Hope's Peak Academy is a special school, recognized by the government, that was established in order to gather and nurture top-class students who excel in various fields. This school has two courses: The main course, and the preparatory course. Anyone with the money can enter the preparatory course, even if they don't have any special skills. The 77th class of the main course is filled with students who not only have unique abilities, but unique personalities as well.
However, the students learned that "Talent isn't the most important thing in life; it's to involve yourself with people and make yourself a better person while making memories." However, little did they know that a mysterious project and discrimination of the courses were happening right under their noses.
Hajime Hinata, a boy from the preparatory class who craves for an ability. The fateful meeting he has drives the future of the school into an unimaginable direction. This is the story of what happened up until the "The Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History." This is a story of hope that ends in despair.
Danganronpa 3: The End of Kibougamine Gakuen - Zetsubou-hen is an original story following the characters of the visual novel Super Danganronpa 2: Sayonara Zetsubou Gakuen before they arrived at the island. It is a prequel to SDR2.
(Spoilers for the Danganronpa games) As half of the Danganronpa 3 anime experience, Side Despair's purpose is to provide backstory for Side Future as well as fill in Super Danganronpa 2's blanks. Neither should should be watched without playing the first two games in the series, but with Despair's final episode over with I can in good conscience say that they shouldn't be watched at all.
Side Despair's problem is that it's boring, safe, predictable, and pointless. As a companion piece to Side Future it does its job fairly well, but in every other regard it's an absolute failure. Danganronpa and Super Danganronpa 2 left several questions unanswered, mysteries left up to one's interpretation. DR3 Side Despair aims to solve these riddles and provide answers to what exactly happened to Class 77 before SDR2's events.
This was a terrible idea.
Class 77's backstory is largely shoved to the background in favour of crossovers with Side Future and an insider's view of series antagonist Junko Enoshima's infernal machinations. When the time finally comes for their big defining moment, none of them have had the development to warrant it. Instead, aside from outliers Nagito Komaeda, Chiaki Nanami, Ryota Mitarai and the Ultimate Impostor, all of them are mushed into one entity. Class 77 is no longer a cast of different characters, but one singular plot device the series has been chained to. Most of the Class 77 segments is spent building up to the demise of the one student missing in SDR2, and when it finally hits it's neither impactful nor entertaining.
Junko Enoshima herself has also lost all of her charm. In the games, she appeared only at the very end of DR1 and SDR2. Now she's a main character in Side Despair, and it really hammers home the point that she's best used sparingly. In short, she's just not a very interesting character when you get down to it. She's evil because she's evil, and every single one of her evil plans always goes off without a hitch. What she ends up doing to plunge the world into despair is also incredibly stupid and hokey. The charismatic supervillain who capped off both games on their victory laps is now an omnipresent, transparently evil mwahahaer with little to do or say except ensure that all of SDR2's major backstory beats are hit. The one shining beacon of hope is one of the new anime-original guys, Juzo Sakakura, an excellently written character with a compelling and tragic arc. However, most of his big moments happen in Side Future, though vital setup occurs in Side Despair. Juzo is one of the best additions to the series yet, and his presence alone saves the show from being scored even lower.
In the end, I liked SDR2 better when I didn't actually know what happened before it. Every answer we get in Side Despair is far lamer than what I'd envisioned, and just about every character is cheapened by the Persona 4-esque herd treatment. Just about the only character who escaped mostly unscathed was Komaeda, and even he, who was THE defining driving force of SDR2, ended up underutilised and mostly there to provide context for Side Future's events. This show not only fails on its own, but it serves to also make SDR2 a much weaker story once you know just how uninteresting its backstory is.
Side Despair is woefully written and dreadfully directed. The animation is also clearly low budget, with the excellent music and voice work, as usual for the franchise, being its only saving graces. You probably already watched this if you're a hardcore fan of the series, but I recommend everyone else give this a skip. Side Future is undoubtedly the stronger show of the two, though even then it'd hard to recommend that one either.read more
These are the words that were spoken in the very beginning of this entry. A tale about the bright and talented students of Hopes Peak Academy's 77th Class. This entry explains what happened to SDR2's cast and everything about the Biggest, Most Atrocious Despair-Inducing Incident in Human History. A great prequel to the Danganronpa series.
If you're interested in watching this, you have to go back to the start of this series as this is the third entry from this series and watching this without knowledge of prior entries will confuse you and you wont get the full enjoyment out of this entry, not to mention it will also spoil the events of SDR1 and 2. If you have knowledge then the watch order would be episode 1 of Side:Future, then episode 1 of Side:Despair and continue that pattern with the finale being Side:Hope. Remember, this review will contain minor and major spoilers of SDR1 and 2, you have been warned.
