It’s not often that something comes along that is just purely amazing, but Daganronpa: The Animation is just that.
Based on the game Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, the series follows fifteen high school students who were all accepted into the elite Hope’s Peak Academy. All of them are ecstatic that they’ve been accepted, however these feelings don’t last forever as the principal and resident bear, Monokuma, confront them with the truth and the students’ hopes of graduating are suddenly shattered as it all depends on one of them successfully murdering one of their peers without being discovered. If the killer is caught, they will be executed and the remaining survivors will be left to continue the life-or-death battle of being able to graduate.
If that summary confused you, think of Suzanne Collins’ trilogy The Hunger Games and you have the basis of it. This is no Hunger Games, though. This is better.
The characters in Daganronpa are top notch. Fifteen students, all with different personalities – which makes the possibility of conflict quite great. Let’s go through some of them, shall we? Firstly, there’s Makoto Naegi, the protagonist who is without a doubt the most optimistic character in the entire series. Arguably, someone who is quite close to him is Kyouko Kirigiri, who’s quite aloof and who is quite slow trust people, but she’s quick to notice things that the other students don’t pick up on. Other students include a model, a computer programmer, a baseball player, a wrestler and a doujin artist – but they’re all still high schoolers! The principal, Monokuma, is the main antagonist of the series and initiates the mutual killings among the students.
Apart from that, I can’t really say anything else without spoiling anything for you. But let me tell you, the mystery in this series is incredible! I was always anxious to know who the culprits were, especially when it got closer and closer to the end. If you think Game of Thrones is bad for worrying about your favourite character, honestly, I think this is worse. This anxiety mostly came from the Classroom Trials, which are, without a doubt, the best part of the series for me. It was always exciting to see how the characters would use evidence against each other and object each other. Phoenix Wright, eat your heart out!
I want to mention the OST here, something I don’t usually do. The surprise I had when listening to the OP of this series, however, is something that truly needs to be recognised. For one, I didn’t expect the song (which is Never Say Never by TKDz2b, for those who want to know) to be completely in English! I simply thought that the opening would be in English but then the rest of the song would be in Japanese, as is common, but I was wrong. Because it has no accents either, this song could easily be played to a more Western entertainment oriented audience and I can’t see them complain because the song is just so good! The ED was pushed away slightly in comparison to the OP, in my opinion, but it’s still a decent enough song.
This series is one I enjoyed thoroughly to the extent that I binge-watched the last half because I wanted to know who won and what the answers were to the other mysteries that come into play throughout the series. I would have liked the series to have been slightly longer, though. It’s based off of a game which, although I haven’t played it, I know lasts between 20-25 hours. There is no way that that amount of gameplay can be squeezed into a 13 episode long seasonal anime. However, for the time being, I’m going to work so hard to be able to afford to play Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair – I need more DR in my life!
If you’re interested in Daganronpa, let me advise you here. This advice is from Dream95 on MyAnimeList.net, but it’s the same advice that my friend who recommended me to watch Daganronpa gave me.
First things first. You need the play the two DR games (DR 1, SDR2) to fully understand and enjoy the two DR3 anime. If you were a fan of the first installment of the Danganronpa anime, you’ll love the games, so please, if you haven’t so already, turn around and play those two games (or watch a walkthrough) for the best viewing possible. DR: Another Episode is also mandatory especially for Future arc. Also be sure to watch both Future and Despair arc in broadcast order (i.e. watch future arc ep 1 then watch despair arc ep 1, and so on). There are parts where the story and characters might overlap, so be sure to watch it like that for better understanding.
Basically – watch the first series, play/watch the games including Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls and then watch the new series in alternating episodes.