After Kaede, Kaito, Shuichi, and Tenko first discover Rantaro's body, a suspicious player who has played the first two games may find it strange that the usual conditions for the Body Discovery Announcement are certainly satisfied at that moment, but that the announcement does not in fact play until a substantial amount of dialogue takes place and a number of other students enter the room. The reason for the delay? It's necessary for Tsumugi's frame job to be successful; if the announcement had been played immediately, she would not have had nearly enough time to return to the dining hall before the announcement played, which would have instantly made her a prime suspect.
During the first trial, Kaito is adamant that neither Shuichi or Kaede are the culprit. Come Chapter 6, we find out that he was right.
Take a look at Shirogane's official art. Yes, it references her talent as the Ultimate Cosplayer, but it also shows her pulling on a string. Almost like how a puppeteer would control their puppets, hinting at her true identity as the mastermind.
Rantaro's corpse and the blood spatter from his fatal wound are in a position that is slightly away from the spot where the shot put ball should have fallen.
During the first class trial, when Tsumugi admits to having gone to the bathroom, Monokuma says "Oh, did I hear that right? The restroom, you say? Excellent! I was waiting for this moment! I'm getting so excited right now!" This is interpreted by Tenko as some sort of perverted comment, but in light of what we learn later is truly contained in that bathroom, it's could very well be that he's actually excited by the prospect of the Ultimates possibly unmasking the mastermind.
The game's title was localized as Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, making a reference to the fact that the main character is a pianist. It also makes sense from the standpoint of Monokuma killed that pianist thus it is called "Killing Harmony" and from the standpoint of the pianist being a killer and so being a "killing harmony." Not to mention a metaphorical sense, as Kaede was creating harmony among the other characters, and the loss of her presence led to the killing game going ahead as usual.
Many fans complained about many of the characters looking nothing like students. Different from other installments, though, the plot states that there isn't a school for the talented like Hope's Peak, so it makes sense that they aren't ready for school since they weren't going to one, to begin with, different than Hinata and Makoto, who are both shown getting ready for their first day at Hope's Peak in their respective games. Also InvokedCast of Snowflakes.
Some of the likes and dislikes of the students can make sense:
Shuichi dislikes gossip. As a detective, he probably should dislike a possible spread of misinformation as it could screw up a detective case.
Tsumugi hates people who cut in line. As an Otaku, she probably attends a bunch of anime conventions which are known for having huge standing lines before their entrances.
Additionally, the vast majority of her lines consist of shout-outs to a variety of video games, anime, and manga. As an otaku, her identity involves little more than fiction to an obsessive point, and would even die rather than live in a world without Danganronpa.
Himiko likes cramped spaces and hates the sea. This is probably a statement to her lazy and not outgoing personality. It could also be seen as a reference as to how many magic tricks involve hiding in tight spaces.
Kaito likes ornamental plants and dislikes the occult. Researchers have already tested a decent variety of potted plants to see if they can survive in space stations. And Kaito is a man of science; he would look down upon pseudoscience. It is also revealed in Chapter 3 that he is terrified of ghosts.
Korekiyo dislikes air conditioning. Given his final motive, it's possible that air conditioning reminds him of hospitals, and thus his dead sister.
...Or it could be the fact that he is an admitted BDSM observer. The type of rope he uses (straw rope, to be exact) can become easily uncomfortable if in the wrong temperature/environment.
Throughout chapter 1's investigation and class trial, note how concerned Kaede is over finding the "mastermind", not the culprit of the murder. She specifically says "mastermind", and seldom if ever brings up the word "culprit", because she believes herself to be the culprit.
In chapter 3, Monokuma swears repeatedly that, if used, the Necronomicon ritual would indeed work and a dead student would be "resurrected", despite how absurd this claim seems. His claim is never tested directly and the ritual is never used, but we learn during the finale that the students' personalities and memories are all pre-written fabrications, meaning that "resurrecting" a student would have been as simple as recruiting a similar-looking "contestant" for the show and uploading the relevant memories. Thus, a student really could have been "resurrected", and Monokuma was telling the truth about the Necronomicon the whole time.
In fact, the person selected to be turned into the "resurrected" student wouldn't even need to look like the deceased student; all it would take would be a use of the Flashback Light to rewrite the memories the other students had of their dead friend and make them believe s/he had always looked like that.
Kirumi was once asked to annihilate a rival nation but rejected the request because it would be impossible. It's extremely impressive that a maid would be asked to carry out a monumental task such as that, but it makes more sense when remembering that she had become the prime minister.
If one goes by color, then Kaede's status as the Decoy Protagonist should have been obvious. Most things in pink are marked as lies, and what color is Kaede plastered in? That's right, pink, which is her motif color, the color of her car, and the color of her very announcement as the protagonist in the first Famitsu articles.
It is also basically worth mentioning that most things that are true are in red. Both Maki and Himiko are the two characters with red color designs and they along with Shuichi Saihara (who is the true main character of the game) are the only three characters to survive the killing game.
During the first closing argument, the silhouette of the culprit has dark pink eyes. In all the other closing arguments, the eyes on the silhouette representing the culprit have red eyes. This foreshadows the later reveal that Kaede was not the true culprit of the case.
As usual, the executions are conducted relating to their talent or things that the culprit treasured:
Kaede's execution, Der Flohwalzer:
The piano song she was playing? "Flea Waltz", a piano song for beginners. And it's played so badly that the Monokuma audience starts pelting tomatoes at her. Combined with the ironic humiliation of a master pianist failing a beginner's song, it's a subtle foreshadowing for how the cast's Ultimate talents are fake.
Kaede was hanged to death, which is not only a common method of execution but also a common method of killing oneself. By not taking advantage of the First Blood Perk and encouraging Shuichi to reveal the details of her crime to everyone, Kaede effectively let herself die.
Although the Flea Waltz mostly uses the black keys of the piano, all of the keys that are pressed during the execution are white. This could be foreshadowing that she isn't the Blackened.
Kirumi's execution, Strand of Agony:
At the start of Kirumi's execution, a lot of people were upset at her chasing her as they were holding a bunch of protest signs at her. Her talent involves taking care of other people and right before she ended up dying, those people became mad at her thus failing at her own talent. It could be interpreted that Kirumi's citizens are upset at her for not protecting them from the calamity rampaging around the world.
In addition, her bio states that she is "a professional who does a perfect job". She has a keen mind and talented in various ways, reportedly able to carry out any job. Monokuma tested that out by having her go through a death trap to see how "talented" she is, only to die in the end.
Right before her execution, Kirumi attempted to run away and escape her execution. During her execution, a Hope Spot was created making her think that she can escape only for her to not be able to escape her fate.
