The Future Foundation is in shambles after the Final Killing Game and the revelation of the true culprit. As a desperate plot arises from one of the survivors to rid the world of despair once and for all, the remaining Future Foundation members must band together to stop this atrocity from taking place. Fortunately, they find themselves with help from a group of unlikely allies as they race against the clock to stop their world from being changed.
In this finale to the Hope's Peak storyline of the Danganronpa series, the players in this neverending death game begin to understand the true meaning behind despair, hope, and atonement.
Mod Edit: This review contains major spoilers.
Danganronpa is a great game. Dangaronpa 2 is also a great game. But Danganronpa 3 wants to prove to me that I'm wrong and that they actually awful games about brainwash, fake deaths and plainly stupidity. There is nothing great about a series of games in which the main villain just uses a brainwash video to make everything and everyone act the way she want, making them free of all charges and essentially destroying any dramatic effect this would have. That said, let's speak about Junko.
Junko is great. In the midst of a lot of colorful and excentric characters,
she stands out as the most charismatic and also the most charming one. She was purposely made that way so we could believe that she was capable of manipulating and corrupting all the Ultimates and making them cooperate with her grandiose plan of tainting the world with despair. And so she used every weakness to manipulate them, as informed to the player in a piece of information in the game. But then comes lazy writing and everything now is brainwash. Kinda takes out the whole point of her character, huh? And so everything in the series. The Ultimate Despairs now are just brainwashed people without any responsabilites for their actions. The whole dilemna of "hope versus despair" is entirely meaningless if there is no clear logic behind their actions as Ultimate Despairs.
And really, I don't know what is more stupid: Kirigiri's death or she being revived. What was the point? I can't see any logic if not the writers purposely doing something completely stupid because they knew the game would never do it. Because that's the point of the game. All the death and dark twists mattered. They are important for the thematic construction of the games and its main message to the player. Everything was made that way so its message would be conveyed with a strong impact.
I could go on and babble about the other problems with Danganronpa 3, but those are enough. They destroy everything that was build in the game just for a cheap fanservice with a forced happy ending. A lot of people are crediting this to Kodaka Kazutaka, the creator of the series, but he's just the supervisor, while the writers are actually Higashide Yuichiro and Kodachi Ukyou, the duo behind Gakkou Gurashi. It's difficult to say how much involvment Kodaka has, but being busy with V3, I doubt there is much to credit him for. And now I understand why he made V3 so it wouldn't have any connection with the previous games. No freaking way he could consider this piece of garbage as part of the game series.
My only problem with being a fan of the Danganronpa franchise is that its fanbase can be, sometimes, toxic. If a very little detail is not of their liking, then the whole episode (or worse, the whole show) is garbage, and they sometimes can be hypocrisy incarnate. I'm not generalizing, of course, as I have encountered many nice fellows that also share my taste for this franchise and understand what Kodaka wants to say and do with his story.
Finding a perfect ending these days is a difficult task in almost any media. It's not that they are bad, but they leave with that feeling that
you were expecting more, that things could have concluded in a much better way.
Thankfully that is not the case with Danganronpa 3. We can discuss a lot about the overall quality of the whole series, but Hope Side, as an ending to the Hope's Speak storyline, was how it should have been from the beginning.
First off, this episode explains a few things we were wondering about from the previous episodes. The creation of AI Chiaki was finally explained, the Cure W next to Kirigiri's corpse had a purpose in the end (oh Kodaka, you are so good with details), the fate of Class 77 after the New World Program was finally revealed, etc.
We also got some epic and memorable moments, such as the Class 77 fighting against the brainwashed future foundation agents and cooperating with each other, Nagito finally talking with Naegi (I waited for a moment like this for so long), the confrontation against Mitarai (which was meant to be emotional and NOT EPIC as some fans, for some reason, wanted it) was very touching, the little talk between Hajime and Chiaki was simply good (and necessary), and the final scene with everyone reconstructing Hope's Peak Academy, with Naegi being named the Director, was so relieving...
In the end, everything ended well. Honestly there's barely anything for me to complain about this episode. These "plotholes" some people are talking about are very minor details that can be easily explained if you just opened your mind a little bit.
And calling this episode garbage because it was filled with fanservice... yeah, duh, I mean, for starters Danganronpa 3 only exists as a fanservice! Kodaka could have easily avoided doing this anime and go straight for V3, but he wanted to end this whole storyline in a satisfying way for us... and that he did.
