviously looks like Monaca, just like how someDanganronpa 2 characters resembled characters from the first game, she couldn’t possibly be anything but a red herring. In a way I was right. Gekkogahara isn’t Monaca. Gekkogahara is a robot controlled by Monaca. To those who don’t know who she is (why are you reading this instead of playing UDG?) and deem the Swastikas for eyes and bad Junko Enoshima cosplay as too subtle, Li’l Ultimate Homeroom Monaca is the insane and evil main antagonist in Ultra Despair Girls.
Another noteworthy observation is Gekkogahara’s Forbidden Action. She blatantly turned right in one of the scene which proves that not being able to do so was never her Forbidden Action. Some may think she’s exempt from this rule as she’s not human but I doubt it. I think she simply lied. She never showed her wristband to anyone so I’m very sure she has a Forbidden Action and it is not to turn right. He lie about her Forbidden Action is the lie that is implied in the title of the episode.
The reveals concerning Gekkogahara/Monaca leave us with a whole lot of questions including the question of what happened to the real Gekkogahara. I’m very sure that she really existed given how she was one of the creators of the Neo World Programme but at what point did Monaca take over? When and how did this happen will be very interesting to find out.
While the Monaca reveal was shocking, the confrontation between Kyosuke and former headmaster of Hope’s Peak Academy Tengan wasn’t any less exciting. Everything about it had my heart racing, from the fight scenes to the Truth Bullets Tengan shot at Kyosuke, which finally put him in his place and may have made him realise that his naïve and radical approach isn’t the right way to rid the world of despair. Though Tengan sadly ended up being mortally wounded, he might have put an end to Kyosuke and Juzo’s douchebaggery. A real hero.
On the other Side of Danganronpa, an issue is tackled that needed to be addressed long ago. How do talentless people feel in a society that equates talentlessness with worthlessness? We only got a small glimpse of that in last week’s Side: Despair episode but nevertheless, it I’m happy that the issue wasn’t completely glossed over since it’s something that has been bothering me ever since I played the first game.
We don’t know for sure whether Monaca is the real puppet master behind the final killing game. Maybe it’s actually grudge-holding Non-Ultimates who had to suffer because of the Ultimates? After all, it was the talented Ultimates who brought forth the Tragedy in form of The Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History. (Why isn’t it called the Ultimate Tragedy, anyway?) I’d like to see Danganronpa 3 address this issue more but I’m afraid it won’t happen. Admittedly, with the Monaca reveal it seems highly unlikely that some Non-Ultimate is the organiser of this last battle between hope and despair. As such, my Prime Suspect of the Week will of course be Monaca. And now I will go play UDG until next week’s episode. See you all next week!
In one line: A shocking turn of events! (I feel like one of those Power Rangers-announcers.)
Prime Suspect of the Week: Monaca, Li’l Ultimate Homeroom
Character Death List by @tylershinigami:
Dreams of Distant Days, Side: Future
Airing August 8, 2016
The Beginning of the End, Side: Despair
Airing August 11, 2016
As of this entry, this Anime Series Blog will cover both Sides of Danganronpa 3.
I think I’ve mentioned it before but I’ll mention it again: Watch out for post-ED scenes. This week’s episode of Side: Future featured the most talked about scene in the entirety of Side: Future yet. That last very ominous shot of a one-eyed Kyosuke sent fans speculating. Many viewers are sure to jump to conclusions after seeing Kyosuke taking Kimura’s pills but that doesn’t mean he killed her. I don’t think Munakata or his supposed spilt personality as some theories have it are the killer. One of the flashbacks established that Kimura and Kyosuke have a connection. Kimura trusts Kyosuke and she’s known to give those she trusts whatever they want. So it’s most likely that Kyosuke was simply given the pills by Kimura at some point. What’s much more intriguing is the fact that that wasn’t his sword next to him but the one Sohnosuke initially reached out for. How exactly did he get that sword and where is his (admittedly really cool) sword? It points towards Kyosuke being able to walk while everyone else is unconscious. This speaks for him being the Killer but it gets even more interesting. Tengan’s comments were again very ambiguous when he rhetorically asked Kyosuke if getting rid of Despair through militant means is the reason why he sacrificed Yukizome. Was Tengan alluding to his knowledge of who the killer(s?) is or was he twisting Kyosuke’s own words in order to make him realise his faults? Of course it’s deliberately left ambiguous so as to get us viewers to speculate. Now, why do I think Kyosuke is not the Remnant. Simply because he’s very anti-Despair. His obsession with ridding the world of Despair is extremist and I do believe he may have known about the Final Killing game and allowed it to happen in order to destroy the last Remnants of Despair. This also means that he willingly sacrificed people, something he has already admitted as being necessary in order to achieve his goal. For Kyosuke it’s very much that the ends justify the means.
