- Genre : Pure cool, Mystery, School
- Episodes: 13
- Studio: Lerche
Makoto is the luckiest kid in the world. Despite being generally unremarkable, he has just won a spot among the elites of his generation at the prestigious Hope’s Peak Academy. However, things aren’t exactly as he expected them to be. For one, no one’s wearing the uniform and that’s just disrespectful. And maybe it’s just that genius and prodigies are different from normal folks but these students all seem rather…intense… Can you blame them though? All of them just woke up in this empty school, completely cut off from the rest of the world and they have no idea how they got there. And now a teddy bear is trying to convince them to murder each other? This is the type of situation that’s bound to take a toll even on a steady average guy like Makoto.
The Danganronpa Visual Novels took over my life for a few months as I played them all almost obsessively in a roll. I feel like I start a lot of posts this way. Do I repeat myself too much guys? It’s not the drinking, I just need to establish that I went into the animation with a whole bunch of preconceived ideas…It’s not only the drinking…
I tried t tell myself that I needed to take in the animation as its own separate experience and not compare it to the Visual Novel. That it was important to put myself in the shoes of a viewer that had not played the game. I failed… miserably….
I have always loved the look of Danganronpa. I’ve described the games as sheer zany elegance and exaggerated gaudy chic. I’ve said that if Danganronpa was a person, it would have been way too cool to hang out with me in high school. Some of that delightfully garish style does sadly get lost in adaptation, and although the wonderful character designs remain untouched, everything else has been toned down for easy of animation so that the end product is still generally appealing but considerably less striking. If Danganronpa the animation was a person, it probably would have been polite acquaintances with me in high school.
Fortunately, most of the voice talent from the game was available to reprise their roles and this aspect remains marvelous. Ogata is a genius and there’s really nothing that’s ever going to change that. The one aspect of game adaptations that always takes me by surprise no matter how many I see, is the soundtrack. It’s incredible how music can bring back all the emotions you had when you first heard it. I was a big fan of the game’s soundtrack and hearing it unchanged in the anime already had me sold on the show.
In case you’re wondering, the story is completely unchanged from the game. The kids all wake up not knowing what happened and then the weird and the blood starts flooding the school as they murder and execute each other in turn, trying to escape. Of course, everything is streamlined in the anime. A lot of side events and background stories are cut out and things just happen more quickly in general but everything that takes place in the anime also happens in the game.
I’m not entirely positive, but I think the execution animation were in fact lifted directly from the game as is.
I was trying very hard to figure out if someone would really enjoy the stripped-down version of the story that is the animation and I really believe they would. At first, I figured it may be a good advertisement for the game as the quicker pacing and passive viewing involves much less commitment but knowing who did it, sort of spoils the whole point of a mystery solving game. That’s really too bad.
You see Danganronpa the animation is great. It’s a quick-fire smorgasbord of freaky gory fun that never takes itself seriously in the least. But if you really loved the show, I think you missed out a little by not playing the game first.
For instance, the visual novel allows you to get to know people if you want, on a personal basis. By coincidence, one of the first people I chatted with was Leon. We quickly became fast friends. He was my slightly dorky buddy who was desperate to seem cool and a rather nice guy. We got to know each other while discussing which girls we wanted to date and how we wanted to change for our last year of high school. That first trial was brutal for me.
Sayaka’s betrayal was also way more detailed and better laid out…
Certain characters are almost completely changed by their backstories or by side events. We never got to see just how much of a downright troll Byakuya is or the shoujo heroin Sakura. One of these students tried to convince me to give them a kidney so they could sell it on the black market, and it’s probably not the person you think. These little details really brought a lot of personality to the story. Not to mention that the two last trials were rushed almost beyond recognition.
We also don’t get much of a chance to explore the school itself. The set pieces are mostly there but obviously it’s not going to be the same experience as trying to explore every little corner for yourself.
On the other hand, I personally found that Kyuko and Junko both benefited from the adaptation. Kyoko was always a joyless moody party pooper and I often was desperate for Makoto to just stop following her around already since every other character was way more interesting. She still has some pretty unexplainable mood swings in the show but since we see a lot less of her in general, most of the more confusing hissy fits got cut out and that’s a big plus. As for Junko, again editing her presence was a good thing. I felt like the multiple personalities schtick went on a little too long in the game and it got pretty tired. We already have a complete cast of weirdos, some of them crazier, more brutal and smarter than Junko, and the more time she spends on-screen the more obvious that becomes.
And because I think finales are important, I’d like to let you know that the last scene is just a little different. Let’s just say it’s much more ominous in the game…
Wow that was just all the spoilers…
OK so here’s the gist of it. If you want a funny, cool story full of massacres and oddballs, about prejudice, expectations and the importance of symbols, but you don’t want to invest too much in it: watch the animation. If you prefer a richer, fuller and funnier experience, start with the visual novel.
Favorite character: Because of the change in chara development it’s no longer Byakuya but his biggest fan Touko.
What this anime taught me: Boys connect over weird things
Of course size matters, who wants a small glass of wine?
Suggested drink: Massacre
- Every time Monokuma appears out of nowhere – take a sip
- Every time Touko freaks out – take a sip
- Every time anyone says “super highschool level” – roll your eyes
- Every time you detect Manserice – cheers
- Every time there’s a school announcement – get some water
- Every time anyone cries – take a sip
- Every time Kirigiri’s skirt gets shorter – take a sip
- Every time we see someone’s handbook – take a sip
- Every time someone finds “evidence” – take notes
- Every time Hagakure calls someone by a nickname – take a sip
- Every time Monokuma comes up with a motive – sigh