「超高校級の不運が超高校級の殺人と超高校級の処刑と超高校級の絶望を引き寄せた理由」 (Chou Koukou Kyuu no Fuun ga Chou Koukou Kyuu no Satsujin to Chou Koukou Kyuu no Shokei to chou Koukou kyuu no Zetsubou o Hikiyose Ta riyu )
“Why The Super Duper Duper High School Unluckster Attracted the Super Duper Duper High School Murder, Super Duper Duper High School Execution and Super Duper Duper High School Despair”

What an episode. No, really, this was a level above anything I’ve seen from Danganronpa this entire season. Had the show been so endearingly preposterous…and this intensely satisfying from the start, I would’ve been singing a very different tune.

This penultimate episode and its accompanying final trial is a great payoff the likes of which I’ve been waiting to see in the story. It picks up from where we left off in the last unresolved trial, and starts getting into the truths behind the killing game, giving us the flurry of crazy twists and tongue-in-cheek reveals (Hey, mass amnesia!) that just makes this episode so much fun. The payoff is that we’re getting the answers to some of the big stuff in the show: The profile of Mukuro Ikusaba, who’s revealed to be a super-duper-high-school soldier belonging to the merc outfit Fenrir. The fate of Kirigiri’s dad is shown to be the poor sod that got killed at the very start of the anime. And as the characters dig deeper into the truth of the murder, the mastermind is finally unmasked; Junko Enoshima, who had switched identities with her (surprise!) mostly-identical twin sister Mukuro.

It’s almost unfair to compare this final trial to the previous ones; after all, those previous ones didn’t have the weight of an entire overarching mystery behind them. Having significant build-up to a class trial isn’t something that is very typical because of how Danganronpa‘s been running it’s pop-by-pop trials. With all the anticipated reveals and twists, this final arc was quite assuredly going to have much more draw. But even then, everything about this trial feels like an step up. For what must be one of the few times since the show started, the pacing was agreeable; clues in the investigation were spread out nicely enough for the viewer to give some consideration. The back-and-forth of the students didn’t fall into the usual trap of getting so self-absorbed that I couldn’t be bothered to closely follow what they were talking about. At times, the dialogue also feels more fun and tongue-in-cheek; when the amnesia issue is brought up, there’s a brilliant comeback from Monobear listing the various generic ways they might’ve lost their memories (hypnotism, brain alteration) then retorting that it didn’t matter how they lost it, because they still did. When Junko is later unmasked, she does so in a gloriously hammy reveal, and goes on about the common story twists in her character setting with Mukuro.

You know what? Hell, even the standard contradiction rebuttals from Naegi got replaced with a brand new, impactful CG sequence. What we’ve seen in this episode stands clearly above the rest of the trials. It’s just a shame that we had to wait until now to see such a standard achieved.

I had expected the show to hold on to that mastermind-reveal card until the final episode, but having Junko come out here does set us up very nicely for the final episode. Junko’s personality does seem like a lot of fun, in the Danganronpa loony sorta way, and it does seem like it’s going to be great fun to watch the students pit their wits’ against her’s. And there’s also a few more mysteries left to wrap up, such as the “most despair inducing event”, which gives the final episode some material on which to cap off. Honestly though, if they can match what they’ve done here in the finale, I might just walk away from Danganronpa with a better impression than the one I expected to have.

25 Comments

      1. My reaction to that PVC was like, “huh, that’s kinda morbid, Monobear killed her and they’re making her like a fangirl of him?” Duh. In any case, all the flags for Mukuro Ikusaba being more than she appeared to be were there in the first two episodes, with her not looking like she was expected (said by Sakura) and her sense of entitlement and familiarity with Monobear just before she was killed. And her reaction when she was killed (“this is kinda strange, isn’t it?”). On the other hand, she definitely died so why read into it?

        There’s a lot of questions though about how the two of them got the power to turn the school into a killing game, I hope they don’t gloss over those details.

        flap
      1. I started playing the game half way through the anime series. The anime skips incredible amounts of the game and I didn’t feel like the anime took anything away.

        Definitely still worth playing the game after viewing the anime.

      2. Also like cloo, I played it halfway through because I couldn’t resist NOT KNOWING! and the cliffhangers kill me.

        I definitely like the game more – although I think for this type of story, it’s very hard to make an anime which “involves the audience”. The anime skips over all the evidence hunting and talking to side characters which is essentially the whole game because it’s a mystery and you’re the detective (well Kirigi is too =P). I find the anime takes away all that because you’re not playing the game, and due to the medium that is TV – you’re just watching. The anime’s also short so it doesn’t give you time to guess and think, it’s kind of just bam bam bam! HE/SHE did it! OMG! X_X

        For sure, the anime does the best that it can with only 13 episodes and a long story to tell. I don’t think it could’ve been done any better given the source material and the fact that they’ve already cut a lot. I just think that it’s a story better told in a game format rather than TV.

      3. same here with cloo and cherrie.
        the game is much more fun and drag you in. I understand the limitation of an anime based on game, and we experienced that too much in many other animes based on games (not only KEY’s VN).
        I think the anime preserves too much of the plot than the concept of the game itself. this game is an on-going mystery throughout all chapters of vn, and cutting the mystery bit by bit…kinda loses something IMO. it’s like…remove from death note or code geass all the..sophistication behind it.
        if you play the game now, clearly you will lose a bit of interest due to anime. however the game is still more thorough in details and stuff. try to think outside the box of every mystery, despite you know the end of every incident..it will be fun. the gameplay is very fun as well.
        I can’t wait for game 2. in the meantime some of you can settle for DR0 and “if”.

        thedarktower
      1. There isn’t any official English release of the game, but there is a fanmade translation.
        http://danganronpa.wordpress.com/2013/06/23/release-danganronpa-english-translation-v1-0/
        Playable on the PSP

        Or, if those who do not have a PSP (like me), you can read the recently archived Let’s Play thread here: http://lparchive.org/Dangan-Ronpa/
        It’s a very good Walkthrough as there are screenshots, links of videos, music players and audios included. And it’s detailed and translations are accurate. Not to mention the translator, orenronen, will explain the meaning behind the few japanese phrases.

  1. I agree, the pacing was indeed much better here. It also was sweet seeing these anime only group photos of the gang. Its at times like this that you feel the anime is not like just some sort of carbon copy of the game. Just this time, THANK YOU Studio Lerche!

    On another note, despair really hits you when you realize Ikusaba Mukuro got killed by her own twin sister Junko Enoshima the Queen of Despair.

    nhelraios
      1. @Amirith -I see. Well , ‘fun’ isn’t the word I’d have used , cos she scares the living crap outta me , but I look forward to seeing more of her and learning the full extent of her plans.:)

        Aki-Chan
    1. Like what she said, “I’m a genius” when she introduce herself and Ikusaba that they are twins. Most likely shes really talented. Just think of it, she even setup the best setting for despair for this talented people and not easily be caught.

  2. The ending is where Fallout 4 begins!

    Just kidding, I can’t believe I didn’t see this show up until now. I watched all the way to the finish within 2 days.

    So. Damn. Worth. It

    Jason Isenberg

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