Juzo shares many of Kyosuke’s notions, also stating that he would gladly give his life so that Kyosuke can accomplish his “noble” objective but whether he would be able to overlook that Kyosuke sacrificed Yukizome is an entirely different matter. I have a feeling that it will come to a showdown between the brains and the brawn sometime soon. The constant foreshadowing and repeated statements of how much Juzo trusts Kyosuke scream that that trust will be betrayed. Unlike the calm and calculating Kyosuke Juzo is much more hot-blooded and emotional.
Side: Future continues to be the stronger part of the two but it’s also becoming more and more apparent that they are complimentary to each other. Kimura’s death flags were pretty much raised in last week’s Side: Future episode when her back-story was revealed. By far one of the most emotional scenes was the mental confrontation between former best-friends Kimura and Ruruka. As their mental dialogue kept going, becoming more and more devastating to listen to, I couldn’t help but wish for them to just talk it out. “Don’t think it, say it!”, I screamed at them but they are fictional characters without auditory systems, thus my well-intentioned efforts were futile. Too many death flags had already been raised at that point. Judging by the sheer amount of fanart Kimura’s death produced, it’s safe to say that she will go down as one of the most beloved characters in Side: Future, while Ruruka wil lgo down as being the pettiest character in all of Danganronpa. I hope she gets fleshed out a bit more because her reason for being mad at Kimura is beyond ridiculous. Speaking of death flags though, I hope Mitarai won’t meet his end in next week’s episode. However, the signs all point towards it as he’s probably the biggest cinnamonroll I’ve ever come across. Let’s just hope he survives so his anime can save everyone.
I have, by the way, finished playing Ultra Despair Girls and since I’ve talked about it a few times, I would like to share my thoughts on it. Unfortunately, it’s not a good game. It’s gameplay is broken - which actually makes for quite a challenge - and the characters are annoying and obnoxious. While the central mysteries of the game are very intriguing, it’s not to UDG’s credit. The mysteries in UDG benefit from two great games. The main issue I had with UDG’s is how it uses meta humour. Unlike the main series, meta humour is mostly used as a way to justify the many flaws the game has. To elaborate, the main character, Komaru Naegi, is not an Ultimate but a plain and normal girl. The message UDG tries to pass is that you don’t have to be someone special to achieve something special. It’s a great message and one that could have addressed how non-Ultimates feel in a society where Ultimates rule. But alas, this is not the case. Instead the normal, plain and boring Komaru is the butt of all the meta jokes and the player is constantly reminded that she is normal, plain and boring (which she really is). It makes a great message come off as insincere and like the people behind UDG themselves didn’t believe in it. Ultimately (heh), it’s a very broken game on many levels. UDG is also the reason why Monaca - known in the Danganronpa-fanbase as “ugh... Monaca” - is my Prime Suspect of Week again. The game has her end up as a Second Coming of Junko, so it would make sense for her to stage this Final Killing Game in order to destroy Hope once and for all.
In one line: Side: Future’s most emotional episode yet and an episode that spells the coming of despair for the eponymous Side.
Prime Suspect of the Week: Monaca, Li’l Ultimate Homeroom
Character Death List by @tylershinigami:
No man is an island, Side: Future
Airing August 15, 2016
A Despairfully Fateful Encounter, Side: Despair
Airing August 18, 2016
I did not expect this Side: Future episode to make me feel empathy towards Kyosuke. I’ve found him very entertaining and fascinating, hence why I wrote so much on him in the last couple of weeks, but I didn’t expect to feel sorry for him. The graduation scene was very endearing but it was not what triggered my emotional response. When Kyosuke took his sword and stabbed Yukizome he took responsibility for her death. At that moment he acknowledged that his single-mindedness lead to her murder and finally mourned her death.
