Monday, December 12, 2016

Thoughts on Danganronpa 3 Compilation - Part 1

Written by Shiggins

Future.

Despair.

Hope.

The three stages of Danganronpa's anime of 2016, in which the story of Makato Naegi and his companions was finally wrapped up. Storylines are resolved, characters make shocking returns, and the dub of Monokuma just gets worse and worse. Over the course of these three segments, you find yourself questioning a lot about what you saw from the first two games of the series, and the final result is a mixed bag that is worth talking about. And since we've got Danganronpa V3 coming soon, this feels like a good time to do just that. Talk.

So many deaths. So little time.
MAJOR SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE DANGANRONPA FRANCHISE AHEAD!

Let's talk about them in the order they aired, starting with the Future arc, ironically. In this one, Naegi is trapped inside the headquarters of the Future Foundation, the anti-terrorism organisation that seeks to destroy Despair. With Kyoko Kirigiri and Aoi Asahina from the first game as his support, Naegi has to survive a brand new type of Killing Game orchestrated by Monokuma and figure out who is behind this latest torture.

It was really thoughtful of the series to give one of the most horrific, gruesome deaths to one of the most insufferable characters. I really do appreciate that. Thanks, guys!
As is the case with every entry in the Danganronpa series, we're introduced to a cast of bright and wonderfully designed characters, all of whom have distinct personalities and traits. from the extreme paragon Kyosuke Munakata to the witty layabout Koichi Kizakura. They all quickly become identifiable and you remember them all, which is an impressive feat considering how many there are and how short a time we have to learn them before they start getting picked off one-by-one like they were in an Alien movie.

You know, looking back on it, her unique and interesting story really didn't amount to much in the end, did it?
This of course leads us to the big problem; They all die. With the exception of Munakata and one other character, every single new character in Danganronpa 3 is killed off and any investment you had in them feels almost pointless. It comes across as very unfair when every survivor from the first game manages to exit unscathed, while Seiko Kimura, Ruruka Ando, The Great Gozu and more were executed without any resolution. To quote myself after watching this; "They were created solely to die".

That being said, The Killing Game itself is actually very clever. Much like Pokemon Sun and Moon, it manages to take it's own identity by changing the past games' formula and creating something fresh and original, while still keeping in with the spirit of the franchise. For those of you who don't know and really made the wrong choice to read this review instead of watching the series first, the Killing Game involved bracelets that came with "NG Codes", which were commands unique to each person. If you disobey your NG Code, the bracelet kills you. Also, there's a traitor who kills you every time you are forced to go to sleep by the bracelet. While I did miss the Class Trials, this was a really clever substitute that fixed one of the most major problems of the first anime. It kept me guessing the entire time.

However, it's finally time to talk about what angers me the most about the Future arc: Naegi does nothing! With the exception of one scene near the end involving Munakata, Naegi spends the entire arc talking about "Hope" but never actually doing anything about it. I had to laugh out loud when he vowed that nobody else would die, and then someone else died less than ten minutes after he said that. If we saw him do something and fail, that would be effective. If he succeeded, that would be effective. However, he does nothing. And in the end, that is the most pathetic outcome to say about the protagonist of any series.

Don't do drugs, kids.
Thankfully, whenever we had a scene of Naegi trying to ruin the series, it was almost always compensated by the presence and development of Munakata. This is a character who was losing the people in his life from the very first episode, and discovering that everything he ever believed in was actually a lie. While the plot rushes forward, we get to see Munakata's transformation as he starts to descend into his own warped form of Despair. One that is motivated by the belief that he's following the path of Hope, when he's just becoming nothing more than a monster. His physical appearance reflects the damage done to his mind, and the scene when he finally comes to his senses is easily the most emotional one that Naegi has ever been involved with.

Ah yes, the Mummy Sue. Also known as "The Character Who Only Got Really Interesting When the Obvious Plunge into Despair Began and She Became a Villain, but not the Final Mastermind Villain We All Expected"... You can see why we stick to the first title.
Moving onto Despair for now, this is by far the most controversial entry of the series as it brought forth multiple elements that divided audiences. Working as a prequel to not only Danganronpa 3's Future Arc but to the entire series as a whole, with the focus being on the colourful and kooky cast of Danganronpa 2. All the familiar faces from before are here, including the delightful gamer Chiaki Nanami, the overly energetic master of shit Nekomaru Nidai, and even the "Ultimate Imposter", with a brand new face and wardrobe.

