Hello and welcome to Project Nitsuj and welcome to another month of Ani-ween. Since I’ve been looking at a lot of sequels this year why not take a look the Danganronpa animes. The first season of Danganronpa had a lot of mixed opinions as it split the fans in two. Some fans liked it while others didn’t. Personally, from an anime only perspective it did get me interested in the series and I even though the series might have been rushed I thought it was a good anime in the end. However, it did leave a lot of questions such as what would happen next and how did despair spread throughout the world? Well after much waiting we finally got answers with the despair arc and future arc. Based off the games, the despair arc and future arc were done once again by Lerche (Assassination Classroom) in 2016 and aired around the same time. The whole idea was to watch these two animes as one. The despair arc would serve as a prequel showing us how despair spread throughout the world while the future arc would serve as a sequel to the first season and wrap up the series. So as you can imagine I’m not sure entirely sure which anime to review first as these animes were intended to be watched side by side. That way in case you watch something in the future arc that had you confused, the despair arc would be there to explain what’s going on. I guess with stuff like this it’s best to leave it up to fate.
*grabs a coin*
Heads, we watch the despair arc first. Tails, we the future arc first.
*Nitsuj flips the coin in the air and lets it hit the table. The coin comes up heads*
Despair it is. Let’s start by looking at prequel to the series. This is Danganronpa: Despair arc.
Opening and Ending Theme
The opening is “Kami Iro Awase” by Binaria. This was hands down one of my favorite openings from 2016. With a prequel showing us how everything went to shit, you need an opening that encapsulates the despair that our characters will face and this opening does that. I love the melody of this song and how we get different color palettes in the opening as the anime progresses. Even the little things such as some characters disappearing or beginning to fade out of existence were a nice touch and made it almost impossible to skip the opening as you were afraid you were going to miss something.
The ending is “Zettai Kibou Birthday” by Nagito Komaeda. The opening was all despair while the ending is all about hope. I didn’t really care for this song all that much. I wouldn’t call it a bad song as the singer sounds good here it’s just that the opening was so impactful that it practically overshadowed the ending.
So the tale of despair starts off with hope and takes place 2 months after the entrance ceremony of Hope Peak’s Academy (where everything is peaceful). We focus on a new teacher named Yukizome who has just become the assistant homeroom teacher for the 77th class (lucky 7s, who knew they would be the seeds of despair) and was actually a student of Hope Peak Academy as well (she went to the school and then she went to therapy only to come back and face her nightmares). She goes to her class only to see that 5 of the students are there. Since the school doesn’t require you to attend class and just show up for practical exams most of the students decide to skip class all together (that is stupid and I’m surprised the school hasn’t been shut down for this policy). This doesn’t sit well with Yukizome so she gathers up the students in class and goes on a quest to find the other students where we see that they’re all crazy (I can safely say they’re crazier than the first students we met. And that group had the goddamn homicidal killer among them). She gathers up all the students and finds the last student Nanami the super high school gamer (my girl) talking with a reserved student named Hajime. Basically, reserved students are regular students. They don’t have any special talents but have the potential for talents thus are put in the reserved class until they show they’re special talent and have to pay a large sum of money to stay in the school (well this explains where Hope Academy’s budget comes from). Nanami and Hajime hit it off pretty with Nanami saying that talent isn’t everything. She even gives a hint that she’s actually jealous of Hajime because he has more freedom than her and can go anywhere he wants (he’s like an animal in the African safari while she’s the zoo animal on display for everyone to see). Yukizome gets her and they all head off to class to end the episode.
At the start of episode 2 we see that all the students are attending class on a regular basis now (yes, but are they studying?). We also see that the reason Yukizome has returned as a teacher is to look into the school board who have been doing a lot of shady things behind the scenes of the school (it’s all in the name of hope). Back in class Nanami has a hard time making friends and fitting in so Yukizome suggest that instead of playing games alone she should play with everyone else (are you high? Actually no that’s a good idea it’s better than doing online multiplayer and not having the option to play with those beside you). So the next day for class Nanami brings all of her games (which are rip-offs of Nintendo games. Ironic, seeing as how the game is a Playstation exclusive) and everyone has a good time playing them (best class ever). Things however do get a little steamy when the class eats food laced with aphrodisiac and can’t control themselves (looks like the next subject is sex ed). Of course nothing bad happens (that’s why we have doujins) and the day ends normally with Nanami wanting to go to the arcade with Hajime.
