Franchise / Dangan Ronpa

Danganronpanote  is a series of "high-speed mystery action adventure" visual novels created by Kazutaka Kodaka, and released by Spike (Now Spike Chunsoft) for the PSP, PS Vita and Steam. 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 consciousness 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.

Of course, the students swear against something as extreme as killing each other. And yet, horrifyingly, the bodies begin to pile up. Throughout the game, Monokuma continues to give them all new motives to kill each other, and the player must find the killer in each chapter to make sure the survivors all have a shot of escaping together.

The series is rather complicated, consisting of a series of stringing plotlines over several mediums. It also has has a number of translations (official and unofficial) varying in consistency, so that context may affect how certain examples are written.

Works in the series in release order:

Main Installments
  • Dangan Ronpa: Academy of Hope and the High School Students of Despair note : The original game, starring Makoto Naegi in Hope's Peak Academy. (Japanese release: 2010, English release: 2014)
  • Super Dangan Ronpa 2: Goodbye, Academy of Despair note : The official sequel to the first game, starring Hajime Hinata on the Jabberwock Island Resort. (Japanese release: 2012, English release: 2014)
  • Dangan Ronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak Academy - Original anime airing in Summer 2016, split into two concurrently airing arcs. Acts as the Grand Finale to the Hope's Peak Academy Saga.
  • New Dangan Ronpa V3: Everyone's New Semester of Mutual Killing note  - the third main series game, announced for both the Play Station Vita and PlayStation 4 and the beginning of the Gifted Inmates Academy Saga. Despite its name, it is confirmed by Word of God to be the fourth main entry. (Japanese Release: 2017)

Spin-off Games
  • Danganronpa: Unlimited Battle - A Japan-only free-to-play iOS game similar to Monster Strike.
  • Cyber Danganronpa VR: Class Trial - A tech demo utilizing the PlayStation 4's Virtual Reality headset, the PlayStation VR.
  • Kirigiri Sou: A sound novel based around the gameplay of Chunsoft's Otogirisou, centered on Kyouko Kirigiri, a character from the first game. It was released as a pack-in with the third special edition Blu-ray box set of Dangan Ronpa 3 in Japan.

Novel/Manga Spin-offs
  • Danganronpa IF - a short story about a What If? scenario for the first game, unlocked by beating the second one.
  • Dangan Ronpa Kirigiri - a prequel novel series about Kyoko Kirigiri, a character from the first game; the first book was released September 2013, and there are now currently five.
  • Makoto Naegi's Worst Day Ever - a short story released with the Danganronpa anime DVD/BD.
  • Absolute Despair Hagakure - A novel included in Dangan Ronpa Another Episode that can be unlocked after completing the game.
  • Danganronpa 1 ・2 Beautiful Days - A series of non-canon short stories written by multiple authors, based around the daily lives of both main installments' respective casts.
  • Dangan Ronpa Togami - a prequel novel about Byakuya Togami, written by Yuya Sato.
  • Super Danganronpa 2: Kazuichi Soda in Desperate Causality - a spin-off centered on Kazuichi Soda, a character from the second game.
  • There is also 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.
  • Dangan Ronpa Gaiden: Killer Killer: Manga spinoff written by Yuichirou Koizumi and illustrated by Sasako Mitomo. Was initially published and advertised as a standalone work, but was revealed and subsequently rebranded as a side-story to Dangan Ronpa 3 in the third chapter.

Animated/Live-Action Adaptations
  • Danganronpa: The Animation - An Anime of the Game adapting the first installment.
  • Danganronpa The Stage ~Kibō no Gakuen to Zetsubō no Kōkōsei - a stage play adapting the first installment.
  • Super Danganronpa 2 The Stage Play - a stage play adapting the second installment.
  • Super Dangan Ronpa 2.5: Nagito Komaeda and the Destroyer of Worlds: an OVA that comes with New Dangan Ronpa V3. It's set after the events of Super Dangan Ronpa 2 and before Dangan Ronpa 3 - Side: Hope.

