Danganronpa: Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei The Animation Episode 1 [First Impression]

“Welcome to Despair Academy”

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Synopsis: A group of 15 elite high school students are gathered at a very special, high class high school. To graduate from this high school essentially means you’ll succeed in life, but graduating is very difficult. The school is presided over by a bear called Monokuma, and he explains to them that their graduation hinges around committing a murder. The only way to graduate is to kill one of your classmates and get away with it. If the other classmates discover the identity of the killer, the killer is the only one executed. However, if they fail to catch the killer, only the killer graduates and the others are annihilated. Which of the 15 will survive the bloodbath to come?

Chris’ First Impression:

 A very interesting start. The fan translation for the video game recently came out and I decided to play it. It was good… or so the first five minutes seemed. I didn’t get very far into it because, before I knew it, the first episode of the anime had been released and the time came to write a blog post, a blog post that would decide the fate of Danganronpa in the eyes of millions. What? No deciding of fate? No millions? Just one guy blabbering on about how pretty darn amazing this looks? I’ll settle for that.

 The opening sequence involving the space ship should tell you every you need to know about Danganronpa (on a side note, I recognized it immediately as it was the exact  same scene from the video games opening… just though I’d let you know that there are a lot of similarities), it’s wacky, it’s fun and it’s completely psychotic… Beware the Monobear.

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This is me in every lesson of philosophy that I have to wade through. Who even needs a philosophy A Level?

 Episode 1 of Danganronpa was an introductory episode, a meet and greet if you’d prefer. Naegi Makoto, our protagonist and heroic cliche, is your ‘average student’ living his ‘average life’ when all of a sudden he receives the opportunity to attend Hope’s Peak Academy, some prestigious high school for people who excel in… well, pretty much anything. Leaders of biker gangs, pop idols, mystics, bookworms, scions — yeah, Hope’s Peak Academy has got ’em all!

 The music (OST) in this episode was amazing! The music when he first enters the school reminded me very much of music associated with the game ‘Katawa Shoujo’, a game with such an excellent OST that I often listen to it in my spare time… but I digress, the music changes to fit the scenes perfectly and whilst I prefer the calmer music in comparison to the action scene music, both are epic and worthy of my delicate ears.

 Not to laden you with my life’s story or anything but… I recently was offered the chance to go to one of these ‘prestigious schools’ and I turned it down. Why? Because an average guy like me wouldn’t fit into a school full of pompous twats, that’s why! Maybe Naegi was getting bullied at his old school (his character seems like the type…) ? Maybe he simply wanted a bigger challenge. Whatever the reason, Naegi has f***** up his life regardless… unless he can escape, that is.

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She kinda reminds me of Yuko from Persona 3… I liked Yuko…

 These ‘elite student’s have been given a ‘choice’, live in school forever or kill someone and escape… Monokuma you f***** up bastard! They’re just school kids?! What are you thinking…? Honestly, I find the premise extremely enticing. I assume that the series is going to consist of exposition in which character relationships are built, the murder of one of the students and then an Ace Attorney like witch hunt and court case in the attempt to find the ‘elusive’ teenager.

 I’m going to call it now: one of the ‘innocent’ teens is going to end up being one of the ‘first’ and or ‘worst’ killers.

 It’s just the way things work.

 As I was saying, I’m looking forwards to delving into these characters and their backgrounds, but, and this is important, they better not mess up these ‘murder investigations’. What they have here is the potential to produce and awesome mystery element into the series that can be composed of crime investigator type ‘fun’. And another thing… how are they going to deal with the murderer when they find them? This also intrigues me to no end…

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Uh… when did this turn into Street Fighter?

 The cast of characters looks strong and vibrant… and maybe also a little cliche. The guy with the scar on his face (pictured above)? How is he a teenager? And that fat guy? How is he not in jail for pedophilia? Just saying. There is a problem however, Naegi is going to quickly become very annoying. Characters like Naegi are player characters, characters that are meant to be in game and shaped by the player… when they’re not however, they’re immediately stereotyped. Naegi is the protagonist of the game and therefore he must receive the ‘hero persona’. There’s no depth. Oh, he has a family which consists of a stoned looking father and a cutesy sister? DEPTH! He’s an average guy living his average life? Poor little Naegi. DEPTH! He has a terrible sense in clothing? DEPTH! Terrible hair? DEPTH! A ridiculous amount of bad luck? DEPTH! Meets a girl from his school who just happens to be cute and is treating him as if he was her boyfriend even though it would appear they’ve only just met (and don’t give me none of that, ‘he looks like a nice guy’ bullshit)? MOTHERF****** DEPTH!… that aside, the other characters are fine and as long as Naegi doesn’t start crying every episode I’ll be fine… and no gay screaming!