Her execution has a lot of allusions to the short story "The Spider's Thread". To summarize, a criminal in Hell is offered a spider's thread by Buddha as a way to escape. The criminal began to climb the thread, and as soon as he's high enough, saw many others climbing the thread themselves. He shouts that the thread is his alone, tries to kick the others out, only for the thread to break, causing everyone to fall. Does this sound familiar?
There's also the fact that she calls the academy a "hellhole".
The light in the ceiling was fake - so was everything else in this game.
Korekiyo's execution, Cultural Melting Pot:
The execution has many allusions to Japanese culture, which matches with his title as Cultural Anthropologist, but the last part of his execution makes his a Karmic Death. His sister and Monokuma pelt his spirit with salt, which is a purification ritual in the Shinto religion. Considering his unclean motive, it's a very fitting end.
Additionally he wanted to reunite with his sister as a ghost, so he could be with the person he loved while continuing to watch over his "friends". Monokuma makes it look like this might actually happen, only to exorcise his spirit while the ghost of his sister shows how she really feels and helps banish him so he can't do either.
Gonta's execution, Wild West Insecticide:
If one takes a look at the wasps that used in Gonta's execution, it would appear that they are a bit robotic. The reason Gonta lost his memory regarding the killing was due to a "computer bug" as it were when he put the cables connecting him to the virtual world in backwards.
During that execution, Gonta got poisoned and he was killed by animals (insects). This is similar to how the past two Chapter Four killers died as Sakura poisoned herself and Gundham got run over by a bunch of animals.
Notice how he was tied up to a wooden post during his execution, unable to escape. Sakura and Gundham both ended up facing their deaths with digity since they intended to perform a Heroic Sacrifice to save the other students. However, Gonta intended to kill all of the other students and do the opposite effect of what Gundham and Sakura did as he was not planning on being executed instead of the other students. So, Gonta was in a position to be unable to escape from execution due to his failure in killing all of the other students.
As for the wild west theme of the execution, it makes sense given Gonta's lack of understanding of the virtual world as the Wild West has no computer technology. If he understood how the cables work and plugged them correctly in, he might have been able to actually remember what went on in the virtual world, and fight back Kokichi's arguments against him thus escaping execution.
More simply, Gonta is a Wild Child who lived in the untamed wilderness for most of his life. He may have lived in the forest instead of the desert, but the general notion of an area that hasn't been completely settled by humans is still there.
Gonta being executed Wild West shootout style makes even more sense when you realize that gentlemen in early modern Europe settled conflicts with duels. Monokuma was just mocking the blackened's ambitions in their execution per usual.
Kaito's execution, Blast Off! Second Ignition:
The start of the execution is similar to Jin Kirigiri's execution in the first game only for the spaceship to fly backwards and go to the depths of Earth's core. This is particularly cruel, given his greatest dream of reaching space, only to go all the way down instead.
As for why his execution seems so peaceful in comparison to the other executions and why it was so similar to Jin Kirigiri's execution, the mastermind didn't plan for the events of Chapter Five to happen and probably didn't plan for Kaito's execution as well. So, when it was revealed that Kaito was the Chapter Five killer, the mastermind probably had to quickly think of some execution to use for Kaito so they basically reused Jin Kirigiri's execution.
Even the execution music was reused. When one hears the execution music closely, a part of it resembles DR2's Chapter 1 execution music. As for why the lyrics ('reach for the stars, reach so high...') are absent, its use in DR2 is layered with irony towards the first execution portrayed in DR1. Kaito ended up reaching space.
Why was Monokuma so pissed after Kaito's execution? For one, he did end up reaching space after going all the way underground and succumbed to his illness instead of dying from crash-landing into the Earth. Also, he (along with Kokichi) ended up ruining the mastermind's plans for that chapter when they Out-Gambitted them. For someone who wants their victims to die in despair, the fact that the culprit died peacefully is sure to make them livid.
Kaito's execution being a reference to Jin Kirigiri's execution is fitting as Jin Kirigiri's execution was the first in the series and was meant to introduce us to the crazy world of Danganronpa. Kaito's execution preceded the defeat and execution of Danganronpa itself and can be considered the last "official" execution of the series thus book ending the entire series with it beginning and ending with the Space Journey.
The final execution is the destruction of the facility, with Tsumugi and Monokuma dying due to rubble falling on them, in a similar manner as Junko's in Danganronpa 1. It's Danganronpa's execution.
Tsumugi's way of death received many complaints, centering on how she got off relatively easy. That's exactly the point. The most unremarkable character (judging by fan responses and her own perception of herself) gets the most unremarkable execution.
Another one: Tsumugi's character is pretty much all about imitation. She states that her 'cosplays are perfect imitations of the real thing' (hence her impersonation of DR1 and DR2 characters). Since Tsumugi has no real sense of self beyond fiction, it essentially shows that she has no solid identity, and she doesn't even deserve a proper execution unlike anyone else in the series. For a DR-obsessed fangirl who probably would have at least liked a flashy execution tailor-made for her, it's a very disappointing (of course also unpleasant) way to go.
Kaede herself was crushed from above when she was executed. Tsumugi's execution is supposed to mimic what would've ended up happening to her had the other students correctly known about Rantaro's killer. In addition, given how Tsumugi was the first-ever known killer to have somebody else get successfully executed for a crime they did (aside from what ended up happening in the non-canonical bad ending of Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc), it is very fitting how she ended up having the same execution as her victim.
Kokichi is a huge Troll in which he often states stuff to only say he is lying afterwards, faked his own death, and sometimes let out his "horror sprites" before his breakdown in Chapter Five just to scare the shit out of people. It makes sense given how he is actually a leader for a group of clowns.
A thought to why Kanda Sayaka is cast as Akamatsu. There is a similarity to Akamatsu and Junko. In the first game, Junko is a character who had the Small Role, Big Impact effect that we don't know what her role is till late game and how much she affected the cast in future installments. In the same way, Akamatsu has little role compared to what was believed, but her death brought a great impact on Saihara's development. In addition, both have twin sisters, among other similarities such as similar body type.
Also in another similarity. Note that Toyoguchi Megumi, Junko's voice actress in the Anime and games, also voiced Mukuro, so Akamatsu also shares a similarity to Mukuro that in their respective games, they get executed first.
In a roundabout way, some of the formula common in the previous games are subverted. For one, Ryoma who followed the comical design character wasn't a closet pervert and is instead, a Comically Serious when the previous ones are perverts. And the Token Mini-Moe this time around survived the killing game.
Similar to this, the dark-skinned girl actually dies in this game, unlike Akane and Aoi. In addition, The Big Guy was actually executed instead of being murdered.
