The End of Hope: Despair Conquers All in Danganronpa 3 | OWLS “Movement”

Chances are that if you were linked here from another blogger pal, you might be new to this place. To those first-timers, “Hi, I’m Takuto, and welcome to my anime cafe!” As part of the OWLS blog tour’s fifth monthly topic for 2018, “Movement,” I wanted to dive deep into despair with the Danganronpa franchise, specifically its “third” anime adaptation, Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School – Despair Arc. In today’s world where chaos is on the rise, spreading fear and horror through resurging domestic violence, manipulation of mass media, and most notably, school shootings, I couldn’t find a more relevant title befitting the catastrophic future we could potentially end up living ourselves—unless we stop this war on terror.

We join movements, organizations, and systems that align with our own personal values and beliefs. Sometimes we join these groups because they believe in doing good and making positive changes in society. However, these movements can turn sour when a dictator arises behind such good intentions, revealing perhaps a hidden agenda of oppression. It is in these groups that individuals start to shape their identities by either questioning their values and beliefs or conforming to the system. This month, we will be examining “real and/or fictitious” movements, organizations, or systems in anime and other pop culture mediums, and the positive and negative effects they have on individuals and society.

I’ve literally been dying to use Danganronpa in one of these OWLS posts, and seeing as how nobody ever talks about this epic third season, I think it’s about time that happened! (For the sake of a spoiler-free post, I will be omitting the series’s second half, the Future Arc. Call it saving a fantastic series for another day.) Thanks Lyn and Auri for the prompt!

Image result for danganronpa despair episode 10


A brief discussion on the 11-episode summer 2016 anime “Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School – Despair Arc,” followed by its 1-episode “Hope” finale, animated by Lerche, directed by Motoo Fukuoka and Seiji Kishi, and based on the original story by Kazutaka Kodaka. 

AND YES, I HAVE DONE THE IMPOSSIBLE BY MAKING A SPOILER-FREE DANGANRONPA POST, SO ENJOY~! 

Beginning of the End – Despair Arc

Tragedy, Madness, Terror, Unpredictability

The Mastermind of despair had already destroyed the world come the end of the Killing School Life endured by the disassembled (but not completely hopeless) 78th class of Hope’s Peak High. Encompassed by the franchise’s first game/anime adaptation, this zany and bitter series of mutual killings was (believe it or not) the horrific climax to an even darker, more messed up series of unfortunate events. And that’s where the Despair Arc comes in: it aims to chronicle the reign of terror staged by the one and only Mastermind, how their plans easily came to fruition, and the thrill they received because of it.

Simply put, what begins as a tale of hope ends in utter despair. And that’s what makes it one of the coolest anime to ever exist. 

junko wink.jpeg

Unlike practically all of the other Danganronpa entries, Despair Arc is one of the very few to not feature a survival game of sorts. Yet, it’s still that kind of series in which its perilous situations—to your own disbelief—only grow worse, and worse, and worse . . . At this point in the story, the series’s iconically dooming mascot Monokuma doesn’t exist, so how does Despair Arc get its own fix of insanity? For the Mastermind, it’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!

  1. School violence committed by beloved students
  2. Growing disparity between the talented and the talentless
  3. Inability of higher-ranking officials to properly dispute social problems

That’s all it takes to watch the world crumble—and to think the Mastermind became Despair itself by manipulating their followers’ hatred, jealousy, fears, guilt, anything, really, through humor and charm. I know what you’re thinking—those three issues hit scarily close to home, don’t they? No, it’s definitely true. All around us, the world of this despair-infested fictional setting is slowly creeping into reality. Carnage is spreading. People are being unfairly treated and lambasted for factors beyond their own control. Nuclear war looms on the ember horizon. Great tensions that have lasted decades are about to bust loose with a fireworks show of death and depravity.

And the worst part is that we’re all just standing around watching it happen.

Despair is on the rise, and we’re only letting the movement grow.