Tropes for the series as a wholenote  include:

  • After the End: Courtesy of the Ultimate Despair and The Tragedy, the world has apparently been caught up in a state of social unrest, war, widespread terrorism, coup d'etats, mass suicides, and general anarchy for at least two years. This is the real reason nobody could rescue the students trapped in Hope's Peak, despite their killing game being broadcast worldwide. Of course, this is all revealed by an Unreliable Narrator. By the second game, we learn that they were telling the truth about the Tragedy, but that things are starting to calm down thanks to the efforts of the Future Foundation and the capture of the Remnants of Despair. Killer Killer even implies that society is recovering fairly quickly, with the idol industry, hospitals, and the manga industry back up and running.
  • 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 eventually wake up in Danganronpa 3 Hope Arc and in Absolute Despair Girls all but two minor characters' deaths are revealed as fakeouts.
  • Artifact Title: Due to the series title relating to the class trials (literally translating as "bullet rebuttal"), any installment that doesn't have them falls under this.
  • 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.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: While the intent behind them is just as gruesome, the female executions can usually be counted on to pull the camera away (Pekoyama), darken the screen (Kirigiri), happen quickly enough that nothing explicit is seen (Nanami) or keep the eventual state of the victim's body ambiguous or hidden from view (Celestia, Tsumiki). By comparison, the male executions will almost always show the executed as they're dying or show the gory results of their death. This makes it all the more shocking when female characters are graphically killed on-screen, such as Mukuro and her sister.
  • 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 and Gray Morality/Black and White Morality: It really depends on who you side with in the ongoing battle of Hope vs. Despair. One side is completely dedicated to bringing chaos, death, and destruction to the world For the Evulz, while the other often has people of questionable moralities doing what they feel is best to stop them and make the world a better place.
  • Black Blood: The blood in the series is pink, used as a stylistic choice. This is however not the case in Dangan Ronpa 3 and text descriptions in story make it clear the blood is canonically red.
  • Book Ends: The Hope's Peak saga both begins and ends the same way: Makoto Naegi, alone in a classroom in Hope's Peak itself. The first time, he's there as a captive in the Killing School Life, the second he's headmaster of the newly remade school.
    • There's another one in terms of the masterminds' executions, in a chronological sense. The first person to be executed by the mastermind in the timeline was Chiaki Nanami, as depicted in Side:Despair. The last person in the timeline to be executed by the mastermind was the Chiaki Nanami AI, as seen in Super Dangan Ronpa 2.
  • 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 that they swept under the rug to keep up their reputation, and used mad science to create the horrifically transhuman nihilist 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. The finale anime shows that the main course students don't even have to attend class, and are there to be studied rather than get an education.
  • 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 installment 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: While the characters themselves serve as interesting deconstructions of the archetypes they represent, the first game is jarringly lacking in the plot-particular Deconstructor Fleet elements the series is known for afterwards.
    • The first couple major installments usually tends to have a few main/playable characters in the story with being responsible for the events that went on in the story. Starting around Dangan Ronpa 3, there has multiple main/playable characters with Dangan Ronpa 3 having Makoto, Kyoko, Chisa, Ryota, Munakuta, Chiaki, Junko, and Hajime/Izuru and New Dangan Ronpa V3 having Kaede, Shuichi, Himiko, Maki, Kiibo, Kaito, and Kokichi.
    • It should be noted that the first couple of installments lack of any direct romance and they mostly rely on Ship Tease. Starting around Dangan Ronpa 3, a lot of characters ended up being involved in an Official Couple and they actually were involved in a direct romance.
    • The executions in a later installments were much more brutal in comparison to the executions in the first two major installments.
    • The first game is the only one with the Re:Action feature.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: 99% of the cast can be traced back to Hope's Peak Academy.
  • Fantastic Caste System:
