Friday, 5 July 2013

Danganronpa - Episode 1

Hope's Peak Private Academy is, as the name alludes to, an exclusive establishment reserved solely for the best of the best; the country's brightest in a variety of disciplines.  Well, almost solely for the best and brightest, with the exception of our protagonist, Naegi Makoto, who won a place at the academy via sheer dumb luck thanks to a lottery.

If this seems like a cause for celebration, then you'd be right - at least, until Naegi takes his first step across the academy's threshold, at which point things take a decidedly weird turn.  Blacking out the second he enters the school grounds, he awakens to find himself invited to the school year's entrance ceremony, and an opportunity to meet fourteen weird and wonderful geniuses from an equally weird variety of disciplines, be they school idols or fanzine makers.  Where things become really bizarre however is with the introduction of the school's principle - a talking stuffed bear (despite protestations that he is anything but) named Monobear.

This is by no means the school's only unique talking point however, as the gathered students are told that they will be staying at the academy, all expenses paid, for the rest of their lives, with only one exception which will allow them to leave - that being if they kill one of their fellow students.  If everybody is initially on the same page with regard to not playing such an insane game, a few days later cracks are already beginning to show, and Monobear has in his possession some video footage which will only ramp up the group's desire to escape no matter how vastly...

It feels cheap to describe it in such a way (and rather ironic too given it's a video game adaptation), but the presentation and premise of Danganronpa feel so "anime" that it hurts.  Not that this is a bad thing - its concept is the kind of lunacy that probably drew many of us to the medium in the first place, and although it perhaps tries a little too hard to create a roster of larger than life characters there's no shortage of promise in its core plot that feels more than a little reminiscent to Mirai Nikki in some ways.  The sheer insanity of it all also somehow manages to suit the decidedly low budget animation (which itself feels more like in-game FMV than an actual episode of anime), and the result is a series that feels like it should be a lot of fun if it plays its cards right.

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