As for Danganronpa 3 as a whole... yeah, I admit there's a lot to discuss and complain about, but despite its flaws it was still an overall entertaining show that gave me many good and memorable moments. Both Future and Despair easily get an 8 out of 10 for me.
But Hope was truly an outstanding ending to the whole franchise, an ending I'll keep in my heart for a long time. I'll really miss all of these characters, but knowing that they are happy now relieves me a lot.
Now let's see how Kodaka manages with New Danganronpa V3!
Surprise, this review has spoilers. That's more surprise than you'll ever get from watching Danganronpa 3.
What made the original Danganronpa stand out from the rest of its genre was the combination of the interesting storytelling through interactive exploration, mystery solving, and the quirky characters. It also didn't take itself too seriously, which was a plus. Unfortunately, many of those traits are lost during a typical transition process from a game to an anime, and this is exactly that. It wouldn't be too bad if the writing was good, but Danganronpa was never really known for that particular aspect. In fact, it was arguably Danganronpa's
weakest point, which was normally overlooked due to its other positives.
Danganronpa 3 had an interesting gimmick by having 2 separate series airing during the same season- Each telling a story of their own while revealing a few key plot points about the other. This could've been great if it was done competently, but competent writing and anime are pretty much antonyms at this point. And as this "Hope-arc" is supposed to be the conclusion of the both, this review will have spoilers for the both series and the finale itself.
The animation itself is about average- I'd assume this was the best they could manage while trying to keep the action sequences to absolute minimum, as many of those end up being just skipped over or last very briefly. The voice acting is perfectly fine, and the soundtrack manages to accompany the animation well, so the general sound direction is fine too. The OP and ED for both shows are easily the best part about the entire series, so it has going for that too. As with most anime, the animation and the aural aspects are not the problem.
It's very difficult to explain what exactly went wrong with the writing, as there are way too many things that went wrong. And by too many, I mean literally almost everything. So with this in mind, I'll try to cover just some of the major issues I had with this show:
1) Pacing & Characters in Future Arc
Future Arc introduced several new characters, but all of them failed to be likeable because they died way too quickly. This is one of the natural problems that arise from the aforementioned game to anime transition. Unlike the games, there is very little interaction between the characters, and there's only so much that can be done in a single cour anime. Bandai ends up dying after spending his few lines on nonsense because Lerche couldn't pay the voice actor for more lines. Gozu dies immediately after fulfilling his role as a bodyguard for Naegi, Kizakura dies immediately after fulfilling his role as a bodyguard for Kirigiri, Izayoi dies immediately after fulfilling his role as a bodyguard for Ruruka, Hagakure wastes his time by himself by doing literally nothing, Komaru and Toko spend an entire episode finding out something that becomes irrelevant later, and Monaka fucks off to space despite being built up as Junko Enoshima's successor. Basically, most of these characters just existed for the sole purpose of dying, and not to actually contribute anything worthwhile to the plot.
Some of the characters actually got some development for whatever the reason through flashbacks and segments of Despair arc, but they don't really amount to anything either. To go into more detail, Ruruka and Seiko are supposed to be friends who became enemies because of some misunderstanding. The story tries to explain why one hates each other, and they both wonder where it went wrong, but this doesn't work because one of the two is obviously in the wrong. Obviously the intent was to make the audience feel bad about both of them and how they split apart after a misunderstanding, but when Ruruka's constantly depicted as a manipulative character that only took advantage of Seiko, there's nothing to sympathize about. In the end, they only existed to provide some action sequences and make the atmosphere more hectic, but served no other purpose aside from that. Worthless.
2) Pacing & Characters in Despair Arc
Despair Arc is even worse than Future Arc, which is a feat considering the characters in Despair Arc have already been given characterization in the second game- Even though the storytelling should theoretically be better because the writers would have more time, it turns out that the writers had no fucking idea what to do with "more time" and end up squandering it completely. Considering how this is paired with one of the most asinine plot points I've ever witnessed in any form of entertainment media, it all translates to a big waste of fucking time. The idea behind the Despair Arc was showing how the Class 77 fell into despair through Junko's manipulation. What actually happens is the complete opposite of what anyone would expect from a competent writer.