Image result for danganronpa 3 despair arc review

While Despair Arc does rely on a couple cheap gimmicks to speed the Mastermind’s course of evil along (surely to accommodate the dreadfully short 11-episode length), the series takes the most wild, absurd, almost painfully realistic ideas and runs far with them. Very, very far. Somehow, Kodaka has written such a brilliant story that starts off all shining and bright and ends in utter ruin, perfectly encapsulating the range of human spirit at the onset fear and anarchy. After watching, you almost want to call the shot:

This is the future our own kids will be living unless we take action NOW. 

It’s a terrifying thought, unbelievable at times, and that is exactly why—despite being a mere prequel to an incredibly exciting, well-written sagaDespair Arc serves more as a warning to the path this global society is currently treading. Although a stretch, nearly all of the horrific crimes committed in this series can be, or have already been, reproduced in our own lives, right at this very minute.

Related image

It may not be spear-headed by a single bored high school student, but all around us, people are rapidly growing more cynical, distrustful, and hateful than they have ever been. Despair is at an all-time high, and what’s even worse is that some sick individuals out there actually get off on this madness. The seeds of hopelessness have long-since been sown by humanity, and in just a few short years, months, or even days, the despair will blossom magnificently.

And only then will you be wishing you did something.

Related image

Hope is a state of harmony. Righteous and bright, and all that other BS. Despair is more fun. And it grows so quickly. Like mushrooms, over a single night. Despair is messy and confusing. And it ain’t much of a picky eater. It devours love, hate, the whole shebang. Despair takes the plans you’ve put all your faith into and rips ’em to shreds. You may think you’re above petty human desires, but you need Despair. When it’s calling the shots, all bets are off. You don’t wanna be bored outta your skull for the rest of forever, do ya? — Junko Enoshima


Birth of a New Light – Hope Arc

Aspiration, Optimism, Dreams, Stability

Long after The Tragedy of Hope’s Peak High, The Twilight Syndrome Murder Case, The Worst, Most Despair Inducing Incident in the History of Mankind, the Killing School Life, the Killing School Trip, and the Final Killing Game, AT LAST, the skies begin to clear up. Was it the proper ending to a masterful franchise that fans had been anticipating for several years? Well, maybe it wasn’t exactly everything that we wanted (or deserved), but thematically, all points reconnect and converge at this final crossroad splendidly. At the end of a dreadfully prolonged saga of despair suffocating what little justice remains, hope ultimately comes out on top—and brighter than ever.

There’s something infectious about being cynical for fun. We do it all the time on the internet, making sad jokes that mock the hilariousness of our pitiful lives. “We are not strong,” or at least as strong as we think we are, and we enjoy a mutual sense of humor in this fallacy. This emotion that plagues our very lives with pessimism—this negative philosophy that we can neither change the tides of destiny, nor amount to anything in the end—such is true despair.

Image result for danganronpa 3 naegi despair

Naegi’s struggle to remain hopeful in one desolate situation after another brought him to his knees. But unlike Future Foundation’s Munakata (or most of today’s political leaders for that matter), he still looked up to those around him, believing that although despair teaches us hardship, hope preaches harmony. Despair may have relished the past and the present, but Naegi’s unwavering hope paved way for the future—his movement of hope snowballed into what can only be described as a truly contagious effort.

Image result for danganronpa 3 future ep 7

Hope is just way too stubborn to die. Despair can win the battle, but never the war. — Monaca Towa

All this and more is why I want you to think about how you approach communication with others. Do you start with a self-deprecating joke, or perhaps approach a conversation with praise or positivity for the given topic? The next time you log on to the internet—be it Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, forums, chat rooms, or other social media—do try your best to believe that there is still good in this wild world. We have the power to pick our battles, thus we should better learn when to restrain, and when to take matters into our own hands. Hope is but a simple four-letter word, and yet it has the power to shape generations, the life we live now, and the future that awaits us.

What that future looks like ultimately lies in our strength to fight the darkness, together. 

