Video Game: Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice aka: Disgaea 3
Disgaea 3: Absence of Justice is the third game in the Turn-Based Strategy series Disgaea by Nippon Ichi. It was released in 2008 for the PlayStation 3.The game involves the students of the Nether Institute, Evil Academy, an entire Netherworld devoted to "teaching" demons how to be evil. Honor students are those who beat up other students for milk money and cheat during exams, while delinquents attend class and perform good deeds in the community.Mao is the Evil Genius son of Evil Academy's Overlord, and is considered the school's No.1 Honor Student because he hasn't attended a single day of class. Looking to take out his father, Mao researches a method using manga and video games as reference material and comes to the conclusion that since The Good Guys Always Win, all he needs to do is become a Designated Hero (by mugging a "Hero" title off of some sap) and then victory will be assured.Unfortunately his plan fails, and Mao discovers to his horror that getting rid of the "Hero" title is going to be a lot harder than it was to acquire.Joining Mao is Almaz, a timid fanboy whose homemade "Hero" title was stolen by Mao; Raspberyl, Mao's childhood friend and rival whose goal is to become the worst delinquent in the history of Evil Academy; Princess Sapphire, the sweet but Ax-Crazy noble that Almaz has a crush on; and Mr. Champloo, the Hot-Blooded Home Economics teacher.The game features a lot of Downloadable Content which allow you to recruit characters from previous games or other Nippon Ichi games.Got an Updated Re-release called Makai Senki Disgaea 3 Return/Disgaea 3: Absence of Detention on the Playstation Vita.
The School Board President and her PTA army. The Diez Gentlemen may qualify as well, the ones specifically working under Aurum at least.
The Student Council also determines what clubs you have access to and what quality of goods are available in the school shops, right up to who among the Diez Gentlemen you may talk to and (in a specific instance) how fast your equipment improves. Also, the senior council members are level 1,000, even before you start levelling the enemies up. You're expected to be about level 100 by the time you reach the epilogue.
An Aesop: Titles are meaningless. Calling yourself a Hero or a Super Hero in no way makes you heroic (and calling yourself an Evil Genius doesn't actually make you smart). Being good or evil isn't what you're called, it's what you do. More than in the other Disgaea games, the characters are all way too hung up on "roles" that they must conform to (even if they make absolutely no sense, such as the school punishing those who attend its classes).
Aww, Look! They Really Do Love Each Other: Adell and Rozalin in their DLC — both of them came to the Disgaea 3 game world to make money for a gift for the other, if you do the first character's DLC mission first then the second, the second's mission changes to have the first character come in and confirm this. Sorta.
Badass: Specifically lampshaded by Raspberyl, who, as a highschool demon, has some really interesting ideas as to what being a badass is (hint: it involves volunteering, being responsible and polite, caring for the environment and small animals, etc etc...)
Mao. There is nothing quite as geeky yet menacing as a demon with a stack of books in one hand and a BFS in the other. He has a serious mad scientist thing going on, as well. In one scene he demands to know if Love is a disease, an acid, an alkaline, and... if it has a chemical formula. Later, after beating a rather strong boss, instead of merely killing him, he kidnaps him and straps him down in his secret lair to do research on him!
Raspberyl also applies. Bonus points for literately fighting with a book. Nasty spell caster to boot.
Badass Normal: Almaz is a good fighter. Sapphire is a jack of all trades type character but with an archer student, she becomes nasty with a bow or gun.
Giving Sapphire an Axe is a pretty good idea, since she makes just as good a frontline fighter as Almaz. It's also rather fitting, seeing as how Princess Sapphire is an utter psychopath. (But in a good way)
Batman Gambit: Mao's father pulls one of these from beyond the grave to Counter The Plan of Aurum. Uses the personalities of Almaz and Raspberyl as pawns and Champloo (one of his most trusted servants) as the manipulator that put it all together all in order for Mao to open his heart.
Also to an extent Laharl and Flonne, Zetta and Pram (though that may be more of a fan preferred pairing), Adell and Rozalin, Captain Gordon and Jennifer (who also form a power trio with Thursday, and tons more with all the DLC characters
Battle in the Center of the Mind: Any time a level takes place within Mao's heart, it's essentially this. Fighting off parts of Mao's personality will actually change him in subtle ways even he doesn't notice.
