The Blue and Gold

Danganronpa

Marie Ishida

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By Marie Ishida

Danganronpa is a visual novel created by Spike Chunsoft depicting sixteen students who attend an elite high school called Hope’s Peak Academy. All of the students who attend Hope’s Peak have special talents in a specific field. Each student has a title for their talent known as an “Ultimate”. For example, a student may be talented in singing. Therefore, they are known as the Ultimate Singer.

The students are trapped at Hope’s Peak Academy and are forced to participate in a killing game by a teddy bear called Monokuma. Each student must kill another in order to escape the school. If a student manages to murder someone without getting caught they may escape the school. Once a murder occurs, all of the students must participate in a class trial to find out the killer. If they guess the murderer correctly, the killer will be “punished” by painful  execution, depending on their talent. If the students get the killer wrong, then everyone but the killer will get “punished” or executed. This class trial is the main aspect, and the most exciting part of the game. The game’s core premise is the concept of Hope versus Despair and how it affects people.

The first game in the franchise is Danganronpa 1, or Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. The player controls Makoto Naegi, who gained the title of “Ultimate Lucky Student” by entering a raffle in order to get into Hope’s Peak. Makoto and the rest of the students are forced to kill each other by Monokuma, who brings up motives for the students to kill one another. There are six chapters in total, the first five describing the murders and trials of Makoto’s fellow classmates, and the last chapter describing the remaining students uncovering the true mastermind behind Monokuma, the mechanical bear that trapped them at the school in the first place.

The sequel to the first game is Danganronpa 2, or Super Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. It is very similar to the first game, with the same mechanics and controls throughout the game. However, the game has an entirely new cast, new setting, and a new system for the class trial. The player controls Hajime Hinata, who, unlike the other cast members, cannot remember his “Ultimate” talent. Instead of a school, the students are trapped on an island known as Jabberwock Island. Class trials also have a function known as the “Agree” function where you can agree with the things the other students say.  The game has six chapters like the previous game, the last one unraveling the Mastermind.

The third and final game in the series is New Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.

The main characters are Kaede Akamatsu and Saihara Shuichi, the Ultimate Pianist and Ultimate Detective. The game again has the same mechanics as the previous two, but with a new cast, new setting, and new systems. However, unlike the first two games this game takes place years after the previous ones. The theme of the game was changed from Hope versus Despair to Truth versus Lie, with the inclusion of the lie mechanic in class trials. It also includes countless back-routes, which in order to access you must lie during class trials. Because of this new lie mechanic, a popular character is Kokichi Ouma, the Ultimate Supreme Leader, which the other students describe as a “lie personified”.

There are two anime series that relate to the Danganronpa games as well. The first one is called Danganronpa: The Animation which is based off of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. The anime is an abridged adaption of the game, and depicts the same events in the game. The second one is called Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School. The anime is split into two parts, the Future Side and Despair side. It depicts the start and the end of the fall of humanity to despair. Besides these animes, there is one spin-off game, three anime series, and many spin-off novels/manga in the Danganronpa franchise as well.

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