Due to Kyosuke’s knowledge of who the killer is, he’s most likely the next target, something he seems to be aware of since the final goodbye to Yukizome can be understood on multiple levels. Kyosuke’s determined to put an end to Despair, yet, at the same time, he came off as awfully hopeless. Could it be that the person behind the final killing game is someone he likes?
In last week’s write-up, I mentioned that I believe Kyosuke and Juzo will have a falling out sooner or later because of Yukizome and Side: Despair’s episode supports my suspicion. Juzo sees himself as the third-wheel, his love for Yukizome being completely unrequited. Scratch that. It’s even worse than unrequited. Yukizome sees Juzo as rival for Kyosuke’s affection. No wonder he has anger management issues. Spike Chunsoft, the developers of the game, even tweeted that the episode made Juzo more sympathetic, though I wouldn’t go that far. Regardless, I doubt that Juzo is the culprit because it simply doesn’t fit his character. He loves Yukizome and believes in Yuzo and even though he’s very emotional and hot-headed, I doubt that he would kill Ykizome. Others for sure but not Yukizome.
We have reached the halfway point and for Side: Despair this means a drastic and visible shift in tone. The general colour palette became much more muted in this episode, the general tone became much darker and even the opening was altered. The characters shown, sans Chiaki, all had red eyes, symbolising that they will turn towards Despair. When Hajime and his alter ego Izuru Kamukura appear, Hajime is slowly fading, referencing that his personality has been overwritten by the Steering Committee (the Hope’s Peak organisation behind the Izuru Kamukura project.) We’ve reached Danganronpa/Zero territory now.
Danganronpa/Zero is a light novel and prequel to the Danganronpa games written by the creator of the series Kazutaka Kodaka and illustrated by Rui Komatsuzaki. I haven’t read it yet myself, though friends have urged me to do so and I think I really should because I have a feeling Danganronpa 3really will reference all Danganronpa-related media.
Speaking of references, episode 7 of Side: Future will focus on the Ultra Despair Girls Komaru Naegi and Toko Fukawa if this episode was any indication. After the events of UDG, the girls remained in Towa City to keep it safe and hunt down Junko Enoshima fangirl numero uno Monaca. On the behest of Byakuya - who’s alive, don’t know why people were freaking out over him not appearing in promotional material, did they think he’d just died off-screen? Ha! The Togami name dies not off-screen! - they are ordered to find and take down Monaca once and for all. It was a tense moment and a very thrilling episode but Danganronpawouldn’t be Danganronpa if it didn’t give us a panty-shot and yuri references during all the suspense. Even though I really disliked UDG, I have to admit that I’m really excited for the girls to chase down Monaca but that just may be because I really hate Monaca. Ugh, Monaca.
For the first time in Danganronpa 3's run I enjoyed Side: Future’s episode more. The twists just didn’t stop coming. You barely recovered from one turn when the next one already hit you and I haven’t even mentioned the last scene yet. Why? Because I don’t know what’s going on and I don’t want to guess. I want to see it. I can’t wait for the next Side: Futureepisode. That doesn’t mean I’m not excited for Side: Despair, though. The cliffhanger when Junko hugged Mitarai strengthens my distrust of the Ultimate Animator. There was something off with him form the start. Kirigiri noticed, Junko noticed, I noticed. I’m really happy we get two episodes of Danganronpa a week because the suspense is killing me.
In one line: Side: Future delivers its most suspenseful and best episode to date while Side: Despair lives up to its title.
Prime Suspects of the Week: Ryota Mitarai, the Ultimate Animator and Monaca, Li’l Ultimate Homeroom
Character Death List by @tylershinigami:
The Biggest, Most Atrocious Incident in Hope’s History, Side: Despair
Airing August 25, 2016
Ultra Despair Girls, Side: Future
Airing August 22, 2016
Last week, I wrote that Side: Future has finally shown the strength it always promised and then Ultra Despair Girls happened. Much like the game after which it is titled, this episode was simply annoying. While it had some fun moments, it largely remained unsubstantial and nondescript. I knew this episode would centre on the Ultra Despair Girls Komaru and Toko but expected a big pay off to the mediocre game and a final showdown between the Girls and Junko Enoshima 2.0 Monaca - just like last week’s episode promised. What we got was a pointless episode that gave us the assurance that someone from the first Danganronpa game will die, though I believe almost every viewer expected this to happen anyway. Though the whole episode felt like a huge cop-out, it kind of makes sense that Monaca wouldn’t let Junko or Nagito’s mind-games control her as she’s much too smart to let that happen. Anyway, instead of wasting any more time with this episode, let’s focus on the question of who will die out of the original Danganronpa cast and if Toko’s fantasies will ever become reality (no) before I dig into Side: Despair’s new episode.