Because You Were Nice to Me: When her mother died, Sapphire was decried by most people as a heartless monster for not mourning her death (which she couldn't do normally, as she's Unable to Cry). One day, passing by the guards' barracks, she heard one boy not only defend her from these accusations, but noticed that she actually did mourn her mother's passing via an Important Haircut. This boy was Almaz.
Beware the Nice Ones: Sapphire. Her idea to "open the heart" of someone involves a chainsaw — or if they complain, a scalpel. Upon hearing that an enemy would be busy in class, she suggested that it would be a great time to assassinate them.
Big Damn Heroes: Raspberyl pulls this when Savvy Mao refuses to let Almaz and Sapphire turn Mao's heart back on. Turns out right parodic when the moment suddenly turns into a graduation ceremony for Raspberyl and friends with Savvy Mao waiting for the graduation to end before confronting them again.
Bishōnen: Master Bigstar is a total send-up of the concept, complete with roses and a constant cascade of sparkles.
Bonus Boss: About half the cast of the previous games, then offers whoever is missing as available downloads.
On top of including all those, the Vita port also adds Fuka and Desco as bonus bosses.
Bonus Level Of Hell: The Land of Carnage makes a return, but with a vengeance. In the first two, you could take solace that at level 9999, enemies were capped. In this game, however, any enemy that would pass level 9999 gets a 1 percent stat increase for every 20 levels above said Cap, and thanks to how the Land of Carnage works (2000 percent level increase plus 200, and double stats), late-game enemies in the Item World will have ridiculously high stat numbers. Baal in this one has a base level of 4000, doubling to 8000 in every subsequent fight afterwards, though he has reasonable stats. Fighting Baal in the Land of Carnage after the first battle bumps his level to 9999, but thanks to all those extra levels being converted into stats (around 168k levels), his stats swell up considerably (in the area of about 40-50 million).
The game allows the player to purchase and download additional sidequests during the post-game, almost all of which have new characters as rewards. The player will have to fight most of these characters in order to recruit them. Many of the characters themselves are ridiculously powerful on their own, but some also have absurdly good equipment during the recruitment battles, which they don't get to keep after they join... unless the player steals it from them during the battle. The player may also get some pretty sweet new weapons during the course of Raspberyl Mode.
All of the Disgaea games Lampshade on this. The player can bribe members of the dark assembly with items in their bag to rule in the player's favor making bill passing easier. Of course if that doesn't work the player can just force them through battle.
Chain Saw Good: Sapphire in perhaps the most memorable joke of the third game.
Chastity Couple: Almaz & Sapphire, they get married but have not even held hands. They even spend their "honeymoon" in the Netherworld, helping Mao fight more demons.
Chekhov's Gunman: Geoffrey. Champloo has some elements of this which are revealed in chapter 8.
During the third chapter of Raspberyl Mode, one of the angels comments on how Raspberyl's "invasion" of Celestia reminds her of Laharl's invasion in the first game. Later in the same chapter, Flonne has a monologue about how the heart of an angel and the heart of a demon is no different which she often did in the first game. At the end of some of the episodes, Flonne would end by saying "And someday..." which she does do by the end of the third Raspberyl Mode chapter.
Unlike Disgaea 2, Disgaea 3 uses the On the Next Episode segments from the first game in between each episode with each of the main characters taking turns as the star of the segment. Then, once you beat the main game, you get one last On the Next Episode segment starring Etna, who did almost all of the segments in the first game.
Descends into parody of this and Big Damn Heroes when one is delivered to Mao by Raspberyl, then Almaz and the rest of the group... followed by almost every single character that appeared in the game. At the same time. Regardless of importance or screentime.
Clothing Switch: The final DLC allows Raspberyl and Sapphire to swap clothes.
Comedic Sociopathy: Raspberyl is more interested in her actions being seen as "good" (especially to other demons) as opposed to whether or not good actually happens because of them.
Dead All Along: Mao's father, the previous Overlord who Mao had revealed the weakness of to Aurum. A combination of that and avoiding killing Mao with an Area of Effect nuke attack. His ghost barely hangs on until Mao can come to grips with the guilt of what he did; something he buried tightly in his memory; literally; with the Heart Vault.
The main theme. Especially the lyric-less version that plays in the main hub of the game. It will get stuck in your head fordays.
The Game Over theme, too.
