Franchise / Dangan Ronpa

Danganronpanote  is a series of "high-speed mystery action adventure" visual novels, released by Spike 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 - 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
  • Absolute Despair Girls: Danganronpa Another Episodenote  - a Third-Person Shooter starring Makoto Naegi's sister Komaru; set in between the first two games and functioning as a Gaiden Game.
  • 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.

Novel/Manga Spin-offs
  • Dangan Ronpa Zero: A two part light novel prequel to the first game.
  • 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 four.
  • 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 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.
  • Super Dangan Ronpa 2.5: Nagito Komaeda and the Destroyer of Worlds: OVA set in the middle of Super Dangan Ronpa 2 that comes with New Dangan Ronpa V3.

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.

Tropes for the series as a wholenote  include:

  • Academy of Evil: Hopes 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.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • 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 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. 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.
  • Everyone Went to School Together: 99% of the cast can be traced back to Hope's Peak Academy.
  • 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.
  • Idiot Hair: A trademark of the series protagonists. No less than five main characters have one, two of whom did not receive it until being Promoted to Playable.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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."
  • Sliding Scale of Silliness Versus 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.
  • 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 latter.
  • 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 has been some sort of trend with tritagonists, Another Episode excluded, i.e. Makoto, Byakuya, Kyoko in the first game and Hajime, Nagito and Chiaki in the second.
  • Villain-Based Franchise: Monokuma is a very murderous bear.
  • Widget Series: Not always, but it certainty has its moments when Monokuma is involved.
  • World of Buxom: The majority of the named female cast is well-endowed, teenager or adult. The only exceptions, within the same age group, are Toko and Hiyoko.