How about a hot mess done well?
Danganronpa surprisingly pulled off a dark tale of betrayal, despair and hope, all wrapped up with its cartoonish execution.
I know, the 2013 version was adjudged as a botched adaptation because it crammed two cours’ worth of content to 13 episodes. Even so, I enjoyed the hell out of it because Monokuma is so tacky I cannot help but laugh (and cheer) with his antics. The final twist (ehem Enoshima Junko being the Super whatever Despair) fell flat but that did not undermine my overall fondness for Danganronpa.
So Lerche decided to show two Danganronpas last Summer 2016 and this was first met with confusion. Then they watched the shows, and there was a common consensus that the studio gave justice to the series. Honestly, Danganronpa 3 was the best anime 2016 show I didn’t watch last year. Perhaps the show’s ability to consistently handle the various moods was its biggest strength and that is where 91 Days failed big time. Danganronpa 3 has also the dark comedic chops that hit, and was more resonant when it is serious while retaining the insanity that made this series unique in the first place.
I daresay the Future Arc was better, but it is unfair to completely dismiss the Despair Arc because it explained why the hell the characters in the former ended that way. Perhaps it is because I was already familiar with the characters in there, and it presented more compelling drama than the latter. The final twist to the killing game made sense and it snugs just right to the chaotic theme of this arc.
The Future Arc is also full of despair, sadness and catharsis that resonated because of the snappy pacing and the melodrama given in tolerable doses. The Despair Arc was surely riveting and it justifies why Nanami has become a fan favorite and a catalyst as to why her classmates fell into despair. It took me a while to get into these characters but it was just as fun when I appreciated their quirks and their involvement to the main story. (Boy, the eleventh episode of Despair Arc was painful to watch. It feels like I am kicked a lovely puppy, seriously.)
Enoshima Junko was also given some needed characterization there. To be honest, the final twist in the first season fell flat because it came out of nowhere I rolled my eyes. In the Despair Arc, damn – the woman is crazy and ridiculously strong! A Mary Sue she is, but damn her antics because I never got bored of her. In fact, I winced whenever she plans something gruesome and made me say “Ugh this woman” whenever her plan succeeds at the most gruesome manner in the end. The curry scene still burns in my mind and I think that gave me some good inspiration to write if I intend to create a gory story later on.
On a more intellectual note, the show also touches themes of discrimination and some dirty unethical deeds, which screams archetype but the output is more interesting. So there is this boy named Kamakura and I am sure those who have played the series know how insanely powerful the dude is. Well, I am not going to spoil things but his amused stance whether despair or hope is greater is surely a unique take on anime. Both are chaotic in extremes, and the show offer compelling arguments (coming from Junko and Naegi) as to why you should take sides. A clash of ideals is always welcome in anime and thank God Danganronpa showed this decently.
If there’s one major thing that kept the anime-only viewers from appreciating these 2016 sequels, that is you have to play the game to understand how the 77th Batch got out of Enoshima’s brainwash. Well, the OVA was kind enough to tell us what happened, nonetheless, it feels like we needed six more episodes to get a complete grasp of this series. Boy, be sure to watch Despair and Future in alternate because I munched the Future first and proceeded to Hope Arc and I was confused with the mumbo jumbo appearance of the characters from Despair Arc.
Yet am I complaining with this? No, I am happy how neat the show gave Danganronpa a closure it needs and I am more than glad to recommend this to everyone who has watched the first season.