Anime Review: “Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School”

drda231The Danganronpa franchise never fails to surprise. Every anime, game, manga, and light novel attached to it are just so addicting that you have to keep going until you reach the end. The second anime is just the same and actually include two different stories with alternating episodes: one story that follows the second game (Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair) and one that precedes it.

While you don’t have to have played the previous games (including Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls) to understand what’s happening, it helps a lot to have done so. There are a lot of references to all three, and a new watcher may be a bit confused. This anime concludes a lot of things, including what happened to the students in Goodbye Despair, and also follows up on Monaca’s and Komaru’s stories from Ultra Despair Girls.

 

The first episode starts the “Hope Arc,” which shows what happens both during and after the events of Goodbye Despair. Makoto Naegi is arrested for protecting the Remnants of Despair, but before any punishment can be administered, a familiar figure appears on the room’s monitor. Makoto knows him right away as Monokuma, the antagonist of his Killing School Life (the events of the first game and anime). He knows what’s coming next, and a new game has begun within the Future Foundation’s headquarters.

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As the episodes continue, the leader of the future foundation Kyosuke Munakata accuses Makoto of endangering their cause. He even suggests that Makoto kill himself right now to end this new “game.” But even as Makoto tries to explain himself, he’s punched by Munakata’s best friend and right hand man Juzo Sakakura. This actually causes another element in this new killing game – Forbidden Actions – to activate on one member, killing them for “witnessing violence between participants.”

Aware of all the new rules, Makoto and his classmates – Aoi AsahinaKyoko Kirigiri – run for cover within the offices. They are joined by a few allies, fortunatly, that include 77th class member Ryoto Mitarai, and Future Foundation board member Great Gozu. Kyosuke, fueled by the first death of his love Chisa Yukizome, seeks Makoto now, blinded by his hatred of despair he believes Makoto is protecting.

drda42The second episode starts the “Despair Arc,” which shows the events leading up to Goodbye Despair and how the 77th class became Remnants of Despair. It also shows key elements that Junko Enoshima used to actually cause the lengthy-named The Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History.

The last episode ties the two arcs together, revealing the “cured” 77th class helping the Future Foundation escape the new killing game. It also reveals that the mastermind behind that game was not Monaca Towa, as was hinted at early on. But it was actually Chisa. In the Despair Arc, she had been brainwashed by Junko and actually leads the class into the despair. In the Future Arc, she seems to have died first, but it’s hinted that it may have been faked somehow.

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The Future Arc also covers a bit of afterstory with Komaru and Touko, as they investigate Monaca’s activities. The city is still full of Monokuma-bots, and the other Warriors of Hope have separated from her. I’m pleased to see they all survived, and Jotaro had decided to discard his mask. Not a lot of details are shown about after Ultra Despair Girls, and even Monaca’s conclusion was a bit lackluster. It seems she had killed a member of the Future Foundation and created a robot to impersonate her. But she ends up being trapped by the brainwashing video that Ryoto creates later.

I also don’t really like how they just threw all of the 77th class in at the end as if none of them had died. There was no definate answer following Goodbye Despair whether those that died in the Neo World Program had actually died in real life. There was hints that they had just been put in a coma, but more than once, Monokuma confirmed that dying in the virtual world also meant dying in real life. Also, it seemed that Nagito Komaeda had no signs of his mental illness he displayed from even before his encounter with the Program. It was as if the Program had “cured” his dementia, which kind of erases a major element of his character.

Final Words:

While there are flaws in the plotline, it’s an excellent conclusion to the story of the 77th class and the Future Foundation. It ties up a lot of lose ends and answers questions I had been curious about. Though, it’s meant more for those that follow the series, those that are new can still enjoy it.

I would give this anime…8.5/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Assassination Classroom, Blue Exorcist, Food Wars! Shokugeki no Soma

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Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls

4After the success of their initial two games, Spike Chunsoft released another game that was a little different than their first two, but equally important to the Danganronpa lore. This game, Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, is centered around Makoto Naegi‘s sister, Komaru Naegi, instead of the first game’s protagonist.

The gameplay is vastly different as well, being more action-based than visual novel style like the first two. Instead of walking around an environment and talking to NPCs, the player must guide Komaru and her companion through dangerous Monokuma-infested environments, shooting them with a special hacking gun. Who is Komaru’s companion? None other than Touko Fukawa, the notorious bookworm-slash-serial killer from the first game!

