Dangan Ronpa: The Animation (2013) 3 Episode Review

Dangan Ronpa: The Animation is a 2013 animated visual novel that is one of the few Lets Plays to ever be broadcast on TV before. Ok if you haven’t guessed… I don’t like this one. Just for clarification this is a 3 episode analysis. It’s my belief that after 3 episodes the makers should have clearly established story, characters, and style and thus it can be judged on its initial quality. All my opinions following are based on these episodes alone and if the show becomes fucking amazing in the 4th episode then oops my bad. As stated before Dangan Ronpa is based off a visual novel and its bland characters, constant dialogue and predictability all reflect that in the worst possible way.

Dangan Ronpa is the story of new high school student Mr. Bland who somehow managed to get into Hope Academy, one of the most respected schools in the country. However when he arrives he finds himself (and the other students) trapped in the mechanizations of a psychotic, reality defying teddy bear. The only way to graduate is to kill someone else… and get away with it. Things escalate quickly as bodies pile up and mysteries demand to be solved for the sake of survival. Trust me, it sounds cooler then it is.

I’ve never played the visual novel but from what I can tell Dangan Ronpa is extremely accurate in its portrayal. The character models and environment look spot on, in all of its blandness and stereotyping. The only time the animation gets interesting is in the punishment scenes where it completely changes to a hyperactive 2D-image-in-a-3D-space visual style. I thought this was going to be used to make the violence on screen seem more tame, but barely anything was actually shown instead focusing on everything but the actual act being committed.

There’s the indescribable sense that show is fucking high on speed and is trying to be weird for the sake of being weird. The world typically feels fairly normal, but then something fucking strange will show up, like an evil stuffed bear OR PINK BLOOD. The graphics, shots and editing are all fast and hyperactive. This all reminds me of some souped up commercial for the latest product that all you kids should buy, buy, buy, RIGHT NOW! Now this wouldn’t be a bad thing if what was weird was enjoyably so and if the actual pace of the story matched the pace of the presentation. For example, The Bastard Swordsman is a Shaw Brothers movie that’s incredibly fast paced and involves a samurai emerging from a giant egg. The premise is weird, the characters are weird, and the movie’s plot moves as fast as it’s editing and shots suggest. This anime has a basic Battle Royale premise, with boring characters that are all stereotypes and boring ass dialogue that barely moves the plot forward until some character pulls some revelation out of their ass that you saw coming from a mile away or couldn’t possibly have seen coming because the show purposefully withheld information from you.

Watching Dangan Ronpa is like watching someone play the visual novel. It’s characters standing around talking and you have no reason to be invested because our protagonist is blannndddd and you know that at some point a random event will interrupt the constant repeating of the same stupid lines to finally move the plot along whether you bothered to pay attention or not. Dangan Ronpa had the potential to be good, if they had taking the story and characters and added some depth and psychology to their actions, making it more realistic or if they had said “Fuck it” and turned it into some bat-shit insane weird-fest with characters dying left and right. Instead, they decided to present the source material as is and because of that I’m recommending you pass on this one, unless the concept really seems grabbing to you.