    • How Hope's Peak worked: students without talents were seen as cash cows, subjected to education of lesser quality while paying enormous sums of money, all that money was used to invest on the students of the main course, who had a habit of burning money away like there was no tomorrow and the school's secret experiments on talent, this eventually led to The Parade.
    • The Gifted Inmates Saga, which starts with New Danganronpa V 3 is implied to have the same situation, but expanded through the country, instead of just a school. The government has the "Gifted System", which gives privileges to those who prove their talents.
  • Gambit Roulette: In nearly every instance, the Big Bad's Evil Plan will usually be extremely risky and complicated, with a good chance of utterly collapsing from only the tiniest of random chance events going wrong. This gets lampshaded in the first game, Dangan Ronpa Zero and Dangan Ronpa IF: by her very nature, Enoshima can't stand to see a plan go perfectly and would rather insert a chance of her own failure just for the chance to feel despair. In spite of all that, The Plan almost always goes off without a hitch.
  • 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.
  • Geodesic Cast: The casts of the two main installments in the Hope's Peak Academy saga share a number of reflective traits, with the primary difference being that one represents hope while the other represents despair, with a traitor who goes against this (Enoshima and Nanami).
  • Giving Someone the Pointer Finger: Hardly a single character in the series doesn't have a sprite that involves them pointing at someone. The only type that's more common is the thinking/concentration sprite.
  • Hijacked by Ganon: Junko Enoshima tends to show up near the end of most works in the franchise eventually.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Averted. For all its focus on high school students committing murder and gruesome executions, the series is filled with genuinely good, moral people. Those who do kill are only driven to do so thanks to Monokuma's manipulations and are often remorseful about their actions. Even the remnants of despair, who've committed some of the worst crimes in the series, are given a second chance through rehabilitation.
    • Ultimately played straight, and hard, with V3. The reason the franchise is even going on? Every single entry in the series is part of a twisted Reality Show where the contestants are all brainwashed and refitted with a new personality, and all of the contestants, save one, was in it for fame and glory. No one even minds the fact that we're seeing hundreds of people die (enough to go on for 53 seasons) because it's all so exciting.
  • Idiot Hair: A trademark of the series protagonists. No less than six main characters have one, two of whom did not receive it until being Promoted to Playable.
  • Irony: The first game reveals in Chapter 4 that the Killing Game is being broadcast to the world at large like a TV Show with many people tuning in. It's supposed to lead us to believe that the World and Society outside of the school is very messed up for allowing this kind of game to be held in the first place, but it all makes sense when it's revealed that the World fell to Despair and any semblance of normal life and society has been destroyed in the ensuing apocalypse, there's no order anymore. Fast forward to Danganronpa V3 when it turns out this Killing Game actually IS being held in a normal world where the Fall to Despair never happened, it's just a society who loves watching people killing each other in a reality show, and even has people begging to sign up to join in the next installment, this game marking the 53rd installment of Danganronpa in-universe.
  • 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.
  • Late-Arrival Spoiler: Taken Up to Eleven. The first sentence in Dangan Ronpa Zero gives away The Reveal of the first game, the character roster of Super Dangan Ronpa 2 (seen on the game's front cover) gives away the fate of one character from the first game, and by Absolute Despair Girls the series is clearly expecting people to know everything about the previous games before even trying to look up anything about the new instalments.
    • To get even more ridiculous on how liberal the series is with this trope, Dangan Ronpa Kirigiri does this to itself. The cover to the fourth volume depicts three characters who were introduced in a case in the previous book, a case of which had four people, one of whom was the culprit. While no direct visual image of the characters is shown there, enough information is given that the reader can match them to the fourth cover and the identity of the culprit (Korisu Kakitsubata) becomes obvious through exclusion.
  • 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.
  • Love Hurts: While the first game doesn't have much romance to do this, starting with Dangan Ronpa Zero, this trope is in full effect. Needless to say, if two have some kind of romantic relationship, implied or otherwise, it is near guaranteed to end in tragedy.