IMG_4591.jpeg

Hard as we try, none of us can see the future. The horizon we walk toward is always obscured. The future’s always hazy. Hope and Despair mingle. We can’t always tell which is which. It’s strange. Sometimes terrifying. Still though, if all you do is sit and wait, nothing happens. The trick is to take it one step at a time. See, you don’t have to know the future to move forward. Just walk with your memories. Look up at the sky, and say to yourself, “There’s always Hope for tomorrow.” — Makoto Naegi


Afterword

The entire Danganronpa franchise is incredibly dark, creative, intense, vulgar, and tons of fun to both play and watch. As such, it’s no surprise that I award Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School with the certified “Caffe Mocha” rating. Especially with the Despair Arc, the series’s ability to not only account for all the nitpicky details, but string them together in a logical, story-telling format is admirable (even if some of the methods are a tad sub-par compared to, say, the second game’s beautifully corrupt and twisted ways). Aside from maybe Fate/ZeroDespair Arc is the greatest “beginning of the end” prequel anime to ever be written. Unlike all other told-from-zero stories, there is no happy ending to be found here, unless of course, you’re rooting for the Mastermind.

A bloody masterpiece of the whodunnit murder mystery genre, Danganronpa 3 tackles the near impossible and pulls it off with flying colors (and a lot of pink blood). I could go on and on about how much I love Lerche’s clean game-to-anime stylistic transfer, as well as Kodaka’s story, Masafumi Takada’s soundtrack, and ALL the damn characters, but alas! Perhaps for another post!

Image result for danganronpa 3 poster

This concludes my May 23rd entry in the OWLS “Movement” blog tour. Gloria (The Nerdy Girl News) went right before me and wrote about the living differences between humans and robots, and what truly makes us human in the anime Beatless, a series that I’ve been meaning to check out since it started airing. Gloria is new to OWLS, so go give her some love! Now, look out for another new member, Dylan (DynamicDylan) over on YouTube, with a vid about the great Gundam Seed set to air tomorrow, May 24th! Thanks for reading, and until next time, this has been

– Takuto, your host

Advertisements

Filling the Danganronpa Void | End of October Update 11/5/17

Hey everyone, what’s up? Another Spooktober has come and gone and very little blogging has been done. But where there’s a lack of writing there has been an influx in watching—just as much as last month, if not more!

As for school, first year of college is still smooth sailin’. With midterms out of the way, it’s now a barren wasteland until Fall break is over, after which the bomb that is “finals week” will be dropped. But until then, I’ve been trying to read more—and it’s been successful! Now if only I could feel motivated to write about it all . . .

Anyway, let’s take a look at what I’ve read/watched this past “spoop month” and see my desperate attempts at filling the Danganronpa 3 void end in utter failure. (And yes, the itch still has yet to be scratched.)

RECENTLY FINISHED:

Image result for tsurezure children episode 12

Tsuredure Children—My GOD, what I would have given for a continuation of this mess of high school romances. It’s not even that good, which is why I’m so confused as to how I became so addicted to it all. Maybe the 12-min per episode run-time was a key part, or that I streamed it dubbed via Funimation Now as my weekly comedy. Either way, I’m sad that it’s over—and just when it was getting sooo good! Likely won’t review, as I don’t have much to say, but it ends just as cute as it begins, which is enough for me.

Image result for knights and magic episode 13

Knight’s & Magic—I should’ve taken the warnings on this one. No joke, it kinda sucked. I didn’t care for any of the characters (nor do I really remember any of them), and the story gave up on my interests. I wanted to continue learning more about the interactions and affects of combining giant mecha knights with magical forces, but instead it turned into a show “save the kingdom from the enemy evil blah blah blah.” I won’t review this either because of how little I have to say about it, though I’m glad that I did finish it.

Related image

The Dragon Dentist—Another hyped show that turned into disappointment . . . sort of. A 2-episode (40 min each) short from Studio Khara (Rebuild of Evangelion) with Hidaeki Anno somewhere behind the desks, I was STOKED for this show. Only putting his name on two titles since Eva 3.33, this and Shin Godzilla, I was eager to see how this one played out in his journey to Eva‘s end. While episode one was quite pleasant, episode 2 unfortunately became, well, I’m not honestly sure what. It definitely had similar ideas that the OG Eva did, but didn’t have the same strong execution due to the short run-time. Eva is a big story to tell, after all, so you can’t just throw in a similar ending and call it so. Sentai Filmworks just released it with a dub, so maybe if it goes on sale I’ll pick it up and give it another go.

