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Danganronpa episode 2 – Lazy

Danganronpa The Animation - 02 - Large 06

At the moment my blogging plans for the season are in a 4-way tie. Do I cover the Nisioisin squirting his hot steamy words all over my screen? I had fun blogging Nisemonogatari, but this season is going on for 2 cours and there’s only so many ways I can phrase the question “smutty art or artsy smut”. Do I blog Eccentric Family for full on indie hipster cred, marvelling over its subtle character dynamics while getting no views or comments because nobody is watching the bloody thing? Do I cover Watamote, coming up with five thousands ways to make dumb jokes about its absurd longer name but squirming in discomfort as I try to relate to a loser while I am handsome and popular and amazing? Or do I cover Danganronpa, with its mystery set up giving me plenty of opportunity to make wild predictions but held back by the fact so many people reading this will have played the game read a Let’s Play on an internet forum and will spoil the entire thing for me?

So, for now, I’ll cover all their second episodes and see from there.

Danganronpa The Animation - 02 - Large 17

Danganronpa’s set up is getting increasingly lazy. A problem I often have with these Battle Royale plots is the plot is manufactured so the reasoning doesn’t have to make any sense. We wanted to set the story up this way for shits and giggles. The simpler the rules are, the more interesting it is to watch the characters figure it out from there. The constraints should feel natural as part of exploring the world they’re in and come about as part of their character rather than artificially enforced by the creator. A good example of this is having the characters set up their rule where they can’t leave their rooms at night. It’s a natural move from their situation.

A bad example is Monobear telling them to set up a trial and giving them the rule and the timeframe from which to take part. Monobear in general could do with shutting the fuck up for a second. Here’s a radical idea: Let the characters themselves decide to set up a trial procedure. It’s a natural evolution from their position and would allow us to learn about each character’s thinking process. Instead we get Monobear monologuing the entire procedure. I already know what Monobear’s deal is. He’s not an interesting character and he’s saying nothing new. I’ve already forgotten what half of these other characters were supposed to be, which isn’t a good starting point from which to go into a trial. It’s lazy storytelling.


And hey, since we’re on the subject of lazy, it would be nice for this adaptation of a video game to not feel so video gamey. I’m cool with that to a certain extent, but flashing up the ‘CLUE FOUND’ icons is lazy as hell. I feel like I’m watching someone click on a screen and select each of these items. Use the medium you’re in to tell us more about the characters while finding these clues. I was digging the concept after the first episode, but now that some people have been killed, I couldn’t give a rats ass why or how. It’s not even that it’s paced too fast. It’s that what we have got so far has almost entirely been Monobear monopolising screentime while the other characters just faff about with their stupid hairstyles pulling shocked faces.

I’ve just realised. Take a bunch of exageratted assholes, trap them in a building together and watch as they argue amongst each other until each person is eliminated for no reason other than shits and giggles. Danganronpa is animated Big Brother. Suddenly way less interested in this show.

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  1. prants
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:31 am | Permalink

    they literally just took all the cutscenes from the game and put them into animated form. most of the other visuals are basically the exact same as the game too… talk about lazy.
    they even kept the blood hot pink!

    • Ana
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:55 pm | Permalink

      I would say that the hot pink blood is integral to this show’s style and tone, and I breathed a sigh of relief when I saw that they kept that intact.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

      This is what happens when fans of source material demand they stick to the source material. This is what you get

      • Ana
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 5:15 pm | Permalink

        The merits of regular boring red blood vs hot pink blood in this anime: discuss!

      • Ana
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 5:25 pm | Permalink

        But yeah, they just lifted the game’s OST too. And still managed to omit some of the best tracks. Bleh. At least give us some remixes or something. At this point it’s just a stripped down, inferior version of the game.

        They gave us sexy Monobear dancing though. I’ll give them credit for that.

      • Nadgers
        Posted July 15, 2013 at 6:45 pm | Permalink

        Then again. It’s still the creator responsibility to make changes for the sake of quality, even if the fans object to it.

      • TheVoid
        Posted July 16, 2013 at 3:10 pm | Permalink

        But when they try to change too much you get garbage like DeSu 2: The Animation. It’s a no Lose-lose situation.

  2. Person
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:52 am | Permalink

    Hey! Been a long-time reader of this blog, first-time commentator. I always look forward to reading the opinions here on various shows each season! :) Decided to comment here for the first time since I really love Dangan Ronpa, and was really excited to read your thought on it, and wanted to share my own as well.

