A pair of Light Novelsset before the events of Dangan Ronpa and Super Dangan Ronpa 2.Ryouko Otonashi is a student attending Hope's Peak Academy, an elite private school that only accepts "ultimate" students: the best of the best of the best, regardless of niche. Unfortunately, she suffers from anterograde amnesia and forgets things mere minutes after they occur. To function in day-to-day life, Ryouko carries around "memory notebooks" filled with information written by herself about the events and people in her past.Because of her disorder, Ryouko has only managed to retain one memory: that of her doctor and (implied) childhood friend, the "Super High-School Level Neurologist" Yasuke Matsuda, who is studying her amnesia in the hope of helping her recover.Unfortunately, a sinister plot is taking shape in the shadows of Hope's Peak Academy. Someone or something is laying the final groundwork on a plan destined to plunge the world into an endless despair, a plan intrinsically linked to "The Worst, Most Despair-Inducing Incident In The History Of Hope's Peak Academy". As a select few students attempt to uncover the truth, they face not only the organisation behind the Incident but a cover-up by the highest officials of Hope's Peak Academy. In the middle of this is Ryouko, who is dragged into the conspiracy by forces beyond her understanding or control.A translation is being provided in the Let's Play at the Something Awful forums, in tandem with the Super Dangan Ronpa 2 translation effort. A mirror of the thread can be found here.An alternate translation which is further along in book 2 can be found here with the remaining chapters of the second book here.Be forewarned, however, that there are SPOILERS for both volumes beneath the tags below. As with Super Dangan Ronpa 2, the spoiler-adverse should not read ahead, and editors are asked to please be careful in the use of spoiler tags.
As You Know: Played with: as Matsuda keeps reminding Ryouko, she should already know about how things work at Hope's Peak, and he doesn't appreciate having to explain to her constantly.
Backup Twin: As it turns out, Mukuro isn't the only one running around. The SHSL Bodyguard doubles as SHSL Octuplets.
Big Bad: As before, this applies to Junko Enoshima. In actuality, this applies to Ryouko, who is the amnesic version of Junko Enoshima.
Black Blood: The blood is red in the descriptions, but it's still pink in any actual images we see of it.
Brand Names Are Better: Hope's Peak opens a second campus for non-SHSL students to gain more funding, using their reputation to bring in paying outsiders.
Break Her Heart To Save Her: Near the ending, Headmaster Jin engages in this by threatening Kirigiri, informing her that if she continues investigating the incident, breaks any rules or steps the least bit out of line, she'll be expelled from Hope's Peak.
The Cameo: A few characters from the games appear here, namely:
Fujisaki: Kamishiro mentioned having help from an underclassman who was also a programmer
Hanamura: The SHSL Cook who worked at the Café and made food so good you'd swear it was drugged.
Naegi, Kirigiri and Ikusaba also appear but are all important (for a while at least) and named so they might not count.
Create Your Own Villain: The conditions at Hope's Peak help foster the creation of SHSL Despair, giving them plenty of disaffected students to work with.
Darker and Edgier: While the first volume is fairly moderate in tone, the second descends headfirst into this trope as the Ryouko gets closer to the truth. There's much more graphic violence, much more suffering and an absolutely brutal Downer Ending.
Fantastic Caste System: Hope's Peak student body is divided into two levels. You have the SHSL Talents, who were hand-picked so their special skills can be studied and amplified by getting the best schooling possible... and the Reserve Course, made up of Ordinary High School Students who are paying for the privilege of attending. Their campus functions as a completely ordinary school, without any access to the perks SHSL Talents enjoy. The students are largely segregated from each other, with little interaction between levels.
For starters, take a look at the cover shown on this page. Now notice which side of the Monokuma face Matsuda is on...
Pay close attention during the first scene between Ryouko and Matsuda and note when Matsuda visibly hesitates. Also, he states that the demonstration the Reserve Course is preforming might be orchestrated by a single person but doesn't give his reasons as to why, mostly because he has perfectly good knowledge of what is going on.
The scene where the Steering Committee confronts Matsuda. Its vague at first as to what they're talking about but, with the ending in mind, its clear they're talking about Matsuda's ability to block out peoples memories.
When Ryouko meets Enoshima for the first time she gives a fairly cohesive description of Enoshima's appearance, bar Enoshima's face. This is a big clue to the reveal that the "Junko Enoshima" is actually Ikusaba in disguise.
When Ryouko's talking about The Power of Love in regards to Matsuda, Madarai responds that love is the element that causes people to do crazy and evil things. Now, what is Matsuda driven by?
After Ryouko knocks Madarai out, he suddenly reappears, unharmed. Turns out there's more than one Madarai running around.
At one point, Ryouko is tied to Matsuda's bed while Matsuda is under it, something played for comedy. Kirigiri's investigation of Matsuda's lab reveals his bed actually conceals a passage into the storeroom used to help hide the Committee members corpses.
On a more overall note, notice that no one actually calls Ryouko by name. Everyone either just avoids using her name (Matsuda) or refers to her by a nickname (Kamishiro). This is the lead into the revelation that "Ryouko Otanashi" is a false identity.
The Ghost: Izuru Kamukuma is referred to several times, but never makes an appearance. He appears to at one point, but it's not him.
Gone Horribly Right/Wrong: The SHSL Hope Project. Right in the sense that Kamukura is the ultimate Ace, wrong in how he fell into despair.
Gorn: The book can get very descriptive in terms of describing dead corpses. Even then Matsuda's death is especially brutal.
Hard Work Hardly Works: While it's technically possible that a student from the Reserve Course could excel at their studies and earn their way into the 'true' Hope's Peak, Matsuda scorns the idea, describing it as just a way to keep stringing them along.
Ryouko is accused of this, despite her memory problems.
Murasame is killed due to this, as is Kamishiro.
Kill 'em All: Pretty much everyone who didn't appear in the original game is dead by the end
Mind Screwdriver: A lot of Backstory to the games is revealed here. Readers finally learn how the students' memories were erased, as well as some of what led up to The Worst, Most Despair-Inducing Incident in the History of Mankind.
The Resenter: As it turns out, the Monokuma Maid Cafes are being used to foster resentment among the Reserve Coursers.
Retcon: The campus of Hope's Peak is much larger than it appeared to be in the original game, i.e. with an entire science building as opposed to physics and biology labs, and the same is implied to be true of the population—in the original game it seemed only sixteen or so students entered per year (with the main cast being the 78th class), and if that figure held true the massacre of the student council would've wiped out nearly a fourth of the student body—or if it was a three-year school, a third.
Shell-Shocked Veteran: Murasame, one of the only survivors of the first mutual killing game, to the point where he's practically insane
Tomato Surprise: The fact that Ryouko is a false identity of Junko Enoshima and Enoshima's status as Matsuda's lover are no secret to Matsuda himself, who has about half of the story taking place from his perspective.
Unreliable Narrator: Deliberately played with Ryouko, mostly due to her memory problems. In reality, it's actually much stronger than that, with the chapters from Matsuda and "Enoshima's" perspective reeking of the narrator outright lying to the reader.
In a strange example, the book makes it out like Matsuda doesn't know who Kamukura is. Later supplementary material would go onto imply that Matsuda was employed by the academy as Kamukura's creator.
Unusual Euphemism: The administration insists on referring to the Reserve Course demonstration as a "parade."