In episode 3 we get our first dose of despair. It all takes place at the Reserved Campus (where all the students are blue and have no faces. I guess this is one way to save on budget) where we meet Natsumi the younger sister of Fuyuhiko who wants to go up to the main campus to be with her brother and be acknowledge as someone who has a talent. We find out that back in middle school she, Mahiru, and another reserved student named Sato were all in the photography club together and there was some hostility between the three. Natsumi was always picking fights with Mahiru and Sato and when Mahiru got sent to the main campus and not her you can imagine their relationship became even more sour than a Sour Patch Kid. So everytime the three meet up Natsumi always bad mouths them and even threatens to kill Mahiru a few times in their confrontations (woah, woah. You know you can arrested for saying something like that right?). Hajime tries to play the peacekeeper between both parties but his interference has a little effect and one day Natsumi is found dead in the classroom (alright, time for a class trial). Hajime believes Sato killed her as a way to save Mahiru since Natsumi threaten to kill her but Sato denies these claims and a few days later Sato’s body is found dead (woah two class trials. The murder of Natsumi and Sato. Who dun it?). Hajime tries to get answers from the main campus on what’s going on but he gets stopped by Juzo another former student who’s working undercover with Yukizome to uncover the dark secrets of the academy. Juzo insults him saying he’s just a talentless student who should submit to the main branch students and just be content being a nameless cog in their machine (geez, tells us how you really feel Juzo). Hajime refuses this way of thinking in the two have a fight which gets stopped by Yukizome and Hajime being outmatched greatly by Juzo. He takes his leave feeling powerless and wishing he had a talent to help others so he goes to Hope Academy’s school board and agrees to take part in their experiment to give student artificial talents and hope. Also, as for the murders, they’re sweeping them under the rug (so does this mean we’re not doing a class trial?).
In episode 4 practical exams are around the corner and depending on how well they do chances are they might get expelled from the academy (quality over quantity). The class doesn’t really seem all that prepared mentally so Komaeda asks Yukizome if there’s a way to postpone the exams to a later date but she says no so Komaeda decides to take matters into his own hand. His plan is to bomb the auditorium (what the fuck man?! Where is this coming from, you’ve been pretty much quiet the whole anime and now all of a sudden you want to become a terrorist?). On the day of the exams he runs into Seiko a girl who specializes in pharmacy work and gets his bagged switched up with hers. We focus on her in plot B where we see she’s friends with another student named Ruruka (who if you ask fans is one of the most hated characters in the series and she’s actually a good guy who plays an important role in the next anime) who specializes in making confectionaries. She and Seiko are childhood friends and she wants Seiko to give her an enhancing drug in order to impress the judges at her exam. Seiko reluctantly agrees to do it and gives her the enhancement drug but due to an incident earlier, Komaeda mixed up the bottle with his own request so Ruruka instead gets a laxative and adds that to her treats where they’re so good that they actually give the judges character designs (character designgasm) but once the laxative kicks in things just all start to go downhill. Ruruka calls Seiko a traitor and the two get into a fight in front of everyone where everyone thinks Seiko was going to bomb the school because she accidently picked Komaeda’s bag in the hallway (next time check the contents before walking away). During their fight a giant dog comes in who drank the enhancing drug after Komaeda dropped the drug and the two girls accidently hit the switch which sets off the bomb and destroys the auditorium. As punishment Ruruka, Seiko, and Izayoi (Ruruka’s boy toy I assume) get expelled from the academy, Komaeda is suspended indefinitely, and Yukizome is sent to teach class in the Reserved course for negligence on her part as a teacher. While this works in her favor as she’s been wanting to investigate the reserved students for quite sometime she’s still sad to leave behind her class.
At the start of episode 5 half a year passes as Yukizome finishes up her time in the Reserved courses where she discovers that the principal and trustees of Hope Peak Academy are using the reserved students for a top secret project called the Kamukura project a project named after the academy’s founder Izuru Kamukura. In order to learn more about the project she needs one of the trustee’s ID so she asks Juzo for some assistance (do it yourself). Yukizome than returns to her class where she gets named the new homeroom teacher and the whole class welcomes her back with a party (yeah~ Yukizome’s back! We can finally goof off again). After this we do get to see Junko (miss crazy hot herself) and her sister Mukuro who will be entering Hope Peak’s Academy along with Naegi and the others. We also get to meet the real Ryota. It turns out that the Ryota we’ve been seeing this whole time is nothing more than an impostor. Who is he and where did he come from? No idea, not even he knows his name all we know is that he enjoys impersonating other people and living their lives and that’s what he did for Ryota who wants to dedicate his life to his dream of drawing anime. As a kid Ryota was picked on at school and didn’t have the best parents in the world. However, he found hope in anime which he claims saved his life (you and a lot of other people kid). Inspired by the anime he watched he decided that he was going to create his own anime. Not just any anime but the perfect anime, an anime that would fill everyone with hope (wow, that’s quite inspirational. While I applaud his commitment he’s doing the impossible. Perfection is something that can never be reached). At the end of the episode a new semester begins with Naegi, Junko, and her sister entering the academy (and so it begins) and we also see Hajime about to be used for the Kamukura project.