Everyone who finished Danganronpa 2 immediately grew tense when they heard that "Despair" was going to be the title of the prequel, because we all knew how it was going to end; The lovable characters would become Remnants of Despair, enticed by Junko Enoshima into the villains that spread chaos and destruction wherever they went until the Future Foundation found them. This prequel could only end in pain and misery... so imagine our surprise when the first few episodes were shockingly hilarious and light-hearted!

It's like watching the evolution of playing No Man's Sky...
When I first started Despair, I didn't expect to get an episode involving Mario Kart, aphrodisiacs and Nanami uppercuts, but that's exactly what I got. I got a literal giant dog and the words "Let the butthurt blossom", which were just two things amongst many that were constantly causing my jaw to drop in astonishment. It almost feels like the creators wanted to make a Baka to Test-style series and just threw in Danganronpa 2 because... well, we all like Danganronpa 2!

Of course, the comedy is not the focus. And every viewer out there knew exactly what the comedy was; A feint to make us drop our guard. To prepare us for the upcoming darkness that will lead into the events of the first game. Thankfully, the series manages to make the transition feel natural and characters like Gundam and Nekomaru manage to at least bring some levity whenever the show threatens to go too far. The dark scenes are great, with one of the most horrific executions the franchise has ever done providing tears and shock to you, the viewer. It's sadistic in all the right ways.

Sadly however, the Despair prequel has two major flaws in my opinion. The first of which is the character Sato, who fans will remember as the murderer of Fuyuhiko Kuzuryuu's little sister, Natsumi. In the video game, this murder happened years ago and was a huge source of distress for Kuzuryuu, even causing one of the class trials and a tragic farewell to a beloved character. Here however, we have one episode focus on the entire incident and then it's completely dropped, as if it never happened. Considering how many characters were actually involved in this storyline, and the actions that played out, it's quite a shock to see that this incident never impacted their eventual drop into despair.

I can't tell who I'm more jealous of in this image... wow, that says a lot about me.
And that brings us to the biggest issue of the Despair prequel, and possibly even the entire series of Danganronpa 3 as a whole: The Despair Video. For those of you who somehow can't remember, the Despair video is a literal clip of anime that has subliminal messages in it to cause you to fall into the Despair state. It's essentially brainwashing, and long-time fans quickly saw the multitude of problems this brings up. For me personally, the biggest reason I dislike the Despair Video is how it undermines Junko Enoshima herself. Throughout the games, we've seen her be a huge influence on every character and situation, with the second game specifically mentioning how she used her unique personality and quirks to turn them to her side. So seeing an anime video that was technically made by someone else suddenly be an easy way for her to get a group of people in one fell swoop feels like a cheap exploit to avoid writing different scenarios for her to charm the group.

NO! NOT HER! DON'T HURT HER! SHE WORE A PIKACHU HOODIE! HER EYES ARE DIFFERENT! THAT AUTOMATICALLY GETS ME BECAUSE MANIPULATION!
That being said, the series did the absolute best they could with this premise. Besides being a major influence of the Future arc, the video also feels like it was made because of the limited amount of episodes the Despair arc was given. Without this video, we might have ended up with a formulaic plot with every episode following the same journey of someone meeting Junko, she influences them, then moves onto the next. That'd be boring and repetitive. And while I do wish the video didn't need to exist, the scene where Junko uses the video and combines it with the sadistic and painful execution of an endearing character is utterly amazing. One of the most memorable scenes of the year. The Despair video is like a vegetable. You know why it's there, but you're going to have trouble swallowing it.