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Now, if you’re a fan of the series, you’re probably scratching your head right about now, asking yourself how in the world can such a neurotic and slightly crazy character actually help our heroine. Well, I’m pleased to say that both of the girls do a whole lot of growing in this game. This is part of the reason it’s so enjoyable.

The story starts out with Byakuya Togami, now a member of the Future Foundation, coming to find Komaru a prisoner in an apartment building. As it turns out, the people used in the first motive scenario in Trigger Happy Havoc were all kept in this city where the apartment building is located. After two years of captivity, she’s released, but by a dangerous Monokuma robot. She encounters Byakuya, who gives her the special hacking gun and tells her to run.

1Confused and afraid, Komaru rushes across the street to a restaurant, only to be chased in by additional Monokuma bots. The patrons are slaughtered, and a broadcast comes on TV. There are five strange children advertising their victory and saying all adults will be eradicated. She soon finds herself abducted by the very same children, who actually release her as part of their “demon-hunting” game. Komaru soon meets up with the strange Touko and the two team up to stop the five children. The best part is actually learning not only more about Komaru and Touko, but also about these five children.

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Even Nagito Komaeda has a hand in this story. This time, he’s simply called “Servant,” as he’d been captured by the Warriors of Hope early on. He acts as a sort of guide at one point, making sure Komaru doesn’t leave before she’s completed her mission. While the two have no idea who he is (this takes place before the events of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair), they thank him for his help, in a way.

It’s also important to note that this game is sort of an introduction to the concept of AI for this world. While Nekomaru Nidai was a cyborg, it’s difficult to say whether he was a true AI. In Another Episode, two AI characters are introduced: Shirokuma and Kurokuma. Their names indicating their alignment (Shiro being “white” and Kuro being “black”) play an important role, as Shirokuma helps the girls through the game. Kurokuma acts as an adviser to the Warriors of Hope, thinking of ways to improve their “game.” This is later continued with an AI character-student in the newest game.

When the game starts out, Touko becomes easily annoyed with Komaru, who seems to always be making excuses about how she “can’t do anything” because she’s “just a normal girl.” Touko, while being an Ultimate, still has constant doubts about her own abilities and also deals with her other personality (which was changed from “Genocider Shou” to “Genocide Jack” for localization purposes). She pushes Komaru to be better and take control of the situation.

Despite being kicked out of the safe haven, the two know they have to save everyone. This forces both of them to grow as people, which is a major draw to this story. Komaru becomes fierce and determined, deciding to stand up for what’s right. She even decides to sacrifice her freedom to make sure the Future Foundation can do their work. Even Touko, the squirrely and fearful woman she is, does the same. She finally has a friend who she can trust, and she refuses to lose that, no matter what.

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Even better is the truth behind the mysterious Warriors of Hope. Each child has faced abuse in some form in the past, and they have valid reasons to hate adults. At first, I was angry about their behavior. But after learning their reasons, I couldn’t not love them. They all deserved better than what life handed them. I plan to go into further detail on them in a future article.

The character development of this game is superb – even better than the other two games. It really shows how even a “normal person” can make a difference in the world, and that your past trauma doesn’t have to define you. I highly reccomend it for anyone, especially those fans of the franchise. Also, once you’ve played this game, be sure to catch the follow-up anime called Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School.

Danganronpa’s Junko Enoshima is one of the most terrifying villains.

1Every villain has their own motivations and reasons for why they became a villain. Cruella DeVille sought diverse and exotic furs, Darth Vader wanted to save someone he cared about and make the universe safer, and Nurser Ratched simply seeks to control people. But it’s hard to really pin down why someone like Junko Enoshima is a villain. This is also what makes her such a mesmerizing character.

What makes her a villain, though, is almost as confusing as her rapidly switching personalities. She thrives on despair: forcing people to kill others, suffering setbacks in her own plans, or even brainwashing people. It actually causes her joy to suffer pain and see others suffer as well. She claims that even being born was a despair, saying “No, I’ve felt despair as long as I can remember, like I never should have been born at all. When I was born, I cried tears of total despair.”

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If she were anyone else, one might claim she suffers depression, but it’s actually the opposite. She seems to gain energy from this despair, and even after her death, those that followed her still continued her work to bring the despair she always loved. These brainwashed Remnants of Despair, who actually consisted of the cast of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, worked to cause despair to themselves and the world.

Even in her death, she celebrates, saying “This once-in-a-lifetime experience… It is my first and last colossal despair, here at the moment of death! To have the chance to taste of the highest grade despair–the utter failure of my dreams!” She actually gives herself all of the punishments she’d already administered to the other students that had been proven guilty.

