Danganronpa: The Animation Review (Anime)

Danganronpa: The Animation is an anime I’ve been wanting a release for for a long time considering it’s based on one of my favourite games, Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, and now it’s finally here!

 

 

 

Being only 13 episodes long it’s easy to wonder, “how exactly will the anime cover a 25-30 hour long game?”, and it does a fairly good job all things considered. Sure, I wish more time was spent on the character development that the game excelled at but the anime manages to condense the main plot points into an enjoyable and suspenseful viewing – Danganronpa can be hugely uncomfortable at times and that isn’t lost here. Sadly, a lot of the character development has been sacrificed and so the deaths aren’t quite as impactful as they were in the game and with so many deaths occurring in such a short timeframe, it’s hard to become attached to all of them.

 

Danganronpa is set at Hope’s Peak Academy, a school where only the best students can attend. Each student excels at something whether it be leadership, sports or technology, but Makoto Naegi has no notable skills whatsoever but finds himself at the school’s gates. Sadly, it’s not long until they’re all trapped within the school and forced to play a killing game to escape, hosted by monochrome villainous bear Monokuma. They can choose not to kill each other but then they’d be forced to live within the school without any natural light for the rest of their lives and with Monokuma pulling the strings, it isn’t long until the headcount begins to drop.

 

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The games have a very unique art style where bright colours are used but they’re dulled, creating a brilliant contrast that showcases the despair of the situation. The animators have done their best in recreating the style here but it doesn’t have the same effect although it’s nice to look at none the less! The colours in general are a lot brighter here which still works for the whole ‘the colours are bright but the situation is dire’ contrast and the brilliance of the character design is still present. Being trapped inside a school doesn’t allow for a whole lot of variation in environment but Danganronpa manages it, although going into detail about it would spoil some of the later events of the anime.

 

I enjoyed the rotating imagery for the trials that’s reminiscent of the game, as well as the comic book-like segments when the killer’s motives and plan of murder are pieced together by the rest of the characters. It does a lot to remain faithful to the game in spite of its restrictive 13 episode limit and though it’s probably not going to hugely please fans of the game, it works as its own thing and it’s difficult to not appreciate that studio Lerche did all that they could. I have faith in them after Persona 4 the Animation which covered the game very well, but that had 26 episodes. Admittedly, I don’t think Danganronpa could last 26 episodes but 20 likely would’ve been a sweet fit.

 

The original game had a fantastic English Dub but they only managed to get Bryce Papenbrook as Makoto Naegi back to reprise their roles and whilst some are also very good, others feel horribly miscasted and not close to what the original voices were like. I’d have loved the whole cast to return but it seems due to scheduling conflicts and unions that this was never going to happen. The OST manages to make a better return though, featuring tracks from the game.

 

Iruscon

If you’re interested in the series then I’d fully recommend playing the game first as the anime essentially tells you all of the main plot points but without the character development, making everything feel less impactful. It’s good for what it manages to do but it does sadly lose a lot of the Danganronpa charm. If you haven’t played the game then you won’t be aware that you’re really missing out on anything but fans will feel the loss of the character development and voice cast. It’s a good anime that’s overshadowed by its source material, and so it’s hard to recommend to everyone but if you’re a huge fan or don’t have access to the games, then this is the next best thing.

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