Junko is one of the worst, incompetent villains I've seen in recent memory. While Junko has been portrayed as this super manipulative, cunning villain through what she has accomplished in the previous titles, it's never actually shown how exactly she did it. Now that it's shown in Despair Arc in its full glory, it's anything but competent. Junko's sister, who also happens to be a twin, who also happens to be obsessed with her, also happens to be one of the physically strongest characters in the series. So by default, she is given a bodyguard to cover her in case something goes wrong from the moment she was born. As Junko decides to enact her plan when she hears about the Kamukura Project which just happened to be completed at the time, she manages to reach her objective because Hope's Peak's security for the most dangerous being in the series is awful enough for one SHSL level student to get past without problems. Junko and her sister manage to survive without any significant injuries after meeting Kamukura, and also manages to somehow convince him to join her immediately with nonsense talk. Then as soon as Junko is leaving the hospital, she meets Mitarai, who also almost never leaves his room and is just as dangerous as Kamukura plot-wise right on time. And later in the story, Junko manages to survive because Komaeda decided to talk a bit too long instead of just shooting her, and she also manages to blackmail Juzo successfully only because he conveniently happened to have that exploitable weakness related to Munakata, and happened to be the person sent out to investigate Junko at the time. Juzo also happens to lie to Munakata instead of telling the truth when he could've just as easily accused Junko of lying and fabricating a photo of him. Munakata also decides to drop suspicion all together without doing any research of his own just because he's been told that Junko was innocent by his two friends even though he was almost completely certain about his suspicion of Junko. There are other things too, but the point is that nearly every single aspect of Junko plan has worked out through sheer luck- For a villain that's supposed to be incredibly cunning and manipulative, everything just happened to work out in her favor through convenience, which really degrades the character's quality.
Mitarai is the other major problem with the series as a whole- Despite being classified as a SHSL Animator, his talent is so potent that it's easily the most powerful talent in the entire series. In fact, it ends up taking NWP, which is "built with the most recent psychotherapy technology and administrative software by the Ultimate Programmer, the Ultimate Neurologist, and the Ultimate Therapist, among other talented people" just to undo the damage done by his talent. While this is already a problem just by how asinine the concept of "brainwashing through animator talent" is, an even bigger problem is derived from it. Instead of showing how Class 77 was turned into despair by long-term manipulation and tragic backstories, they're immediately brainwashed into doing Junko's bidding. Even the brainwashing part wouldn't be so bad if they were conditioned into being more susceptible to hypnosis with a sequence of tragic events (Twilight Syndrome Murder Case, for example), but there's not even that. Instead, another character named Chiaki is used as a sacrificial lamb just to make this plot point possible- Chiaki basically existed as a Jesus-figure type character that literally everyone liked, so that Class 77 could fall into despair through her death. This is complete nonsense because Chiaki's death wasn't necessary at all for Mitarai's brainwashing animation to work. In fact, Junko's masterful plan to make Chiaki the sacrificial lamb only ends up working against her completely, as all it does is give Kamukura second thoughts about his stance. Junko's such an amazingly incompetent villain that one time she decides to do something through actual planning, she ends up fucking herself up later. Brilliant. Furthermore, this completely shits on the series' concept of "despair" as a whole because it's less of a personal mental state and more of just being brainwashed by Junko.
3) Lack of Mystery & Predictable Twists
The real twist of the show was that there were almost no significant twists. While Future Arc had some, they were mostly inconsequential- The remaining survivor counter in Future Arc's OP ended up being nothing important. There were no fake dead bodies, and the only unrevealed NG code wasn't significant. The great twist of the cast being underwater in an exact replica of the building above also ended up leading nowhere, other than to give Kirigiri a purpose for discovering it. The means of murder through monitors became obvious eventually through Despair Arc, and became anti-climactic when the actual twist was the most boring possible option available. Real Nanami died by the end of Despair Arc as quite literally everyone had expected, and Class 77 was turned into despair through the laziest means possible. Basically, real Chiaki was solely made to explain everything that happened with the Class 77 by making her the center of everything. Ultimately, Despair Arc ends up contributing nothing, other than provide backstories that would've been left better unknown just by how poorly it was done. While shocking twists aren't exactly necessary, they would have made the series much more interesting by just not playing things out exactly as everyone had expected.
