Saturday, October 25, 2014

Dangan Ronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc - What I Think

Written by: Shiggins

With the newest release in the Dangan Ronpa series and my immense boredom from not having written an article for a few weeks, I have decided to do my best to encourage more people to join the fandom of one of my favourite game series.

I’m going to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, and tell you why the Story, Characters, Gameplay, Anime and Other facts should make you invested enough to dive in.

"Danganronpa" is a combination of the Japanese words "dangan" which means bullet, and "ronpa" which means refutation


Story

The huge private school known as “Hope’s Peak Academy” is the best in the country, and possibly the world. They teach only the best and aim to make them even greater in their fields of expertise, even giving them the title “Ultimate” in front of their field. So for example, one person might be the “Ultimate Scientist” or the “Ultimate Writer”. Every year, a raffle is used to make someone “ordinary” join their class under the name “Ultimate Lucky Student”.

Hope Peak Academy: Where nobody can hear you murder each other horrifically...

This year, Makoto Naegi is the lucky lad who won the raffle. After meeting the various characters of his class, all of whom have major personalities and designs, a toy bear known as Monokuma appears and tells them they cannot leave the school until they have murdered one of their own classmates! Not only that, they need to make sure they don’t get caught doing it and prove their “innocence” in a Class Trial.

In my opinion, the premise is great. It’s twisted and interesting but leaves room for light-hearted comedy. And of course, it has the one thing I love most of all: Plot twists! Countless plot twists and mysteries! So many questions to make me blush like a schoolgirl! I love plot twists!


Characters


Aaaah... That familiar moment where you're surrounded by people who may or may not kill you...
As I’ve said countless times in the past, the characters make the story. Without interesting characters, you’ve got no interesting plot. In this case, we have 16 hugely interesting characters (more or less) with their own motives, stories and personalities! That’s a lot to get through, which can cause some to feel really underused at times but nearly everybody has a memorable moment. And since they are all so important to the plot, I’ve had to list them all here.


Makoto Naegi – Ultimate Lucky Student

"After all, my only redeeming quality is my optimism".

The main protagonist and the character you play as within the video game. The most down-to-earth and (possibly) realistic character in the game, Naegi spends most of his time trying to keep hopeful and scream in panic whenever somebody dies. A sharp mind and positive attitude is extremely helpful in times like this, which makes Naegi valuable to have as a friend and companion. I honestly find him somewhat bland though but that might be because he is the character you play as and all the other huge personalities.

Voiced by Megumi Ogata/Bryce Papenbrook


Kyoko Kirigiri – Ultimate ???

“They're just underpants. It's not like I put my hands inside his socks...”
I think every mystery series ever has a girl with amnesia. It’s just one of those hugely popular clich├ęs you’ll see everywhere and yes, it’s tiring and usually unnecessary but it’s here and in the form of emotionless mystery girl Kirigiri. She doesn’t know her title or where her father is, but she knows amazing detective skills and will solve all the problems Naegi fails to.

Voiced by Youko Hikasa/Erika Harlacher


Byakuya Togami – Ultimate Affluent Progeny

“Rejoice, commoners, for today I show you just how much far above you I am."

What a prick. However, the series would be nothing without him and that’s why we enjoy his company. The heir to the Togami corporation, Byakuya is sadistic, cunning, and merciless for both his opponents and his allies. He views each murder and trial as a game (which…it technically is since Dangan Ronpa is a video game…) and barely bats an eye at the sight of a bloodied corpse. And did I forget to mention he’s a prick?

Voiced by Akira Ishida/Jason Wishnov


Sayaka Maizono – Ultimate Pop Sensation

“I know I said I wanted to talk, but when push comes to shove, I don't know what to say...”
This bright-eyed starry singer is one of Naegi’s biggest supporters and spent her childhood as a role model and singer for girls everywhere. An old classmate of Naegi’s who is easily scared, especially once all the chaos happens. While not particularly smart, she’ll do her best to investigate and be Naegi’s “sidekick”.

Voiced by Makiko Ohmoto/Dorothy Elias-Fahn


Toko Fukawa – Ultimate Writing Prodigy

“I was p-perfectly happy spending time by m-myself... But I guess if you're so d-desperate for attention, I can h-hang out for a little bit...”

An anti-social lover of writing romantic novels, Fukawa lacks a lot of charm and manners. She prefers to avoid people, except a certain rich handsome man, and has such low confidence that she thinks people are constantly avoiding or insulting her despite barely any reason to believe such a thing.

