Danganronpa (Episode 1) – The 15 super-duper high schoolers

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First episode of an anime is very important. If it succeeds, people will continue watching the series. If it fails, the anime might have lost a potential viewer. Danganronpa: The Animation is one of the former for me. I came to this anime with certain expectations and hopes, which were all shattered withing the first few moments. Feeling confused and a bit uneasy, I continued watching and the epmtyness was replaced by new feelings.

What shocked me the most? Definitely the characters. When I chose this anime a few months ago, I had a quick look at the character images, and left it at that. Nothing seemed out of place. Now, seeing the animation, I’m at a loss of words. It is as if Danganronpa tried using ALL types of personalities. There is a bookworm, the rich guy, the delinquent, the athlete, the school idol, a “normal high-school boy” and of course a childhood friend. However, the creators of the plot went even farther by adding an incredibly fat guy and a Goku-woman. All-in-all, this variety works quite well for the story.

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Everything starts off when the main character, Naegi Makoto, receives an invitation into an elite school. Only the very best high school students from across the country get to study there, and they are all “super-duper” in their own field. Naegi isn’t like that. He was a normal guy who won a lottery and got an invitation, which he happily accepted. Little did he know what was about to happen.

As soon as he stepped onto the school grounds, darkness surrounded him, and he awakened in an empty room. Windows were covered by steel plates, and his phone was taken. Next to him lied a welcoming letter, and an assembly notice. Hurrying to the gym, wondering what was happening, Naegi opened the door. He appeared a bit shy at first, but was quickly welcomed by everyboy else. Soon, the headmaster appeared.

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Monobear. Interesting name and concept – just like a stuffed toy that talks. In a way, he reminded me of Zetsu from Naruto with the black-and-white body halves. On the other hand, he reminded me of Koemushi from Bokurano. Actually, when I read the synopsis of Danganronpa, it reminded me of Bokurano and Btoom!, and those two were probably the reason I picked this up. Anyway, Monobear appears to be a childish teddybear with a twisted and cruel personality. He is ready to go to any extent to achieve his goal, and that includes harsh punishment for breaking the school rules and giving the students a “motive” to play by his rules.

The rules are simple – all 15 students will be locked up at school for the rest of their lives. To escape, the student has to kill one of their classmates. This idea of course produced an expected reaction from everybody – they had no intention to become killers, and tried finding an exit instead. All paths were blocked, so Monobear spiced up the game by showing his students “inspiring” videos. Although it was unclear what others saw, for Naegi the footage showed a destroyed room where his family sat before. He immediately started repeating that he has to get back.

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Next to Naegi was his old schoolmate – Sayaka Maizono. She used to be a school idol at his old school, and the two got reunited here. Her reaction to the shown video was even more severe – she fell onto her knees, and then ran out of the computer room where everybody was. Naegi, like a real shounen anime protagonist, ran after her and told the girl the girl he obviously like that he would get her out of there.

An interesting story in my opinion. I’m glad that it took a darker turn at the end, with the videos. Before that, Danganronpa seemed quite happy and cartoon’ish, almost making fun of the idea of being locked up without any means of escape or communication. Now, however, there really was some tension in the air, and the killing might start very soon.

Art was also interesting. At first I was a bit disappointed – the character designs seemed way too unrealistic. As the show went on, I (as always) got used to it, and even started enjoying the unique appearances of the characters. Honestly, this is a good alternative to the usual modern anime character designs.

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About the cast – I have mixed feelings. On one hand I liked the voices of most guys, Kyouko Kirigi (the mysterious girl) and Celestia Ludenberg (the gambler girl). On the other hand there were Monobear (difficult to take seriously with that voice), Chihiro Fujisaki (really, a guy voicing a girl? smells for crossdressing…) and Sakura Oogami (Orochimaru voicing a high-school girl – obvious attempt to make the series partly a comedy). As for opening and ending: I didn’t like the opening, because I prefer ones with songs, but the ending song was okay.

I will definitely continue Danganronpa. At least for the next few episodes, until the characters start bothering me again. I suspect, though, that I will really love this anime for its ability to combine comedic elements with a very serious murder-related story. The first episode was an enjoyable watch, and as it can be seen – it even gave me motivation to continue my blog. It has been almost 4 months since my last entry, but now I intend to increase my activity. Hope you will stick with it 😉

Score: 7.5/10

Posted on July 23, 2013, in Anime, Danganronpa, First impressions, TV and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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