Even Evil Has Standards: Super Hero Aurum gets a massive tongue lashing from the entire party in the last chapter. Karma eventually bites him HARD. Also in the same game, Raspberyl chews out Mao when he plans to destroy the human world saying that's not something an honor student does, but something scum does. This is a reoccurring theme between the 3 games, along with What Is This Thing You Call Love? and Noble Demon.
Flipping the Bird: During the game, you have to fight the hands of Mao's father. The middle finger of each hand (named the Bird, of course) has an evility where its stats double when it's the only enemy unit left standing. If you check its in-battle stats, it is also described as "cruel".
Funnily enough, the little cutscenes that played before you fought and recruited DLC characters foreshadowed Raspberyl Mode slightly.
At one point, Raspberyl mentions that one's full potential could be unlocked by "reviving from the brink of death, or your best friend dying". Guess what happens to Almaz a few chapters later...
Chapter 4 shows that Mao employs regression as a means of psychological defense against painful experiences, which is exactly what he's been using to forget his involvement in his father's death for 200 years. Or that his father is dead at all.
After the first fight with his father he says "Can't you rest in peace?!" Turns out no, he literally can't.
Fun with Acronyms: The P.T.A. = Perfectly Trained Assassins. Or, in Japan, Perfect Terminator Agents.
Getting Crap Past the Radar: a very small example at the start of the game that some players may miss — if one tries to use the Classroom before it's made available, Plenair will say that "The classroom is closed for now, due to adult situations."
Girl with Psycho Weapon: Sapphire and her chainsaw in perhaps one of the funniest moments of the game. Also proficient with axes.
Goldfish Poop Gang: The Vato Brothers. When you meet the first one, the screen initially identifies him as "Obviously Weak".
They're even in not one, but two joke levels, where by simply tossing an exploding barrel at a nearby Prinny, you'll cause an explosive chain reaction that wipes them out (Along with every other enemy) in the first, and severely weakens them in the second..
Hostile Show Takeover: Etna shows up to announce Disgaea 3's "sidequest" — i.e., postgame — has started after the end credits. And during the postgame, Laharl valiantly leads (or tries to, at least) the main cast of the original game in repeated attempts to reclaim the role(s) of main character(s).
A couple of the teachers at Mao's school have...deep..feelings for their students. Of course we should probably expect this, seeing as they often areHorny Devils. Since it's the Netherworld, stuff like that may even be encouraged.
A full chapter is devoted to going to class so that Ms. Machiko, the "sexy teacher" (that is her in-game title) can teach you how to use the power of "crush"... by wiggling your butt at people. Complete with demonstrations and practice.
How Dare You Die on Me!: Mao's reaction to Almaz's death, which involves, among other things, ordering him to come back to life.
Image Song: Both Mao ("Go, Mao!") and Almaz ("Unlucky Hero") have one.
Incoming Ham: Mr. Champloo announces his presence by making a bold speech about the passion of cooking—and for bonus points, he is literally inside a hunk of meat while doing so.
Ineffectual Loner: Mao starts off as one of these. The whole story is about him learning to open up a bit.
Insane Troll Logic: So to recap everything we hear about Evil Academy, it's purpose is to teach students to be proper demons, but they're discouraged from ever attending classes, and in fact teachers will try to stop you from attending classes to so they don't have to work, because they get paid regardless, and nobody ever graduates, except Raspberryl, Kyoko and Asuka because the teachers were sick of them. Really, the "school" is nothing more a money pit where teachers are paid to do nothing.
As it's a boarding school, one could easily imagine demons sending their offspring there simply to get them out of their hair for a few centuries. And considering the satirical nature of the series, it may be a somewhat cynical Batman Gambit; if your goal is to make sure your kids end up as cruel, lazy, violent cheaters, what better place to put them than high school?
Joke Character: Prism Red. Other than one S-Rank magichange skill (which generic monsters usually have), he only has ONE skill with the lowest base power in the game and that hits only one adjacent enemy. He also can't learn secondary evilities by himself and his unique evility is way below average for a primary evility.
Kicked Upstairs: Nether Academy finally gets rid of Raspberyl and her cronies by making them graduate. Raspberyl is quite happy with this outcome because it makes her the first student to ever graduate from Nether Academy, thus securing the place in history she desired.
The Knights Who Say Squee: An important plot point, even. Mao was a big fan of Aurum, so when the Super Hero shows up on his doorstep after his dad accidentally crushes his Slaystation, he's happy to trade the Overlord's location and weak points for an autograph. It doesn't occur to him that he's just condemned his father to death until it's too late.