3It could also be argued that it’s not the pursuit of despair that motivates her, but actual boredom. Junko is extremely intelligent; both her and her twin sister, Makuro Ikusaba, are. This also comes with a downside – Junko becomes bored very easily. For this reason, she is shown changing personalities even within the same conversation or sentence. She claims that she gets bored with one personality and changes it as quickly as a sentence can be said.

She also reveals just before her death that she “was so hopelessly desperate! [she] was bored of the world the moment [she] was born!” However, seeking to cure this boredom by means of causing despair throws this motivation into question, as she very much seems to be excited by causing it.

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It is because of all of these things that she is so unpredictable, and one of the most terrifying villains of all time. Whether her true motivation is causing despair or just pure boredom, there’s no way to know what she’ll actually do next. Even when her plans we set back, she felt joyful because she felt her own despair. She’s incredibly well-written to this end, and it’s easy to see why, despite her horrible actions, that she has so many fans.

What do you think? Is Junko motivated by despair or boredom? Is there anyone that’s more terrifying?
Let me know in the comments below!

“Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc” – Chihiro Fujisaki and Sakura Oogami shread gender norms.

1319406_Japanese_KeyArt-OfficialVideoImage_1f7ec87c-7a78-e711-8175-020165574d09Danganronpa is full of colorful characters of all types. There’s creative characters, mysterious characters, passionate characters; but most important is the excellent representation the franchise displays for non-traditional roles. Two of these types of characters appear in the first game, and they are presented in a very tasteful way as to show how those roles should be looked at – as something that isn’t “weird” or unnatural.

As the “Ultimate Programmer,” Chihiro Fujisaki appears as a very shy and withdrawn. He cries at the slightest thing, but only for the reason that he worries he’s impeded everyone else. This is a result of being bullied for his small size, which in turn made him sensitive, and resulted in further bullying. He was always told he was weak, and hisDanganronpa_1_Chihiro_Fujisaki_English_Game_Introduction negative self-talk turned into a complex relating to his physical weakness.

He discovered that girls were allowed to appear weak and not be made fun of, so out of defense for his own mental health, he “became” a girl. It’s important to note here that Chihiro does not identify as a girl. He still considers himself a boy, rather he changed for self-preservation. Instead of making him feel safer, this actually exacerbated his complex of feeling weak.

When Makoto Naegi asks him in a Free Time event how he had originally gotten interested in programming, Chihiro explains that his father allowed him to play with some programs when he was younger. He’s incredibly intelligent, and seems to even want to reveal his secret to Makoto when he points out that it’s unusual for girls to be interested in programming. But, he stops, thinking it not the right time.

In the end, Chihiro revealed his truth to Mondo Oowada, who he saw as the ideal man: strong, tough, and straight forward. Monokuma’s threat to reveal Chihiro’s truth didn’t weaken him, rather pushed him to be stronger. Even if he knew he might not be accepted, Chihiro wanted to become a person he’d be proud to be.

Sakura Oogami is almost the complete opposite of delicate Chihiro. She is so muscular that a few characters actually confuse her for a man. During the first class trial, Kiyotaka actually says that it’s bad for a man and a woman to sleep in the same room after Aoi admits she’d asked Sakura to stay over the night since she was scared. Sakura calmly Danganronpa_1_Sakura_Ogami_English_Game_Introductioncorrects him and he quickly apologizes.

Even though she is nicknamed “The Ogre,” she is not ashamed of her stature. She seeks to surpass the “strongest man in the world.” Originally, she claimed that this person was her father, but then later explains that she’d surpassed him long ago. She expresses slight concern for him, saying that his dreams are affected by her growing stronger, but she also explains that this won’t stop her from her dreams.

Despite seeming rough on the outside, Sakura actually has a heart of gold. She is kind to everyone, patient, and seeks to always protect her friends. Even when it’s revealed she’s a traitor, she seeks to make up for her wrongs. She calls Touko Fukawa and Yasuhiro Hagakure just before her death to try and speak to them about doing to. Instead of listening, they attack her, thinking she means them harm. But even after this, her suicide note shows how much she really cares and wants everyone to be safe.

When talking to Makoto during Free Time events, it takes quite a while for her to gather the courage to even tell him about Kenshiro, who she also calls the Strongest Person in the World. She reveals that he is her first love, and is very embarassed due to her stature. She says that “even someone like me” can fall in love, because she “is still a girl.” This reveals a bit of self-consciousness on Sakura’s part where it’s least expected.