    I agree they shouldn’t have gone overboard with making it too video-gamey. Some of it is fun (like the introductions in the first ep!) but the clue-finding stuff was a bit too much. I guess they’re in a hurry to get to the trial so they didn’t have time to show the students do an actual investigation, but they still should have tried to show it in a way that fits this medium more.

    I guess it can seem like the students aren’t as active, which I guess could be because the game is very long and the anime short so a lot is rushed and you don’t really get to see them “shine” as much. The show focuses way more on the parts of the game where Monobear is talking, which can be quite negative. Monobear is neat and all, but when he is shoved in your face so much it gets old very quickly. At least in the game there are long stretches where he doesn’t come in, and we see and hear A LOT more from the actual characters, wich I guess is why he doesn’t come off as grating as he does here. And the students do feel really empty and easy to forget here. I mean, even if this trial is only the first chapter in the game we got to, for example, get to actual know Enoshima more compared to the anime so that her death actually came off more shocking and kind of tragic. I guess it’s still kind of shocking in the anime ’cause it’s sudden and all, but would any of the watchers really care? I feel like if I hadn’t played the game, I wouldn’t even know who she was. :P

    It would be nice if they left more time to show them conducting an investigation, because that’s the parts in the game where the characters really do take action for themselves. There is the trial too though, so hopefully that will be better!

    Not so sure why you had a problem with Monobear explaining the trial system though? It’s an actual rule, and not just a suggestion, so it makes sense he’s saying it. He’s the guy holding them captive and making them play this “murder game” in the first place, so it makes complete sense that he makes the rules. These are all happy, naive high-school students who have never seen a real murder before as far as we know, and so far they don’t even know eachother, so realistically they wouldn’t all be calm and come up with a solution as a team, they’d either think Monobear did it and panic, or start suspecting eachother and killing to save themselves. Sure, that could be interesting, but it would be a completely different story. Dangan Ronpa’s whole “gimmick” IS the school trial, which is not something Monobear is suggesting they do, he is outright forcing them to go through with it. It’s a rule he is enforcing, which is pretty much the main part of the murder game. Can you create the perfect crime and get away with it?

    Another thing I always found interesting with Dangan Ronpa which separates it from other survival game concepts of its kind, and is also the reason I decided to try it out, is that the students are, in a sense, not forced to kill each other. They’re locked up in a school building and told they can live there peacefully for the rest of their lives, with a seemingly infinite supply of food, a large building to move around in, and their own, private and comfy rooms. Sure, they have to be secluded from the rest of the world forever, but it’s still not a bad deal. Unlike, for example, The Hunger Games or Battle Royale where the kids are basically told “You HAVE to kill, there HAS to be one person standing in the end”, Dangan Ronpa is giving the students a choice. They only HAVE to kill if they absolutely want to leave. So you don’t really have the “poor kids, they have no choice” thing here, since they DO have a choice, and when a kill happens it’s for a lot more personal reasons than just “kill or be killed”. On its own it’s actually quite a gruesome concept, but since Dangan Ronpa is pretty silly and over-the-top it doesn’t come off that way, which is part of it’s charm.

    But I believe that could also be part of the reason why the students seem a bit inactive right now, because in the beginning they don’t really have the resolve to kill one another, they don’t know eachother, and although it’s terrifying to be locked out from the outside world, living together peacefully still seems like a better option than killing a stranger. Now that the trial system has been introduced, it actually makes killing another person even harder, since you have to make sure you can do it perfectly without leaving a trace of yourself, or the whole things is pointless since you’ll just get killed yourself.

    This does actually make the students more interesting since going into their heads and knowing what drove them to kill is interesting, and watching (or playing through) them trying to work together despite being in a situation which would drive suspicion between them is great and a good way to get to know them. They’re all various anime stereotypes which makes the whole situation even more fun to watch, and while some subvert their stereotype, others don’t, and it’s really fun to see who does what. One of the guys who made the game said he made it so that all the characters had equal importance, so that you couldn’t guess who gets killed off in terms of their importance, which is part of what makes Dangan Ronpa’s plot so unpredictable. But sadly, the anime is more obsessed with shoving Monobear in your face all the time and trying to be a video game, even though that kind of defeats the purpose of making an anime. Ah well, it’s only been 2 episodes, so hopefully it improves. I’m looking forward to seeing how they’ll handle the trials.

    Sorry for the wall of text, haha! Just wanted to share my thoughts. I hope you decide to stick with Dangan Ronpa despite its faults, since I really love reading your opinion about it! Was really happy when I saw you decided to blog the second episode too.