The story starts off with the 77th Class of Hopes Peak Academy and re-introduces them to us, it starts off fairly light and there's lots of comedic moments you can enjoy with your favorite characters from SDR2 while it foreshadows future events that you already know of. The story elegantly ties in with Side:Future as it gives us backstories of the cast from Side:Future as well. I thought every detail was explained well and even if certain things weren't explained at all, it still happened without visual presentation. I wont call it a plot hole as this is not the case. Unfortunately the show loves to go either with a slow pace or a very fast pace which is a minor setback. There were lots of controversies on how the 77th Class (and reserve course) fell into despair but I found it was the only reasonable explanation. So in conclusion I thought it explained the Biggest, Most Atrocious Despair-Inducing Incident in Human History quite well and we saw how everything happened, the first killing game was handled brilliantly, the events leading up to the major ones was done great. All in all the story tied in every entry in this series.
Story - 9
From the first episode we are introduced to a certain likable character from SDR2 and many were surprised about it because of the events of SDR2. This character is Chiaki Nanami and she's a bit different from SDR2, certain traits were kept but a few things were different about this character which makes sense if you know the whole story about her. Here this character is more perfect than the game version, but more human than in the game which is ironic since she was an AI. All the other characters are the same but the designs are slightly different, but they are all still excellent. We also get to see how Junko plays with Hopes Peak Academy and how she did everything, it's quite nice to see her in action as it really gives me more feeling to her character. Mukuro and Izuru are also present and you can see the love the former has for Junko and despair while the latter is a great written character who is quite tragic in my eyes. I will cover Side:Future's characters in Side:Future's review.
The art isn't anything amazing or mind-blowing nor is the animation, it's well done, but nothing overly bad or overly good, there were some scenes which were really well done in the animation and art department but other than that it wasn't anything special.
Art & Animation: 6
The sound is simply amazing, as per usual in the Danganronpa franchise, they played the right tracks at the right time and it was just amazing. The voice acting was high tier as well, how can the voice acting go wrong when you have that many talented actors for the characters? (Ah ultimate students get ultimate actors)
Being a Danganronpa fan, this has obviously been a blast to me, there were one or two boring parts but other than that it was one hell of a ride and I wouldn't mind re-watching this in the years to come, it showed me scenes that I really wanted to see ever since the games told me about them and I'm very satisfied about this series.
While this show does have a few faults, I still think it was really good, a great anime that I recommend to any fan of the Danganronpa franchise, it's a must watch and I'll remember this one for a while just like the previous entries in this franchise.
First things first. You need the play the two DR games (DR 1, SDR2) to fully understand and enjoy the two DR3 anime. If you were a fan of the first installment of the Danganronpa anime, you'll love the games, so please, if you haven't so already, turn around and play those two games (or watch a walkthrough) for the best viewing possible. DR: Another Episode is also mandatory especially for Future arc. Also be sure to watch both Future and Despair arc in broadcast order (i.e. watch future arc ep 1 then watch despair arc ep 1, and so on). There are parts where the story and characters might overlap, so be sure to watch it like that for better understanding.
DR3: Despair arc is essentially a prologue to the DR story. It centers around the 77th class of the Hope's Peak acadmey, who btw are the main cast of the 2nd game: SDR2. The setting, once so happy and carefree, turns into one of the darkest points in their history: a prologue to the Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic event in human history. As the title and premise says, don't expect a happy ending to this. Although it starts off like your typical slice of life school anime, there is a brooding tone that constantly evolves as the episodes contiunously progress, awaiting to become a monster that destroys the students daily lives with despair. This tone starts as lighthearted then transitions into a darker mood, eventually becoming something outright disturbing. Suddenly, the happy, slice of life school setting is no more, instead it becomes violent, bloody and despair-inducing.
One thing I liked is that they didn't linger or focus too much into the events the game already touched to an extent, like the Twilight Syndrome case. Just showing things in Hajime's point of view, and that was the better thing to do for the series.
One thing I would've liked was to see the 78th class just a bit more than a cameo, like their original interactions with Junko, but with the anime being just 1 cour, it's understandable that they had to leave that out.
A disappointing isssue was that he pacing is a noticeably off. I feel like 11 episodes for the 77th class wasn't enough in the end. If it could have gotten a little bit more time, and cut a little bit more of the fanservice, I think the whole tragedy and the aftermaths could have been done better.
(SPOILERS: For example, the scene of "her" death and the 77 class turning into despair could have used an in-between scene. Maybe one that goes more in-depth of how the class fully submitted to Junko. The skip between the death scene and the finale was too sudden, considering the two were a couple months apart.)