A few more subversions. The one that held the title of Super High School Level ??? didn't have much importance compared to the previous two who had (Kirigiri is the detective, Hinata is originally a reserve course student). And several characters with traits common in the previous games are either victims or culprits this time around. (Iruma, having a similarity to Souda, and Angie, as pointed above.)
A couple more subversions- Some of the chapters didn't have things that the previous chapters have. For example, the victim in Chapter One didn't die from being stabbed to death. The victim in Chapter Two didn't die through a blow to the head. Chapter Four didn't have somebody make a Heroic Sacrifice. In addition, somebody other than the mastermind dies in the final chapter.
There is also a subversion of the main trio of the game. Usually, it contains the main character, a heroine, and The Rival character with the heroine being the Implied Love Interest of the main character. However, in this game, Kokichi was not even part of the main trio of the game and Maki was in love with Kaito (who was the other Deuteragonist in the game) and not Shuichi.
Korekiyo also subverts the formula by having the serial killer of the group decide to contribute to the game. Genocide Jack never killed anyone in the game because her methods of killing her exclusively male victims are the same in every one of her cases, using her custom-made scissors to kill and crucify her victims, which the state of Chihiro's corpse didn't include. Sparkling Justice's identity was presented in the game as Peko until the difference in nationality was exposed: Sparkling Justice is Spanish, Peko is Japanese. Korekiyo was dedicated to a deceased character's will and was adamant about giving her "friends" of the same gender, nearing to 100 until his exorcism-execution.
Kokichi states that he still doesn't lose his memories in the game. While it is ambiguous to see if he is being truly honest or not given how he is a Consummate Liar, it takes his comments that he stated from the demo if he is actually honest. He stated that he is a supreme leader only to state afterwards that he is a liar and that he might not be one after all. Kokichi himself is a lie therefore he isn't a supreme leader.
From this user, in a meta sense, it makes some sense to why Akamatsu was killed off in the plot. Given the reality show context the game supposedly takes place in, Akamatsu staying as the protagonist would mean the murderous reality show would stay around till the future. By having Saihara be the protagonist, not only does it make the audience rage like how fans (In and out of universe) reacted to Saihara taking Akamatsu's place as the protagonist, it is also what brought the game to a complete end. A very smart Franchise Killer move placed in the game's universe proper.
Alternatively, Kaede was killed off early because she was too good at being the main protagonist, but not for the same reason explained in Tumblr posts. She kept her focus on trying to find the mastermind at the very beginning of the killing game and was able to quickly gain the trust of nearly all her classmates. She managed to accomplish something that would take the previous protagonist an entire game to do in just one chapter. Even her trap technically succeeded in smoking out the mastermind, granted only after her death and a retrial with the surviving students taking a closer at the evidence of the first trial. Had Kaede had it her way, the game would have ended as early as Chapter 1, which would have a bigger Franchise Killer move. That could have been one of the reasons why the mastermind saw it fit to get rid of her as early as possible. Saihara being able to put an end to the television show was largely due to Kaede's help.
Also, the first victims and culprits were the most competent cast members. Amami is a survivor of previous killing games, Kaede for reasons outlined above, Ryoma (should he regain his will to live) is a dangerous badass, and Kirumi can pretty much complete any task. It's as if the mastermind is weeding out those who can easily defeat her.
Heck, pretty much all of the victims and killers prior to Chapter Five (aka the only chapter where the mastermind didn't know who the killer was and didn't plan for the events to happen in that chapter) had skills to defeat the mastermind. Tenko and Gonta are the two strongest students around. Angie, through either her "god" or her own wit, did manage to predict what actually happened with Rantaro's death (aka the mastermind using a secret passageway to kill Rantaro). Miu Iruma is definitely the most tech-savvy person around who created a means to take over Exisals with little trouble, and powerful electronics- and communications-jamming devices. And Korekiyo is a Serial Killer who only kills girls, and not only could have even gone for the mastermind, she (unintentionally) gave him an opportunity to do in chapter one of all things.
Along those lines, every person that was alive after Chapter Five were less likely to defeat the mastermind had it not been for Character Development. Shuichi felt a lack of confidence in his detective skills at the start of the game, Himiko is extremely lazy, Maki starting off the killing game extremely anti-social, and Ki-bo has a Restraining Bolt in the form of being controlled by the audience.
Even Kaito and Kokichi may be useful to keep around in order for Tsumugi to not be defeated by the end. Kaito may put too much trust in Tsumugi like he did with Gonta in Chapter Four and Kokichi is likely a scapegoat for everybody else to think that he was the mastermind. It is extremely noteworthy that the mastermind didn't plan for the events of Chapter Five to happen by the way.
Kaede was killed first because she was already an Ideal Hero from the start, with little room for character development. Considering the main aesop here is that fiction can change who you are, it's an important thematic point that all 3 survivors are people changed by their fictional Lost Lenores.
Kodaka and his supporting staffs are theorized to be literally tired of the series enough to feel that this is like the 53rd one.
53 can be read as 'gomi' in Japanese and it means 'trash' - a hint that the franchise has basically become little more than a cash cow and a prediction that fans would hate the ending of the game.
After learning about the truth of the killing game, you can look back at everyone's talents and see that all of the talents cannot be demonstrated or otherwise proven to exist. Every talent, aside from the Ultimate Robot, either refers to someone's focus of study (Entomologist, Anthropologist, Aikido Master, etc.) or the character's past accomplishments (Magician, Detective, Inventor, Pianist, Supreme Leader, Maid, Astronaut, etc.) or both. Nobody has a talent that can be shown off to its full extent, like Nagito Komaeda's Ultimate Luck, Sakura Ogami's Ultimate Martial Arts, Teruteru Hanamura's Ultimate Cooking, Kazuichi Soda's Ultimate Mechanic ability, etc. The characters that do have talents that can be used in the killing game can be excused as being part of the character's skillset prior to being brainwashed. Himiko Yumeno may actually know magic tricks and Angie Yonaga is actually an artist, but neither can truly be called Ultimates in their ability. It must make brainwashing every character into thinking that they have such talents that much easier since if they tried to actually use their talents to the fullest, they would probably notice that they didn't have such talents at all.
However, many students ended up displaying their talents to extreme lengths where they could be actually Ultimates. Miu Iruma (whose talent is very similar to Souda's, by the way) was able to regularly add features to Ki-bo, alter features of the Neo World Program, create machine-disabling hammers, and a hijacking device all by herself. Angie made realistic life-size statues of Rantaro, Kaede, Ryoma, and Kirumi in a remarkably short window of time. Tsumugi managed to perfectly cosplay the past Danganronpa characters, changing in and out of costumes in a blink of an eye. Shuichi did some insane logic deducing in the class trials, and Maki has the strength and reflexes of someone who has gone through rigorous training.