    PS: I hope you’ll excuse my English, as it isn’t my first language.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:39 pm | Permalink

      I disagree with the idea that the kids couldn’t have come up with the court system themselves. They would naturally try to keep order but then come up with their own fucked up version. Nobody in Lord of the Flies told the boys they needed to form their own groups around leaders or take the conch shell as a sign of order. Nobody told Light he had to use the Death Note for any particular reason. These things happen naturally as part of any social group.

      Same with forcing the kids to watch videos of people dying or whatever. Can’t we just take to heart the idea that they would want to get out? All you need is one or two people to want to get out and kill someone for the others to also want to get out for fear of being killed. This would all happen naturally anyway, but nope we have to artificially create this rules by having Monobear create them. It robs us of the chance to see society in action in minuscule form.

      Also the other thing is about people saying they haven’t given the characters enough time to show their personalities is that visual novels, on the whole, are woefully slowly paced.

      Also christ, english is your second language? You embarrass many people I know for whom english is their one and only language.

      • Ana
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 8:35 pm | Permalink

        Dangan Ronpa practically runs at lightning speed compared to your usual long-winded visual novel.

        If you don’t want to bother fussing around with the patch, reading the LP should suffice. It’s a visual novel, and the LP provides all the audio and voice tracks and videos that help tell the story. The only thing you’d be missing is the experience of playing the trial mini-games. Oooh, look at this, it’s a link! http://lparchive.org/Dangan-Ronpa/

        (Honestly, though, you’re probably better off just dropping this show. And maybe getting the PS Vita version when it finally gets officially localized a few years from now. Judging from your reaction to the premise back in the summer season preview, I think you’d enjoy it.)

  3. Posted July 14, 2013 at 1:54 am | Permalink

    I heard that the characters standing poses are directly ripped from the game as well. Talk about laziness.
    Anyway, finely said there, Scamp. In their current situation, wouldn’t it nice if some characters tried to play Detective Conan or Kogorou Mouri (lol)? It’s only natural. The ugly bear could simply said that, the murderer would be freed if he’s not found out within three days. There’s no need to prepare a pompous courtroom or such. Aoyama Gosho is probably an old man already, but he’s still way better at this.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:40 pm | Permalink

      You know what would have been great? If in their explorations earlier on, they came across this grand courtroom but were unsure what was the point of it. Then when they realise they’re all going to die unless they figure out which person committed the murder, they decide that same room is perfect for holding a trial to discuss whodunnit

  4. BwackNinja
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 3:25 am | Permalink

    I’m waiting for Danganronpa to get interesting. It’s disappointing for the case to be bland so far. The motives for killing anyone in particular is almost nonexistent. Sure, they have motive to get out, but they don’t have reasons to target anyone in particular. At best, they would look at the easiest target. I also don’t like how they disqualified the other girl from being the culprit by being dead. There are good reasons to discard her like the fact that she is explicitly ignoring the rules where following them would be required for an escape. It also looked more like a suicide before seeing the burnt sleeve. That would technically follow all the rules for escape.

    Also, I’ll be sad if you don’t continue blogging Eccentric Family. It had the one first episode this season that I watched twice, and the only reason I gave it a look was because you gave it some exposure.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:46 pm | Permalink

      That girl being killed by Monobear shouldn’t have removed her from the culprit list, right? Her stomping on Monobear and her possibly killing the idol girl are unconnected.

      • BwackNinja
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 8:00 pm | Permalink

        Awkward logical leaps like this don’t give me much hope for what will be called “clever” later in the series, especially considering that most of the characters aren’t known for their mental capabilities.

      • Ana
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 8:37 pm | Permalink

        That line was an unnecessary addition by the anime team. The game mentions no such thing.

  5. Posted July 14, 2013 at 3:34 am | Permalink

    Yeah, lazy. Episode 1 implied lots of promise, but yeah, Ep 2 seems to settle for far, far less, setting a low bar for the rest of the series.

    Are there any other Battle Royale types of animes/mangas/books I should check out, besides the original and Mirai Nikki?

    • Scamp
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:48 pm | Permalink

      ….Battle Royale itself?

      • Posted July 14, 2013 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

        Despite criticizing a show for being lazy u have no problems being lazy, eh?


        At least u didn’t say Hunger Games.

  6. T1g
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    I am admittedly a little saddened by all this negative feedback, because I started playing the game recently on a friend’s suggestion and it is pretty fucking great! The anime is basically rushing it to the point that the effect is greatly diminished. If it had a higher episode count this probably wouldn’t be happening. They don’t even explain where the freaking sword in his room came from.

