Listen, I’m well aware that Danganronpa has a bit of a fandom and some are very passionate. I’m one that respects your loyalty to your favorite pieces of media, but to do my thing here I’m not going to mince words when it comes to lofting criticisms. Here’s the good news Danganronpa fans, your series is fun as hell and I think it is completely awesome.
All That Drama
An exuberant cast of characters that dwindles as the series goes on with plenty of interpersonal drama keeping the end goal of making it towards the end in outlandish challenges along the way. Where have I heard this before….
Danganronpa reminds me of Total Drama so much. It’s a silly premise that is lifted by it’s engaging character stereotypes and “survival game” premise. Each trial leads to both some good character drama and fun engaging as a viewer rooting for the different personalities in the game. Honestly, fans of either I think you guys would be best friends and should consider checking out the other if you haven’t already. Of course I’m not the only one to notice the crossbreed potential between these two fandoms.
A Good Game Adaptation?
Honestly, game adaptation anime, movies, shows, etc. have a bit of a spotty track record. While I haven’t played the game myself, the animation revels in how much energy the game has and isn’t shy about it. A lot of in-game poses used throughout was a neat touch and it never feels too still but a neat touch to help make the characters emote themselves. Even the trials keeping the “bullet” mechanic in the as a flashy display was really neat and showing how the game works without being intrusive.
It is an adaptation that stands alone, but also has so much fanfare for the game and appreciation for what the game experience is that it is infectious. My friend Jon Spencer also expressed to me enjoying the animation as the game can be tedious at times. If you’re unsure about getting into the franchise, The animation could serve as a nice introduction. Watch the animation, and then try the game for one of the future iterations.
It ends in a pretty reasonable pacing with each chapter being 2 episodes long, one dedicated to set up and the other the investigation/trial. Makes it pretty easy to breeze through it, and get a satisfying story.
Remember when I used to highlight female characters through a best girl paragraph? Let’s bring that back, and trust me that is a difficult thing giving the vibrant personalities of the Danganronpa cast.
Toko Fukawa: is an entertaining character, I wish her humanity shinned a little more than getting overshadowed by her gimmick but I still appreciated her more over time.
Sayaka Maizono: Very vanilla, her relationship with Naegi was a nice addition but not something to write about.
Chihiro Fujisaki: HAHAHAHA.
Sakura Ogami: Not my favorite but really cool to have such an abnormal character and make them far beyond the gimmick or the joke design. More than meets the eye and that fits the shows messages and themes a lot.
Celestia Ludenberg: I like having a character that shows some competency in moments that aren’t exactly ones crucial for her. One of the smarter characters and her design is wonderfully fun.
Junko Enoshima: I was surprised this was a fan-favorite character all things together but I see the appeal.
Aoi Asahina: Didn’t do much, mostly overshadowed by stronger personalities but her moments are some of the strongest in the show.
Kyoko Kirigiri: Might be best girl, honestly didn’t do much early in the series but she’s just damn cool. I didn’t care much for her backstory but the role she plays, I am a fan.
That said, the best character just might be Monokuma. I thought the bear mascot character might end up somewhat irksome but no he’s so much fun. The Chris McLean of this show, Monokuma is someone who revels in the despair he brings and hams up all the scenes. Whether it is performative irk or random quirkiness Monokuma steals the show. I mean this guy has all the right moves and is not only iconic, but he is the moment.
Hope You Enjoy
Ultimately, Danganronpa is a simplistic themed hope vs despair show that demonstrates giving into your fears and the strength of persevering through adversity. The show succeeds in being a fun time, and allowing each character to have a moment to shine. Thus, it’s rewarding to pick your favorite regardless of who speaks to you.
The ensemble cast offers a little bit for everyone, and the plot itself offers quite a lot as well. Blending humor with mystery and suspense; Danganronpa handles blending genre expectations to near perfection. Sure there’s some things that aren’t stellar. The 2nd half is a little weaker and ends not feeling the most epic of times. I mean that more in terms of intensity and scale…unfortunately some aspects do come dangerously close to shark jumping.
Some of the twists don’t necessarily completely pull the rug from under me and maybe didn’t have as much punch as possible. Either from perirenal fandom knowledge or just intuition but generally you can tell who some of the more developed characters are. None of the deaths are telegraphed but you can generally tell who might be in for the long haul.
However, these are minor nitpicks that matter less when compared to the highlights. The death sequences are done beautifully, and the music is so original that it has a great sound to it. Overall, I would say that the trials and overall development feel rewarding and avoid being predictable.
Check out Danganronpa, either in game or show form. There’s all to enjoy here, and you could consider me a new fan.