V3 Takes Falsehood to Another Level

1Memories are what make a person. They include important information that makes the essense of who someone is – personality, likes, dislikes, habits, etc. But what if memories someone has are not even their own? What if they were implanted? How would someone know what is a lie and what is truth?

These questions are the very core of Spike Chunsoft’s newest installment in the Danganronpa series, and the third Killing School Semester plot line, V3: Killing Harmony. Sixteen specially talented students are placed in a strange school where they are trapped, and the only way to escape is to kill one of their fellow classmates and get away with it. It’s the same basic concept as Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair, but something is a little different this time. Instead of the main theme being escaping despair, there’s a new focus on truth and lies.

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This is important to keep in mind as the students struggle to not only “graduate,” but also find out what is happening in the world. As they gather clues about this, everyone’s favorite evil bear Monokuma establishes motives. The first murder takes place under the pretense that Kaede Akamatsu, the main character and player controlled, wishes to end the Killing Game as early as possible. In her haste, she ends up killing the innocent Rantaro Amami, and doesn’t end the killing game after all.

This is where the idea of falsehood is introduced. Right before Kaede’s execution, the perspective jumps for her to her new friend Shuichi Saihara. This has never happened before in any other Danganronpa game, to immediately, the player might sense something is different. This isn’t the last time it happens either, as in the final trial, the perspective shifts to each surviving classmate. This is right in tune with the final mind-blowing reveal: that this is actually the fifty-third killing game (hence the “v” disguised to stand for “version”), and you are actually the audience controlling the characters.

3Truth and lies rears it’s ugly head especially with the character Kokichi Oma. He is a pathological liar, and it’s never actually revealed what parts of what he says is truth or lies. He acts as the antagonistic character in this story, much like Nagito Komaeda did in Goodbye Despair. He continually uses his trickery to convince people of facts that are not quite true, especially when he convinces Gonta Gokuhara to outright kill his classmate, Miu Iruma. He even convinces all the students that he is the mastermind. Later, it’s revealed that he wasn’t actually, but this is only after he plots his own death with the help of Kaito Mamota.

Even the true antagonist plays into this theme. Tsumugi Shirogane, the Ultimate Cosplayer, is revealed to be the true mastermind, masquerading as Junko Enoshima. She is quoted saying “Why is it Junko Enoshima? It’s always Junko Enoshima.” She is actually the 53rd Junko in this game show, and it’s unclear whether or not there were “other” Junkos to host the show, but he disguise reveals the truth of the characters she cosplays – they are all fictional.

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The first major reveal happens toward the end of the game after Kokichi supplies the group with special electro-hammers. Up to this point, no one is sure whether or not to believe him since he is so adept at lying. But, having no other options, the remaining students take up the new weapons and use them to arrive at the exit door. Here, the “truth” is revealed that the world is dead, cooked by meteors. The first layer of truth is removed, making the students believe that they are on a dead Earth.

The second major reveal, and removal of all falsities, happens at the end. Nothing said previously is truth, and all of this is actually a game show for the amusement of the viewers. In this universe, Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair never actually happened. In this universe, a special game show has been created to keep the Killing Games going. And, the ultimate reveal: that Shuichi and all his classmates are actually fictional characters.

 

tumblr_inline_oxnu03xSPZ1trwr4z_540Now, this isn’t as fourth-wall breaking as one might think – let me clarify. Shuichi and his classmates, while they are actually fictional characters in our universe, they are also in their universe. A special machine has erased all of their previous memories of their old life, and replaced them with new ones of them being the last survivors of humanity, sent to find a new planet to salvage their species. The truth is that they are not even Ultimate students. They are just normal students chosen through a series of auditions and fed false memories to make them think they were Ultimates. Even their childhoods are fake, and everything about their personality is based on false memories.

What do you do after you find out the very core of your being is not even real? The final reveal throws the students into various existential crises in the middle of a class trial. But, despite this difficulty, the audience (you) help the characters push forward, even though they literally have no family to look forward to. The final lesson here reveals that6 even after all the lies they endure, there is still cause to live in this “new world” that they are now world famous in. The games end, thankfully, and after 53 seasons, the killing games are no more.