Nanami? Nanami! NANAMIIIIIII! (MGS reference!)
Lastly, the Hope arc. This is the special finale to tie Despair and Future together, as well as provide a fun, clever and meaningful ending to the entire storyline of Danganronpa itself. (Until V3 comes out that is...). This is supposed to be the ending of Naegi's storyline, but as I said before, Naegi does nothing. In fact, he does less than nothing during this episode. He barely appears, and the other survivors of Danganronpa 1 are also fairly arbitrary here. In fact, the entire finale is stolen by the Danganronpa 2 characters and one new character of Danganronpa 3, Ryota Mitarai.

Must... Resist... Obvious... and Overly Used... Game of Thrones... Joke....
It's quite a unique but genius twist to make Mitarai the final obstacle of this story, because it's not an ordinary battle against Despair. Mitarai represents Hope, but just like Munakata and a previous form of sexy Komaeda, this is not a Hope that can save everyone. Much like the final foe being a best friend or brother, making Hope the last antagonist is nothing short of brilliant. Mitarai himself is a tragic character, so it's pretty endearing to see him as this accidental antagonist that needs help. This isn't a finale where everyone needs to smash their way through, but thanks to Hajime Hinata and the rest of the Danganronpa 2 class, it's a heartfelt episode that really shines.

It's pretty funny to think that part of the reason he's crying so happily is because someone said "My wiener thinks you'd make a fine addition". No joke.
The last thing I want to talk about is the Dub, because it's something unforgettable. While the Sub plays it mostly straight and tells the story, the Dub absolutely abridges the crap out of it. Even when some voice actors aren't as good as the video game versions or just feel miscast in general, there is such a fun energy to it all that makes you forgive the issues. My personal favourite is Junko's dub actress, who is a treasure chest (ha! Junko's chest!) of one-liners. She puts on an exaggerated sophomore-style voice that is absolutely childish and fake, but it's perfect. Besides, how can you possibly hate a character who says "He's going to burst a blood vessel because I dissed his waifus!"

I just really wish they had confirmed these two as a canon pair. FUCK OFF, SOUDA! TANAKA FTW!
Anyway this review has gone on long enough, so I'll end it here. Danganronpa 3 wasn't perfect, but it was fun and almost every survivor had an ending I felt was appropriate. The ending closed off by reminding us that this series was always about keeping hopeful in times of despair, and 2016 is a year where we all need to remember that. I'm glad I watched this. I'm glad I obsess over Danganronpa. And I'm glad that the next game is a brand new storyline to let this one close.

By the way, no score at the end of this because I'm having trouble really deciding if I should review it in the three parts or all at once and it gets messy when I try to use my brain. Yeah, this review was a bit all over the place, but the anime as a whole was too so I think it's appropriate.


Prepare for Part 2...


P.S Fuck Kirigiri for surviving. It's stupid that they tried to trick us, stupid how she survived, and stupid that she never told Naegi her plan to fake her death using stupid Deus Ex Machina. This might actually be the worst twist I've ever seen in the entire franchise. BAKA!
Shiggins:[Admin]   .
Born under the stars of the Dark Gods, Shiggins owns the power of the Great Eye and is utterly magnificent in his omniscience. If you dare to discover more about someone as great as him, then go ahead. And to all my friends and family members, YOU are wrong and I should be disappointed! Not the other way round!,. You can find out about him or ask him stuff on ask.fm/shigginsishere or go to his tumblr page http://otakugajeel.tumblr.com/


11 comments:

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    1. One or two things happening in my life right now that I can't discuss, but they made me need to take a break for the past few weeks. Everything is resolved right now, so I'm working on a Deluxe Review to cover the chapters I've missed, which should hopefully be out this week. I was only able to finish this one because I started it a while back, so this was just me adding in one or two paragraphs.

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    2. Oh, I see! Glad to see that you are still going to be making the reviews!

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  2. Was Kirigiri death supposed to be a twist? During her death scene you can clearly saw the cure bottle rolling away from her. In the next episode, the part above her left eye was no longer purple, the veins gradually become smaller. In the last episode of Mirai hen, Kirigiri didn’t appear in the montage that show all characters that already dead (during cinema scene with Junko and Chisa). There are clues everywhere tbh. The only thing that pisses me off is the fact that they brought ALL comatose kids back to life. Seriously, wtf? I'll never feel sad when I play SDR2 again because I already know that they're all survived. I love danganronpa because of the despair but now... it's just meh. At least majority of DR1 characters still dead.