These two characters are excellent examples of the diversity the Danganronpa universe displays. It’s a step in the right direction for representation in anime, but there’s still a long way to go. The franchise continues to display more and more diversity in characters, and hopefully will always do so.

How about you? Are there any characters that “shred gender norms” like Chihiro and Sakura?
Tell me below in the comments!

Anime Review: “Cardfight!! Vanguard”

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The Card Game anime genre has it’s crazy characters and gravity-defying hairstyles – it’s naturally just part of the genre. That’s not something that Cardfight!! Vanguard has forgotten. Having watched quite a few of the genre including Yu-gi-oh!, Beyblade, and even a bit of B-daman, it’s actually nice to come across a member of the genre that’s not a complete 23-minute commercial for the namesake. Besides the logo looking like someone is trying to find the square root of ANGUA times RD, it has it’s good and bad points.

The story starts off with a young, blue-haired, boy named Aichi Sendou is shy and reserved. It’s not made clear, but he may have just transferred to his school. He’s easily embarassed and soft-spoken, always taking a sort of retreat route when asked a question. This is made quickly clear when one of his teachers asks him how he would survive in the Sengoku (Warring States, or feudal) period of Japan. He simply replies that he’s always make sure there’s a clear retreat route when going into battle.

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It’s quickly revealed that he’s had an interest in a popular card game called Cardfight Vanguard, a game that is popular is real life Japan as well. He’s never played but it’s revealed that a boy he used to know name Toshiki Kai gave him a Vanguard card one day after rescuing him from a bully. A classmate, named Katsumi Morikawa, spots this card one day as Aichi is peeking at it. Katsumi swipes it, realizing it’s a rare card, and races outside after school.

Aichi gives chase, and they both end up at a card shop. Kai happens to be there, but it appears neither of them recognize each other, until Katsumi demands a game using Aichi’s card. Kai recognizes it instantly, but says nothing, winning the card from Katsumi. Aichi explains the situation, but Kai says “What’s won in a Vanguard fight must be regained in a Vanguard fight.” So Aichi challenges him and loses, but recognizing his potential and the kid he gave the card to, gives it back.

maxresdefaultAnd thus, Aichi is hooked on Vanguard. He challenges numerous people, slowly coming out of his shell. He joins a shop tournament where he and three others, including Kai, all place top. The other two are the reluctant Misaki Tokura, and the excitable and young Kamui Katsuragi.

They enter the regional Vanguard tournament and make it all the way to nationals where they meet Team Caesar and Team Foo Fighters AL4. The latter is made of the three time national champions including the powerful Ren Suzugamori, who seems to have a special power called Psyqualia.

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After losing to the powerful AL4, the train over the summer with Team Caesar, who they’ve become good friends with. But Aichi is summoned by the mysterious Ren, who offers him a new deck. This seems to awaken Aichi’s own Psqualia powers and changes him for the worse. He never loses a game, but his attitude toward his own teammates is rough, and he pushes himself much too hard, fainting after every battle. Kai sees this and challenges him to a Cardfight, causing Aichi to realize what’s happening. He quickly rejects the power and gives Ren back the deck.

But, the final battle calls on Aichi to accept both parts of himself – the good and bad parts. It’s revealed, too, that this final battle between the dark and the light would apparently influence a battle far away on the planet Cray, where Vanguard was born. Unbeknownst to the two fighters, they were actually fighting for the fate of another world.

evil_anime_aichi_you_die_face_by_aspiringemperor-d4nq4vkIt’s hard to say I liked this anime. As with all Card Game type animes, each episode is literally a game. That’s all that happens. There is obviously some character development, with Aichi coming out of his shell and having to make difficult choices, but this was 65 episodes, and I had to force myself through them.

The characters are predictable, don’t change all that much, and full of common tropes. Kamui has an obsession with Aichi’s sister Emi, but the younger sister of another player is obsessed with Kamui, creating a sort of love triangle that I could have lived without. The only character I really thought was any kind of decent was Misaki, who actually has a complex background which causes her to avoid Vanguard altogether. She’s very reluctant in the beginning, but then is able to use the game as a way to heal her trauma.

Final Words

Even if it’s a lot nicer and more realistic than other Card Game animes, it’s still a Card Game anime. It’s predictable and there’s not really a plot except “let’s go to nationals and be the best.” Though it is a very Japanese plot, it’s still not very original. It’s even got the “strange power transforms main character” cliche from Yu-gi-oh! we all know and love.

I would give this anime…6/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Phi Brain, Rozen Maiden, Haikyu!!

What do you think? Do you like Card Game anime? Tell me in the comments below!

“Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair” – Does Hajime Hinata have generalized anxiety disorder?

h2Being stuck on a tropical island might not be so bad if there wasn’t the constant threat of being killed at any moment. That alone is enough to give anyone anxiety. However, there are clues that point to Hajime Hinata, the protagonist of “Danganronpa 2,” possibly having generalized anxiety disorder aside from the situational anxiety.

As someone who has suffered from anxiety disorders all my life, I can identify with Hajime. He often mentions how tired he is, and how little he can sleep. This is common among people with anxiety, and while a lot of it has to do with the situation he’sh3 in, it appears most of the other students don’t seem to have any sleeping problems.

He also tends to get tired easily, as can be seen after almost any event; both after stressful events and seemingly normal activities. His communication with people seems especially draining to him after Free Time events, and he tends to stutters during these interactions, further pointing to a difficulty in communication. Anxiety sufferers often deal with this, as just being awake can drain you sometimes.

Despite his possible mental issues, Hajime is intelligent. He’s able to pick up on a lot of clues that other people miss. During the class trials, however, he mentions quite a lot about not wanting to look like a fool in front of the others. When advancing through the trial, he seems to think very carefully about his words, making sure to always have the h1facts before saying anything. Though these character traits might seem to hurt him, they actually make him a more careful thinker and able to solve problems in a more effective way.

Additionally, anxiety sufferers tend to display over-concern about the people they care about. When confronted with the awkward situation involving Mikan falling asleep on him, he’s more concerned for her well-being than his own. He carries worry with him for days as well, as seen after Fuyuhiko appears to be fully healed from his stomach wound. He still is concerned for the boy’s injuries, asking him to be careful.

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He is also easily swayed by stressful situations. At the beginning of the game, he expresses his concerns about getting off the island and doubts his own abilities, suggesting he may kill someone to escape. In the fun-house, he tries to enter the Final Dead Room, convinced that it’s a way out. In his desperate state, he;s nearly delusional, but thankfully Chiaki manages to help him both times, reminding him of a better path.

I’m filled with joy to see the depiction of a character with a mental illness like myself. The writers show that his anxiety does not disable him, and helps distinguish his character from the others, and even making him stronger. Additionally, it shows others that he is not just his condition, and that it does not override other characteristics of his personality. I’m glad Spike Chunsoft and Nippon Ichi decided to display these aspects as part of his character.

Do you think Hajime has an anxiety disorder? Is there a character you identify with? Let me know in the comments!

“Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair” – Nagito Komaeda is probably the worst ever.

ebcb5a8a6d1866fc078d69a65e77aa03a429bef7_hqThere’s a very small list of characters that I actually, genuinely hate. This list includes Delores Umbridge, Joffrey Baratheon, Alois Trancy, and now, Nagito Komaeda. A lot of people seem to really like him; there’s art of him everywhere depicting friendships with Hajime. Despite this, he is a severely deranged character, even if his actions are required to drive the story forward.

Not only is he the first person to try to commit murder (despite failing miserably), but Event_50_(1)after failing to do so, he sort of awakens as a level one antagonist. He continually berates himself, and uses this as an excuse to hide information from others.

He also seems to have some sort of obsession with hope. He’s convinced that murdering people will bring hope to the rest of them. He continually expressed his desire to be a “stepping stone” for this hope, and is always somehow dissappointed when the end of a trial shows a severe lack hope.

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Right before the fourth Class Trial, he seems to do a complete turn around, basically acting as if he’s superior to everyone. The cause of this is simply because he’d found out additional truths about Hajime, and what exactly the Future Foundation is. But, instead of celebrating the hope he’d always talked about, this time he berates his classmates and acts as if there is no hope. This is ironic, considering he was ready to die for his cause just moments before in the Final Dead Room.

The real truth is that he’d found out that all of them are actually Remnants of Despair.Event_147 These former followers of Junko Enoshima thrive on despair, and when Nagito finds this out, he seeks to rid the world of all of them. He now knows that hope is non-existent for them, and his entire goal is compromised. He ends of killing himself while trying to create an unsolvable crime to fool the other students into guessing the killer wrong.

Even after his death, his animosity for despair is obvious. His hatred for it explodes after learning the truth, seeing as his real self is so full of it. His real body, outside the game world, even lacks an arm; he voluntarily cut it off and replaced it with Junko Enoshima’s after she died. As much as he is deranged, confused, and probably insane, he should at least be given credit for revealing the truth. This still doesn’t change my disdain for him, even if he’s important for the story.

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