Alternatively, when everyone became part of the killing game, the brainwashing actually did give each character the talent worthy of their title. The knowledge and experience required of each talent were included among everything else forced into the cast's heads. Not sure how this would work for talents that involve building muscles, but Gonta was obviously already jacked from the start. Maki and Tenko could possibly have been relatively strong and athletic before then, too.
Keebo destroying the school grounds to end the killing game makes sense. "Kibou" means hope in Japanese, and so it would take hope to end all of the killing games full of despair. Although somewhat subverted: Keebo's (and the audience's) "hope" ends up being rejected by the remaining students in order to prevent Danganronpa from repeating again, thus ending with the survivors truly choosing neither hope nor despair. In a sense for the theme of "Truth and Lies" instead of "Hope and Despair" just like from the previous Danganronpa games, Keebo would be possibly the last titleholder of Ultimate Hope. And what a good way to finally start the new theme of Danganronpa than to get rid of the former theme itself.
While this was very likely unintentional, the fake spoilers that went out could fit the theme of the game being truths and lies. The fake spoilers were all lies and the real truths were revealed in the game proper.
Some of the story's elements do seem a little fitting if you think about it. A tennis player that took down the mafia? Spinoff children of the main mascot that were never-before-seen? Being a Robot is considered as a talent? Sounds just like a show in its death-throes that's just throwing out ideas until they stick. (Though even in the second game, there was an "Ultimate Princess"...)
However, Ryoma's backstory isn't too far-out by Danganronpa standards if you consider that previous games have had: a romance author who has a serial killer split personality; a runaway child who joined a top-class elite mercenary group; a gyaru who ended the world just because she was so smart that she got bored of everything except the emotion of despair; an orphan who was turned into a Yakuza heir's assassin; etc. The other two show-in-its-death throes explanations, however, get a pass.
As the above fridges say, Shuichi denied his audiences a proper Killing Game. He also denied them one of the rules with the True Ending; the game would only continue until either everyone was killed except the blackened, or if there were only two players left. The game ends with three.
Tsumugi revealed as the mastermind now makes a whole lot of sense, in spite of the backlash the twist has received. We have an Otaku who flawlessly cosplays as almost all of DR1 and DR2 characters at the final trial. The last PTA involves debating Keebo (the camera), hacked by a distraught audience not willing to end the franchise. Even at her "execution", she is last seen waving forlornly before being crushed by debris after Keebo decides to destroy the set. As her translated FTE's and her Motive Rant at Chapter 6 mostly involve the nature of fiction and how people still enjoy the Danganronpa franchise even after +50 seasons, it all comes together: Tsumugi is us, the DR fans eagerly waiting for this killing game to see who will survive or be slain, unwilling to give up on the series. Of course the DR fangirl would be the mastermind for such a deconstructive setting!
Considering that all the student were brainwashed to act out a role, Miu's attraction to Keebo and her role as his mechanic makes a disturbing amount of sense when it is revealed that he is actually a first-person camera for the viewers of the show. Miu constant maintenance on Keebo's body would ensure that the "camera" is regularly attended to without arising suspicion. Then there is the added bonus of the audience getting a vicarious thrill of having one of the cast's most attractive girls shamelessly flirt with them as she is doing repairs. If he hadn't had his eyes closed during the entire cutscene, though.
During the pre-release, Tenko's main characteristic seems to be her being a man-hater. However, that aspect was downplayed in favor for her Genki Girl tendencies and her protectiveness over Himiko. Why did they do that? To make it more believable that Kaede was the protagonist, having fans believe that a male protagonist wouldn't be able to access her free time events as a boy.
It makes sense for Shuichi to be the main protagonist of this story given the theme. Both the main two protagonists of the HPA Saga were known in some form as the Ultimate Hope. With the HPA Saga being about Hope and Despair, this game is more about truth and lies. A detective is supposed to figure out who is lying and who is telling the truth so the Ultimate Detective is a good candidate to be the main protagonist of a game about truths and lies.
The murder victims along with their killers can make some sense.
Rantaro was killed by Tsumugi. If he ended up defeating the mastermind in his previous killing game like how the ending ended up implying, it was only fitting that he was killed by the mastermind in this game.
Ryoma was killed by Kirumi. Like a criminal who sentenced to death by the government, he manages to be killed by a prime minister.
Ryoma's body was dispatched by throwing it into a water tank full of piranhas. For one who's single-handedly eliminated an entire mafia, he sure did sleep with the fishes.
Angie was killed by Korekiyo. Korekiyo's motive into killing people was to send girls into the afterlife. With Angie being the Token Religious Teammate and the biggest believer in the afterlife, it makes sense for why Angie was killed by somebody who wanted her in the afterlife.
Tenko was also killed by Korekiyo. As somebody who Does Not Like Men, she was killed by a man with a female Split Personality. Additionally, as someone who wanted the academy to be a "girls-only paradise", Tenko was killed by someone who wanted to send only female friends to his sister's ghost.
Even more so, throughout the killing game, the two killers she ended up witnessing were both female Sympathetic Murderers. Her killer ended up happening to be a male who has the most unsympathetic murder of this game.
Miu was killed by Gonta. Miu is somebody who swears a lot and makes a lot of lewd comments. Given how Gonta aims to be a gentleman (in which swearing and making lewd comments is very ungentlemanlike), it makes sense for why Miu was killed by Gonta.
Hence her strangulation by toilet paper; Miu talks a lot of shit. Also, keep in mind that Kokichi was the one who masterminded her death. Throughout the game, Kokichi would often insult Miu, such as calling her a human toilet on several occasions. Not to mention, it is implied that Miu has an excrement fetish.
Kokichi was killed by Kaito. It is very fitting how the person Maki was the most antagonistic to was killed by the person Maki was the most friendly towards.
Throughout the board game bonus mode, Kokichi knows a lot about the other students such as there being two Junkos in the school, the Byakuya Togami imposter, and Celeste's real name. Given his extreme intelligence and how he is cynical and untrustworthy towards other people, he probably did some research towards the other students to let him know who is more trustworthy thus finding out about that information.
As for the setting of this game taking place in a prison school, the cast has a huge Morality Kitchen Sink as there is many morally ambitiously characters such as Angie, Ouma, Maki, and Miu. With a vast majority of the cast not having a clear cut white morality, it makes sense for this season of Team Danganronpa to take place in a prison.
It makes sense for why Kokichi's skill is called "Gentle Lies" given how a major theme in this game is Awful Truth and how people call to tell some gentle lies to avoid the Awful Truth. His character trailer even has him state that half of his lies are made out of kindness.
Come to think of it, intentionally or not, the twist of this game has been foreshadowed a lot in the past entries, with so many references to fiction and media:
Danganronpa's anime opening contained the line 'fiction comes alive, we start to play it'.