Is this the end of the Danganronpa killing games? Rumor has it that Spike Chunsoft has recently hired a bunch of new artists for a possible new game, but there’s no telling what type of game it will be. Personally, I’m hoping that they continue the mind-blowing style, but perhaps in another way. One can only handle watching their favorite characters die every game.

What do you think? How else is truth and lies used in the game? What did you think of the theme of this game? Tell me in the comments below!

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Visual Novel Review: “Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony”

4“It isn’t danganronpa without Monokuma!” While this phrase rings true now, if you haven’t played the game yet, you’d be surprised at just how hauntingly true it is after you’ve played it. The mascot has become the infamous symbol of this popular franchise known for it’s shocking twists and turns. The third killing game of the franchise does not disappoint, either.

The game starts off as most others in the series as students wake up in a classroom, confused and not knowing what’s going on. They all make their way to the gymnasium and find there are others like them, each with an Ultimate Talent. Pretty close to the other games so far, right? But this time, there’s new characters known as Monokubs piloting gigantic robots called Exisals. Monokuma, of course, steps in before the irresponsible Monokubs decide to kill everyone. The famous announcement follows, letting the students know they must kill each other to escape.

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The main character this time is Kaede Akamatsu, at least for a while. Her talent is the Ultimate Pianist, and it shows when she references classical works throughout chapter one. However, the first twist is just around the corner, when perspective is forced onto the Ultimate Detective, and Kaede’s friend, Shuichi Saihara.

The trials feature a few brand new minigames and revamp of old minigames. Hangman’s Gambit has become a bit trickier, where you’re unable to see the letters without the special spotlight on them. Logic Dive has become Psyche Taxi, where you drive a car and crash (yes, crash) into people that represent the answers. Panic Talk Action has become Argument Armament, where you still keep a beat, but its laid out more like a boss battle with a geared-out version of the person you’re facing.

Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony_20170912195355New minigames are plentiful, and make class trials a bit more interesting. You can now optionally lie during Non-stop Debate, and in some places you have to lie to continue the trial. When the trial comes to a standstill, Monokuma activates Scrum Debate, where the class is split in two, and you have to counter the other side’s argument effectively to win. Mind Mine, similar to Hangman’s Gambit, clears a picture clue by removing same-colored blocks until the answer is revealed. Finally, a nice addition to Non-stop Debate is Mass Panic Debate, where three people talk at once and you must pick out the correct phrase to counter or consent.

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As for the characters, I didn’t feel as connected to them as I did in the other games. Those that were similar (Gonta Gokuhara vs. Sakura Oogami) didn’t connect to me very well. I was suprised, however, to find that I actually liked the antagonistic character, Kokichi Oma, more than the heroic characters. But, instead of having a few favorites, like I did in Super Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, I really only liked two characters a lot.

Final Words

I was very unsure about this game until the very end. I won’t spoil it for you in this review, but I make no promises in later articles. I plainly didn’t feel I connected to characters as well. However, this could have been the original intention, as it relates to the ending a lot. Overall, I don’t think it was my favorite of the three killing games, but it definitely is a strong entry, and a very popular one.

I would give this visual novel…8.75/10 (rating scale)

If you like this visual novel, you might also like: Persona 4, Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney, Ghost Trick: Phantom Detective

“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!

Visual Novel Review: “Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair”

11If I could describe the Danganronpa franchise in just a few words, they would probably be “disturbingly addicting.” This is no different with Spike Chunsoft’s second installment in the visual novel series “Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.”

Like the first game, a group of students finds themselves in a strange place with their memory completely gone of their time in the prestigious academy called Hope’s Peak. They somehow have arrived on a tropical island where a strange plush rabbit named Usami says they must get along and gather “hope fragments” in order to graduate.

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Things quickly turn bad when another strange character, also a plushie, named Monokuma (a visitor from the first game) shows up and forces the students to participate in a “Killing Game,” where if a student gets away with a murder of another, they can leave the island. The students must now use their detective skills to solve each case and punish the murderer.