  • The Many Deaths of You: Each game has many executions and methods of murder for each of the characters.
  • Nebulous Evil Organisation: The Ultimate Despair.
  • Orgy of Evidence: The game's framejobs almost always turn out like this, with the 3rd case in the first game looking so damning that one character starts calling it a setup before the trial has begun. The second case in the the second game meanwhile ends up making the patsy an impossibility as far as suspects go because of all the inconsistencies in her characterization with the evidence left behind.
  • Recurring Element: The franchise is known by having several:
    • There's always a Big Guy among the cast of each installment, respectively, they were Sakura Oogami, Nidai Nekomaru, The Great Gozu and Gonta Gokuhara.
    • There's always an "Ultimate ???" in each game, Kyouko Kirigiri, Hajime Hinata and Rantaro Amami.
    • Each Killing Game ended by someone performing a Heroic Sacrifice by the sake of someone else, respectively, those were Sakura Oogami, Chiaki Nanami, Juzo Sakakura and Ki-Bo.
    • There's always a case with two victims and it's always the third. Connected to it, a female character crosses the Despair Event Horizon and commits an unsympathetic murder, those being Celestia Ludenberg, Mikan Tsumiki, Ruruka Andou and Maki Harukawa.
    • There will always be a character who obsesses over one half of the main theme of the game, such as Junko Enoshima (Despair), Tengan, Ryouta, and Komaeda (Hope), and Oma (Lies).
    • The person that takes the death the hardest is always among the survivors, respectively, they were Aoi Asahina, Sonia Nevermind, Ryota Mitarai and Himiko Yumeno.
    • There will always be a character in disguise or impersonating another person, such as Mukuro Ikusaba, the Ultimate Imposter, Monaca Towa, and Tsumugi Shirogane.
  • 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.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Hope's Peak Academy actually exists to avert this, collecting high schoolers with exceptional talents for the decades (the first games cast belonging to the 78th year) and helping guarantee them a successful future. Hajime even says that many leaders of various industries are alumni of the school. The effects this has had on society are noticeable, with things like advanced robotics and AIs being somewhat commonplace.
  • Religion of Evil: While merely implied in the first game by the Monokuma masks worn by the rioters, the lines drawn between the followers of despair get more explicitly compared to a cult in the sequel when Monokuma is describing their mantra of having no purpose behind the despair they cause, only spreading despair as an offering to "their god." By Another Episode, someone even outright tells a member of the Warriors of hope that they were all swayed into joining a cult by Junko's honeyed words delivered in their most vulnerable hour.
  • School for Scheming: Hope's Peak Academy is outed as a rather realistic example, being horrifically corrupt and damaging to everyone involved. By Dangan Ronpa 3, it's practically the Greater-Scope Villain of the series.
  • Series Mascot: Monokuma for the franchise and the first game in particular. Each game also has its own specific 'mascot' character.
  • Signature Style: The fusion of bright colors, wild and wacky character designs inside uncanny environments with realistic and brutal imagery, or as the creators call it, "Psycho Pop." However, for New Danganronpa V 3 the style becomes a variation of it called "Psycho Cool".
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness vs. Seriousness: The series as a whole slides back and forth between both sides, though how much depends on the installment. Things like murders, class trials, and executions are counterbalanced by funny dialogue, cartoonish sound effects, and the sheer absurdity of some of the situations. Not to mention the main villain is a sadistic robot teddy bear.
  • Strictly Formula: As the franchise goes on, a lot of patterns keep popping up per chapter:
    Chapter 1: A heavily advertised character, one presented as important to the plot or seems to have ties to previous casts are killed/executed ( Sayaka, Imposter, Kaede, Yuuta). The first execution is usually one of the most brutal to set the tone.
    Chapter 2: A murder occurs because someone flew off the handle, sometimes because of their past (Mondo/Chihiro, Peko/Mahiru, Tojo/Ryouma). Usually tragic.
    Chapter 3: Double murder (Ishimaru/Yamada, Ibuki/Saionji, Angie/Tenko). The murderer also does it for a completely unsympathetic reason (for money, for "love", and because he wanted to rejoin and restart his sexual relationship with his sister in death).
    Chapter 4: Big Guy Fatality Syndrome is in full effect (Sakura, Nidai, Gonta). The trial ends in a Tear Jerker and the death was committed for a noble cause(end the internal conflict of the group, get the group out of the funhouse, saving Oma's life)