What drove the entire world to despair (and would've brainwashed survivors with hope), as shown in Danganronpa 3? Fiction.
Some of the characters' color motifs make sense:
Shuichi's color is blue, typically associated with being cool-headed and rational, fitting for a detective, and in context of the series means "truth" to contrast Kaede's pink which is associated with murderers and liars.
Kaito's Color Motif is purple, which can seem ironic for somebody who is deeply afraid of the occult, as it's often the color that represents the supernatural. On the other hand, he also bonds well with Shuichi, who's color is blue, and Maki, who is red, which makes sense since he's the combination of the two.
Angie's Color Motif is yellow. Due to her having a Genki Girl personality and she attempts to comfort those traumatized by the deaths, it makes sense for why her Color Motif is a color that is associated with cheeriness and warmness.
Maki's Color Motif is red. Due to red being a color to warn danger, it could be Foreshadowing for her true talent. Given her rose motif, it also fits with her "arc" with Kaito, as red roses are one of the most "romantic" types.
Gonta's Color Motif is brown. With Brown giving off a feeling of strength and dependability, it makes for why the strongest student in the game who also happens to be a Gentle Giant to have that Color Motif.
Korekiyo's color is olive, which goes from dark green to an almost sickly brown. Considering how old most of the material he works with is it makes sense his colors are similarly "aged". Not to mention how well a "rotting" color pallet suits someone as rotten enough to have the blood of nearly 100 women on his hands, which is helped by his blood like red accents.
Miu's Color Motif is bright pink; in Japan, the color pink is sometimes used as an indicator of adult content, such as with "pink films".
Also noted in Kaede's earlier entry, pink represents lies. Miu has a brash, loudmouthed personality as a transparent cover for her timid, cowardly persona. Not to mention, Miu mentions that she cannot bring herself to trust the other students to work with them against Monokuma and sets off to graduate the killing game herself by rigging the Virtual World.
A common complaint towards Tsumugi is that she was Out of Focus for much of the game despite being the mastermind. However, this makes sense. After all, why would the mastermind want to draw attention to herself?
This is especially true given how she murdered Rantaro. While everyone else accepted that Kaeda did it, she would still want to lie low. Not only to avoid slipping up and Saying Too Much around Shuichi, but also to avoid running afoul of Kokichi and his Living Lie Detector skills.
Unlike Makoto and Hajime, Shuichi's low self-esteem stemmed from his talent than the lack thereof, but while Makoto and Hajime are granted the Ultimate Hope title at the end of their respective games (bonus points for Reserve Course student Hajime becoming literally superhuman), Shuichi's talent is a fabrication - he doesn't even have one in the first place.
The characters that have designs or symbols on their UI make sense on their roles in the game.
Himiko Yumeno has Magic Circles on her UI, symbolising her fabricated talent as the Ultimate Magician.
Maki Harukawa's UI symbol is a Rose, the flower that represents Love and Beauty, referring to her feelings for Kaito Momota. Though it also symbolises Death, referring to her job as an assassin.
Ki-bo's UI may look like a motherboard]]. But in reality, it's actually a cross◊. Which is also a Foreshadowing of his own death at the end of the game. Unlike the dead characters, who have their crosses in the horizontal X position, his was different. In real life, Ki-bo's cross is called "The Celtic Cross"◊ because of the circle in the middle. Ki-bo's sacrifice has a similar scenario to the Christian Religion on the story of Jesus Christ and how He died on the cross as a form of execution.
How each Monokuma Cub died could directly parallel the situation of the students:
Monokid and Monosuke being killed by Monodam represents whether they are sibling, friend, lover or not, they have grudges against each other. One of them has to kill a victim because of a motive, revenge or to save their life.
Monodam killing himself foreshadows the final chapter, in which audition videos showing a few students who sign up for the killing game for the sake of money, popularity, etc. are played. It doesn't help that they don't care about their own life and lack empathy, similar to how Monodam realized nobody treats him as a friend or family member and considered his action was unforgivable in two previous chapters.
Monotaro and Monophanie having amnesia represent foreshadowing of why students cannot remember their past, altering their personality and Love Hurts trope. Tsumugi confirms that romance stories help boost the TV ratings, and Shuichi gets heartbroken after having watched his and Kaede's audition videos. Monotaro and Monofunny have an incest moment there and their personalities had been altered, more or less. This also explains why Monofunny got pregnant.
The demo version makes a good deal of sense with the reveal that the whole thing was just a television show. Makoto and Hajime break the fourth wall and referencing their killing games, even down to their catchphrases? Just giving out a Shout Out for the audiences. Hagakure's knife having a different handle on it? It most likely just re-using the prop from the previous demo. The scream that plays for body discoveries being missing? He's not dead, of course. The class trial and why it excluded Rantaro and Keebo? The demo was the equivalent of a 'sneak peek' of things to come and so that the audience can get to know the cast for the game. Rantaro doesn't participate because he was a survivor of a previous game and the audience already knows how he would act, and Keebo is the cameraman to make sure the audience gets a full view of events.
The way Kaede's ahoge is drawn, it kind of makes her head look a little like a musical note.
Shuichi's cap, before it's taken off, hides his ahoge. Every Danganronpa protagonist has an ahoge.
And on the note of ahoges, Rantaro also has one, befitting his role in the previous killing game.
He actually has two ahoges which can foreshadow him surviving two killing games, though that's most likely unintentional
Seeing the facilities within the academy, it's clear that the students aren't supposed to live long inside of it despite the claim that it's like Noah's Ark. Not only many places are not constructed yet, the academy has no medical bay. Both Hope's Peak and Jabberwock Island are shown self-sufficient for a long period of time; the students won't go starved because there's a farm and when they're sick there's an infirmary/hospital/drugstore. Not in Ultimate Academy.
There are several hints in the game that the cast's talents and backstories aren't real.
Gonta's backstory has him being raised by wolves in the forest. Wolves haven't been native to Japan in years, and the "real" backstory this lie of his is trying to hide is even more ridiculous.
Kirumi's backstory involves her becoming the Prime Minister of Japan. In the game it's mentioned that the Japanese government is responsible for the creation of the Ultimate Academy - so Kirumi being a part of said government doesn't even make sense, because it's all a lie.
Maki's backstory is about her being raised in an orphanage. Japanese orphanages are low-funded, and a lot of the kids left at one usually don't end up going to high school in the first place since Japanese high schools aren't publicly funded. The fact that Maki even qualifies as an Ultimate should be unusual, since Hope's Peak Academy requires that students must "already be in high school" to qualify for admission, so it's a light hint about her backstory being fake.
