DANGANRONPA: Kibo no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Kokosei – 09, 10
「オール・オール・アポロジーズ II」 (Oru Oru Aporojizu II)
“All All Apologize II”
I should at least give some credit to Danganronpa for trying something new with this trial, taking a rather different tone to what we’ve previously seen. It’s such to a point where just for that moment, it seemed to transcend the trapping of its parody nature and fun but cheap thrills, where it delivers more than the mere caricatures. A fair number of you predicted Sakura’s suicide last episode, and while the revealed truth was indeed on the mark, the real highlight of the arc was seeing just how things went so wildly out-of-control from Sakura’s intended scenario.
In essence this trial felt a lot more personable, tapping well into the character dynamics of the remaining students and playing strongly on emotional response, with Asahina and Sakura’s friendship at the core. Sure, we haven’t actually seen much in the way of character drama, but it’s easy the get a feel for it. And it makes watching the rest of the characters more enjoyable; Hagakure is, and will always be, an unmitigated douchbag. Him shifting the blame around and away from him was just downright disgusting, when he was no less guilty of the outcome than any other character. Togami, ever the pragmatist, cannot comprehend the reasons behind Asahina’s self-destructive actions, earning a blunt “I told you so” from Kirigiri.
It’s gruff and coarse around the edges, the way Danganronpa tries to go for the dramatic angle; too much overacting (mostly courtesy of Asahina) and in-your-face “Wham, now here’s where you’re supposed to feel sad. FEEL SAD.” moments, even though we always knew Danganronpa’s been the overt sort. And the suicidal revenge plox isn’t what I’d call wholly original. But still, the package works, and I’m pleasantly surprised by it. I really digged the way the situation went so horribly, so compellingly wrong after Sakura’s noble attempt at reconciliation, and subsequently sacrifice; the context and consequences of the “murder” falls right in line with Danganronpa’s blackish humor in toying with its characters, in way the characters most involved were pulled along by the strings of Monobear’s emotional manipulation.
It’s also this manipulation that makes this trial a great deal more sinister in feeling than the previous murder. Certainly, I don’t think Asahina’s actions would’ve changed had she read the original note; given her grief and her too-far-gone mindset, she would’ve embark on her avenging crusade regardless. But the overwhelming feeling is the hand Monobear has in the whole trial; forcibly aggravating Asahina into her suicidal course of action with the faked note, pulling the rug under everyone feet’s out with the reveal of the true note, and then destroying Alter Ego (whom I’d had already guessed he knew about all along) right in front of all the students. The proceeding of this particular trial had a strong scent of being deliberately orchestrated to completely destroy the mentality of the students. Where it’s been students against students so far, now it’s starting to feel like the dynamic of the show has shifted towards the students versus monobear’s increasingly deliberate machinations in getting them killed. Except, he didn’t plan on Kirigiri finding out about the 16th student, Ikusaba Mukuro.
「疾走する青春の絶望ジャンクフード (非)日常編」 (Shissou Suru Seishun no Zetsubou Janku Fudo ( Hi ) Nichijou Hen)
“Despair Soup for the Teenage Soul (Ab)Normal Days”
The 16th student, Ikusaba Mukuro. The mystery that’s been hanging on the back of everyone’s mind since we first saw the empty stand in the trial chambers. Suffice to say, I didn’t think when we finally got to see her, she’d already be dead.
Of course, we can’t really be sure it’s her; the masked corpse remains unidentified thanks to a timely explosion, and is now charred beyond recognition. The only evidence that remains is that the corpse is of a female, and the tattoo on the back of its right hand. Kirigiri asserts that the corpse is Mukuro at the end of the episode, but I’ve got a feeling the truth is more than simply that. Another interesting point to make about this murder is that everything about it seems off; certainly not in accordance with the unwritten rules of the killing game up until now. It’s the first we’e seen which hasn’t been initiated by Monobear; his usual incentives are absent, though probably not his manipulations. It’s also strange that a key was found next to the corpse, which leads the students to the previously locked data room, most likely the same place where the mastermind watches over the game. There, monobear reveals to them the truth of the game; a nationwide entertainment broadcast, taken straight out of Battle Royale’s premise. But even this truth feels off as well; such a broadcast was unheard by the characters before they were trapped.
But with some two episodes left, it really does seem as if we’re getting in the endgame, so to speak, and Sakura’s parting gift was the gateway that Monobear didn’t count on. In her final moments she broke open the lock to the principal’s office (yep, super duper high school fighter) because, what do rules matter to a dead person? Kirigiri somehow manages to pick up the very, very subtle hint in her will (yes, even I too think it’s one hell of a leap in logic) and snoops around the office for information on the 16th and a key to locked areas of the school, where she presumbably found even more dirt on the truths behind the game. Meanwhile, the rest of the students were busy working on a deactivated monobear, shown to really be a robotic puppet. We’re learning more and more about the machinations of the killing game, and the show itself does seem to be closing in on the real mastermind.
So now, wild theory speculation time! Could Naegi be either mastermind or killer? It wouldn’t be the first time a mystery show has pulled the “selectively-told-story” card (Anyone remembers Another?) where what we’re seeing is only half of the truth, and there’s a whole other side to Naegi we’ve never seen. I don’t enjoy the trope done deliberately, but the timing of the late night visits to his room do seem awfully suspect, what with Naegi essentially blacking out at intervals between being visited by Mukuro, and Kirigiri appearing in Naegi’s room. There’s no telling what happened in the middle of the night that eventually led to the corpse of Mukuro. Then there’s the eerily odd visions he which tells him not to leave the school, another point which brings his character under more suspicion.
Or it could even be that in a horrible twist of fate, Kirigiri was the one to kill Naegi’s assailant in order to protect him. Pointedly enough, both Naegi and Kirigiri are the only ones without alibis, if we’re to believe the others all were really working together on the deactivated monobear through the night. I suspect I’ll be proven horribly wrong before long, but hey, what’s a wild speculation without some stretches?