At the beginning of the episode the survivors’ count was 10. However, inside the building there are only nine people (including the now defunct faux-Gekkogahara). This means either that someone isn’t dead (unlikely since Kirigiri has checked or is in the process of checking all of the corpses) or that being outside doesn’t mean you’re safe.
With that in mind, the least likely to die is Byakuya. He’s too much in control and to brainy to fall at the hands of Despair. Plus, he was suspiciously absent from DR3's marketing, most likely meaning that he is not involved in the final killing game.
Next, Toko, who like Byakuya wasn’t shown in DR3's posters and such. With Monaca living as a NEET in spaaaaaaace, she’s no longer in any danger. Not to mention that she can always count on Komaru’s protection.
Hina is (unfortunately) more likely to die but still not too likely. Given that us viewers already suffered her staged death, the real one wouldn’t be quite as despair-inducing. You could say we’ve become desensitised, as cruel as that is and crueller still that this is the reason why she will survive.
Then there’s that one guy who’s name I always forget, the obnoxious clairvoyant. *googles his name* Yasuhiro Hagakure. Why is he so high on this list? Simply because he appeared in all teasers for this series, always accompanied with a broken crystal ball. The shattered crystal ball is obviously an allusion that the future and Side: Future, respectively hold despair. Yet, it may still be a reference to the Ultimate Clairvoyant’s demise as he’s associated with crystal balls the most.
Kyoko Kirigiri is probably the most loved character in all of Danganronpa. That alone makes her death very possible but it’s not just that. Danganronpa wants its players and viewers to feel despair. To kill-off the most beloved character would even make Junko Enoshima proud. Furthermore, Kirigiri being the Ultimate Detective, means that she can deduce who the killer is. Having found out their identity, Kirigiri obviously becomes a target for them, similar to Kyosuke being the next target after he’s learned who the culprits behind this final round in the battle between Hope and Despair are.
The only ex-member of the 78th class to be more likely to die is Naegi himself. His death wouldn’t be as despair-inducing as Kirigiri’s and I think that points us to his ultimate fate (heh). I’ve long held the theory that Naegi will die in order to bring the world hope, as paradox as that sounds. Defeating Despair once and for all but dying will doing so. A true hero’s death that would lead to him becoming the Messiah of Hope. However, this is just a far-off theory based on nothing at all but how far-off Danganronpa can be and doesn’t rule out Kirigiri’s death which I’m very inclined to believe is something that is going to happen...
While Side: Future’s episode was a disappointment, Side: Despair keeps getting better and better, or rather more desperate. With each episode,Side: Despair live up more and more to its title and this week we finally saw The Biggest, Most Atrocious Incident in Hope’s Peak High School’s History go down. It was a devastating event and very hard to watch. These were characters I didn’t even know or care about, yet it deeply affected me and now I’m afraid of seeing what will happen to the Danganronpa 2's characters.
This episode also gave us a hint at how Junko managed to turn so many people towards Despair and made some character more and less likely to be the mastermind behind the final killing game, respectively. Junko most likely used an edited version of Mitarai’s anime to brainwash people. The question now is, what role Mitarai played in this editing of his work. Considering that he’s still alive, I dare say he knew about it and allowed it to happen. It’s possible that he was brainwashed into re-editing his anime into a version that brainwashes people into making them desperate. This episode established that Mitarai is very protective of anime and his work is no exception. He wouldn’t let anyone touch it, unless he was brainwashed. Thus, if Junko tried to lay a finger on it herself, he would have fought her and he would have been killed. Yet, he’s still alive and I doubt his being brainwashed - if he indeed is brainwashed - has ceased. All lot points towards him being the culprit of Side: Future, including his close proximity to likely victim Kirigiri. Furthermore, Kizakura’s reason for staying close to Krigiri was revealed as well and I feel like his protecting her will lead to his death. Summing up, Kirigiri’s and Kizakura’s death flags have been raised and I predict that Mitarai is (partly) responsible for the final killing game (partly, because Junko and her analytical mind are most likely the real mastermind.)