Voiced by Miyuki Sawashiro/Amanda C. Miller + Erin Fitzgerald


 Kiyotaka Ishimaru – Ultimate Moral Compass

“When you see someone naked, you can tell at a glance whether they're trustworthy or not. Which is why it's necessary for us to bare ourselves to each other! So show me what you've got! Show me everything!”

Overly-enthusiastic and blunt, Ishimaru is devoted to keeping order no matter what the situation. A born leader determined to make sure all rules are followed in a reasonable manner, Ishimaru will never give in to the enemy and will always give a proper salute or raise his voice, even when it is neither needed or wanted.

Voiced by Kosuke Toriumi/Sean Chiplock


Aoi Asahina – Ultimate Swimming Pro

“What, you've never seen this before? They say when you want to remember someone’s name, you should write it on the palm of your hand three times!”

A lover of doughnuts, Asahina spends most of her time swimming and being extremely air-headed. She’s also very forgetful and forgiving, hanging around with her friend Sakura most of the time and being emotional over the deaths around her.

Voiced by Chiwa Saito/Cassandra Morris


Sakura Ogami – Ultimate Martial Artist

      “Doubting your allies is an ugly thing to do.”
Sakura is female. I feel like I need to tell you that since I hear people surprised about that a lot. A strong woman of great loyalty and calm resolve, Sakura always manages to remain quiet and level-headed despite her huge bodybuilder appearance. Easily one of the most memorable characters of the group, and one I wouldn't want to piss off.

Voiced by Kujira/Jessica Gee-George


Junko Enoshima – Ultimate Fashionista

  “Useless, Useless, Useless!”
A fashion model with a sexy body, Junko is loud and opinionated. She doesn’t like being told what to do, and she’ll make sure you know that if you cross her by being as loud as possible. A personality flaw that can get her into trouble, she’s been on the cover of magazines for many years and for some reason that counts as a field of expertise…

Voiced by Megumi Toyoguchi/Amanda C. Miller


Leon Kuwata – Ultimate Baseball Star

“I'm going to be a musician! You can tell I have that rockstar quality, right?”

Despite being a legend at baseball, Leon dresses like a rock-punk and sometimes acts like one. A lazy boy who wants to be a musician, Leon hates to study and can be quite hot-headed at the worst of times, which does create one or two problems. While not the bravest of characters, he is by no means a coward and will fight when needing to.

Voiced by Takahiro Sakurai/Grant George


Mondo Oowada – Ultimate Biker Gang Leader

“Hell yeah I do! I’m a goddamn biker, ain’t I? We’re crazy as hell!”

Yes, that actually seems to be enough to get someone into a school these days. Easily the most violent of the class, Oowada runs a biker gang in the streets and is probably perfect for the role. Wearing what is easily my favourite coat of the series, a hairdo that looks utterly ridiculous and always ready to smack any asshole that comes his way, Oowada is clearly suited to be a student.

Voiced by Kazuya Nakai/Keith Silverstein


Chihiro Fujisaki – Ultimate Programmer

     “Oh, thank God! I thought you didn’t like me.”

Every group needs someone shy and gentle. In this case, we have the little hacker nerd. This sweet little girl spent her life afraid, so ended up doing nothing but playing video games and learning how to hack and program any computer she can. She may need somebody to defend her every now and again, but she definitely cheers up everybody around her when happy.

Voiced by Koki Miyata/Dorothy Elias-Fahn


Yasuhiro Hagakure – Ultimate Clairvoyant


“The guardian spirit with a perm head chasing a Bigfoot who was cursed by sky fish. That’s your very own guardian spirit!”

Seriously? That is a reason to get into the greatest school in the country? In a series involving talking bear toys, class trials and a hulking martial artist woman, I expect tons of realism! A lazy, excitable idiot who claims to be able to see the future, he was held back several times in class and because of that, is the oldest there. I bet he’s wishing he studied more now.

Voiced by Masaya Matsukaze/Kaiji Tang


Celestia Ludenberg – Ultimate Gambler


“Would you like to play a game of chance with me? I would be happy to empty your wallet and show it to you.”

A dark, manipulative gambler, Celestia looks great in Lolita dresses (which FrillyPhoenix would most likely approve of) and is considered a great liar, hence her skills in gambling and card games. Polite and calm when needing to, she can make certain characters run in fear at her outbursts and she takes both respect and fear from every character.

