Full Name Danganronpa, Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei – The Animation
Alternative Title Danganronpa, Academy of Hope and High School Students of Despair; ダンガンロンパ 希望の学園と絶望の高校生 THE ANIMATION
Original Run July 5, 2013 – September 27, 2013 (13 episodes finished)
Genre Action, horror, mystery, psychological
A group of 15 students have been called to a first-class high school wherein the sole survivor of the serial killings graduates. The rule of the game is to find the killer, who will be executed when found or to let the rest be executed when the unfound killer graduates.
I find this anime juvenile in terms of story line. The violence and profanity makes it more suitable for matured audiences than the younger ones, but Danganronpa resembles nothing more than the Goosebumps version of Battle Royale, having a serial killing plot with little or no purpose behind. It is only about the group of students who have been called to survive the killings and by being the sole survivor, he or she is then eligible to graduate. Does it indicate how the government or the school system wants to teach rebellious children some lessons and exert full authority on them like Battle Royale does? Apparently not. Danganronpa is more based on how minds are played, which is already shown in other anime like Mirai Nikki. Despite the minor purpose, it is meant for pure entertainment than anything else.
I won’t fail to cite the downsides of this anime. One is the predictability of the storyline. The audience already knows what will happen in the entire series after one episode and no matter how it tries to be unpredictable with the escape plot scene, it still failed to do so due to serial killings followed by the investigations. Another aspect not to like is the repetitive boring scenes. Each episode follow the murder-investigation-trial-execution structure with little or no attempt to break the cycle. Third is the unrealistic plot where finding the culprit is faster than the normal, and the culprit will suddenly break into tears, admitting that the murder is committed by him or her. This will never happen in a well-developed anime and other works of fiction, wherein the investigation takes time, involves many challenges, and the guilty will not easily admit his or her crime and will even plot for an escape. And finally, the overall plot is very shallow, with lack of character portrayal. The soundtracks are not very catchy to listen to and I personally find Monobear annoying.
Meanwhile, there’s one thing I appreciate in this anime that outweighs all the disliked aspects. It’s how it keeps me going, provoking my curiosity in knowing who’s to be killed next and who will survive in the end (though I know that it’s going to be Makoto Naegi, the protagonist of the series). I also like how it has gotten better as it reached its second half. My favorite characters in the series are Celestia Ludenberg (the gothic lolita and my absolute favorite), Kyouko Kirigiri, Sayaka Maizono (the pop sensation, and my absolute fave as well), Chihiro Fujisaki (the crossdresser), Byakuya Togama, Aoi Asahina and Leon Kuwata. It’s such a pity that their life stories are not revealed and their names are always forgotten. If the characters were portrayed enough, none of these would have happened.
Speaking of recommendations, I am uncertain on which age group Danganronpa is supposed to target. Most otaku will tell me to recommend it to the matured audience due to violence, while myself, who cares about the story above anything, would rather recommend it for younger teens passionate of gore. They’re old enough to handle the level of violence shown in Danganronpa and would definitely enjoy the story line about succeeding murder mysteries no matter how shallow they can be. I can neither recommend this to children younger than 12, who cannot handle such violence, nor to older audience (16 and above) who are yearning for a deeper and more challenging plot. And besides, this anime is not that violent as compared to other anime of similar types (take a look at Battle Royale, it’s even more brutal). I admit enjoying this anime as an adult, but it will be more enjoyable to the eyes of 12-15 year olds.
Overall Rating 3.5/5 stars (7/10)