With the holidays rapidly approaching, some of you might still need to buy some last minute gifts. I’m here to tell you why Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School should be on your holiday shopping list!
Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School is a murder mystery set in three arcs: the Despair and Future Arc which occur concurrently, and the Hope Arc, which serves as the finale. Despite occurring concurrently, the Despair and Future Arcs deal with two separate parts of the story, and are sold as separate sets.
The Future Arc starts where the videogame Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair ends. Makoto Naegi is brought before the Future Foundation under suspicion of aiding the Remnants of Despair. Before a punishment is doled out, the group is imprisoned by Monokuma. With murder on the mind, Monokuma forces the Foundation to engage in a Final Killing Game. There is a traitor in their group, and they will be killing one person every time the group is knocked unconscious by bracelets equipped to them. With Chisa Yukizome as the first victim, the group must determine who the traitor is, before being killed by them. They must also do so without performing a forbidden action listed on their bracelet.
Tensions immediately begin to run high, causing Kyoko Kirigiri and Aoi Asahina hurry Naegi away from the group, who collectively are eyeing him as the culprit. From there, despair and chaos reign as the group frantically tries to name the traitor before another murder occurs. As their friends continue to die, Kazuo Tengan is revealed to be behind the Final Killing Game, having been encouraged by Yukizome to do so. In a posthumous video, Tengan reveals that he intends for Ryota Mitarai to release a final video, brainwashing the world with hope.
Meanwhile the Despair Arc handles the events that take place prior to the videogame Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. Chisa Yukizome greets the viewers, watching her own death from a film reel beyond the grave. As our narrator, Chisa takes us through the events that led to the world plunging into despair. As a first year teacher at Hope’s Peak High School, Chisa Yukizome looks forward to teaching the 77th Class of Ultimate students. Led by class representative Chiaki Nanami, the 77th Class quickly rallies together to become friends. Nanami also befriends Reserve Course student Hajime Hinata, who later undergoes a transformation into Hope Peak’s Ultimate Hope, becoming Izuru Kamakura. While that is all happening, Junko Enoshima and her sister Mukuro Ikusaba are preparing to unleash Ultimate Despair on the students at Hope’s Peak.
Junko and Mukuro enlist the help of Ryota Mitarai – Ultimate Animator – who is initially unaware of why the pair wants his help. When he realizes they are using his subtle mind control animations to cause students to kill themselves, he flees. By that point though, Junko has already brainwashed Yukizome, who then leads Nanami into one of Junko’s traps. The class is forced to watch Nanami attempt to navigate her way through a real life videogame level, before she is ultimately and cruelly killed by the traps therein. Stricken with grief over their fallen classmate, the rest of the students fall into despair, ultimately becoming the Remnants of Despair…
And then save the day. When Mitarai attempts to play the hope brainwashing video, the 77th class shows up, stopping him in the nick of time. Mitarai and the 77th class then leave, but not before issuing a warning to the Future Foundation to watch their backs.
In order to get this whole message, the show must be watched in a very particular order. The best way to watch it is to alternate arcs while watching, starting with Future Arc episode one. Because episodes carry over from Arc to Arc, this keeps the show fluid and understanding of the events at an optimal level. It also helps to have prior knowledge of the above mentioned videogames is paramount in understanding the story as a whole. As someone who has only played part of Trigger Happy Havoc, I found myself getting lost and needing to look up information.
I think even with an understanding of the universe, the show still would have been confusing in some parts. It’s not explained in any meaningful manner why Tengan wants Mitarai to brainwash the world with hope. Tengan should have wanted the world to be in chaos. Additionally, Yukizome brainwashes the class with a message she reads them. But this messages causes the students to long to help the world through despair, not cause it. It’s unclear why the two went against what Junko’s original plan was, or how when the brainwashing seemed so solid.
All three Arcs did a nice job of capturing the feel of the Danganronpa video games. Unlike their video game counterparts, the characters look a little cleaner and the backgrounds have more detail. It was a nice transition from visual novel to anime. The only downside is that the anime seems a little more intense, and loses a little bit of that maniacal whimsy. All in all though, a great adaptation by Lerche Studio!
Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School is filled with great voice actors and an awesome soundtrack. Both Despair and Future arcs were equipped with awesome opening and ending songs that suited the show really well. Out of the all the songs my favorite was the ending theme of the Despair arc, “Zettai Kibo Birthday”. While all the voice actors did a great job, Jamie Marchi really shown as Junko Enoshima. She was able to make the valley girl voice sound maniacal, while also giving Junko a positively psychopathic serious voice as well.
Packaging and Bonus Materials
While this set delivers in terms of plot and music, it falls flat on bonus features. The bonus features include textless opening and closing songs, along with a handful of anime trailers. The Future arc also includes commentary on episodes two and nine. The Despair arc meanwhile has commentary on episodes seven and ten.
This is an anime series I will definitely need to re-watch once I beat Goodbye Despair and Trigger Happy Havoc. I really want to catch all the call-backs and nods at the video games that I missed due to only having a basic grasp of the plot. Combining the classic who-dunnit plot of a mystery with the ambiance of Game of Thrones, Danganronpa creates a fantastic universe. I want to be sure to give it all the attention I can.