Danganronpa is known for its ridiculously charismatic characters you either love or hate, bizarre and unusual killing mysteries, and the iconic villainous, monochromatic bear Monokuma. We’ve ranked our top 5 favourite trials before, but what are our opinions on the worst trials the series ever created? Find out below in order of our worst to downright most unforgivable, and as always, beware of spoilers!
5. Trigger Happy Havoc – Trial 5
This ranks as the least disappointing trial due to its introduction of the secret 16th member of the class. The twist is one of the most memorable moments in Danganronpa history, but it is dampened by a very underwhelming trial that follows after the revelation. In comparison with every single trial across the series, no other trial comes close to the shortness of this one. The clues tie up far too quickly with little to no resistance or discussion of the killing which in turn completely ruins the pacing of the overall game. And what makes the trial stick out like a sore thumb even more is its bizarre addition of a sudden alternate route if a certain selection is chosen, typical of the visual novel format but a one-off within the Danganronpa universe.
This is decided when instigating either yourself (Makoto) or Kyoko as the culprit, with the right answer being Makoto to avoid the bad ending. What follows by selecting to instigate Kyoko is a CG depicting the remaining students, other than Toko who is shown merely in a frame held by Byakuya. Aoi is holding three children in her arms, each one clearly being an offspring of the three surviving male students. It’s a very bizarre and creepy addition to the game, even equipped with the eerie track of “Junk Food for a Dashing Youth” despite its prior usage in comedic scenes such as Hiro’s story of aliens abducting his not 100% beef burger. In the same instance he also foretold of a future where Aoi did birth Makoto’s children. And seeing as this scene suggests that the remaining students live the rest of their lives within the academy, it can be speculated that Toko committed suicide since Aoi and Byakuya conceived together. It’s extremely dark and disturbing, making the already bizarre pacing of the chapter feel even more stagnant and overbearing, being a criminal case of information overload. This is even more evident of a problem once Chihiro suddenly reappears as Alter Ego. There is so much going on in and around this case that it definitely needed more time to breathe.
For a trial that leads into the climax of the first title, it is ultimately underwhelming and needed expending to effectively build up the tension and pull off with proper pacing and momentum. It felt so insignificant and unimportant despite it being the gateway to the game’s finale.
4. Killing Harmony – Trial 3
On the other hand, when it comes to certain trials being unfairly short, this one may as well have been the shortest considering how easy it was to determine the culprit before the murder even happened. I’ve never seen such a suspicious looking seesaw in my life, Korekiyo. But for how much of a non-mystery this trial was, it still wasn’t the weakest of the infamous double murder cases, the cases that plague as the 3rd trials of each Danganronpa title much like Ace Attorney’s own problem with disappointing 3rd cases.
What it comes down to for this trial’s lack of impressiveness is the missed opportunities to make a double murder better than the previous disappointments in chapter 3’s. For trial 3 of V3, it at least reinforces character development of a particular individual, that being Himiko. After failing to express any emotion until the deaths of her closest friends within the group, Himiko’s value is increased within the group by her openly more expressive and responsive self, and feels much more significant to us players, and worth our attention and care as well (pretty important considering she survives by the end of the game in fact). The case even holds one of the most memorable and finest fake outs within the series, in fact within any murder mystery media ever. Props to Ouma, you insane mad lad.
But this still does not excuse its many unforgivable downfalls. Monokuma mentions a new rule never before explored in the series before; that of which if a double murder has been carried out but by two different culprits, only the first culprit will be punished. For such a suggestion to not even be entertained is downright disappointing, making for this double murder trial to be as unimaginative and basic as its predecessor. Furthermore, these double murder cases have a tendency of disposing of throw-away characters, and even if it was characters such as Tenko and Angie, it makes their already very minimal contribution to the game’s events all the more insignificant. This hurts most in the case of the latter, with Angie’s death being a literal accident as Kuroyuki has to dispose of her since she saw his preparations for his murder. No clues arise from this accidental killing, and in fact her own murder is skimmed past in a blink of an eye onto Tenko’s death, making her appear as nothing more than literal dead weight.
Still, at least this trial in particular spurred on a variety of Kuroyuki memes. Thank you, seesaw effect community.
3. Killing Harmony – Trial 2
This choice may be the only surprising selection of my picks, but when it comes to mere conveniences, Trial 2 in V3 suffers from this most, leading me to feel very unsatisfied with the outcome. Cases 2 have been called the emotional hitters of the series, with V3 not disappointing in this regard. It has the cruelest execution within the series of depicting a hopeful escape to a gruesome “fall from grace” of the culprit who was the most desperate to escape. And its victim being the only one who ever willingly allowed the culprit to murder them due to giving up on life since no one cares about them thanks to the motive was extremely depressing. In fact I wanted to see more from Ryoma since his quirky, comedic design (especially for a pro tennis player considering his small stature) and calm, laid-back attitude was a breath of fresh air within the cast.
But as far as trials go it made me more riled up and had me eye rolling the most. The actions of the culprit in particular was contrived and difficult to understand. From the decision to move Ryoma’s body that was in an already uncompromising location, to their creation of a ropeway that ultimately handed the characters with the one key (and very much obvious) clue to her being the culprit was uninspiring and downright baffling. By the end of the chapter I was begging that the culprit was not Kirumi due to the very forced and obvious singular clue of a part of her glove being the only evidence. It undermines the emotions the case had previously built up. So many other unnecessary questions were thrown around during the trial to extend the runtime despite it being one of the easier mysteries to figure out as well, such as the alibis that ignored the possibility of the killing being done at night time.
