When watching a series of any kind, whether it be a reality TV show or anime series, I always look for uniqueness. Most of the time, they always lose their originality right the plot reveals itself in a trailer or a few episodes into the show, but make a huge comeback with plot twists or changes in the setting. An anime series I am reviewing today, Danganronpa: The Animation (Season 1) does just this technique that is used in a lot of shows I have been watching lately. At first, I did not want to even view the series because of how cliché it looked, but I was totally mistaken after the third episode! Every time an episode ends, I ended up wanting to watch more and more, finding out the mysteries about each of the characters and the situations they end up getting into…up until about the tenth episode. At this point of the series, my thoughts of the anime went from “Wow, this is so cool and suspenseful; it’s perfect!” to “Now, I still enjoy it but now there are some flaws to it. What the heck happened?!” And why did that happen? Well, I will state my reasons after the synopsis…
Based on the popular Japanese video game franchise, Danganronpa follows a teenage boy named Naegi Makoto, who arrives at Hope’s Peak Academy after being selected to join the school, but he arrives there unconscious along with fourteen other students. Then, a sadistic remote-controlled teddy bear named Monokuma, the principal of the school, announces the students are forced to live in the school for the rest of their lives unless one kills their peers without getting caught. A day later, a few of the students discover a crime scene where a classmate was killed in her dormitory, and a trail is held in which the rest of the students figure out who the murder is. Whoever kills the victim gets executed in a brutal way by the principal himself, but whoever gets falsely accused on who murders the classmate, all of the students are killed.
Viewing the first episodes of Danganronpa, I thought I was watching a modern-high-school-murder-mystery Hunger Games series because of how similar the two plots are, but the show takes a whole new turn, especially during the trials, which are my favorite parts of the series. Most of the characters will get to have their say in the trial about who murdered the classmates that die in the series (and a lot of them are killed).
Speaking of the characters, some of them are memorable—especially the crazy teddy-bear Monokuma and Kyoko Kirigiri—but a lot of them are forgotten throughout the series because they do not get enough development. They are given key code names to remember them, but not their real ones until the second or third episode, which makes it confusing for the viewers to figure out the mysteries of the teenagers. But don’t worry! Their bright character designs and personalities stand out to a point where the viewers can give the characters nicknames to identify which on is which.
As for the animation and art, it stands out in a way that makes the series watchable. During the murder scenes, the blood has this magenta color instead of the usual dark blood red color. Usually, I would find this distracting because of the out of place color, but I actually liked it because it does fit with the brighter school setting. I don’t think the use of normal colored blood would have fit in the series because the whole tone and look of the series will take a whole different turn. Like I have said before, the character designs stand out when it comes to the outfits that describe the characters’ personalities and the various bright eye colors used for the irises. Also, the execution scenes have a unique look to them compared to normal anime sequences used in the series. These particular parts of the anime have the same animation style as the game based off of the series—I can’t describe it, but I know there are some bits of CGI used in there.
To create a mystery anime, one has to find the most bone-chilling music in the world, right? Well, not exactly. Although I have seen a few mysterious anime, Danganronpa has some unique tracks used in the series, composed by Masafumi Takada. They can arrange from spine-crawling and eerie to very light-hearted and bubbly, which can surprise viewers who listen to anime soundtracks all the time. Most of the time, Takada puts in a lot of techno tracks into a lot of the scenes to create that uncanny, peculiar environment, and he does an excellent job at doing so, especially during the execution scenes. During these special moments, the song Thousand Knocks is used to capture the emotions of Monokuma and the rest of the gang. It gave me chills just hearing the first part of it on YouTube!
Also, the opening theme Never Say Never (no, not the ones by Justin Bieber or The Fray…) has that same feeling of uneasiness as the execution scenes, but with English lyrics to sing along to.
Since this anime was dubbed by Funimation, a lot of the famous voice actors and actresses play a lot of the main characters such as Bryce Papenbrook (Naegi), Greg Ayres (Monokuma), Caitlin Glass (Kirigiri), and Christopher Sabat (Mondo). Along with other voice actors, the whole cast play their characters really well and use the right emotions to capture each of the important scenes, but sometimes, Bryce Papenbrook seems to hold back on some of the trails whenever he has to shout out his lines. Other than that small detail, the acting is pretty much spot on.
Overall, Dangnaronpa is definitely an entertaining mystery to view, which is why I am giving the series a four out of five stars. Before I finished the last episode, I was tempting rate it a three and a half, but the ending and outstanding animation makes up for it. Also, there is another season of this franchise that aired last year and I will be watching it as soon as I finish watching the gameplays for the second game because, technically, the next season is based on the third game and not the second.
If you love darker mysteries filled with some good comedy, then you have come to the right place, my viewers, because Danganronpa will definitely entertain you until the very end.
Warnings: Violence, Blood, Some Use of Profanity
Air date: July 4, 2013 to September 26, 2013
For this review, I would like to thank one of my best friends from school for recommending Danganronpa to me! It was such a fun roller coaster ride and most of the plot twists in the series were really shocking. I am definitely looking forward to watching the gameplays and the next animation season of this mysterious anime.
Remember, viewers, if you would like to request and/or recommend a book, TV show, or anime to review, leave a comment in the comment section below!
GG (aka GeekyGirl) 🙂 ❤