Ryoma was put on death row for killing mafia members with his tennis skills. In Japan, only legal adults can be put on death row as "minors" (people under 20) are only able to be given the sentence if they were at least 18 years old at the time their crime was committed. Being a high school student, it's unlikely Ryoma was placed on death row for as long as he's claimed, making his backstory very suspicious as a result. And, of course, it's fake - just like the rest of them.
Angie makes references to her island, which doesn't seem to be an island that actually exists. Once you figure out that there is no island, it all makes sense. And Angie even references Jabberwock Island from the second game when Shuichi asks her for the name of her island in her FTEs, which is another gigantic hint to the entire scenario being fictional.
Korekiyo indicates that part of his backstory is that he's killed nearly 100 women. Not only does this cause a lot of in-game plot holes, both in terms of the actual story and for the killing game's fake setting, he isn't ever considered an "Ultimate" in this field despite that supposed body count. While Genocide Jack's number is never spelt out there are no indications it ever got this unbelievably high (given the tally marks she has on her thigh per kill) and she was still nearly caught before HPA intervened to have Toko's two talents to study.
Part of Tenko's backstory is that she and her master created an entirely new form of Aikido to quell her emotional outbursts. Except not only does her Neo-Aikido break all the rules of traditional Aikido, but she's impulsive, has low pain tolerance, and disregards fair rules, none of which are very befitting of a martial artist. A clue that her skills are not real.
Miu claims to be a great inventor and that her inventions will change the world. Except that many of her inventions are useless or just nonsensical, like a gun that only teleports underwear or the machine that punches you for telling terrible dirty jokes. She also considered her first and very successful invention, the Eye-drop Contacts, to be a failure and sold off the patent. No matter how much of a Bunny-Ears Lawyer she might be, it's highly unlikely anyone would be willing to work with her. And despite the potential Story-Breaker Power she has at her disposal, it's only after she's dead that it's revealed she made devices that can help everyone escape. All clues that her talent was a fabrication and merely a method of driving the plot forward.
Keebo is the one least affected by the revelation at the end that everyone is fictional. Of course it wouldn't have much impact on him - he's already an Artificial Human and has grappled with this constantly, and even in his (fictional) backstory, his memory was wiped once already. From his perspective, the questions of identity and "real"-ness that crush everyone else are things he's been dealing with all along. He's also the only participant who doesn't have a falsified talent, as he's advanced enough to actually be the Ultimate Robot.
Why is Miu so concerned with making inventions that allow people to do stuff while they are asleep? Because, in her free time events, it is revealed that she used to be in a coma, unable to do anything but sleep.
Early in Chapter Four, Kaito punched Kokichi in the face. Guess who Miu tried to frame when she attempted to kill Kokichi?
During one Shuichi's free time advents with Miu, she will show off several of her inventions to Shuichi, including a "Hookup Counter" a machine that somehow counts up the number of times that somebody had sex after scanning them. When she uses it on Shuichi, she doesn't tell Shuichi the results, and instead just laughs at the reading before moving on to the next invention, much to Shuichi's confusion. The reason why Miu didn't give Shuichi the results was because Shuichi many have hooked up several times with the other students during the Love Hotel advents at different points in the game, so a scripted number could not be given.
Leaning towards both an in-game and Fridge Horror example relating to Miu's Hookup Counter is when she used the scanner on Mikan Tsumiki in the Ultimate Talent Development Plan bonus mode. After looking at the reading, Miu responds by saying "Hmmm W-Wow I see " with an embarrassed look on her face. Given Mikan's Dark and Troubled Past, that a pretty messed up implication...
The first murder has something slightly off about the injury to those with medical knowledge that foreshadows Kaede's version of the murder having failed. Rantaro's wound is just a blow to the back of his head. Given how heavy those shot put balls were (enough to kill someone) if he had actually been struck by it as it fell from as high as it did with as much momentum as it had, it would have hit him hard enough to cave his skull in and leave a much more brutal death-wound. Also, even if it didn't do that severe an injury, with how he was positioned right before his death, it would have hit the top of his head, not the back.
Tsumugi's last name, Shirogane, can be read as "silver". As in "second-best", referring both to her purported inferiority complex and her status as a "second-rate" imitation of Junko.
Tsumugi's love hotel scene can also be seen in a different light after the reveal she wrote the "backstories" and "characters" for everyone we see in the game. She's the only character to have sibling incest act as part of her "ideal partner", though only as Not Blood Siblings, with Shuichi as her "big brother". Giving Korekiyo, Monotaro, and Monophanie that type of relationship with their own siblings as well could be a case of in-universe Author Appeal.
Monokuma's Japanese VA changing is totally justified in-story. Given how long Danganronpa has gone on, whoever provided the original voice has either passed away or didn't care to reprise their role, possibly several times, meaning The Other Darrin was applied to him in-universe. It probably got the same cries of They Changed It, Now It Sucks! for the in-universe fanbase when it first happened as it did in the out-of-universe fandom when V3 revealed he was getting a new VA. This applies to the English version too, even though Monokuma is still voiced by Brian Beacock, he ended blowing his voice out before recording started and had to spend most of the game working through it recovering, which again, would be something to be expected after 53 seasons of role reprising a high-pitched character in a dialogue-heavy work.
So what does the mastermind do in Chapter 5 when Kokichi forces them to a game of Xanatos Speed Chess with his plan to pose as the mastermind and make the rest of the students feel so much despair they don't want to play the killing game anymore? They use a flashback light that reveals the entire in-story history of Danganronpa with elements of the "current script" added on to motivate the surviving students to keep going. This really highlights the fact that the mastermind on their own is an uncreative Fangirl whose only real talent is to copy from other works of fiction and is unable to come up with her own original ideas.
One of the reasons why Kokichi might have seen it necessary to have Miu killed off instead of non-lethally subdued is because he needed her to keep quiet about him using her inventions to pose as the mastermind. It's implied in the flashback with Kokichi and Miu, that Kokichi was going to let her in on his plan had she been willing to fight Monokuma. However, since Miu refused to help Kokichi beyond supplying him with her creations, Miu would have likely revealed that Kokichi's remote is her invention, rendering his original plan moot. There is also the danger of Miu using the remote herself when the Exisal's hanger became available for the student to access.
It is mentioned that Korekiyo takes longer than the girls to get ready in the morning due to how elaborate his outfit is. It's then revealed that he's wearing more makeup than any of the girls. Putting all that on, on top of his outfit, would chew up a lot of time.
Why are the graphics in the Neo World Program so much less-detailed than in Danganronpa 2? Because the virtual reality technology is seen in Danganronpa 2 doesn't exist in the real world.
During the scrum debates, Tsumugi only sided with the protagonist once during the first trial. It can make sense given how Tsumugi wants Kaede to be executed in the first trial and not Shuichi.