    But yeah the game is better. Surprise.

    And I have counted 3 separate jojo references.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:52 pm | Permalink

      Only 3 Jojo’s references? Hnmmm, not sure that’s enough for me

    • Pusswookie
      Posted July 15, 2013 at 5:30 am | Permalink

      My Light Novel Adaptation Title is Long as I Expected had Jojo references and I really liked that as well. Shows how good Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure is if the mere mention of it, in my opinion, improves a series.

  7. Cheshire
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 6:51 am | Permalink

    I thought you were being a bit hasty to complain about people calling the adaptation bad last week, but the problems are really starting to become more evident here. They don’t have the time to develop the situation, the characters, or explain the setting and rules properly. Since nothing is laid out as well in a shorter time, it comes across as lazy and loose and on the go, and everything lacks any weight from being given the proper backing. Maizono’s death isn’t a particularly sad one in the source material, but we do get several good full in-game days of exploring the school and investigating the other characters with her as a sidekick, so at least there’s some oomph to it. Here, they try and condense that, but it doesn’t work so well.

    I thought the video-gamey method of condensing the investigation was pretty creative, considering they have no room for excess, but I can definitely understand how underwhelming it is. I’m honestly worried as to how they’ll get through the whole game at this rate, even cutting those corners, considering they should have two episodes a chapter to work with and here we stand bleeding into the third with the shortest section of the game.

    My advice? You’ll probably hear it a lot, and you very well may not have the time for it, but stop watching this, play (or read) the game, and come back when you won’t have to ask questions like “Why can’t the students instigate the trial themselves?”. It’ll let you experience a good game without the potential of it being a lazy rushed adaptation, sure, but it’ll also lead to better posts, I’d bet. Playing alongside the show airing should be pretty easy, and I doubt you’ll enjoy blogging weekly just to ask rhetorical questions as to why the story doesn’t work a certain way when the answer is just around the corner.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 5:00 pm | Permalink

      Err, actually didn’t I say that my problem was they spent way too much time explaining the setting, situation and rules when it would have been better to let the characters blindly figure it out for themselves, like a teenage boy first trying to get a girl off?

      Also my Steam library is so full of games I haven’t played yet so meeeeeehhhhhhhhh

  8. Leah
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 11:56 am | Permalink

    The basic problem is, the game has material for 26 episodes. This adaption has only thirteen. So what do they do? Skip all the social links that made the characters interesting and foreshadowed main events and wrap up the main kicker of the game, the investigation, in one minute.
    Not to mention that chapter one has three episodes, which is already rushed, to fit in the other six chapters in thirteen episodes they’ll have to make it two episodes per chapter. Considering one episode is taken up by the trial, that means one episode for all the important stuff happening. And believe me, chapter two has some important stuff happening that you can’t just brush over, including making you really like some of the characters. It’s going to be terrible. What a shame, it’s such a great game.
    Also agreeing with Cheshire here.

  9. Ana
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Person, Cheshire, and Leah, so not going to reiterate their points. Don’t have much to add myself except to point out that now that the setup is out of the way, there should be much less Monobear monologuing from now on.

    It’s a shame, Scamp; I was looking forward to seeing your speculation on it. Out of all the shows you’re considering, I think this has the most blogging potential.

    Goddamnit, Seiji Kishi.

  10. Killer Queen
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    Yeah, Seiji Kishi cant handle a good video game adaptation because unless it involves cutesy Slice of Life, he cannot handle tone well from the source material. Its like hes making adaptation for the fans to scream familiarity and not be its own version while still be faithful to the source material.

    I mean, Ragnarok the Animation sucked because the tone was not about the manga, but the game itself… Which is as vague as the MMO. DeSu2 sucked because they stripped off the good moments of every character to focus on God Moding the Angsty Protag and the fact that the game’s atmosphere was more grim despite sprites. Persona 4 gets a pass because the game is pretty much more about the Slice of Life scenes, which was well done at least…

    Overall, Seiji is a fan’s director. He is most likely going to make video game adaptations for the fans for failiarity’s sake.

    • Scamp
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 5:07 pm | Permalink

      Or maybe we could just stop expecting good anime from video game adaptations? Although this is basically a visual novel so eh

      • Kiraly
        Posted July 14, 2013 at 9:59 pm | Permalink

        Video games are indeed hard to adapt from, but Danganronpa’s plot and events would be no different if it was a regular novel. There are practically NO choices in this game, and certainly none that do anything.