In episode 6 Juzo gets Yukizome the trustee’s ID but she has to use it by tomorrow morning because the owner of that card has gone missing and that card will no longer work. Where is the trustee you ask? Being tortured by Junko (and depending on your preference this might be pleasure than torture). Yukizome sneaks into the trustee’s office and finds exactly with Kamukura project really is, create artificial hope. The idea of the project is to give the talentless talent but not just any talent every talent in the world (it’s like their trying to combine all the Marvel and DC heroes and villains into one entity). However, this comes at a price. The person used in the experiment will cease to exist. His personality, ideals, senses, feelings, and thoughts will all be erased (all in the name of hope people. You know between Junko’s crazy ass running around and this plan it’s hard to decide who the true villain here is). Hajime has already gone through with the experiment and has become Izuru Kamukura (I’m sure this isn’t the original hope Izuru was talking about when he founded the school) but he has been approached by Junko and he takes her down however she does try to manipulate him telling him that hope leads to a preexisting reality while despair leads to the unknown reality (there are known knowns and then there’s known unknowns). At first it doesn’t seem to faze him so he knocks her out however he tells Mukuro that he’ll be waiting for her and doesn’t rat her out to security. Once Junko wakes up in the hospital she takes her leave but as she’s leaving she runs into the real Ryota and hugs him out of nowhere (how long has that girl gone without any fluids in her body because she is thirsty).
Holy shit! Things get dark in episode 7. We start off with Junko making fun of anime (hang her) so in order to shut her up Ryota shows Junko his unfinished anime which is so moving that it makes her and Mukuro cry. We find out that Ryota uses all kinds of subliminal messaging, sounds, and imaging to get people to like his anime (there must be a lot of fanservice in that anime than) which gives Junko a very devious idea. She kidnaps Ryota and drags him to a private room much bigger and better than his last room and when Mikan and the fake Ryota start looking for him Mikan gets kidnapped by Mukuro and is bought to Ryota where she becomes his assistant (I’ll ship it), not sure if by choice or force. After that Junko and Mukuro busts Izuru out of his cell and show him the fruits of despair by having all 13 members of the school’s student council kill each other in one of the most disturbing displays of violence I’ve seen in an anime (it’s a good thing this anime has the pink blood otherwise this shit would be way more disturbing than it already is). So when word of this incident reaches the higher ups and they see Izuru at the scene they all think he killed them (just one) so they decide to cover up this incident in order to save themselves (that is impossible. You just had 13 students kill each other on school property. How the hell do you cover something like that up?). Well it doesn’t stay covered-up for long as Junko unleashes information about Izuru, the student killing (I’m calling it the Council Games or The Purge: Council Meeting, I haven’t decided yet), the student experiments, and the fact that money of the reserved courses is being used in these experiments to the public and as you expect everyone is outraged and rioting at the front gates to end the episode.
In episode 8 Ryota finds out about the student killings (okay seriously kid, you need to get out more. That, or read the news) and finds out that Junko was behind it but he gets cornered by Mikan who has joined Junko in her quest for despair (I imagine getting her to join wasn’t hard. She seems like the kind of girl who enjoys submitting to others) and has gone insane becoming a full masochist in heat. She tries to force herself onto Ryota (like I said, I’ll ship it) but gets stopped by Junko who reveals that the reason Mikan became the way she is is thanks to the student killing video which apparently brainwashed her however the effects of the video aren’t near the results Junko wants to reach. That’s where Ryota comes in. Using his subliminal messaging, sounds and images and Junko’s killing video they’ll create the ultimate despair video that will send the world into chaos. She forces Ryota to help her saying that if he doesn’t she’ll show the video to one of his classmates (and we saw what it did to Mikan so imagine what it’ll do to the others). Speaking of the class we see them still worried about Mikan since she’s been missing for quite sometime now. Komaeda returns to class from his overseas trip where he says he saw her in the west campus so the entire class goes to see her. While searching for her, Komaeda and Nanami find the secret room where Kyota is being kept and come face to face with Junko where Komaeda is fully aware of what she’s doing and pulls out a gun on her prepared to shoot her (put it right between the eyes). But before he can shoot Izuru comes in, steals the gun and shoots Komaeda where he doesn’t die thanks to the student handbook in his pocket absorbing the impact of the bullet but he passes out from shock. Ryota somehow managed to escape where he runs into Yukizome and tells her everything.