Image result

SHIMONETA—AHAHAHA S-O-X, S-O-X, S-O-X!!! Funimation Peep Show host Cookie Stratford hooked me up with this little title after previewing it at last year’s Naka-kon. FINALLY it went on sale, so bought the blu-ray! (I did stream the dub in its entirety just to double-check that it was worth the money—in which it absolutely was.) I’m ecstatic to have some more “fun” titles on my shelf, as a majority of shows that I do own require you to basically analyze your existence in the universe, and that’s just no fun when I want to fool around on a late Friday night. So here it is, cock, balls, and all! And you know what? I enjoyed every second of it.

Related image

Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls (PS Vita)—Don’t be fooled by the listing of this game title on my list, as there’s no way I have the money for a Vita right now, let alone the 20+ hours it’d take to complete this massive part of the franchise. Originally, I was watching walkthroughs of it via YT, living vicariously through the silent player as they traversed the game’s ins and outs. After making it a bit over half-way in, I realized that I COULD NOT wait any longer to watch Danganronpa 3, so talked it over with the Twitter fam (thx Gigi) and was directed to some “Recapitations” of the game’s story on the YT. WHAT A LIFE-SAVER, as Ultra Despair Girls just isn’t as neat as the rest of the franchise’s entries. It is still pretty cool though—soon after finishing the recap, I quickly found myself going back to the walkthroughs to watch the “animated” portions of the end, another 5+ hrs of video, but who cares—it was still a thrill ride! I then watched a recap for Danganronpa Zero and was all set for the ultimate despair: Danganronpa 3.

Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School—The viewing of this crazy third season(s) is as follows: Future Arc episode one, Despair Arc episode one, Future Arc episode two, Despair Arc episode two, so on and so forth. As such, here are my individual thoughts on each arc:

Image result for danganronpa 3 despair arc junko

Despair Arc—Starting with this one because it end before Future does, Despair Arc was basically everything that I wanted from a Danganronpa prequel and more. And much, much, much more. With the knowledge of Zero (an unlicensed light novel—you can find a 20-min recap of this on YT too, bless), Despair Arc combs together all of the grittiness, backstabbing, and betrayal of the viewer’s trust that we’ve come to know and love. Simply put, it’s a story of hope that ends in despair, and I wouldn’t have had it any other way.

Image result for danganronpa 3 future arc

Future Arc—Though wildly unimpressed throughout a good majority of the GREAT Danganronpa‘s supposed “end,” once episode eight hit it was balls-to-the-walls insanity. Seriously, if there’s ever been an incredible comeback mid-season, Future Arc is where it’s at! I rushed to the end, eagerly anticipating each wild episode of this chase against the clock until series’ grand finale . . .

Related image

Hope Arc—I won’t lie, it was kinda anticlimactic, hahaha, but I still love this show too much to complain, goddammit! Such a rewarding finale for all the blood that was shed, all the darkness that was traversed, and while I would have asked for another end-all situation, what we got was still excellent. It’s a shame that I’d be spending the next month or two trying to fill the void left by this show alone, but hey, it’s an opportunity to explore new shows, right? (plz send Danganronpa recs plz send Danganronpa recs)

Image result for kurogane ikki hentai

Chivalry of a Failed Knight—No joke, the only reason I watched this show (on YOUTUBE NO LESS BAHAHAHA) was because Luci Christian was the English voice of Stella, the female lead. I was expecting it’d be a harem story about a hero of zero somehow defeating the number one ace . . . and sure enough, that’s exactly what I got. Nothing to write home about, but I have no regrets watching, either. High production quality on the animation front, not to mention that it had a kickass OP and ED!

Related image

Riddle Story of DevilDanganronpa knock-off #1 presents itself in this game of assassins killing each other just to off a single girl—Haru Ichinose. “Why her” remains the big question behind the game itself, and though it sounds like the perfect formula for a DR follow-up, it couldn’t have been worse. Seriously, each death is foreshadowed by that character getting the episode’s spotlight (a reoccurring problem with a currently airing title which I’ll discuss soon), leaving no fun in determining who would live or die. At least the dub was good. Morgan Berry needs to be the MC more often. Also, Jamie Marchi always plays best girl. Always.