4) Incompetent and Inconsistent Writing in General
In Future Arc, the victims commit suicide by being brainwashed by the monitors, and it's deliberately done in a way so that others would think it's a homicide instead. However, when it's Naegi's turn to commit suicide, he makes no effort to make it seem like homicide at all as he just attempts to thrust himself with the knife. Kirigiri doesn't bother to suspect or investigate the hidden Power Room after discovering the fake exit, which could've ended the murder game immediately, which is out of character for someone who's supposed to be a SHSL detective. Tengan's "Complex Motives(tm)" involves causing a Murder Game between FF members to get Mitarai to broadcast his brainwashing anime world-wide- But ends up risking Mitarai's life by not only involving him in the game itself by not just delaying the Murder Game, but also by taunting Munakata into killing literally everyone he could see. Not only does his plan not make sense when he could've just forced/convinced Mitarai to broadcast it anyways, but there were so many things that could've gone wrong that it almost feels like the "motive" was forcibly shoved in at the last minute by the writers. This is even more convincing when Mitarai was shown in Monokuma's Murder Game explanation video, even though he wasn't originally planned to participate.
5) Everything about Hope Arc
This was the writers' desperate attempt to reel the fans back in after making a complete mess of the series with incompetent writing in two shows in one season. Despite the promotional poster showing Naegi and Hinata staring each other down, Naegi ends up doing literally nothing. Instead, Hinata gets the screentime and dialogue he desperately needed after having literally 30 seconds of screentime in the Future Arc, and his only dialogue being how bored he is. Apparently Mitarai suddenly needs 30 minutes to complete his mindhack Global Hope Saturation, even though he has shown that he could immediately brainwash people in seconds. Thankfully, this time limit gives enough time for Class 77 to show up and tell him to stop being a literal faggot. Mitarai just immediately submits after much weeping and self-loathing, and it just ends. All that build-up from the previous episodes just amounted to talking and more talking. Even though Class 77 claims what they're doing is "redemption," it's actually nonsense considering how they were forcibly brainwashed into doing evil deeds. Their first act of "redemption" is then followed by having a barbeque party on a boat and chatting with what is presumably a ghost of a fucking computer program, so happy ending for everyone. Except the real Chiaki, but I guess someone had to die to make the story meaningful, I guess.
In conclusion, this show is awful. The only enjoyment I got out of watching this series was viewing other people's reactions to it, and not the actual show itself, which seems to be most people's motivation for watching awful shows while they're airing. At least they did name the shows appropriately- Future Arc makes you wish you were in the future, instead of present, where you're watching it. Despair Arc puts you in despair because you question yourself where your life went wrong that you're watching literal garbage. Hope Arc makes you hope the next entry in DR series will be better than what you just watched, but it won't be.
With both Mirai-hen and Zetsubou-hen ending, it’s now time for the final episode of Danganronpa 3, Kibou-hen to wrap things up. Although some things may just feel like pure fanservice and maybe the conclusion might be too hopeful for its own good, Kibou-hen managed to make me smile from beginning to end and never have I felt so excited and satisfied from a conclusion before
As you probably already know, this episode should be watched after finishing Zetsubou-hen and Mirai-hen since this episode serves as a conclusion for both series. But not only that, but Kibou-hen is the conclusion for the this Danganronpa universe, and the
next Danganronpa game, New Danganronpa V3, will be the start of a new alternate universe. Taking place right from where Mirai-hen left off at, Mitarai’s uploading his hope AMVs (yeah, that’s how I look at it) to the entire world so that he can brainwash them with hope. Even though it might be with good intentions, he’s using tactics no different from Enoshima Junko. Now it’s up to the remaining survivors of the third killing game and the 77th class to stop him before it’s too late. Even though some things can get a little far-fetched and there are a couple of loose ends, Kibou-hen definitely lives up to its hopeful name and gives the franchise a satisfying and enjoyable conclusion. Story wise, it is what you expect would happen, but it’s executed nicely.
Simply put, this is fanservice for all the Danganronpa fans. This is everything we wanted and this is what we get. Seeing the 77th class again, back to their normal selves is immensely satisfying and enjoyable. Though it may be too coincidental that they’re all fine, but it’s still fun to see them in action. Kibou-hen has focuses more of the Danganronpa 2/Zetsubou-hen characters rather than the Danganronpa 1/Mirai-hen characters. This essentially feels like the 12th episode for Zetsubou-hen, taking place in Mirai-hen’s setting. Some previously foreshadowed plot-points and theories come into play in this episode as some surprising (or not-so-surprising) revelations happen.