When I began these write-ups I chose to focus on Side: Future, believingSide: Despair would be just a complimentary series, showing what happened before the second game but nothing special. However, Side: Despair is vastly superior to Side: Future in almost every way. Knowing the outcome and still being intrigued and excited by it is the marking of a well-made series and deserves praise.
Given the trend of referencing other Danganronpa media outside of the main game line, I think that next week’s desperate episode might introduce Yasuke Matsuda, one of the main characters in theDanganronpa/Zero light novel. Even the manga spin-off Killer Killer, which is turning into a DR3 prequel of sorts, might get mentioned in the near future (I live for puns).
In one sentence: Disappointment on the one side, despair on the other.
Prime Suspect of the Week: Ryota Mitarai, the Ultimate Animator
Character Death List by
Chisa Yukizome won’t smile, Side: Despair
Airing September 8, 2016
You are my reason to Die, Side: Future
Airing September 5, 2016
* Episodes 8 were skipped due to delays *
These last two episodes have finally given us some concrete clues as to who the master mind and who the killer are. Based on those, I have formed a theory that more or less everybody else has formed as well. So let’s dive right in.
It seems Danganronpa 3 is doing the exact same thing the firstDanganronpa did. Namely, the first person to die is the culprit. In the first Visual Novel, “Junko Enoshima” (or rather her sister Mukoro in disguise) was killed but later revealed to be the true master mind. Similarly, it seems Chisa Yukizome is the one behind the Final Killing Game in DR3. This week’s Side: Despair episode established that she, too, was brainwashed into becoming a Remnant of Despair (in a very disturbing scene) and that those brainwashed do not shy away from killing or mutilating (the latter was already established in DR2) themselves. I believe Chisa orchestrated the final battle between Hope and Despair and that she also killed herself. She’s most definitely dead as Kyoko examined her corpse and Munakata stabbed her (more on this later on). This, however, must mean that the master mind and the killer are not the same person. Indeed, they are not, as everyone who was killed by the killer was the killer themselves. The mortal wounds were all self-inflicted and most likely a result of brainwashing through use of the monitors. I’m pretty sure this is accurate and have seen the same or similar theories around the web but some things about it are very off.
After a set amount of time, the participants of the Final Killing Game would be put to sleep, so how was it possible to brainwash someone who’s already asleep as brainwashing them demands they watch Junko’s video? Furthermore, why didn’t nobody notice that the wounds were self-inflicted? Did Kyoko notice? She must have given her talent so why didn’t she tell Naegi and the others about it? Kyoko either not noticing or not telling is very irksome to me. Some speculate that she knew but decided against telling Naegi so that he finds out himself which is stupid. This is about life and death, the Ultimate Detective surely wouldn’t go “Well, I know what’s going on and all we have to do is smash the monitors but guess I’ll wait until Naegi - who has lost all the character development he received through the first two games and reverted back to the insecure and naïve boy he was at the beginning of the series - figures it out and risk dying but, ah well, *shrugs*.” I hope this theory is wrong simply because it being right would mean that Kyoko either didn’t notice or didn’t tell and I can’t imagine that there’s a good reason for that.
I’m sad to say this but it wouldn’t be beyond Danganronpa 3 to pull this, unfortunately, as it’s proving more and more to be a forgettable mess and is really taking a toll on my love for and enjoyment of the series. For instance, the twists are becoming increasingly obvious and nonsensical. Kyoko’s death was painfully obvious, so was Kimura’s and even Ando’s. I cared more about the “despair-ification” of an already dead character than for Kyoko’s death, which didn’t trigger any emotional response from me besides a “Glad they didn’t drag out the obvious for too long.”
Sakakura’s death, on the other hand, was shocking but just for shock’s sake. I predicted from episode one that Munakata would end up killing him but I thought it would be in a tense fight that represents Sakakura’s suppressed feelings - his unrequited love for Chisa, jealousy of Munakata and the guilt he carries of not having been able to stop Junko when he had the chance. All the subtle and not-so-subtle charactersation Sakakura received over both Sides has gone to waste. Here we have a character who was build up as one of the main antagonists, with shades of a tragic hero, one of the few characters in DR3 that received a decent amount of development and who died for seemingly arbitrary reasons and cheap thrills. It could have been an unexpected, emotional and riveting moment after all the hints at the hidden, unspoken rivalry between Munakata and Kyosuke. Instead, it feels less like it was planned from the start and more like Kodaka decided to kill him off on a whim. I wouldn’t have expected to say this of Danganronpa but it’s extremely lousy writing and this is not the only example by far.
