OP Sequence

OP: 「DANGANRONPA」 by 高田雅史 (Masafumi Takeda)

「ようこそ絶望学園」 (Yokoso Zetsubou Gakuen)
“Welcome to Despair Academy”

The moment Monobear sends a bounded man up and around to his annihilation in the “The Space Journey”, you’ll understand that there’s something gleefully demented about Danganronpa.

And yet, the start is surprisingly conventional. Hope’s Peak Academy is where the elites of the nation study. No one can enter Hope’s Peak unless they are personally scouted, and graduation from the school ensures lifelong success. Within this setting enters Naegi Makato, (Ogata Megumi) our completely average, utterly normal, and slightly effemine protagonist. For him, admission to Hope’s Peak Acadamy was a dream that could never come true, until he gets scouted for –of all things– his super duper high school luck. But when he enter the school, his dreams are a far cry from the reality he finds. Thus, the curtains open on a game of betrayal and survival.

Let it not be said that Danganronpa is a story that strays from convention. It treads on very familiar grounds for the genre of its calling; the survival thriller staple of an average joe, trapped in a situation beyond his understanding and forced to play along to the rules of an arbitrary gamemaster. And true to form, this episode was very much about laying the groundwork for the killing game that follows. The 15 students who make up our cast are affirmatively trapped with Hope’s Peak academy; indestructible steel plates are bolted to windows, while their movements are restricted by vault doors, shutters and…cordons? Monobear offers them a choice: live out the rest of their lives in the academy, or seek escape by killing another student and getting away with the crime. Of course, it wouldn’t be much of an engineered killing game if there’s no killing; there’s no doubt characters are going to die, even without the show affirming it by ending with a survivor countdown.

But for a setup that seems dime a dozen these days, what Danganronpa offers up feels refreshing because it doesn’t take itself seriously at all. There’s neither is an attempt to be profound, nor does it shy away from the staples it so liberally draws from. Rather, it takes them and cranks it up to twelve, like the hilariously elaborate death sequence that opens the show. Danganronpa is gleefully over-the-top in its demented setting, and this tone is consistent with the cast as well; from a gothic gambler to straight-laced prefect, a haughty heir to the token mystery girl, each character is made an incredibly overblown stereotype with their very own super duper high school label. Danganronpa doesn’t put any restrains on the characterizations or designs, and maybe because it is this overblown that every character seems to be made more memorable for it.

Perhaps nowhere is this tone exemplified more than in Monobear himself, a product of Japan’s obsession with adorably demented mascots. It is crazy to think that Ooyama Nobuyo –Yes, it’s Doraemon– is the voice behind this creepy bear that sassies around hilariously, all while pushing the students into killing each other. There’s an element of ridiculousness inherent to Monobear’s character that contrasts the severity of the context, and it’s a compelling thing to watch, upupupu.

But the most intriguing part of Danganronpa is what we have yet to see, since this first episode introduced the setting of this killing game without actually proceeding into it. The gears have been set in motion by Monobear’s pressuring, through his constant surveillance and through the personal videos of each student. The notion of escape is now reinforced in every student’s mind, and it wouldn’t be long before we see our first attempt at it. Once that happens, we’ll finally get to see the main “twist” Danganronpa promises to bring to its brand of survival thriller: that of a murder mystery narrative. Placing the focus on whodunnit is an interesting change of pace from the predominant action or battle of wits that we usually see in a survival thriller. In bridging these two genres, I’m curious to see if it can retain the excitement of its survival thriller peers whilst keeping that challenge of wit one gets from an involving mystery.

Then there’s that little niggling bit that this is another one Kishi and Ueza’s game adaptations. The director/writer team has become particularly infamous for their subpar game adaptations, but (at least in my eyes) they’re still far from turning into the Uwe Boll of anime. Keep in mind they still have an established pedigree to their names, and what’s uplifting to know is the amount of passion the pair has reportedly shown for this adaptation; Both were fans of the source material even before being hired for the job, and Kishi is personally handling the storyboards for key events himself. The pair seems much more in control of Danganronpa’s direction than any of their previous works, and if anything, news like that makes me slightly hopeful that this will result in one of their better efforts. As far as I can tell, they’re performing an extremely faithful job with episode one, and nothing of significance seems amiss.