        Seiji Kishi just sucks.

  11. Ana
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:18 pm | Permalink

    That makes sense, Killer. I did enjoy Persona 4: The Animation despite it being rushed, and I was wondering why. The focus on slice of life might’ve been it, really.

  12. Ana
    Posted July 14, 2013 at 4:26 pm | Permalink

    By the way, Scamp, have any theories regarding the murder so far? Or are you so uninterested that you can’t be bothered to think about it? XD

    • Scamp
      Posted July 14, 2013 at 5:09 pm | Permalink

      Either the fancy girl who was killed by Monobear or Monobear himself.

  13. Posted July 15, 2013 at 4:23 am | Permalink

    Eh, I guess this reaction is understandable given how fast the pace has to be. The process of finding clues, for example, is a much longer, gradual, and natural process in the game–but this is nothing surprising. Overall I think it’s adapting the game about as well as could be hoped, but it’s probably going to feel a bit scatterbrained for newcomers to the franchise.
    The alternative route the anime team could have taken would have been to simplify the plot dramatically in some ways–I’m not sure what they could have really done there though.

    “Do I blog Eccentric Family for full on indie hipster cred, marvelling over its subtle character dynamics while getting no views or comments because nobody is watching the bloody thing?”

    I lol’ed. ;P

  14. Pusswookie
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 6:09 am | Permalink

    “Do I blog Eccentric Family…while getting no views or comments because nobody is watching the bloody thing?”
    Aw don’t be that way Scamp. If you hadn’t done your thang and blogged about the first episode then I doubt that all those subtle character dynamics would’ve ever even graced my [and others] screen(s).

    On topic, why is everyone being so apologetic about this episode? I know it’s a rough feeling when your favorite blogger dislikes an adaptation of something that you were really anticipating, and that most feel compelled to defend their tastes by denouncing said work for the abhorrent blasphemy that it is, but gosh, I actually still quite like Danganropa.
    In regards to the first two deaths having zero impact: I loved Future Diary, another crazy battle royale show, for numerous reasons, including it’s ability to make us sympathize with it’s contestants, so I have to ask: out of those of you who are of a similar opinion; Did any of you honestly care about either of the first 2 deaths in Future Diary? If yes, then I’m sorry, you’re no longer relevant to this question, and if no, then did you immediately vilify the studio for your lack of empathy? I doubt it. At any rate, I’m not going into this expecting much character depth anyways, I’m going into it to watch a myriad of character archetypes lie and murder each other for both my and Monobear’s enjoyment; and, if they happen to subvert a few expectations and surprise me along the way, then all the better for it.

    In regards to Monobear forcing his rules on everyone as opposed to them forming their own courts system through a natural process: while I admit that your description of “how it should be” sounds reasonable, I’m not exactly surprised by an omnipresent psychopath introducing his(?) own system to them immediately following the first murder. I mean, he’s brought them there to perpetuate his battle royale/NCIS fantasy, so it’s entirely believable that he would’ve prepared a court process for them to go through beforehand in order to ramp up the tension and facilitate events. I’m not a psychopathic murderer, but IF I WAS, then I think that I’d be a little nit-picky about the execution of my murder fantasy too.

  15. Pusswookie
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 6:20 am | Permalink

    Unrelated to the comment above: I was surprised at Sayaka dying right off the bat, but you know what the worst part is? Naegi’s last interaction with her was him getting nonchalantly friend-zoned.

    When he suggested that she stay in his room for the night, I clapped. “So that’s what they meant when they said he was an expert at getting lucky” I foolishly thought. Well she shot that down awful quick didn’t she? Now he’s being accused of murdering a girl who not only had the gall to die in his nice clean bathroom, ruining the walls with her strange pink blood doodles and making him the prime suspect in the process, but who also went so far as to cut up his entire room as well?

    Super duper high school luckster my ass.

  16. Grey
    Posted July 15, 2013 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    While the points are valid, especially about the lazyness, I still find it’s one of the most enjoyable anime of the season.
    It’s not really similar to Battle Royale, because BR was really a satire of society, and there is no society in DR…all the characters are only stereotypes, here only for advancing the plot (or being skewered by teddy bears)
    DR reminds me a lot more of a murder mystery…let’s hope the trial will be good.

    Maybe I’m a little biased because it seems to mix Phonenix Wright with 999, two games/visual novel I liked a lot, with absurd plot, lots of twists, and over the top characters.

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