On a glance, the Gofer Project does not make a whole lot of sense. Tenko Does Not Like Men and she is heavily implied to be a lesbian. Korekiyo and Angie could have been dangerous people to be put in the Gofer Project as Kiyo kills girls who are worthy of being friends for his sister, and Angie could do anything without any guilt because she has Atua on her side. Ryoma is a Death Row inmate. Finally, Keebo isn't even human and can't reproduce. All these inconsistencies could be foreshadowing for the Gofer Project all being fictional and not real.
Not to mention the entire scenario itself is suspect. Asteroids start raining down on Earth, so their solution to preserve humanity is to send just sixteen ultimate students into space, many of whom have talents and personality traits that make them completely unsuited for the task. A cult that sees this as the End of Days tries to hunt all of them down, but the organization spreads misinformation that they've all died and secretly launches them all into space. Except that the cult's leader had somehow infiltrated the project and sabotaged the whole thing, leading their ship back to the ruined Earth and having the last survivors kill each other off. Not to mention the other reveal that ties everything back to Hope's Peak and introduces an alien virus that evidently has No Biochemical Barriers and which the students were all immune to. Again, all of these inconsistencies could be ascribed to it all being fictional.
If one replays the first chapter and watch closely while knowing Rantaro's true talent and the identity of the mastermind, it's subtly implied that Rantaro may have suspected that Tsumugi was the mastermind. Rantaro showing up for the bonus nail painting scene in Chapter 1 can be interpreted as Rantaro not wanting to leave Kaede, someone Rantaro himself had said would be targeted by the mastermind, along with the person that he might think is the mastermind, Tsumugi. This kind of lead to Fridge Horror when you consider Tsumugi's annoyed reaction to Rantaro's sudden appearance
A big hint that Rantaro possibly suspected that Tsumugi was the mastermind, is when he asked about the Ultimate Hunt to the other students. In chapter 6, it's revealed that Rantaro gave a hint to himself in his survivor's perk, telling him to choose carefully when sharing information about the Ultimate Hunt to the other students. The students that were present for Rantaro's question included Kaede, Shuichi, Kaito, Gonta, Himiko, Tenko, Kirumi, and Keebo. So one could assume that Rantaro removed these students as suspects of being the mastermind. The students that weren't present were Kokichi, Miu, Korekiyo, Ryoma, Maki, Angie, and Tsumugi, who left the room in that order. However, while all of the students that left are suspicious on varying levels, it was only until after Tsumugi, seemly the least suspicious of the seven, left the room that Rantaro talks about the Ultimate Hunt.
It's not hard to see why the students immediately latch onto Kokichi being framed as a remnant of despair and believe he's the mastermind in Chapter 5, even though the Flashback light never explicitly spells it out to them. Besides the obvious in how he shows it off, he has a lot in common with Junko herself. Besides their manipulative, lying tendencies, both tend to perform extremely drastic mood swings for entertainment value (even though Kokichi doesn't entirely change personalities), often talk about boredom like it's the bane of their existence and talk about doing horrible things for the sake of making it "fun" (though Kokichi is most likely lying about doing stuff For the Evulz), and both have a quirk that involves completely and utterly deadpanning at something (Kokichi goes deadpan when he's not lying, Junko does it when she comes across something she can't predict and has to analyze it). In effect, Kokichi's pre-built personality already made him a mini-Junko, he just never realized it. In fact, it's entirely possible that Team Danganronpa intentionally crafted his personality like this so that they'd have a savvy Junko Expy, as her in-universe popularity as a character would probably mirror her out of universe popularity as the villain.
In the fifth trial, Monokuma intervenes in the middle of the trial asking about who is inside the Exisal. While he doesn't normally do that as he just let the students figure things out on their own, and only answer certain questions that the students might have that pertains to the murder case, it makes sense in this trial. He does not know the culprit, and he knows how bad it would look if he did not give the correct ruling. The students were about to jump to conclusions and vote for Kokichi. That is something that Monokuma does not want to happen as he made sure that the other students talk things over, and consider all of the possibilities and facts before they vote.
While the game already mentioned plenty of reasons why Tsumugi wanted Kokichi dead, another reason could be that Kokichi is a Living Lie Detector, and could have easily seen pass through Tsumugi's bullshit and her lies. Kokichi may have called her on that, and thus the students may have not fallen into despair and then overcome it like she wanted them to. In addition, Kokichi's final free time event hints on how to win Danganronpa (by not playing in it at all) making it far more likely for him to realize that the other students should not vote.
Why doesn't Korekiyo, a Serial Killer, commit murder during Chapter 1 when he could get off without a class trial and no murder occurring would mean everyone dying? Because if everyone died, his sister would have six new "friends" (all the girls but Miu and Maki,) and this would meet his 100-victim goal, so he could die in peace to be with her.
Because he wants to make sure they're good enough for his sister. Chapter 1 was not soon enough to determine that. It was only after two chapters of consideration that he determined that everybody but Miu and Maki would be good enough.
That makes a better argument for why he should have killed at least one girl to get out scot-free, and the premise has one obvious flaw. One chapter was enough time to determine this for some of the girls, like Kaede's free times with him proves in no uncertain terms, but obviously wouldn't have been enough for all of them, like Maki who stays more closed off during this period. It does, however, make a case for why he doesn't specifically go after Tsumugi when he notes she isolates herself by going to the bathroom, which would have let him make at least one friend, get out alive without facing a trial, and then continue as needed to finish his set of 100. (As he wouldn't know killing her specifically would also likely end the game.) Depending on how close he is to 100 he could just be hoping that enough of this group of 8 girls would be "friend" material even though he'll also die in the process since he does at least know they are all remarkably talented in their respective fields.
Alternatively he may be banking on Exact Words and hopes he isn't being considered as someone "forced" to play the killing game as he can find enjoyment in this situation by observing others and has no actual issues with killing people.
In Shuichi's lab all it says is there are about 50 crime files, and the earliest among them have the crimes shown as drawings rather than photos. However, if you actually look at it it's a case of five rows of ten files, with two extra on the sixth mostly empty bookshelf, so by "about 50" it means "52, rounded down". With the reveal that Danganronpa is a fictional series in-universe, this is the 53rd season, and assumedly the first few installments of this long-runner series are the same ones we have in real life, it seems possible that the change from drawings to photos reflects when the series got into being "real fiction" rather than being games and anime. He doesn't go into what the files contain, so each one could contain all of the murders that were solved in their respective seasons as a massive stealth Mythology Gag.
In the pool room there is a rule sheet displaying some silly rules. "Do not die from slipping" and things like that. They make more sense within the context of the killing game. After all, an accidental death wouldn't require a class trial and would be quite boring.