Loads and Loads of Characters: Character classes that is. Disgaea 3 has more than any other game in the franchise, if only because there are now male and female versions of almost everything. Disgaea 4 actually had to tone it down afterwards. However, the Vita re-release of Disgaea 3 gave all character classes unique spells and skills, even between genders, so there is now actually a good reason to use all the different versions.
Luke, I Am Your Father: Thoroughly spoofed in one of the endings, where Laharl pops up and claims to be Mao's father, while Flonne and Etna have trouble deciding which one of them is the mother. Mao reasonably finds the whole thing ridiculous.
Man, I Feel Like a Woman : Gender-flipped in an omake sequence. Female shapeshifter Beyond X switches through a variety of forms, stopping with Super Hero Aurum, at which point she emits a cloud of hearts until interrupted by the real Aurum.
Present during the story, as Mao thinks that to beat the Overlord he must become a Hero and thus works to change his class to said title, and goes Up to Eleven during the post-story, with characters trying to become the main cast so they have more screentime and other exclusive features.
Goes Up to Eleven during the event in which Captain Gordon, the Defender of Earth is recruited. Simply put, Mao is suspicious of Gordon being the real deal and checks Gordon's status screen with his proof being that Gordon is wielding a weapon specified only for monster-types. Then to further prove his point, he dares Gordon to magichange which Gordon accepts, only to plop on the ground as a lightsaber.
Everyone in the world seems to wear a nametag or something (not shown in their portraits) bearing their name and title, too. There's the whole deal with Mao stealing Almaz's homemade Hero title, plus there's...
Mao: Huh? What's happened to your name?
Master Bigster: As you can see, someone has stolen the space and letter "a" from my name. And I could only afford a new "e"...
(a bit later)
Mao: Maybe it's a text bug.
Master Bigster: Impossible. I've reported it five times already, and they always say that's how it's supposed to look in this scene.
Kyoko: Ahh! My lady, watch this! It's a love scene, like we read about in our study guides!
Asuka: Could it be possible they might do the high-level skill from the 48 expressions of affection, "the Kiss"!?
Beryl: Calm down! Don't get too panicky! Kyoko, you go get the camera! Asuka, you prepare for the interviews!
Almaz: Um, do you mind not mocking us?
Monumental Theft: Overlord Baal in the bonus chapter. Subverted in that he may not have actually stolen everything the characters claim he did, and many may just have been engaging in some kooky "insurance fraud".
Morality Pet: Raspberyl to Mao. Becomes a Morality Chain when she dies in the worst ending. Him losing it is the understatement of the century.
Mundane Made Awesome: When Mao eats the dragon egg, the music and background change a upbeat tune and space background.
YMMV on which style of opening works best, but NIS seems to have returned to the original formula as of Disgaea 4.
Nerf: The Majin class, again. Lowest movement in the game, shortest throw range, lowest aptitudes, requires twice the amount of exp. points to level up. The only point in raising one is to have it learn one of the most powerful evilities in the game then pass it to everyone else.
The delinquent Raspberyl fits this bill (Subverted/Lampshaded as she's considered the worst delinquent in school because she's a Noble Demon).
Champloo doesn't seem to bother with even the rudimentary evil most Disgaea demons display. Unless there's something sinister about being a Hot-BloodedLarge Hamchef, he might qualify as the nicest guy in the whole game, humans included.
In the Mao's Ambition Ending, Almaz becomes so Noble, he's actually Apologetic about it.
No Fourth Wall: Especially jarring here, wherein several characters comment that helpful explanations by various characters are "awfully useful for those out there playing this game for the first time."
Not Quite The Right Thing: The "Almaz" ending has Almaz personally standing up to Mao and kicking his ass, impressing Mao's father so much that Almaz is declared the next true Overlord. Throw the Dog a Bone, right? Wrong. Mao ignores any sort of moral epiphany present in the regular ending and prepares to research how to kill Almaz. Sapphire decides she needs to assassinate Almaz sometime in the future because "all Overlords kidnap the princess!" Raspberyl and her friends say they can't possibly hang out with an Overlord, leaving Almaz friendless and confused. Worst promotion ever.
One Stat to Rule Them All: NIS games normally devolve into extreme offense postgame but it shows up much sooner here compared to other Disgaea games thanks to some damage formula changes.