Image result for the perfect insider screenshots

The Perfect Insider—Alright, we’re getting somewhere with this one. Recommended by our pal, the Otaku Judge (thanks man!), this one’s a locked-room murder in which a rag-tag group of individuals must piece together the puzzles. I remember it being a big hit when it aired a couple years back, and while I wanted to follow it, time got the better of me. Guess this was a good thing, because I got to save it for future me when I needed it most, and boy, Judge, did this one get me closer to hitting the mark! Though a bit confusing (and towards the end a bit contrived), it seeks a more philosophical, slow-burning case vs. DR‘s fast-paced madness. Both can be appreciated for their own merits, but yes, this one is worth seeing, and hopefully I’ll get to review it soon!

Image result

Blade Runner: Black Out 2022—The last prequel short film in a trilogy designed to fill in and expand upon the world of the latest Hollywood hit, Blade Runner 2049Black Out is unique because it is the only “anime” part of the franchise, the rest being live action. Feeling an inkling to revisit the cluttered and damp world of the 2017 Ghost in the ShellBlade Runner 2049 instantly became a must, and I set aside my DR hunt to revel in the OG Blade Runner and it’s 2049 prequel trilogy. Black Out was not only epic, but absolutely stunning on the animation front. It’s no wonder considering that Cowboy Bebop director Shinichiro Watanabe was invited to direct this short film, as Blade Runner was his biggest inspiration for creating sci-fi during his younger days. Before I knew it, I found myself with my dad in the theaters on the last day of showing, and we had a blast. Such an incredible franchise with wondrous world-building that’ll leave you in utter awe and terror of the near future. Still thinking about this one now . . .

Image result

Devil Survivor 2 The Animation—Aaaannnnd we’re back to Danganronpa hunting, this time for a game-turned-anime series about kids fighting against a mysterious alien force and time itself before their world reaches its end. Very cool premise, but ruined NOT due to the short runtime, but IMO because of the game’s gimmick—each of the 12 or so characters possess a smart phone that allows them to summon demons to fight against the aliens. I think it would’ve been much more enjoyable had the characters fought the aliens themselves somehow (special skills, weapons, whatever) because the demon-fighting thing just wasn’t doing it for me. Now, I realize that it defeats the entire premise of the game this way—I know—but with the demons out of the way, there would have been more room for character interaction, and the motives for survival would’ve been all the more crushing when they met their fate on the battlefield. Not a complete wreck of a show, but it EASILY could’ve been made better. Excellent animation, BTW, with a great OP and chilling ED to beat!

Image result for project itoh harmony

Harmony—The second Project Itoh film, Harmony is set in a world where good health is king, and the hospital basically runs government. Everyone is consumed with medicine to the point where it becomes their ruler, not the other way around. People have lost their sense of identity, what with having perfect health and nothing to complain about. Tuan, a high-ranking military officer is sickened by everyone’s kindness in this age of monotony, of perfect harmony. And just when she thought she couldn’t hate it enough, a blast from her past causes mayhem in the present, as systematic killings and mass suicides suddenly take over the world. Out on a mission to stop the one robbing everyone of their utopian futures, Tuan comes to understand why she thinks the way she does, as well as what being human means to her. It’s a grossly underrated film, and though the CG action at the beginning can be a bit jarring, what is in store for the viewer far usurps any awkward animation sequences. Do not let the “meh” community rating stop you from trying out this film—it requires a bit of thinking, but it’s well worth the watch for any fans of dystopian fiction i.e. Huxley’s Brave New World. Might review!

CURRENTLY WATCHING:

Image result

Welome to the Ballroom—Not much to say, as I’m a bit behind on this seasonal title. The addition of the new girl throws some chaos into the mix, but I think it’s slowly helping the show all things considered. Also, I’ve come to appreciate the new OP, so that helps. Looking forward to it!

Image result

Juni Taisen: Zodiac War—Five episodes in and all I can PRAY is that it stops doing that formula thing I mentioned earlier. One of the novel’s (OG source) biggest complaints is that this formulaic system of deaths does continue as a prominent force, so I hope the finale at least has some shock saved for us. And I swear, if Rat wins, I will jump off a cliff.

