Operation Backlog Completion 2024
Sep 182023

After finishing Ultra Despair Girls I continued my Danganronpa experience by watching Danganronpa 3.

Yes, watching. The story set up in Danganronpa, Danganronpa 2, and Ultra Despair Girls is concluded in the anime Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School, which is not to be confused with the entirely different game called Danganronpa V3.

As if that isn’t confusing enough, Danganronpa 3 is split into two arcs, the Future Arc and the Despair Arc, and the intended viewing order is to alternate between the two.

(Note: Due to the nature of the story, it is impossible to discuss Danganronpa 3 without implying spoilers for the previous games, especially Danganronpa 2. If you haven’t finished Danganronpa 2, stop reading this post now.)

The Future Arc is set after the events of Danganronpa 2, with Makoto being called in by the Future Foundation to answer for what they see as treason. However, this inquest is brought to an abrupt end when everyone is trapped and forced into a new killing game. Each person is given a bracelet that restricts them from performing a specific action. Breaking the restriction will result in death via poison. The bracelets also knock everyone out after a set amount of time passes, at which point an attacker will awaken to kill someone.

While a different setup than the traditional Danganronpa situation (it actually reminds me a bit more of Zero Escape), it creates a great deal of paranoia and tension amongst an already-fractured team.

Meanwhile, the Despair Arc is set ahead of the games and follows the events at Hope’s Peak leading up to the Tragedy.

For about the first half of the anime, I was really enjoying it. The Future Arc was exciting and suspenseful, even if it amped up the action to the point where being an Ultimate basically means you have superpowers, and the Despair Arc was full of comedy tinged with sadness due to my knowledge of where it was going. There were a few things I had to get used to – like different voice actors, different translations for key terms (“Super High School Level” instead of “Ultimate”), and the dub’s decision to make Monokuma’s laugh “nyek nyek nyek” instead of “puhuhu” – but overall I was having a lot of fun.

Then things started to fall apart.

Click for major Danganronpa 2 and 3 spoilers
I already had mixed feelings about Chiaki being a real person, but I could accept it. And I didn’t like Junko making the Student Council kill each other instead of Izuru actually killing them all, but it was just a minor gripe. And Monaca giving up on despair and blasting off into space was a bizarrely boring way to handle her character, but at least it wasn’t a major plot point.

Then the brainwashing part started.

I had been looking forward to seeing Junko interact with the Danganronpa 2 cast. I expected to see her psychologically manipulate them into falling to her side. Some of them, such as Mikan, felt especially set up for this sort of manipulation.

But no. Junko creates a despair-filled murder video and adds in subliminal messaging created by the ultimate animator, and this causes anyone who watches it to be brainwashed into loving despair. The Remnants of Despair ending up that way because they saw a magical brainwashing video was so, so much less interesting to me than what I’d expected. It’s basically presented as mind control, too.

That plot point made Junko a less interesting villain to me and retroactively lessened the impact of 2’s reveal that you are the Remnants of Despair. It changed Makoto’s perspective from, “You did terrible things, but we believe if you’re reminded of hope and given a chance to bond, even you can be saved” to “You were brainwashed, but we can undo it,” which weakens it a lot for me.

And then, when the secret of the Future Arc turned out to be that there is no traitor, just that one person is woken up each time and shown a brainwashing video that makes them kill themselves…… well, I suppose I felt some despair at that plot point, so at least that’s something.

While the Future Arc remained interesting for a while before falling into the same trap, the second half of the Despair Arc increasingly felt like less-interesting retcons to what the games implied.

The climax, therefore, hinged on a plot point I hated… but I actually didn’t mind the final episode. It had a lot of fanservice (of the “catering to fans” variety) and glossed over some points too quickly, but at least it was fun, which is more than I can say for those earlier plot revelations.

In the end, I’m not sure what to say about Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School. It has a lot of fun parts, especially in the first half, but I also feel like my overall Danganronpa experience would be the same or even improved by not watching it. Regardless, I’ve now finished the Hope’s Peak storyline, so next up for me is Danganronpa V3!

If you watched the Danganronpa 3 anime, how did you feel about it?

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  5 Responses to “Danganronpa 3 (Anime) is a Mixed Experience”

  1. I have not watched the anime for so long now I’m not sure how I’d react to it. But from what you’ve written here, I think Danganronpa V3 will be a great return to form and I hope you enjoy finally catching up on the full arc of Danganronpa games!

    If you do decide to play the Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp, I’ll warn you now that it’s fanservice “everyone is happy and has cute interactions on an island and nobody is dead” features characters from all 4 games, mostly follows board game gameplay, and is therefore not necessary for any plot stuff. It’s cute if you want fun non-canon character interactions, especially with characters across multiple games, but ultimately not something you need to add to your list (not that I’m sure it was on your list)

    • I’ve been watching a friend play the games after I finish them, and he always does the school life/island life modes that I skip, so I’ll probably just watch him play the summer camp game too, haha.

  2. It’s a shame because the anime started off SO GOOD….but at least the last episode wasn’t terrible which *kinda* made up for the weaker parts for me.

  3. […] watching the Danganronpa 3 anime earlier this year, I was all set to play Danganronpa V3, and the winner of this year’s […]

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