Additionally, for such a competent character as Kirumi, considering her similarities to characters such as Peko with their utilitarian attributes, are we truly meant to believe she tripped up so badly as to give away such key evidence in her clothing? The ground works for the trial were there, with brilliant motivations and emotional stakes, but the execution left so much to be desired.
2. Goodbye Despair – Trial 3
Where to begin with this chapter? In what is my main reason for my loathing of the chapter, the decision to kill off both Hiyoko and Mikan specifically was detrimental to the entire game experience. Ibuki is a flawless character whose energetic personality always raised everyone’s spirits, but the sudden removal of two characters who had their own storylines going for them made their involvement with the case a true tragedy. With Hiyoko currently going through a redemption arc to improve her very aggressive and rude behaviour, and Mikan whose own, most prolific bond is with Hiyoko due to being the victim of her excessive bullying, the case halts such interesting development by closing off an unusual dynamic that could never and did never see anything come from it. It makes for another missed opportunity involving a double murder that could have been avoided if more thought was put into it to make it feel justified or at least less unrewarding to have to experience.
With this case being the first foreshadowing to its massive plot twist, the motive for the case was the one time the despair disease occurs, where characters’ personalities are made the opposite to their established selves. It was an interesting motive, an especially bizarre and unusual one that stands out due to how unconventional it is, but it being the prime foreshadowing to the major plot twist felt extremely lazy. It encourages a particular, unsuspecting character to murder in fact, what with Mikan’s shy, nervous and clumsy self to be forced to be the murderer for the convenience of this forced motive.
It also happens to be the most impossible trial to take place across the series overall. Considering the small time margin for Mikan to carry out the double murders, Hajime finds Ibuki’s body first in the music venue, and runs back to the motel to inform the other characters. By the time he gets to them, Mikan is with them. As he left for the Motel, Mikan has carried out multiple actions in the space of only a minute: she destroys equipment, glues the door shut, lowers the temperature and tears off the wallpaper around Hiyoko’s hanged body on a pillar. This really sticks out due to Mikan not being at all athletic or capable enough to effectively do such tasks in quick succession considering her clumsy nature. In fact her being clumsy solved the first case of the entire game!
This case felt rushed, too condensed for all the ideas of the different locations to make sense within the time scale, and the trial still did not have the time to even investigate expected clues such as the murder weapon. But it’s still not my most loathed case.
1. Trigger Happy Havoc – Trial 3
When I thought of a trial for this topic in mind, the first and only one to come to mind immediately was the first title’s 3rd trial. This marks a full house for the double murder case trials to appear in my list, which will certainly be no surprise to Danganronpa fans. But when it comes to these two murder mystery cases, Trigger Happy Havoc set the bar of immense disappointment that its sequels thankfully did not exceed. For one reason and my main reason alone, the character of Celeste as the Ultimate Gambler was one of the most interesting and imposing characters of the first title. She always had a poker face on, with her genuine thoughts a mystery in itself and whose intentions were always unreadable and masked. She should be the character with the most promising potential to play around with, to exceed expectations and surprise us. This should be the case, especially as a possible murderer, so why did her case fall so flat?
Throughout the trial, Celeste is suspicious from the get-go, which is not helped by her being so out of character during the trial. In fact when we just think about the motive of money, it immediately suggest only one culprit, who it ends up being. For someone whose ultimate is the best poker face, she is quick to be seen as the only culprit and is in fact the most obvious culprit to be identified before the reveal across the entire series. From clearly orchestrating certain events such as being the only witness of the robot attack and leading the group to it, to her acknowledgement of a second murder without finding it yet, her mistakes were painfully obvious and so unlike the person the game set her up as. If this wasn’t bad enough, certain coincidences seemed far too convenient despite it being used as foreshadowing, such as Hifumi saying Celeste’s true name so that both the players and Aoi have no idea who he is talking about. How gosh darn useful, Hifumi!
I would go as far to say that the handling of this case in particular does the most detriment to not just the culprit’s character, but also the worst choice of a second killing that tarnishes the character. We are currently seeing the moral compass Kiyotaka going through his own character arc after coming to terms with Mondo’s death by shaping a new persona in himself to carry on his legacy and keeping Mondo alive through his own body and spirit. To further add insult to injury, while the deaths of Angie and Tenko received an overwhelming response from Himiko as I previously discussed as a key factor to her own growth, considering the popularity and overall morally good guy of Taka, he received almost no care or mourning from his fellow classmates after his death It was a stab to the heart and he deserved better.
Furthermore, the motivation for a second kill is the worst of the bunch, since there was no reason to have Hifumi kill him off other than to make the case more convoluted than needed. In fact the only reason for Celeste to want to add another body to her killing is for motivations sake, but she wouldn’t receive any more money for doing a double killing. Sure this does highlight the villainous cruelty of Celeste, but overall the case is a disappointment considering her intricate character design and interesting ultimate status that could have been used a lot more effectively. Even the live stage action did a better job, where Celeste gambled on Sakura’s cause of death, with the right outcome being either her committing suicide or succumbing to Celeste’s beating from a baseball bat.
What trials did you enjoy least? Let us know in the comments below, or join us in the discussion on our Discord!
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