So as you may (or may not) know by now, I’m one of those creators that discusses Pokemon, but Pokemon is not my favourite franchise. That honour goes to Danganronpa.
I got introduced to it via the anime, and at the time I enjoyed it as it was. But now that I’m looking back on Danganronpa 3, there were a lot of unfortunate issues that plagued the series.
There will be spoilers for throughout the Hope’s Peak saga of the franchise.
Deus Ex Kirigiri
The fact that half of the surviving original cast were in dire circumstances with a battle royale-esque situation made the game high-stakes. We can forgive Aoi Asahina’s fake-out with the ketchup (thanks Monaca), but it felt even more high-stakes when Kyoko Kirigiri fell to the bracelet due to breaking the rules. But unbeknownst to the cast (but spotted by eagle-eyed viewers), Kyoko had taken some medicine that Seiko had previously ass-pulled during all of the chase scenes that she was involved in (like, how?).
Basically, the high-stakes that we were looking for was taken away from us because they wanted a happy ending.
The Length and Pacing
Danganronpa 3 was separated into (technically) three separate arcs: Future (12 episodes), Despair (11 episodes) and (1 episode). Future and Despair were screened side-by-side, so you get a bit of context going into the Future episodes.
As with the anime adaptation of Danganronpa 1, this series required it to be a two-cour anime, as opposed to one-cour. This means that there should have been up to 24 episodes for each side, ensuring that all bases would be covered.
There would have been more room to explore Junko’s manipulation, and also my next point.
Continuity Regarding Twilight Syndrome
Natsumi Kuzuryu, as well as her nemesis Sato, were characters that were touched upon during the events of Danganronpa 2 and was the motivation for Peko Pekoyama to kill Mahiru Koizumi in Chapter 2.
Twilight Syndrome depicted Natsumi Kuzuryu and Sato as fellow classmates and were all on the main campus. This meant that the pair had Ultimate talents – this is important as we talk about Danganronpa 3.
Danganronpa 3 literally showed none of the body discovery by those involved (Mikan, Ibuki Mioda, Hiyoko Saionji and Mahiru). Natsumi and Sato were both made as Reserve Course students, and therefore unable to access the main campus. Furthermore, the other witnesses to the body were not part of this sub-plot, excluding Mahiru.
The anime adaptation only served as a catalyst for Hajime Hinata to join the Izuru Kamukura Project.
Using Brainwashing as a Clutch
I didn’t mind so much at the time, but looking back, I can see how much the brainwashing gimmick was used as a clutch for several pivotal plot points.
- Brainwashing Mikan Tsumiki off-screen to follow Junko.
- Brainwashing Chisa Yukizone (graphically, I might add) to follow Junko.
- Brainwashing the rest of the class with live footage of Chiaki’s execution.
- Brainwashing the Reserve Course to kill themselves.
- Brainwashing Tengan to join Ultimate Despair.
- Brainwashing the Future Foundation to kill themselves if they were closest to the monitor (separately, there are five instances – Chisa, Great Gozu, Seiko Kimura, Ruruka Ando and Makoto Naegi).
- Brainwashing Aoi Asahina to turn on her friends.
- Brainwashing the Future Foundation soldiers into fighting the remaining Future Foundation members.
- Brainwashing to make the world follow hope.
I already did a theory on how the series could have developed without the trope of brainwashing. But there was so much of the same thing happening, where it was inevitable that there was going to be some brainwashing involved. I suppose if you want to brainwash the world, get yourself an animator.
The Reveal of the Ultimate Impostor
The Ultimate Impostor was a character that was never meant to be revealed as their own identity. They were supposed to be a character that replicates other characters, with their only defining trait is their obesity – however, they can fool others into thinking they are the person.
Throughout the series, they have impersonated Byakuya Togami and Ryota Mitarai, the latter being a focal point of the anime, with a back-story concerning that. They also briefly impersonated Kyosuke Munakata briefly in Hope. Their real appearance became a meme, being compared to John Travolta in Pulp Fiction.
I mean, sure.
Remnants of Despair’s General Involvement & Character Design
A bit of continuity would have been nice for the eventual end designs of the Remnants of Despair. The only indications of anything having happened was Fuyuhiko’s eyepatch and Nagito Komaeda’s bionic arm. Everyone was dressed in their Danganronpa 2 designs, rather than the more ragged and despair-inducing outfits from their time as Remnants of Despair. I was expecting battle scars and signs of wear.
The Remnants could have been given the Toko treatment, having been responsible for assisting with bringing about the end of the Final Killing Game, or at least in custody.
The Mastermind of the Final Killing Game
I actually had a theory for this (as you do), and I’ll delve into it. And I’ll tell you why my version was ultimately better, not to blow my own horn or anything.
As we know from Danganronpa 3, it is revealed that Kazuo Tengan was the mastermind behind the Final Killing Game, in order to give Ryota the motivation to brainwash the world with a Hope Video. Contrived? Perhaps. Farfetched – most definitely. We also find out in Killer Killer that Tengan was brainwashed into joining Ultimate Despair. My theory is why I saved this point for last.
My theory was that Chiaki Nanami was the mastermind of the Final Killing Game. Here’s why:
Back in her student days, Chiaki would have met Junko for the first time, perhaps in passing. Junko would have seen the potential in Chiaki, just like she did with Ryota. Chiaki slowly becomes converted to Junko’s way of thinking, and her position of Class Rep allows Chiaki to feed that information through, and slowly but surely ensures the class joins her in her way of thinking.
After the events of the first Killing Game, Chiaki devises a more methodical Killing Game, which is the one we know and love to this day.
Then they bring about The Tragedy. Chiaki pretends to be a normal student, and successfully infiltrates the Future Foundation along with Chisa, with Chiaki becoming the 13th branch leader.
After Junko’s death and the capture of her classmates, Chiaki devises a Final Killing Game, the one identical to what we have seen in the anime. Chiaki stays hidden within the building, having sent Aoi Asahina to take her place.