Voiced by Hekiru Shiina/Marieve Herington


Hifumi Yamada – Ultimate Fanfic Creator


“I am a warrior, fighting day and night to rid this world of preconceived ideas about doujin works…”

An anime character that makes anime fans look bad. Oh, the cruel irony. Hifumi spends his time loving all things nerdy and related to anime, mostly the women in them. He believes the 2D characters beat the 3D characters and the world needs to understand the greatness of doujin and... Ok yeah. He represents fans perfectly!

Voiced by Kappei Yamaguchi/Lucien Dodge


Monokuma

"So warm and wet, so wet and warm... I bet you guys - [REMOVED TO CONFORM WITH LOCAL AND INTERNATIONAL CENSORSHIP LAWS] - all over her, didn't you?"

The mascot of the series and the villain of our story, Monokuma is a twisted individual with a heart of mechanics and a love for the death around him. Adding an annoying voice and smug personality to this creepy teddy does not help in the slightest as he is fully aware they all have to do whatever he says, and he takes full advantage of it.

Voiced by Nobuyo Oyama/Brian Beacock


Gameplay

So what is the game itself actually like? Is it filled with amazing action adventures and graphics that will shock and leave you in awe? ...Not really but it's still a lot of fun. If you've played a visual novel game before, you know what to expect. It's a first-person experience where very little actual animation takes place and every character is represented by a 2D cut-out, as if they were made of cardboard. Trust me, it's not as bad as it sounds.

Puns! Those are always fun! Right...?
After each murder, the player must go around as many locations as possible to find all the evidence they can. This includes talking to other characters, finding clues and searching the bodies. Fairly standard for a game involving murder and mystery to be honest.

The Class Trial is the highlight of the gameplay though. Like in Phoenix Wright, you have to stand up and use all the evidence at hand to try to figure out who the culprit is. People are blaming each other, and tons of mini-games appear through the trials. These mini-games can range from really fun to really frustrating, but the majority of it is enjoyable.

The truth hurts. Especially when in bullet form.
Another fun part of the gameplay is "Free-Time". This is when you can go out and interact with any of the characters (the ones that are still alive anyway), and find out more about them. Answer their questions correctly and you receive a lot of character development from them, and even receive prizes which can help with the Class Trials. It's personally one of my favourite modes because it makes me feel more attached to the characters.


Anime

It shouldn't be a shock that this game has an anime (hell, I even used the screenshots from the anime for the characters above). And it also shouldn't be a shock that the anime is... only okay. While the game allows you to involve yourself in the story and investigate each crime, the anime ends up not even really trying to do that.

The anime gave Monokuma the power to summon fish... Why are you even questioning it? It's anime!
While the animation itself is great and the voicework is fun, the story itself is rushed. Doing such a story in only ten episodes means that a lot of the fun is taken out of it, including one or two light-hearted scenes which, although not important to the story, were fun to watch. If you're a fan of the little things in a series, you'll be upset at this.

The biggest crime the anime achieves is the removal of the investigation. Instead of being able to watch the characters walk around and find each clue, the anime rushes it so it's barely a montage of finding the clues. And in an investigation series, that's really sad to see.


Other

The music is great. Very atmospheric and memorable, causing each situation to feel either light-hearted or tense. If you complete the game, you get a very cool song along the credits which is sung by Megumi Ogata. (Yes. The same voice actress as Naegi!)

*utterly speechless*
The anime also has fairly enjoyable openings and endings, with the ending giving us a disturbing image as we see the smiling faces of all the characters who have died so far. (I think someone new is added each time...)

I personally love the character designs. Although they're oddly simple, they have great detail and the way the eyes are drawn are just great. They are possibly my favourite-looking cast of characters in an anime.


Final Verdict

Play the game. It's your best choice. (It's on PS Vita or emulate the PSP version).

If unable to play it, watch the playthroughs on Youtube. If you have no other choice, watch the anime but only if the game is unable to be played/watched. (I also recommend the Dangan Ronpa Abridged Thing on Youtube).


Shiggins:[Admin]   .
Shiggins enjoys many strange forms of communication, especially those including cosplayers or presents or videos. However, until that wonderful day comes when people care enough to give him things for being him, you can contact him on his Skype; shigginsishere. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere or go to his tumblr page http://otakugajeel.tumblr.com/.

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