So, another anime based off of a video game. I had almost no information about this series before going into it. I never played the games, and really only saw Monokuma randomly with no real context to him. After watching this show… let’s just say I got a strange fascination with the series for a while. I played all three main games (including buying V3 on PSN very quickly after it came out), read the Danganronpa IF short story, and scoured TV tropes to see what aspects of each game I may have missed.
Danganronpa is the story of Makoto Naegi, a normal high school student who, by random lottery, gets accepted into Hope’s Peak Academy, a prestigious high school who seek out and accept only the most talented and skilled high school students in their field. (Baseball, writing, martial arts, clairvoyance, programmer, etc.) Because he got in through lottery, Makoto gets accepted as the “Ultimate Lucky Student”. As he enters the campus, Makoto falls unconscious. He wakes up in a classroom, finding that there are security cameras pointed at him and the windows are bolted over with steel plates. Leaving the classroom, Makoto finds that all exits and windows to the school are blocked off, and that there are 14 other students also locked in the school. Making their way to the gym, the students find Monokuma, a black and white remote controlled bear, who claims to be the headmaster. Monokuma says the students are all trapped in the school, and the only way to get out is to murder another student. Through Monokuma’s prodding, a murder occurs, forcing the rest of the students to go through an investigation and trial. If the murderer is caught, they will be executed and the rest of the class will live to continue the murder game, but if the class is unable to discover the murderer, the murderer will be set free, and the rest of the class will be put to death.
This show doesn’t shy away from the brutality of the murders or the executions at the end of the trials. While no gore specifically shown, blood is shown all over, though colored in neon pink as opposed to red. The mysteries are legitimate mysteries as each murder takes twists and turns in the investigation and trial. The cast is very unique in both visuals and personalities, and the music is good, pulling from the soundtrack of the original game.
Unlike Persona 4, I have been able to both watch this series and play the game, so the differences become more obvious. First, the murder cases are more simple in the anime than the game, with certain aspects of the case either being glossed over, or removed completely. This also applies to the trials, as the conversations go from point to point much more quickly than the game (can be either to its benefit or detriment). Second, the anime isn’t able to go too deep into each character’s backstories, mostly because of time constraints and getting to the next bit of plot. Lastly (for dub only) almost all of the dubbed cast is changed between the game and the show. The only person who stays the same is Makoto, which makes going from one to the other pretty jarring. On their own they’re both fine, but my preference lies with the game.
All in all, my recommendation of this show is very similar to the one I gave for “Persona 4: The Animation”: If you have the time to sit down and play the game, you should do that, but you would not come away disappointed if you decided to just watch the anime.
P.S. (or the other Danganronpa Anime series)
I have not watched “Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School” fully. I watched a couple of episodes in the “Despair Arc” (the prequel to the first game, featuring the class from the second game), and I know the general story for all three arcs. From what I can tell, these play out very differently from the first anime and from the games, and act as a way to give more backstory to the world, and see how the events of the first two games conclude. I can’t fully talk about it because I never watched it.