Danganronpa anime review

David Eckstein-Schoemann, Reporter

If you were to take the video game “Among Us” and give it the gruesome fatalities of “Mortal Kombat,” then you would probably get something like “Danganronpa.” 

The anime centers on Makoto Naegi, an average student who is about to enroll at Hope’s Peak Academy. However, when he gets there he falls unconscious and finds himself trapped in the school alongside 14 other students. It’s then revealed that the headmaster of the school is a remote-controlled bear named Monokuma. Monokuma tells the students that they’ll be staying inside the school for the rest of their lives and can only graduate by killing another student, and get away with the crime. Given no other choice but to play along with this sick game, Naegi and the others must find a way to break out of the school as they are murdered and executed one by one.

Courtesy of Funimation.

This premise sounds about as crazy as you can imagine and to this series credit, it is. The idea of a group of people being trapped in an enclosed space and being killed off has been done countless times. Though the way it’s portrayed here is really effective. You never see the outside world and are trapped in this demented place. It also brings up a lot of moral questions like, how can you escape this school? Would you be willing to kill someone or declare them guilty and have them executed? It’s surprisingly dark as you’re basically watching teenagers die in numerous ways. 

One thing I did notice is that the characters themselves for the most part play the typical roles you see in this scenario. You have the kind-hearted protagonist, the mysterious allies, the cold detective, the character with a dark past. They’re archetypes people are familiar with. Though, I think it works here because viewers can imagine themselves as these characters as they go along with the series. While they’re not phenomenally written, they have distinct personalities and designs that any viewer can identify with. 

But character isn’t the only thing you care about, you’re here for the bloody murders and gruesome deaths. The violence in this series is over-the-top insane. Every episode there’s something terrible happening followed by a mystery that needs to be solved, which leads to someone getting brutally murdered in an extreme fashion. They do bypass a lot of the rating censors by changing the color of blood to purple. I still don’t get how when you change the color of blood in the media, it’s considered not gory. How is something red a hard R but when you change it to something another color, it’s suddenly a Play-Doh birthday party? It doesn’t ruin anything for me, but I still question it sometimes.

Though I guess that style choice fits this story’s tone considering someone like Monokuma is involved. This character and his design are crazy as he’s forcing these people to straight-up kill one another for seemingly no reason. What makes it even more entertaining is that while all this suffering is going on, he’s having a laugh riot while doing it. Someone could be bawling their eyes out or violently executed and he just stands there throwing humorous one-liners left and right. It’s amazing how they could take such an outlandish character and make him both funny and intimidating. 

Things get especially intense when they have a trial to find the killer. What I find interesting is how the trial aspect of this show is played out very much like a game show. One where the characters point out facts or hidden clues from previous scenes to find out who’s guilty. I’m not going to lie, there were times where I was surprised who the killers were. But not in a way that made me question it, as they go into full detail of why and how they did it. These scenes work so well because you do spend a good amount of time getting to know each of them. Whenever a new fact is revealed, you feel the suspense. Whenever someone who you thought was innocent is found guilty, you feel the betrayal in these characters.

If I did have one gripe, it’s that when it’s revealed what happens in the end. We don’t fully see the big picture. Which I understand is the point, but they don’t really show what happens in the outside world and a lot of it is open-ended. But it’s really nit-picky, as this anime is still really entertaining. If you’re in the mood for an anime that is quick to finish but still engaging, then this is a good show to check out.

Rating: 4.5 / 5 Spinnaker Sails.


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