Nothing much to say about episode 9. Yukizome comes in to save Nanami and tells her to retreat with Komaeda. After they’re gone she gets captured and Junko forces her to watch the despair video. Nanami gathers up the rest of the class and they decide to go and rescue Yukizome themselves (no! It’s too dangerous). On the way some of the reserve students try to kill them believing that if they die they’ll be open slots for them in the main campus (I can assure you that’s not how this school works guys) so two of them stay behind to fight while the others keep going. Juzo and Kyouske figure out that Junko is behind all this mess and Juzo goes to face her and her hoard of brainwashed reserved students (man she’s moving fast). Once the students make it to the underground facility, Mikan pushes Nanami down a secret chute where she’s reunited with Yukizome although I’m pretty suspicious of her.
The despair deepens in episode 10. It starts off with Juzo losing to Junko and her revealing his secret crush on Kyouske (woah~ I did not see that coming. I thought he was into Yukizome). She threatens to text pictures to Kyouske about Juzo’s secret crush until he begs her not to which she agrees to do but in return Juzo has to lie and tell Kyouske that Junko is innocent (oh she is a bitch). Juzo begrudgingly agrees to her terms (dude, let her tell him. It’s okay) and she takes her leave to prepare for the main course. Our suspicions are confirmed about Yukizome giving into despair last episode and she pushes Nanami into an elevator which takes her to a dungeon filled with death traps and she has to find her way out. This is all a part of Junko’s plan to plant despair into Nanami’s classmates. Mikan manages to guide everyone to the class trial room (we sure had fun times in here. Students voting on who to kill and everything. Good times. Good~ times) where they bear witness to the death of Nanami struggling to the very end to reach the end of the dungeon battered, bruised, and bleeding profusely just to reach her classmates. They witness the moment when one’s hope and struggle quickly turns into despair when Nanami reaches the goal only to get pierced by multiple spears and fall to the ground dying (dear God it’s one of the most disturbing scenes I’ve ever seen). Sure enough the students fall into despair and become just like Junko. At the end Izuro approaches the dying Nanami where even though he had all of his memories erased he sheds tears for the girl he once liked.
In the final episode Juzo and Yukizome tell Kyosuke that Junko is innocent (but she is a crazy bitch). With nobody watching her, Junko’s plans to fill the world with despair go unhindered. As the 77th class graduate the reserved students storm the main campus and kill everyone inside and then Junko shows them a new despair video which causes them to commit suicide. As all of this is going on, Izuru decides to take a gamble and erase the memories of everyone in the 77th class as well as himself to see if hope can be more unpredictable than despair. The 78th class (which is Naegi’s class) turn the school’s old building into a shelter as despair begins spreading throughout the world (like the fucking plague) and Junko becomes curious about Naegi’s luck (but that’s a story we’ve already explored). Yukizome reunites with Kyosuke and we end sometime in the future where Hajime reunites with Nanami in a virtual world.
So that was the despair arc of Danganronpa. This arc does a good job answering the questions a lot of us had at the end of the first season as we see how Junko caused despair to spread throughout the world and who she used while also setting up stories for the future. As far as prequels go this was good and did give me a clearer understanding as to what happened, how Junko got away, and why she’s doing what she’s doing. The animation is similar to the first season and the music is still good to listen to. I did like the characters in the 77th class and how they came together to be friends. It’s heartwarming and makes it all the sadder when they fall into despair and lose Nanami which still remains to be one of saddest deaths I’ve seen in anime.
The final score for the despair arc is a 7/10. Good prequel as I said before and answers all the questions I had at the end of the first season. My advice to you before watching this anime is to have played the games to fully appreciate the anime or dislike it depending on your take. For someone who’s only read a few chapters of the manga and look at the wiki, I thought this was a good season. Now that we have tackled despair there can be only hope at the end of this tunnel. Tune in next week when I take a look at the future arc as Ani-ween continues. MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHA- *a glass vase teleports out of thin air and hits Nitusj in the head knocking him*.
*At the Jack Bros.*
(Corbin): Success, the teleportation spell works. Now the question is where exactly did the glass vase get teleported to?
(Baron): Hopefully it didn’t cause harm to anyone.
(Corbin): Oh I’m sure no harm was done.
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