I fell in love with this morbid deconstruction-genre series with the first anime was released back in 2014. It’s one of the most violent things I’ve ever watched, but this second installment was captivating. The characters were relatable and complex, and each “free time” activity revealed more of their complex personalities. Despite some of their strange quirks, I found quite a few favorites in the mix.

d1Just like it’s previous installment, there’s a twist ending. This sequel, however, reveals to be a much bigger twist with a lot of surprises, not only in the actual trials and cases, but also at the finale. The ending was slightly disappointing at the final villain reveal, but it was very fitting.

There’s a huge running theme of despair in this game, as everything relates to saving everyone. One character, Nagito Komaeda, actually becomes obsessed with it to the point of insanity with the idea of preventing despair. He even nearly begs to be a “stepping-stone” to this great hope he wants everyone to achieve. The idea of hope against despair becomes very important to everyone, acting as the catalyst for those left to escape the deadly game.

One final note that I noticed. The actual translation of “Danganronpa” is “to win an argument using a bullet.” That’s not to say that you win an argument by shooting someone. It’s referencing the use of Truth Bullets as pieces of evidence. I think this would have been a much better translated name for the franchise than the first game’s choice of “Trigger Happy Havoc.”

Final Words

Oh god, I just can’t get enough of this morbid franchise. It’s so well made, and always keeps me guessing. This installment is no different, with clue gathering and side stories enough to keep you busy for days. After you finish the main story, a bunch of goodies becomes unlocked, including a special alternate story where Usami beats Monokuma and the students actually are able to gather the hope fragments. I can’t wait to check out the third visual novel, and there’s another “bonus game” that was just released along with two more anime series.

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

If you like this visual novel, you might also like: Assassination Classroom, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Deadman Wonderland

“Assassination Classroom” Review

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“Hand over the lollipops!”

School can be boring sometimes; everyone knows that. But, if you have an alien monster for a teacher, it couldn’t be all that bad. At least that’s what the members of class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High might have thought.

As part of the deconstruction genre, this anime is what a lot of people would call “weird.” If you’re unfamiliar, a deconstruction anime generally looks at anime themes and how real people might react to them, as opposed to traditional characters that would normally just accept the tropes and circumstances (a good example of this genre is Puella Magi Madoka Magica). The anime starts out simple: the bottom rung class of the academy has been assigned this weird alien teacher and must kill him before the deadline or the

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“If we let him keep painting, he won’t be cranky later.”

world might blow up. If they do make it though, they get a huge bounty reward.

However, as the anime continues, it reveals what an excellent and skilled teacher this alien monster actually is. He helps them turn into the best class in the academy, which pisses off a lot of the other students who are used to being number one, and ruins the educational tactics of the principal. There’s also a few dark twists and secrets revealed that really explain quite a few things including why the classroom was created as an assassination classroom instead of letting the government just take care of the threat.

I was surprised how deep the story went. It revealed quite a lot about the students and even taught them things that no school would traditionally teach them with the intent to pass these lessons onto the viewer. As the students worked to kill their teacher, they learned more about themselves and the world, turning somewhat into a traditional school or slice of life genre at a few points. There are war games, missions, and even threats the entire class has to take on together, with the help of their super-powered teacher of course.

Final Words

As with most deconstruction animes, it takes a very dark turn, but that doesn’t take away from the quality of the story. It does get a little slow at times, but those times actually are used to reveal surprising aspects of the characters. It shows how a real person might react when faced with a world-ending threat, and how that can bring out the best in someone. I also found it amusing how much fun their mission seemed to be, despite the seriousness of it. The message within it is clear: your circumstances don’t define you.

I would give “Assassination Classroom … 9/10 (rating scale)

If you like this anime, you might also like: Kill la Kill, Psychopass, Azumanga Daioh!

Picture Credit: http://ansatsukyoshitsu.wikia.com/wiki/Assassination_Classroom_Wiki,