is a series of "high-speed mystery action adventure" visual novels
, released by Spike for the PSP
and PS Vita
. The games combine mystery-solving with elements of shooting and even rhythm gameplay.
The premise of the two titles in the series thus far take the same formula; the player takes the role of a new student at Hope's Peak Academy, a prestigious high school in Japan which only accepts the cream of the crop for its classes. This mentality extends towards any
sort of niche, including unconventional ones like otaku
and gamers. Students with these extraordinary talents are given a "Super High School-Level X" titlenote
Unfortunately, things start to go awry once the new kid steps inside the school itself, as they lose conciousness and wake up elsewhere, with no memory of the interim. They soon find that all the exits and windows are locked to prevent escape, and meet several other students in the same predicament. Before long, the thing who put them there reveals himself - Monokuma
, a sadistic, sentient teddy bear.
He quickly reveals that the students will be forced into a "school life of mutual killing" - if a person murders a classmate, the rest of the student body will have a class trial to determine the killer's identity. If they get it right, the culprit is executed in a showy display tailor-made to their personality traits
. If they get it wrong, however, the killer "graduates" and gets to leave the school, while the rest die in their place.
As the bodies begin to pile up and Monokuma starts introducing new motives to kill one another, the player must find the killer in each chapter to make sure the kids have a shot at escaping for themselves.
The series is rather complicated, consisting of a series of stringing plotlines over several mediums.
Works in the series in release order:
- Dangan Ronpa: Academy of Hope and the High School Students of Despair note : The original game, starring Makoto Naegi in Hope's Peak Academy.
- Danganronpa IF - a short story about a What If? scenario for the first game, unlocked by beating the second one.
- Dangan Ronpa Zero: A two part light novel prequel to the first game.
- Super Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye, Academy of Despair: The official sequel to the first game.
- Danganronpa Kirigiri - a prequel novel series about Kyouko Kirigiri, a character from the first game; the first book was released September 2013, and there are now currently three.
- Absolute Despair Girls: Danganronpa Another Episode - a Third-Person Shooter starring Makoto Naegi's sister Komaru; set in between the first two games and functioning as a Gaiden Game.
- Absolute Despair Hagakure - A novel included in Dangan Ronpa Another Episode that can be unlocked after completing the game.
- An untitled third main game has been announced - not much is known other than that it's in progress.
- A new novel series for 2015 has been announced - all that has been confirmed is the writer.
- There is also has a collection of supplementary manga series for both the first and the second games, complementing and even expanding the events depicted in the Visual Novels by adding missing details and different points of view.
Tropes for the series as a wholenote include:
- Anyone Can Die: The first game plays this very straight. Afterwards this trope is played with quite heavily, as in Super Dangan Ronpa 2 almost all of the "dead" characters are revealed to be comatose and it's implied they'll eventually wake up and in Absolute Despair Girls all but two minor characters' deaths are revealed as fakeouts.
- Artistic Age: Most of the students in the first two games are supposed around the same age, but sure don't look it. Adults, however, have it much, much worse whenever they appear.
- Author Appeal: The creators are admitted fans of punk rock, which would explain why there's a character who's an open fan in both the first and second games.
- Big Bad: Junko Enoshima, as the end of the first game reveals. Every other main villain in the series has at least a connection to them.
- Black Blood: The blood in the series is pink, used as a stylistic choice.
- Darker and Edgier: In the first game, Hope's Peak Academy was portrayed as a good and noble institution, where students lived together in harmony and got a quality education, before being perverted into something horrible by the machinations of Junko Enoshima. By the second game, Hope's Peak Academy was actively defrauding hundreds of average-joe students of their parents' money just to keep financially afloat, was riddled with bullying and dysfunction, and used mad science to create the horrifically transhuman madman that was Izuru Kamakura. Junko only had to give it the least push to get it all to come crumbling down. The third game more-or-less reveals that huge sections of the school, including the "Elementary" branch, were horribly abusive towards their students, with one kid's parents who were also teachers at the school treating him more like a lab rat than a son with the institution's apparent approval.
- Deuteragonist: Every entry in the franchise has more than one protagonist. The protagonist trios for the first and second games even have a nickname used in official material, the Trial Point Getters.
- Dysfunction Junction: No matter which instalment it is the majority of the cast will have Hidden Depths and a Dark and Troubled Past, giving most of the "villain"s a sympathetic motive or backstory, bar Junko Enoshima herself. Monokuma will do anything he can to try and drive them to their Despair Event Horizon and as a result anyone who survives a killing game will be forced to endure a Trauma Conga Line as they watch those around them be forced to kill or be killed in return, with the characters who aren't forced into playing rarely being any better off with the murders mysteries that still surround them.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The first game is jarringly lacking in the Deconstructer Fleet elements the series is known for afterwards.
- Genre-Busting: Many of the characters were designed with different genres in mind according to Word of God, and the series changes its genre on the drop of a hat.
- Idiot Hair: A trademark of the series protagonists. No less than five main characters have one.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: Taken Up to Eleven. The first sentence in Dangan Ronpa Zero gives away The Reveal of the first game, and by Absolute Despair Girls the series practically expects the player to know the plot of the previous games.
- Jigsaw Puzzle Plot: Each entry in the franchise creates new plot threads for the next entries to pick up. It can get a bit complicated to follow everything, not to mention requires a lot of reading.
- Loads and Loads of Characters: Each game is pretty manageable cast wise, but putting them together the cast is enormous. With at least a dozen new characters introduced each game, the series has well over 50 characters, most of them very fleshed out.
- Red Eyes, Take Warning: If Monokuma (and most of his fellow mascots) sporting one wasn't a clue the presence of at least one red eyed character in every installment of a murder mystery based series is bound to cause either some examples or subversions of this. As an added bonus every single red-eyed character seen so far has continued the trend set up by Monokuma by continuing his "dangerous duo persona" motif to varying extents.
- Series Mascot: Monokuma for the franchise and the first game in particular. Each game also has its own specific 'mascot' character.
- Sympathetic Murderer: More often than not they're this.
- Villain-Based Franchise: Monokuma is a very murderous bear.
- Widget Series: Not always, but it certainty has its moments when Monokuma is involved.