Characters and their Specialties

Show Spoiler ▼

Author’s note

Yes, I feel it’s a bit of waste that I couldn’t get every single character intro shot into my screencaps, so I’ll be adding a handy characters list to this post once I wake up tomorrow. *Updated, see above.

Tentatively, there are no plans at RC to blog this show, but I might just carry this on till we reach the first kill to see how the murder mystery side of things play out.

Full-length images: 11, 12, 19, 31, 36.


ED Sequence

ED: 「絶望性:ヒーロー治療薬」 (Zetsubosei: Hero Chiryoyaku) by スズムfeat.そらる (Suzumu feat. Soraru)



  1. Nay to Super-Duper, yay to SHSL!

    This is going to be a very difficult game to adapt, but seeing that the original writer is supervising the script, my hopes are higher than they probably should be.

    1. A word of warning: they currently have two banner ads that spoil the whole thing, so get your ad blockers ready. Also, the website might be down for guest users from time to time, and the only way to solve it is by buying an account (which costs $10).

  2. Ok time to post my Let’s Play DR vids here!

    Show Spoiler ▼

    So yeah, @Croos like I promised, I’ll play(and even make LP vids of it) since RC did blog it.

    Offtopicness aside I have read the summary, the walkthroughs, the reviews, the interviews and watched this episode. At least the first episode didn’t put me off like how DeSu 2 did. I’m totally hyped for this already.

  3. Filed under snapshots. Not being covered at all.
    I wanted it to be blogged to be honest.. but the sheer amount
    of spoilerrific content would ruin the fun for many.
    And since there are plenty of spoiler trolls here at RC…

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  4. I can’t say there was anything in particular that held my interest and stood out within this first showing but nevertheless, there’s something about this seemingly average first episode that has me wanting to come back next week and see more.

    1. Haven’t seen the episode so not sure if they explained it and you just missed it or Monobear hasn’t said it yet, but he should explain it very early on. Still, spoiler warning (maybe?) Show Spoiler ▼

  5. “Then there’s that little niggling bit that this is another one Kishi and Ueza’s game adaptations. The director/writer team has become particularly infamous for their subpar game adaptations, but (at least in my eyes) they’re still far from turning into the Uwe Boll of anime.”

    Considering that the duo’s (only) previous adaptation was Devil Survivor, that’s a bit harsh, innit?

    Granted, DeSu was kind of a trainwreck, but still. The first episode’s paced well and it’s obvious that it’s hell of a lot more faithful to the original game than DeSu was.

    (The fact that the original game soundtrack is being used is definitely a plus for me.)

    1. Kishi also has Persona 4 under his belt which I considered less than stellar, but I’m not gonna let his record affect my perceptions too much.

      And yes, I’m also glad they decided to fully incorporate the game’s soundtrack, which was pretty great all around.

      1. “Kishi also has Persona 4 under his belt which I considered less than stellar, but I’m not gonna let his record affect my perceptions too much.”

        I meant it’s their second adaptation specifically as a duo; Kishi’s also directing the upcoming Persona 3 movie and Uezu’s worked on the anime adaptations of Utawarerumono, School Days and Legend of Heroes:Trails in the Sky.

        Either way, I’m going to remain cautiously optimistic about this series.

  6. This is probably my second most look forwarded to show of the season (Monogatari is first) and having played the game, there’s a lot of material they can work with here. The animation is slick and the pilot was paced well, introducing the cast in a quick and effortless manner, before setting up the rules for getting out and kicking off the murder game. This is always a fun concept to base a story around, and I have high hopes for this adaptation.
    Also, I can’t help but think of MonoKuma as evil Doraemon, since they are voiced by the same person…

  7. This wasn’t as dark and creepy as I would’ve expected (considering I just finished Mirai Nikki) and the art still kinda bugs me, but the whole premise is really interesting, and it’s one of the few ‘serious’ shows airing this season, so I’ll give it a shot anyway!