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This is actually kind of messed up… I mean… Jesus, talk about psychological torture…

 In the end however, it was the ending that convinced me to watch the next episode (and probably the rest of the series)… oh and the premise… I’m actually kind of in love with the premise, y’know? I love anime that deals with psychology and psychologically tortures it’s cast (call me a sadist). It’s interesting and that trails and tribulations of hormone filled teenagers steaming with helplessness as they’re families are… well I don’t know where they are but, y’know… it’s alluring! Sayaka’s breakdown was awesome in the sense that we now know that she’s the ‘weakest’ of the characters and therefore the most vulnerable mentally and physically… and then Naegi ruined it by making promises that either mean they’re definitely going to get out or she’s going to die… brilliant, thanks for ruining the plot Naegi… and damn you cliches!

 Oh! And another thing… that ending was amazing… I love it… it’s addictive… like a drug… here… have some… taste it… go on:

Possibility of Blogging(?): Definitely

 The premise is promising and I love anime like this regardless. Murder mysteries with a hint of psychological torture? Count me in. How will characters cope with the predicament? Who will make it out alive? With Naegi and Sayaka ever kiss? Will Naegi annoy me to the point of suicide? Can Danganropa make up for Devil Survivor 2’s failure last season? I guess we’ll have to find out…

 Oh! And one more thing… I don’t like the character designs… sorry.

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Charlmeister’s First Impression:

Hello *insert name here*....I'd like to play a game.

Hello *insert name here*….I’d like to play a game.

Am I the only one getting that Saw impression from the opening of this. And I LOVE IT! (I am a hardcore Saw fan, so you must understand my level of sadism here). Torture of characters is amazing; and the psychological aspect of it is really up there. Monobear is creepy as hell, honestly I got goosebumps at one point. So that’s a plus for you Danganronpa; extending that atmosphere of terror and suspense.

Okay so first of all, I like the opening of the anime – it’s pretty sinister, in an insidious kinda way, and pretty direct about the type of atmosphere you’ll be getting once you start this. The teddy bear is one of the biggest icons in horror flicks (how could something so cute and cuddly, be so evil??). There is the protagonist, Naegi, whose personality reminds me a bit of Igarashi Ganta from Deadman Wonderland (they both have that kinda “Woe is me” personality). Chris already gave an overview of the episode so let me just get into my opinions of the anime.

So characters! I’ve already drawn up an analysis of who might start killing who, who might die first and so on. There are some very interesting characters in this; most of who look as if they were held back way too many years because this is highschool they’re entering.

First we have this Humpty-Dumpty:

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I honestly believe Yamada might be first kill, but then I can’t judge just off appearance, right? He might end up surprising us all.

And I think this Dragon Ball Z guy got caught up in the wrong anime, but whatever, maybe he’s a guy that just overdosed on B-vitamins.

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The more style of characters, the better right? And that’s something I like; each character has their own style and probably their features extend into telling what sort of personality each has.

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I honestly believe this girl is going to suffer a meltdown very quickly. She doesn’t seem ready to accept this predicament, nor ready to try and mentally prepare herself for what’s ahead of her. May the odds be in her favor though…

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I really believe Byakuya will be the one to get himself together and prepared to red his hands and not care about feelings of humanity. Both him and that gothic girl. And I also think they’ll be very clean and poker-faced about it. When Monobear suggested ways of the students killing each other, I couldn’t help the grin that came to my face (I’m sorry, I just got so excited. You must understand my love for murder game content).

So we have ourselves the Hunger Games. Danganronpa makes me think of Saw, in a sense, because of Monobear’s entire thought process. Jigsaw got this group of persons in the same space, each had to go through torture, or kill each other for clues to get out of the hellhole of despair but he did that to teach them a lesson – to appreciate their life and not waste it doing meaningless shit.

As for Monobear…I think he’s just evil, he has no real reason for bringing despair to his victims, more than for personal satisfaction. But the entire concept still stands. Also, what was wrong with this fish?

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It was twitching for far too long. But I guess it’s some symbolism about the will to survive. The ending…the ending left a lasting impression on me. I was speechless because I imagined myself in that situation and Naegi’s and Sayaka’s reactions were realistic. Although I think she went a bit overboard on the melodrama. So because of her, Naegi has decided to assume the role of hero. Sadly, I couldn’t help myself but laugh with Monobear as she cried (his laugh is actually hilarious).

As for the art, it isn’t bad and the OST was amazing in this episode. It brought together all the elements of suspense and terror so beautifully and I really like the OP theme. So, there is little wrong that Danganronpa is doing so far. How this detective work will go, I’m not sure – I’m anticipating it. Because we have these kids working together, while at the same time they’ll be working against each other. It’s a double standard I really like. 

So that’s it for what I think! I only have one thing left to say: *whispers* Let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the floor, let the bodies hit the………FLOOOOOOOOOORRRR!!!  

Possibility of Blogging(?):…this is rhetorical, right?

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Preview:

Chris

I'm just a normal guy, chillin' on the internet in search of a place that I can call my sacred hang. What more can I say?

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