Speaking of Munakata, this week’s Side: Despair episode gave a whole nother meaning to him stabbing Chisa’s corpse. I theorised that it was his way - a warrior’s way - of saying goodbye to his beloved but now I believe it was him taking it upon himself to kill Despair. By stabbing the Remnant of Despair Chisa Yukizome, he kills that part of her. I was a fan of the scene before and am more so of it now. Sadly, it’s one of the only well-written scenes in all of Side: Future.
Additionally, DR3 has become increasingly hard to watch. It feels like a chore to me and I’ll be honest, I’m hate-watching it at this point. Particularly the violence is sickeningly over-the-top. Usually, I can stomach violence as long as it serves a purpose. In Re:ZERO, the violence is often part of the characterisation and serves to move the story forward. It never feels cheap or gratuitous or random. In DR3 case, this is very much the case, though. It’s just there to shock, to make you feel despair. The VNs managed to create a desperate atmosphere without this. They managed to do this with great story-telling and multi-dimensional characters. DR3 exchanges this and the cartoon-ish violence for visceral horror and gore. Especially, the - and I cannot call it anything else but - rape of Chisa was repulsive and unnecessary.
Ultimately, Danganronpa 3 is only good for cheap thrills and it’s the only reason I keep coming back is because it’s Danganronpa. If it wasn’tDanganronpa, I would have long dropped it. As it is now, I’ll tune in again next week and the weeks after just to see how it ends. That said, while I have lost all hopes for Side: Future to be any good, I think Side: Despair can still manange to become good if it doesn’t go the sickening route the last episode’s hinted at. As they are now, they are respectively meh and okay.
In one sentence: Obvious twists trigger no emotional reaction and gratuitous violence trigger the wrong kind of emotional repsonse.
Prime Suspect of the Week: Chisa Yukizome, the Ultimate Housekeeper
Character Death List by @tylershinigami:
Death, Destruction, Despair, Side: Future
Airing September 12, 2016
Smile at Despair in the Name of Hope, Side: Despair
Airing September 15, 2016
With every passing episode, I feel my enjoyment of Danganronpa fleeting more and more. After some horrible - in more ways than one - episodes, these two episode’s managed to achieve nothing at all but make me shake my head in disbelief. Not the way the games achieved that but in a tired, annoyed way, accompanied with a sigh, not as gasp.
There’s not much to say about Side: Future’s episode. Naegi and Munakata finally faced off but it didn’t feel exciting or even interesting. We knew these two would face off but not like this. Fans, me included, thought Naegi would persuade Munakata using his words, proving that, yes, he can use his words as weapons, especially after Munakata kept calling them nothing but platitudes. Instead, Naegi tried to lure him into a room where they could talk by trying to electrocute Munakata? What would Naegi have done if he had succeeded in electroducted Munakate? I guess we could call it a Batman gambit or Naegi counting on his ultimate luck but it was really out-of-character to see Naegi nonchalantly laying a deadly trap.
This episode tired to paint these two hopes as formidable foes and it would have worked hadn’t Munakata turned into a maniac after a few episodes. At first, he represented a more collected, calm, distant kind of hope that is much more radical and extreme than the one Naegi represents but then he went off the rails. His views were radical enough to contrast with Naegi’s but Kodaka had him go on a senseless rampage in order to become hope. Munakata should have represented a different hope that was supposed to have viewers question which hope is the right one or which the one needed to handle Despair. Instead of giving us two contrasting but reasonable types of hopes and creating the moral dilemma of which hope is the right one the first episodes promised, we got a maniac who wanted to turn himself into hope, who is so over-the-top that no one could take him seriously and Naegi, who somehow lost all the character development he received throughout the first two games and reverted back to his insecure and whiney former self.