  8. Every show that has “The Animation” in the title seems really boring to me, i can’t understand why. Is it because it’s targeted to specific audience? what audience is that?

    I tried to like Persona the animation – simply couldn’t stand it
    same with Devil Survivor the animation, and now this, what is the link between these shows that i can’t simply stomach them at all?

  9. Mirai Nikki – KUMA STYLE!

    Plan, you say? Pfft, I don’t need any so-called plans! It’s just damn fun watching you punks run around like a bunch of chickens with your heads cut off! XD

    Indeed, there’s nothing quite like the enjoyment of watching a show that doesn’t take itself too seriously and just has fun with it (Problem Children, anyone?).

    Here’s hoping for a continued blogging!

  10. I really like the unique character designs in this show, they all stand out quite well. Hope someone at RC does pick this up to blog, seems to be high quality animation, and the story is already done.

  11. As someone who has finished this game, I will have to say that it indeed is very faithful to the game. Just hoping that they won’t rush the character development.

    1. Nope. The Dangan Ronpa anime OP is based very closely on the OP of the Dangan Ronpa video game, which was out way before Devil Survivor 2 was on the cards to be made into an anime.

  12. The animation takes a little while to get used to and the CGI is pretty sloppy but this can be my prime guilty pleasure of the summer.

    I haven’t played its game version but given the good buzz i hope it delivers.

  13. i am going to be honest here, i dont like it as much as i thought i would.
    the concept is good, very good actually but everything else seems rather misplaced:
    the animation is good but looks more like it belongs to one of these adventure mangas with the crazy hairstyles and the exaggerated clothing.
    the part when he gave them a motive lacked impact, i mean ok they saw their house ruined but the fact that they were all like :”oh im so happy and doesnt really care>sees movie>i must get out of here at all costs”,i mean they didnt even doubt whether or not the video was fake.
    basically i feel like everything shouldve been darker and more serious for a concept as good as this.

    1. Danganronpa is not meant to be dark or serious, like..at all..
      Take it as a “satire” for all those creepy and gory kill game shows out there..
      I suggest you give it a try, you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

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  14. I’m really liking the story so far and the characters are a riot! Wild guess Miss Super Duper Highschool ??? is a detective, she just totally gives off that vibe. Right now I’m rooting for Celestia the Gothic Gambler, she seems dark, cunning, and sly my type of character!

    Does the animation style remind anyone else of Persona 4? Monobear sounds just like Teddie from Persona 4 different voice actor too. Sakura reminds me of Luna’s dad from My Bride is a Mermaid 😀

  15. the game has just been officially confirmed to have a north america and european release by nis america on the psvita.
    I’m currently unable too copy paste the link, but it has been announced at anime con.
    n4g news has links to it.

  16. Everyone’s going crazy about this, so just to voice a different opinion, the dialogue in this anime feels like it’s written by a six-year-old. Character reactions are unpleasantly unrealistic, and though the opening sequence and OP were interesting, dropping this unless the murder mystery does some pro salvage work.

  17. Hmmm… well can’t say I loved this first episode. I’ll keep watching since this plot is intriguing to me. The only way to get out is by killing someone without notice, and their motive (for now) is to go help their own family? Got pretty interesting around there… but I can’t help but wonder how legit that part was with the videos of their families… I mean, that’s pretty damn convenient that Monokuma brings that up out of nowhere just so the kids can have a motive to kill each other and get out?

    1. They’ve only got 13 episodes to work with, 12 as of now. Plenty of stuff WILL be rushed.
      I was hoping for a 2 cour but..well nvm..

      P.S. That “prop” won’t go missing, I can assure you.

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  18. I won’t harp on and on here; this being a First Impression and all, I’ll give it, and let it be that.

    I know this is something, given it’s theme and style, not to be taken seriously. But that cannot be anything but a thin excuse.

    This is dreadful. The animation is almost on par with Flash. The character design, thou suited to the game style, is over wrought here, and the characteristics aren’t even troperific, the characters are the wet sound a trope makes when it hits the ground.

    I don’t want to insult anyone, If you enjoy the show, then enjoy it, don’t let me get it down. But really, this feels like an insult.


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