    Chapter 5: One of the main characters is in danger, pretty much sought out by the mastermind (Kyouko and Makoto, Komaeda and Chiaki, Maki and Oma). The last death is especially brutal, but it sets the stage for the Killing Game ending once and for all. The trial ends in the execution for a character among the main group(Makoto(though he survives), Chiaki (Despite being an AI), Kaito) and the last victim is always an antagonistic character(Mukuro, Nagito, Oma)
    Chapter 6: Mastermind is revealed, the truth of their situation comes out. It's usually a person that no one expected (Junko, Izuru Kamukura and Junko again, Tengan, Monaca, Shirogane).
    • Danganronpa 3 Side: Future doesn't have Chapters like its parent games did, but it still follows the formula: Chisa is killed off early, Bandai is killed because of Juuzo furiously hitting someone, Gozu dies, Ruruka gets one of the gorier deaths, Kyouko's rule is rigged in the Mastermind's favor either way and almost dies, Juuzo's death sets the endgame in motion (and in some fashion succumbs to Big Guy Fatality Syndrome as well) and the Mastermind wasn't exactly expected.
    • In a grimly amusing example, even the very first killing game runs through the above plot points in the 5 minutes that it lasted. Ikuta, the most outspoken member, gets shot point blank by Mukuro to get the other kids to play along. Karen goes off the handle once when she figures out her mom's been kidnapped. Tsubasa and Taro get killed by a very bitter Kurosaki. Hino actively antagonized Kamukura, and had the grimmest death out of the cast through getting his head torn up by falling on his own chainsaw. The mastermind was Junko, a girl who wasn't involved with the student council at all, and it's revealed afterward to Kamukura that the whole thing was being used to brainwash people into despair through an altered video of their deaths. They even have a missing member; when it was all over, Murasame managed to escape without anyone noticing.
    • Advertised Extra / Red Herring: Franchise stable:
      • On the first game pre-release, Sayaka Maizono is presented as Makoto's love interest. She is the first victim, and the real Deuteragonist ends up being Kyoko Kirigiri.
      • In Danganronpa 2, Both Nagito and Togami is played up as important during pre-release stage, especially since Togami is one of the characters from Danganronpa 1. the fat Togami is an imposter who got killed in Chapter 1, while you are playing as Hajime with Nagito is his foil.
      • In Danganronpa 3, Chisa Yukisome is presented as one of the few reasonable Future Foundation member and is the narrator in the trailer. She dies in the first episode of future arc; she is still important in despair arc, but as we found out eventually is an Ultimate Despair.
      • In New Danganronpa V 3s early advertisement, it was hinted that the protagonist would be the robotic Makoto Expy that was later named Ki-bo. The second PV reveals that the protagonist would actually be Kaede Akamatsu, a character not revealed on the early material, and she became heavily promoted. Then it turns out she is a Decoy Protagonist, being the culprit in Chapter 1 and thus executed, leading to Shuichi becoming the real protagonist. However it was followed by Ki-bo temporarily, when Shuichi suffers a Heroic B.S.O.D. in Chapter 6.
    • By the time V3 was announced this trope had been played so common that there are quite enough fans to guess the above points.
  • Speech-Centric Work: Another Episode aside. Even the "action" segments largely involve talking aggressively in dramatic debates.
  • Spell My Name with an "S": Danganronpa or Dangan Ronpa? Both spelling have been officially used, though most fans prefer the former.
  • Sympathetic Murderer: More often than not they're this.
  • The Only One: The Trial Point Getters are often the only ones capable of making any major breakthroughs in the trial, while everyone else follows along.
  • One Steve Limit: Averted in the first game as a plot point with Taeko Yasuhiro and Yasuhiro Hagakure. The spinoffs avert this ruthlessly, with lesser characters often sharing common names with more important ones (though sometimes the writing is different), to the point that there are no less than three unrelated characters with the first name Rei; Rei Mikagami, Rei Naruko and Rei Shimizu.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: So far, it has been some sort of trend with tritagonists, Another Episode excluded, i.e. Makoto, Byakuya, Kyoko in the first game, Hajime, Nagito and Chiaki in the second, and Shuichi, Kaito, and Maki in the third. In Danganronpa 3 the dynamic belongs to Munakata, Juuzo, and Chisa though they're not exactly the main characters, and the dynamic is inverted with Makoto, Kirigiri, and Aoi. V3 has an inversion as well, given that the sole survivors of the game are Shuuichi, Maki, and Himiko.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: Monokuma is a very murderous bear.
  • Widget Series: Not always, but it certainty has its moments when Monokuma is involved.