However, facing the death of Kirigiri, he’s again turned into the reliable and confident leader he was at the end of Danganronpa 2, something he should have been from the start of Danganronpa 3. Due to their lack of proper characterisation, their inevitable fight felt long overdue and bland. Here’s hoping Mitarai, who was suspiciously absent from the last scene inSide: Future doesn’t pick up the sword Munakata suspiciously dropped and does something stupid...
A fight that was teased throughout the series was between Munakata and his right-hand-man Sakakura. There was always something about Sakakura and in a prior write-up I listed an unspoken rivalry, unrequited love and an unnamed shame. As it turns out, the first two are one and the same. In a stroke of genius, DR3 revealed it’s first twist that actually served to develop the plot and characters. Sakakura is in love with Munakata and it explains many of his actions. This unspoken rivalry was due to Sakakura feeling inadequate to be Munakata’s lover and due to his knowing that his feeling will never be reciprocated. It’s why Sakaura was always so adamant on carrying out Munakata’s will. He was trying to impress him, to show him he’s there yet Munakata never saw. It continues to turn Sakakura from an antagonist to a tragic hero. Not that it matters, since Sakakura was killed for shock value and all his admittedly great character development went down the drain. His unnamed shame wasn’t even shown. The Ultimate Boxer simply lost to Junko. How? Who knows. I doubt even Kodaka, who continously breaks the rule of “show, don’t tell”, knows. Junko then demands Sakakura to betray his love or else she’ll tell Munakata about Sakakura’s romantic feelings. In a move that makes no sense whatsoever no matter how you look at it, Sakakura agrees. He hasn’t betrayed him yet, but if he does and Munakata somehow found out, it would explain Sakakura’s death a little better. However, it doesn’t explain why Sakakura would betray Munakata in the first place. No matter what happens, whether Sakakura betrays Munakata or not, the writers have written themselves into a corner and have gravely misused one of DR3's best characters. Scratch that, Sakakura is DR3's best character period. No other character, not even the original DR1 cast received as much development as Sakakura. He may be a douche and a failure but he’s a well-developed characterwho was under- and misused. His depth deserved better than being stabbed for cheap shocks.
Speaking of shocking, Side: Despair’s episode managed to make Chisa’s rape - let’s call it what it is - even more repulsive. Chisa didn’t have to have been mind-raped or lead Chiaki to her death. She could have met the others in the trial room and watched the video together, thus falling into Despair. Mikan, instead, could have pushed Chiaki down the hidden doorway, blamed it on her clumsiness and lead Chiaki to her death as well. However, what we got was one of the most insensitive, male-gaze-y depictions of a serious topic I’ve ever come across. To make matters worse, it seems it was completely unnecessary to go that far in turning Chisa into a Despair.
While Chiaki was tortured, her class was forced to watch. Except they weren’t. They weren’t forced to watch at all. They simply didn’t do anything. After speaking of their close friendship and how they’d do anything for each other, they just stood and watched as the ever-hopeful Chiaki died. Her death made her class fall into Despair, despite Chiaki never giving in to the despair and never losing hope. Up until her last breath she believed in everyone. There was no reason for her class to give up hope. They even called her their hope and yet fell into despair, though she herself remained hopeful. Taking this into account, it makes absolutely no sense that they still turned into despair and it’s infuriating for more reasons that just that. It makes what happened to Chisa even more redundant as all that pain, all that suffering she was forced to endure was needless to turn her into a Remnant. Additionally, according to Danganronpa 2, the Remnants reason for falling into despair wasn’t just having to watch Chiaki’s death. As this screenshot shows, they were systematically broken by Junko.
Thanks to @Supersonicfan7 for the image.
Danganronpa 3 is a mess. I know I’m repeating myself but it even disregards it’s own canonical lore and the origin of the Remants isn’t the only time this happened. I’m going to write a longer article on DR3's shortcomings and what makes it so disappointing after it’s finished its run. Ultimately, I honestly think DR3 is hurting the Hope’s Peak Saga a considerable lot and I’m glad to see it end soon.
In one sentence: DR3 continues to disappoint and to inspire rants.
Prime Suspect of the Week: Chisa Yukizome, the Ultimate Housekeeper
Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak Academy - Side: Future is one of two anime arcs concluding the story that was started in Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. The summer 2016 anime is produced by Lerche, directed by Seiji Kishi and written by the original scenario writer of the games Kazutaka Kodaka. The series will run for one cour, totaling 12 episodes.