    P.S: Kirigiri didn't tell Naegi about her fake death 'plan' because there was no guarantee that the cure will work (tbh I would say that it was a gamble rather than a plan). She literally says "NO MATTER WHAT HAPPENS, don't give up on hope". She wasn't sure with her own survival, it's 50-50. If she did tell Naegi, he would probably kill himself because he's not going to take risk and bet everything on that cure. Kill himself would be the easiest way.

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    1. The thing is, while every viewer knew she wasn't actually dead, the series still kept a straight face while doing it. The entire episode where Naegi goes against Munakata lost so much substance because it's all centered around a character that the series insists they killed off, and the only reason she survived it was because of a bottle we never established could ever exist until 30 seconds before she returned in the end.

      As for Kirigiri keeping quiet, I'll grant you that Naegi would have probably tried to do some bullshit sacrifice to save her (even though Kirigiri could have probably convinced him to shut up and let her take the risk because he's such a super-special-child-of-hope-woohoo) but she never said anything to anyone! She figured out how everyone was dying, probably figured out who was behind it, and she was far more useful than Naegi ever could be. Kirigiri feels like a lazy plothole, and it's so frustrating to see Danganronpa take a turn like that.

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    2. Well she probably doesn't tell (let say) Asahina because there's possibility that Naegi would find out about it from her so she wouldn't take that risk. Mitarai was too suspicious so she can't tell him either. Yes, she obviously knows a lot regarding what's going on which is why she left the notebook in the first place. In fact I was surprised that Naegi didn't even investigate her 'body'. In DR1, Kirigiri always tell Naegi to investigate everything properly didn't she?

      Reasons why I think Kirigiri should survives are:
      a) before Seiko fell asleep and dies, she look at her drug bottle and laments that she fail to save anyone.
      b) Kizakura sacrifice his life to save Kirigiri.
      - Kirigiri's survival means that Seiko manage to save a life with her cure and Kizakura didn't die in vain. It makes their death more meaningful.

      c) They bring everyone from SDR2 back.
      - tbh honest it was really unfair that almost all SDR2 kids survived when we only have 6 survivors from DR1 (5 if they really decide to kill off Kirigiri).
      It was too unfair.

      d) The series gave A LOT of hints that she's still alive.
      - they literally gave a lot of hope to viewer about Kirigiri being alive, so it would be a really sh*tty move if she really is dead. Don't play with others feelings.

      The last reason is personal one. There's a lot of people who're celebrating her death for weeks, sending Kirigiri fans blog "Serve you right!" asks on tumblr, and such. There're also people who celebrating on twitter so yeah.. it pisses me off and finally they shut their mouth off when Kibou hen is out. What a relief.

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    3. Nah, we both know the only one who goes into people's panties after they die is Kirigiri. :P

      But I don't disagree with Kirigiri surviving. I just disagree with how she did it, and how tacked-on it felt.

      Well, if it helps, remember how much the cast of DR2 went through. Lost a friend, got tortured by Junko, turned into murdering villains via brainwashing and then endured an entire killing game that reduced them into comas. And they all have only each other while the rest of the world blames them for the villainous actions of DR3, so it's not like they got an easy ending either. I understand why you're frustrated, but it's more of a half-glass-full situation for me.

      Okay, that last reason is why fans SUCK! I don't like Kirigiri but people doing that are just the worst. So that's a good reason to be glad she's alive. Again though, I don't mind too much that she survived two killing games. I just mind how she did it.

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    4. Well majority of my favorite characters are from SDR2 which is why I'm against them coming back since it kinda ruins my experience if I were to play the game again. I won't feel the same again since now I know that they will be okay. Regarding DR1 survivors, I don't want them to die precisely because they survived the first game. Killing any of the survivors off in the sequel after surviving the first killing game feels so wrong to me. This apply to SDR2 survivors as well.

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  3. Are you gonna make the Fairy Tail reviews soon? You haven't done them for a month already. And there is some pretty good stuff happening

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    1. Whoops. I just had to wait another day...

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