Image result

Electromagnetic Girlfriend—Ahh yes, continuing the DR hunt. Rated highly as a short 2-episode (40 min each) horror mystery show, I’m surprised I haven’t heard more about this series. Probably due to the lack of localization. Anyway, I’ve watched one of two episodes and I can say that, while short, it does have some decent twists and turns in it. Not quite scary [yet], but engaging and will likely end with a decent rating from me. And the background art is incredible, holy shit. The anime follows a delinquent teen and his little stalker friend, a mysterious girl with long black hair claiming to be his knight from another lifetime. Interesting . . .

Image result for ergo proxy  episode 3

Ergo Proxy—In my final efforts to secure a decent sci-fi mystery show, I’ve settled on this classic anime that has sat on my shelf untouched for a good while now. Though drab in terms of color scheme and quite on the slooooow side, I can already feel Ergo Proxy shaping up to be a much better show than half the entries on this list! It almost reminds me of a crossover between Star Wars‘s setting and Avatar the Last Airbender‘s humor. IDK why, it JUST DOES. An unraveling story of what is likely to be self-discovery in a dark future without much individual identity, Ergo Proxy manages to keep me interested by leading me on with new elements to the world at every turn. It’s also a bit of a cop/detective story, much like Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex. Overall, I like what I’m getting, I only wish it were a bit more, hmm, thrilling.

CURRENTLY READING:

Image result

A Certain Magical Index Light Novel Volume One—This was one of those late-night Amazon pick-ups, but like I mentioned last update I’ve been in the mood for some light novels, particularly to understand how and why they are written, as well as to take advantage of what they are—fairly cheap and disposable fiction meant to be read on a whim; you follow the stories you like, and drop the ones you don’t. Having already watched both seasons of the anime, I’m glad Index continues to be interesting even in novel format, and I’m eager to pick up the second volume soon! Also, did you hear the fantastic news?? INDEX 3 IS COMING IN 2018, REJOICE~!!!!! It’s just ironic that I started reading the original source now after all these years. Oh well.

Image result

Murder on the Orient Express—BOI, you already know. Fall’s been mystery season for me, clearly, and what a better bang to end it on than with classic Christie and her film adaptation of the same name. I’M. SO. EXCITED. FOR. THIS. FILM. Having just rewatched bits of Hyouka (and my guy Oreki bringing up Christie in a case of his), my inspiration to check out the actual book from the library shot up, and now here I am. About 1/3 into the book with no serious evidence given yet, my blind guess for the killer is . . . the maid, cause it’s always the maid LOL. I don’t know, but I can’t wait to find out!


BLOGGING PROJECTS:

In regards to last month’s update, I DID not only end up reviewing Death Parade, but I used it as the focal point in my October OWLS post, WOOHOO! Such a neat show, it came just at the right time to match the month’s theme! If you want to read my thoughts, click below!

Also, prior to OWLS I FINALLY put together my thoughts on Shin Godzilla in post that has surprisingly gotten a decent amount of traffic, appreciation, and EVEN a feature on another cool person’s blog (thank you all so much)!! It was really hard putting that one together, not gonna lie, so it’s nice to see the payoff. In case you missed it, here ya go!


 

The End of Spooky Season

GOODNESS ME, that’s a lot of titles, no? And to think, I’ve also been rewatching Hyouka, Gosick, School Live, and Paprika as a part of the spoopy holidays! October has become a favorite holiday of mine, which is odd considering that I used to hate it. The cool weather and downtime have allowed me to explore reading and watching much more, and hopefully they’ll bring me back to the blogosphere soon. I’ve got two little nominations to attend to, plus a new Cafe Talk in the works, so look forward to, YES, learning even more about me!

How did you spend your Halloween season? Also, any good manga/light novel you’ve been reading lately? I want to know! Also, and last call (maybe), if you know a anime, game, or book that’s even remotely like Danganronpa (whodunnit mystery thriller survival game), PLEASE LET ME KNOW!!! I’m in quite rut, and the obsession has grown so large that I’ll even be cosplaying a male version of a certain “despairing” character in March, upupuPUPUPU!!! ‘Till next time everyone!

– Takuto, your host