The animation of the characters are really fun to watch as a fan. Just seeing all those characters I loved so much from the 2nd game animated is just so exciting. I felt that one good touch was that as episodes progress and tends to get darker, the art itself progresses to a more darker mood along with the story. Even the opening changes during the middle, to a much more darker color. It was a very nice touch to have, considering what was coming.
The OP/ED is pretty good, and the soundtracks were decent, although it could've been better. One thing I did like is how they used some game soundtracks for good nostalgia. The voice acting is fantastic as usual though, just like the games. The voices fit so well with the characters, which always helps the experience.
The most important part of the despair arc (and the rest of the danganronpa series in general) are without a doubt the characters. If I didn't care for the characters, I would never have felt anything for them and thus I probably wouldn't have cared what happened to them. Now, since the most of the cast were fleshed out pretty well in SDR2, it wasn't that hard to make me like them from the get go. However, one thing I would've liked to see is just making the cast even stronger. I know that Chiaki, Hinata, and Nagito are indeed the important characters, but I also would've liked those without too much game time from SDR2 to get a bit more exposure and development, like Teruteru and Mahiru to an extent. What I'm glad though, is the screen time the Ultimate Imposter got. Anyways, even if some characters are not getting the desirable screen time, they are still enjoyable to watch. This is also an important reason to play the games before watching this. You just get to know the characters better and smile as they are finally interacting cheerfully without being forced to kill each other. And of course, feel a lot more sadness when they are forced to go through "that process". However, one thing that I am really glad Despair arc managed was Mukuro and Junko getting a bit more depth, as well as Mitarai.
One thing I didn't really like though, was how it put focus on the future arc characters for a couple of episodes, halting potential DR0 scenes and even halting the depth of the characters and their downfall. It's a shame that the despair process did not go as I imagined thanks to this, as I would've preferred the "despairification" process to be on a more personal level. Having more than 11 episodes would have helped.
As a huge fan of the danganronpa series, I feel both love and disappointment with the DR 3. On one hand, I loved seeing the characters I loved so much animated, interacting with each other. Even the first two episodes which were basically fan service was enjoyable to watch. Although honestly, they could have made the slice-of-life moments shorter just so we could've had more plot development earlier on. And on the other hand there were pacing issues, like I've mentioned. Also, the despair arc is also a big 'what could have been'. What if they would have personalized the despairification process? I think that would have been a better way to showcase and further the depth of both the characters and how they became "despair". Nonetheless, I had this huge smile while watching the first couple of episodes, only for it to turn to sadness and eventually into complete anxiousness as I knew what would eventually happen to the cast. It could have been much better, in fact, after rewatchign the series a couple of times, I just feel disappointed in how the revelation of how the 77th class turned into despair. It's still a fine watch.
Give the entire series (games + anime) a try! It's definitely worth your time.read more
As a major fan of this series, I was expecting this anime to conclude the story for the three games and this arc was a surprise to many as we got a prequel of the second game to explain many mysteries involving the characters and the entire plot for the rest of the games.
Sadly, there's a huge problem when, instead of giving you answers or even more questions, this anime leaves you with contradictions about what you already experienced in the games.
Danganronpa 3: The end of Hope's Peak Academy - Despair Side falls into this situation repeatedly. The selling point of this work is, as shown in their PV, the evolution of the 77th class into despair. They're barely present in the series. Barely. And they were the selling point.
The development about the characters we all knew and love is null, there's nothing to add into what the games already showed us and at points it contradicts what you have done in the games.
The pace of the writing is wonky at best, with jumps in time that aren't explained of make sense in the huge timeline of the franchise, there's fanservice just to cover up the huge plotholes this anime leaves and it doesn't feel like it's a gift for the fans who have played this game for more than 4 years.
Just as an example: The final scene from this anime in the credits contradicts the very five minutes you play into SDR2. And that isn't supposed to happen if you're going for a ground-breaking project like this and expect to make people who are already more than familiar with the story be angry or nitpicky because of the poor attention to detail.
The few things that save this anime is the music, which is very nice in both Op/End and their OST, the voice acting which is top notch and the appearance of the Despair Twins and their dynamics and also the dynamics between the Future Foundation main Trio.
The protagonist and focus of this arc is weak, the introduction of a fan favourite to turn her into the mere shadow she was in the games for a plot device is simply insulting and her classmates are barely in there. Other than Impostor and Health Committee member, no one else gets development in a refreshing way or have any weight in the plot.
As an advice I recommend to not be hype about this anime if you're a die hard fan of the series or do it as me: Play the three games in a row, then sit to watch this; because you'll notice all the plotholes and contradictions and you'll be more focused into that than the entire story they poorly presented.
Don your wizard cape and grab your mystical staff of unmentionable powers! It's time to learn about the most fascinating chuunibyou characters in anime who suffer from "middle school 2nd year sickness."