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Danganronpa: The Animation

Disclaimer: This is coming from someone who’s only seen the anime. Expect some intentional hypocrisy and shameless puns.

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Danganronpa is an…interesting specimen. Based on the explosive VN with the same name, there were so many aspects of the anime that could’ve made it a masterpiece. Sadly, its despair-inducing execution was its ultimate downfall.

Of course, with only 13 episodes based on a 23-30 hour game, it’s guaranteed to be rushed. So my expectations were already slightly lowered.

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The story revolves around an elite school called Hope Peak’s Academy. Each student who enters gets a title that reflects their talents. Makoto Naegi, meanwhile, seems to be an ordinary boy who gets into Hope’s Peak through sheer luck: therefore getting the title “SHSL Luck.” Sadly, Makoto and the others’ luck falls short when Monokuma, a monochrome bear who’s also their principal, traps them in the school. He reveals that the only way to “graduate” is for someone to kill one of their peers and get away with it.

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While the premise is definitely unique, the anime skimps on the most important parts: the investigation and class trials. In the game, it’s up to the player to gather clues and piece out the puzzle on their own – something that the anime doesn’t allow at all. It almost seems like Naegi and Kirigiri just pulled the clues from midair. The same thing is applied to the trials. Each of the characters usually get a chance to speak at least once; instead, the trials are rushed, verbal bullets are slung, and Bam! The killer’s found, the execution’s done, and….nothing much.

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By “nothing much,” I mean that I didn’t feel anything for the characters, dead or alive. The only positive aspect about them is their unique looks. But that’s it. They have style but no substance. Since Danganronpa’s so rushed in the first place, there’s no time to relate or connect to any of them. (Although I did grow to like two of the characters.) Simply put: everyone’s just a washed-down version of their game counterparts.

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At first, I hated the animation used, especially when it switched over during the executions. But then I came to really like how distinct and unsettling it was. Lerche definitely stayed true to the original quality of the game.

And finally, one of my biggest issues with Danganronpa was how it didn’t feel like a mystery. Like I said earlier, the rushed pace barely lets the viewers create their own theories and conclusions. As a result, this makes the characters seem to bring up clues out of nowhere because the anime rarely touched on the smaller, vital details of a case. So all in all, it didn’t even make me hyped-up or curious about the true mystery surrounding Hope Peak’s Academy.

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For all its flaws, Danganronpa is quite addictive. So how could this anime be better? Simple: just double the length to 25-26 episodes. The much-needed character development can be covered this way. Maybe then there’d be more hope for Danganronpa.

Final Verdict: ⭐⭐1/2 out of 5 stars

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