Danganronpa: The Animation – 03

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That really wasn’t the most difficult murder case ever…

I don’t honestly know at this point if Danganronpa is a show I’ll continue to blog.  I don’t usually feel this way, but I think this is an instance where familiarity with the source material would actually be helpful because the comparison of the original game to the anime is probably the most fruitful topic for discussion.  With no basis for comparison I can only go by what’s in the anime itself, which is pretty self-explanatory for the most part.

Is what’s in the anime any good?  Pretty good, so far – I’ve found every episode entertaining enough, though there are the usual hiccups when adapting this sort of media to anime form.  Kishi (as usual) seems to be trying to toss a few bones to the game veterans, but I doubt they’ll be enough to satisfy them – and these lead to moments scattered throughout that don’t make much sense to a new viewer.  Fortunately the premise of Danganronpa is so transparent that it’s easy to follow along, new viewer or not.

As I mentioned in last week’s post I certainly figured out who the killer was from Maizono’s dying message – which was obvious enough that I was annoyed with myself that I didn’t figure it out when I first saw it.  The real mystery here was as to just how Maizono was involved in her own death, as it was made pretty clear she was.  The ultimate explanation – an attempt to murder Leon and set Naegi up as the fall guy – was more or less feasible, though I’m still not 100% clear on why he killed her rather than simply subduing her and reporting it to the others.  As for the trial itself, it was littered with those odd game passages that felt very out of place, but not badly staged.  The person responsible for the truth coming out was certainly Kirigiri (Hikasa Youko) who was the designated “keep your head while all those around you lose theirs” character.  She and Naegi did most of the deduction, and there were even signs of a little spark between them in the aftermath.

I keep – by reflex – looking for a point to all this, but it’s clear that there really isn’t one to look for.  It’s just a sadistic little snuff film, camped up to the extent that it’s more comedic than horrifying (though the execution scene – and I suspect those to follow – was pretty grisly).  I don’t know if there’s going to be any commentary on human nature here but right now it looks more likely that it’s just going to be a celebration of craven adolescents showing their true colors under great stress, and that won’t be pretty.  I suspect the murders themselves will get a little trickier to solve, too, though it’s the mystery of Monokuma itself that mosts interest me.  The inclusion of the 16th chair in the jury room is an obvious clue to the larger conspiracy plot, and I can’t think it was a coincidence that Naegi made that ESP joke to Kirigiri right before the ED credits started rolling.

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15 comments

  1. B

    To be honest, this case is pretty much the easiest one as it's the very first case in the game, but they do get harder. Well, I'm not the one to tell you whether to keep blogging this, but I sure am glad you're enjoying it for what it is without having read the source material or played the game (which I absolutely recommend).

    Though if I may say, there is a point to Danganronpa, even if one can't see it right away. And yes, there is a larger plot. 😉

  2. j

    monokuma having two halves (one of which is white) is pretty obvious that he's the link to the 16th seat. The white half was also sweating beads during the execution. It's all pretty obvious that there's gonna be a twist. It's peaked my interest and the shows not too bad, so I'll keep watching in hopes that they can finish the story in 13 episodes.

  3. i

    I don't think I'm cut out for a detective. When I saw the broken crystal ball, I kept thinking that it was the fortune teller. I didn't realize that upside down number at all. I knew that Maizono, attempted to kill someone and the plan backfired but I was wrong on who the killer was.

    I do however find it very interesting and that death scene was pretty fun. I'm guessing that love interest now moves to Kirigiri who I suppose will aid/save Naegi for the rest of the series. I didn't enjoy episode 1 but the last two have really ramped up the fun and I like the blatant sadism. I'll stick with it for Guffaws.

  4. C

    Oh man those subs Enzo's using. In any other show it would be fine but in this sort of show…

  5. N

    It is a bit annoying that they removed the part where Celes tells Kuwata he had plenty of time to tell everyone what happened (he went to his room and back after all). Leon here IS guilty as he killed Maizono with intention of graduating (thus killing everyone else if he succeeded). Had he started knocking on everyone's doors, both he and Maizono might have survived.

  6. C

    OBJECTION!

    In the heat of the moment, emotion trumps logic.

  7. N

    *waves finger left and right* Tz, tz, tz…

    When you are afraid of getting killed, you seek help. Thus I claim that the accused was cool and composed when he decided to kill her. *spreads arms and bows*

  8. E

    Isn't the execution scene a direct rip-off from the game's FMV? There should be a limit to laziness.

  9. y

    The show panders heavily to existing fans. There's little attempt to make it stand on its own – rather it celebrates the recreation of FMV sequences, game graphics (manga sequences, character poses, artwork depicting evidence, scene framing, UI elements), and music use.

    I suppose the line of thinking is that since the game fanbase is quite sizable, they just need to persuade a fraction of them to buy the BD/DVDs, creating in a hit. You can think of it as an overload of fan service to ensure that gamers will be thrilled.

  10. In truth though, most anime adaptations of games seem to cater more to the game audience than any new audience. The best ones don't, but they're pretty rare.

    It's a tough balance. I see it said often that these things are mainly made as commercials for the game – but if that's the case, wouldn't you be trying harder to please a new audience?

  11. c

    The weird part about this serving as an ad for the game is that by watching you spoil all the mysteries and plot twists. Which normally isn't completely a problem except in this case that's also all the gameplay.

  12. c

    I can't think it was a coincidence that Naegi made that ESP joke to Kirigiri right before the ED credits started rolling.

    The ESP joke was a reference to Maizono using that joke several times before she died. It's just his way of showing that he's keeping her memory inside, like he was talking about. In the game I thought it was a pretty awesome and poignant way of ending the chapter (the game has chapters), but the anime kind of blitzed past everything that set it up so it lost a lot of value.

    it's just going to be a celebration of craven adolescents showing their true colors under great stress

    The anime also kind of blitzed past the part where Naegi chooses to believe that this is all Monokuma's fault: that these aren't their "true colors" but merely what they've been manipulated into doing. That conflict is pretty much the main theme of the game. "Is the true enemy the other players, or is it Monokuma?" Not exactly the most subtle of themes, but the fact that you used the phrase "true colors" strikes me as a relevant.

  13. A

    I can't help feeling sorry for Leon….all he wanted was to get out of the school just like everyone else and we don't even know what motive Monokuma used on him. His death really was horrible and gruesome. And even though this anime doesn't have the best animation or opening I really like it, the plot is just so interesting and original. It makes me want to get the video game.

  14. I think you should feel sorry for all these kids, to the extent that human emotional reaction is appropriate for a premise this absurd. It's probably a good bet that none of them would have ended up killing anybody if they hadn't been placed in this ridiculous situation.

  15. A

    Yeah that's true it makes you think what you would do if you were in a horrific situation like this one.

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