Kibou-hen mainly focuses on its 77th class characters (Danganronpa 1/Zetsubou-hen characters). It focuses on their chemistry together and their special quirky traits and how it helps in fighting against Mitarai’s brainwashed soldiers. But what’s the most satisfying is that every character acts and feel just like how they would feel in Danganronpa 2. You’ll see Komaeda having hope-gasms, Tanaka acting like the chuunibyou he is, Souda trying to impress Sonia, Tsumiki taking way to damn long to finish a goddamn sentence since she stammers a lot, Pekoyama caring about her young master, Mioda using her god-awful music to take down some enemies, Owari eating a lot, and Hinata being the hope for everyone. The way Hinata was handled is pretty good. He’s just as caring as he was in Danganronpa 2, but he still has a bit of Kamukura in him, not just in powers but also in personality. And his new character design is a nice representation of him being in the middle of hope and despair. Naegi was a bit underutilized, but the episode was more about the ex-Remnants of Despair.
As mentioned in my previous Danganronpa 3 reviews, I said that the art style in Zetsubou-hen was really vivid, bright and colorful and the art-style in Mirai-hen was more bleak, dark and washed-out. The reason so was to both represent and contrast the tone of their series. Kibou-hen does both, and that’s a really smart idea from the director. The episode started off with Mirai-hen’s art-style and ended off with Zetsubou-hen art-style; from dark and bleak to bright and vivid. This is used to represent the fast that the episode starts with despair, but ends in hope. Really, really good job from Lerche to do something like this. Other than that, the detailing and backgrounds looks just as good as they did in Mirai-hen.
I went more in-depth with the animation quality of the Danganronpa 3 in my other reviews, and Kibou-hen basically has the same production values. It’s animated better than Zetsubou-hen, and just as good as Mirai-hen. The episode is probably the most action-packed Danganronpa episode, but it’s not like as if its budget breaking, since Danganronpa doesn’t need that. The fights… if you want to call them that, are well animated and consistent.
Basically the same voice cast as Mirai-hen and Zetsubou-hen are here in Kibou-hen. They all do a very good job, especially the voice actors for the Danganronpa 2 characters. They make the characters feel just perfectly like how they felt in the second game and it was immensely satisfying. More in-depth analysis on the voice acting can also be found in the other reviews.
Voice Acting: 9.5/10
First of all, there’s no OP or ED in Kibou-hen. But an insert song called "ever free" was played during the end credits and it's pretty good. But the soundtrack from the games is used throughout this episode and its placed really well. The soundtrack in the games were done by Takada Masafumi and his music is put into good use into the entire Danganronpa 3 series. The music in the game were some of the best and I’m glad that we get to hear more of it in Kibou-hen. A really dramatic OST played during the first couple of minutes of the episode and it was really good to increase the tension in the episode.
Did I enjoy Kibou-hen? Well, it would be hard not to, considering the fact that the entire episode is one big pile of fanservice and a crap-load of hope. Seeing the 77th class awake and well, and them acting just like how they originally were, was so fun and satisfying… even if them being all awake is kind of a stretch. The survival of a certain fan-favorite character was nice to see, especially since there were theories about it anyways. And overall, this managed to be a very satisfying conclusion to this Danganronpa universe.
If you have watched both Mirai-hen and Zetsubou-hen, whether you liked it or not, be sure to check out Kibou-hen for a conclusion for not only Danganronpa 3, but for this Danganronpa universe. After all, New Danganronpa 3 will be the start of a new alternate universe. Also, the fanservice was strong in this episode. Seeing 77th class being their original self is very hopeful and the conclusion itself is filled with hope. It would have been nice if it was a longer episode and we got to see an epilogue for the characters, but other than that, this has been a very satisfying conclusion. On second thought, wait, I have another issue with this episode. Where the hell is my “sore wa chigau yo” duet?!
+ A satisfying conclusion for both Danganronpa 3 and the DR universe as a whole
+ Lots and lots of fanservice, particularly with the 77th class back in action.
+ The Danganronpa 2 characters are well-handled and their quirky traits are put into good use.
+ The fact that the art-style changes from Mirai-hen’s bleak style to Zetsubou-hen’s vivid style throughout the episode.
+ The soundtrack from the first two games is put into good use in this episode.
- Lack of an epilogue due to it being only one episode.