Wow, I literally drew a blank at what to write tonight. Started writing 3 different topics and scrapped all of them. As such, I went to desperation and wrote about this instead. Wasn’t planning on writing about this, but since it’s been my main fandom focus the last couple of days, it’s the only thing on my mind, so it’s all I’ve got to talk about.
Dangan Ronpa is a Japanese game that’s something of a toss between Phoenix Wright and Battle Royale. 15 students who are considered the ‘best of the best’ are invited to Hope Academy, a school that guarantees success in life. However, when the students arrive, they are drugged and wake up to find the school has been locked down, with no access to the outside world. The mastermind behind this reveals himself with a robotic bear mannequin called ‘Monobear’ who tells them they are here for life, but if they want to leave, they can by killing another student without any of the others finding out.
Although they originally insist they won’t, events happen and inevitably the killing starts. The game play is mostly about collecting evidence that you can use, and then attending trials to decide who is and isn’t guilty.
Now, this game isn’t actually available in English, but somebody has gotten a copy and translated it online. Do I feel bad about reading a game instead of playing it? Not really, because like I said, it’s not actually available to me to play.
I found out about it through my friend who was reading through it and enjoying every minute. Since I enjoyed Phoenix Wright, and love Battle Royale, I figured I’d give it a shot. As it turns out, it’s really good. I love the plot, especially at the start – the first two crimes are very much a mystery as to who performed them, and you spend a lot of the trial going back and forth trying to figure out who actually committed the crime. The later ones…less impressive – to be fair by that point you know the characters pretty well and the suspect pool is getting quite small. The final reveals in the last chapter are what make it, proving who the mastermind who locked them away and why, give it a great edge and pretty impressive finish.
On top of which, the characters are all interesting, rare in a game where the majority of them are going to die? At least two of which will be in the first chapter? You have your bland looking lead, a boy with no exceptional talents who got into the school through a lottery (Super High School Level – Good Luck), an idol, a model, a baseball player, a doujinshi artist, a novelist, an heir, a wrestler, an athlete, a gambler, a gang leader, a super hall monitor and of course, a mysterious ??? female character (though if you can’t figure out what her title is by the end of the first chapter, you’re clearly playing the wrong game). Such variety is just a little bit surprising – there are no throwaway characters, and you genuinely can’t tell who is and isn’t going to make it to the end.
Sadly, it also had a What If additional story, and a sequel, neither of which got me as interested as the first. BUT, there is an anime of the original coming out, so hopefully that’ll get an official English release and I can enjoy at least one legal version of this game’s franchise.