One-Winged Angel: Played straight with Super Hero Aurum, who had absorbed so many dark overlords and gods that his own class was "Dark God" during the fight. It's played with, though, when he decides to go to another area after you defeat him so he can let you save.
Mao: Damn you for using such a convenient game mechanic!
The Only One Allowed to Defeat You: Raspberyl and Mao, though technically the whole point between their rivalry is not necessarily defeat each other, but to better each other as both a Delinquent and an Honor Student respectively. Their rivalry is explored more heavily in Raspberyl Mode.
In a more serious note, this is why Sapphire is crazy. As a child she witnessed a constant stream of heroes going out and getting themselves killed in her name. She swore that this would never again happen; no matter what she had to become.
Sweet and Sour Grapes: In Chapter 3, Mao chooses to abandon the competition to become Freshman Leader in order to rescue Beryl. This decision impresses his peers enough that they make him leader anyway. However, this was done with the idea of, basically, "The Student Council must be defeated! Then I will truly be evil!"... which is mainly why he became Freshman Leader anyway..
Take That: The dialogue before the DLC battle against Thursday is an obvious take that at fuel companies and their recent price gouging. Go Mao.
Try Not to Die: Sapphire is horrified when Almaz tells her that he would die for her if necessary (particularly since she's seen far too many would-be-heroes charge to their deaths for her sake), and instead makes him promise that he'll stay alive for her instead. This doesn't stop him from Taking the Bullet for her.
Mao and Raspberyl. Being rivals, they constantly fight and mock each other for choosing their respective positions in the Academy, but they occasionally show that they do care about each other. However, if they are questioned about it, they instantly deny it and say that their actions were only meant to further their own goals. Depending on how one may look at their relationship, it may be a case of Belligerent Sexual Tension.
If you fight Adell after defeating Rozalin in the DLC, Raspberyl gets overly excited Rozalin's use of the Tsundere Skill (Rozalin hiding the fact that she's getting Adell a present).
Unable to Cry: Sapphire can't even cry for the death of her own mother, and finds herself labeled as cold and heartless by those around her.
Up to Eleven: The Level Grinding and Elite Tweaking. The maximum character level is 9,999. Every single item can be leveled up by going through the item world. You can buy new items, go through their item world, and transfer the residents to your favorite equipment for more power. Every character has a class world, the residents of which are the same level as that character, and when you get through it their aptitude increases and you can spend a few thousand mana to upgrade their movement rate and throwing distance and such. Most of your random characters have several character tiers, which you must go through iteratively.
Also, a meta example: The Majin class demon's last Evility is often seen as the best, as it boosts all stats by 50%. Granted, it cuts EXP gain, but at lv9999 that doesn't matter. The name of that Evility? Violence.
What Measure Is a Mook?: A meta-aversion in Absence of Detention. Generics all have unique abilities now. Before you could justifiably say they existed only to prop up the story characters whose stats are better, but a lot of their unique skills and spells bring a whole new level of utility to the generics.
Where It All Began: The final episode of the main story and the final battle of the Raspberyl story both occur in the same location as episode 1.
With Great Power Comes Great Insanity: Parodied. Mao, once he defeats the hero fanboy Almaz and steals his power, starts slowly acting like a hero himself. Likewise, Almaz starts slowly acting less like a hero, and more like a demon.
World of Ham: It is a Disgaea game, after all. What did you expect?
Mao is convinced that studying video games, manga, anime, and toku shows is the way to learn how to beat an overlord, and attempts to use his knowledge of Fantasy / Scifi RPG tropes to further his goals. Unfortunately, Disgaea is, for the most part, a parody of those tropes...
Mao: I don't know the meaning of the words "level grinding"!
That's because grinding requires patience and hard work and there's no way the top Honor Student would bother with that. Plus, he makes the Prinnies do the grinding for him.
When Almaz points out the necessity of level grinding, Mao retorts that most games also have an instant max level cheat ("What was it? Up, up, down, down..."). He is annoyed that Disgaea is apparently not one of these games.
Xanatos Gambit: Geoffrey, aka Super Hero Aurum, grooming Mao to be the perfect overlord so he would have a new opponent to beat, or at least go down remembered as a hero. It doesn't work. The reason being that someone decided to Take a Third Option to counter it. Champloo instructing Almaz on the heart of a hero so he can help Mao open his. It flies in the face of Aurum's gambit, too, effectively nuking two hundred years worth of work, though Aurum has no idea until it's too late that this was all engineered against him..