Many people were confused when the English dub reused VAs from the previous games, but it actually makes sense from a story standpoint: It's part of Tsumugi's plan to "copy" Junko's killing games. This also explains why they come back for when Tsumugi cosplays as them in the 6th trial.
Plus, after 52 other seasons, no doubt succumbing to Seasonal Rot along the way, would Team DanganRonpa really go through the effort of finding new voices/volunteers, especially for a show that has so many characters and many of them not even living all the way?
The number of playable characters in Talent Development Plan? 53.
Its subtle, but if you replay the game knowing Tsumugi is the mastermind, you'll notice that she doesn't once show genuine emotion throughout the game. While other characters emotions are clear, such as anger and depression and crying, Tsumugi gives the same limited expressions in which none of them reaches her eyes. The best example of this is Maki, who starts out cold but opens up later showing real emotions, compared to Tsumugi who keeps up the same Otaku girl act, until the reveal in Chapter 6. Even Kokichi, who is a constant liar, has his moments which proves he wasn't nearly as evil as he wanted people to believe.
The fact that so many of the characters and stories have shout outs to other games, shows, and stories- even more than previous games- might just seem part of Danganronpa's general quirkiness or because Tsumugi is both injecting things she likes and grasping whatever she can for inspiration.
During the prologue, when characters are introducing themselves with the introductory splash screens, Shuichi introduces himself before Kaede. Since the protagonist tends to introduce themselves first, this may be foreshadowing who the actual protagonist is.
Why are the Monokuma Theater segments movie references this time around? It makes sense given who the mastermind is. Like Tsumugi, Monokuma is cosplaying. It's a reflection of the fiction of Danganronpa itself.
Concerning Tenko's last moments until finally dying, if she wasn't slit in the neck in order to be successfully killed by Korekiyo's sickle, she likely would've profusely exploited him for being a "degenerate male" and alerted the respective participants of the séance. She most likely would've made exploiting her killer her dying message if not for having her larynx slit open, deducing it moments before succumbing to her injury. That may be why Korekiyo decided to orient her in an inescapable position so her only fatal injury is being slit in the neck.
The alternative fatal injury in Tenko's case for this to succeed would have to be a field slightly below the back of her neck.
In Chapter 4, Miu attempts to frame Kaito for Kokichi's potential unsolvable murder case. In Chapter 5, Kaito kills Kokichi in an actually unsolvable murder case in order to optimally taint the Killing Game.
One of the regulations states that Monokuma can never directly kill everyone. And in this game, he never does. The first three culprits are killed by the Monokubs, Gonta most likely dies immediately after being impaled by a wasp, Kaito succumbs to his own illness, and all other deaths are on the participants' hands.
Junko broadcast the killing game by hijacking the airwaves in order to pursue the final step of her plan to spread despair internationally purely out of her own boredom, while Team Danganronpa broadcast the killing games with the legal consent of the idea to entertain a peaceful audience bored of the world around.
The battle to vote between hope or despair is different in the sense that Junko's choices had hope obligate everyone believing in their own identity to leave the academy into a tragic, defunct world, and despair has everyone hopelessly live in the academy after Makoto's presumably violent execution, neither of these choices involving the game's murders continuing. This one features fictional characters fighting for a disappointing ending due to both choices causing the killing game to continue, everyone battling against the entire world they're living in to ensure that end.
Some people complain why Kokichi didn't just tell anybody that Miu was planning to murder him. But think about it. He has no concrete proof that Miu is planning to commit a murder, and he's not necessarily trusted by anyone. Most likely, they'd just think that he was trying to screw with them again. Kokichi had no real allies, so manipulating Gonta was truly his only option to escape death.
Argument Armament figuratively (and literally) leaves the opponent defenceless & pinned to a corner.
In the class trials, several of the crosses over the dead characters' portraits seem very symbolic. Angie has what looks like a halo and wings, which suit her devout personality; Miu has three crosses, which is used as shorthand for porn; Korekiyo's portrait is covered with red in a way that looks like fire, which could be referencing his execution; and Kokichi's cross looks more like a checkmark, as if whoever made it was saying 'Yeah, he's definitely dead.'
For Ryoma's motive video, Monokuma is seen in a hard hat with the words "Under Construction" above him, claiming that he couldn't find anything for Ryoma to care about. This hints at the fact that the memories in the motive videos are fabricated, and one for Ryoma was something that Team Danganronpa couldn't think of in time for the motive's reveal.
More on motive videos: at the start of each of them, Monokuma claims they are "back by popular demand". While this can be initially read as a fourth-wall break, referencing the fact that, while the first game had motive videos, the second game did not, the final reveal adds more nuance to that sentence: it implies the audience both In-Universe and in real life wanted to see the comeback of the motive videos.
Tsumugi's skill, '2D Love', fills in some of the panels at the start of the closing argument. Makes sense when you consider the format of the closing argument and her love for manga and such, but then there is the fact that she's also the mastermind and it makes even more sense. Of course her skill would fill in parts of the explanation for how the murder went down, as the mastermind she would know already what happened.
During the retrial for Rantaros death, Monokuma comments on how the first case has become the focal point yet again. At first, this sounds like a reference to Mukuros death in Trigger Happy Havocs first case becoming relevant in that games finale, but that doesnt really fit the statement, as that finale had little to no focus on the actual case itself. Instead, its likely that Monokuma was referring to one of the unseen Danganronpa seasons, with the comment being a bit of foreshadowing that there have been killing games that the out-of-universe audience hasnt seen.
With this being the 53rd killing game, the Japanese government probably sees nothing wrong with having killing games as if they did, they would've probably stopped them before they could do anything.
As mentioned on the main page for The Truman Show(whose plot this obviously borrows from in part), the legal system and social structure to make this kind of show acceptable in both fields would be horrendous to even imagine. If we accept that Tsumugi was being truthful in saying that Danganronpa is a wildly popular show in a world that's otherwise peaceful and that the cast all willingly signed on, then it means we have a world in which children and young people are encouraged in any aggressive urges they may have (and certainly not treated for any personal issues they may have), because it may serve as a motive for them to volunteer for the killing games; this is how we get kids like Kaito, Kaede and Shuichi who have no faith in humanity and have been driven to homicide/suicide. In a deeply sick way, it's a system that makes sense; violent or suicidal teenagers volunteer for the killing game, a vast majority of them die, the ones that don't move up in the world as a reward, and the world has a few less prospective criminals to contend with. Everybody wins! And that's not even going into the changes to the legal system that would have to be allowed in order to make the killing game legally accepted...
This is more of a Fridge Tear Jerker but it can still count. Throughout the Danganronpa universe, there was a constant battle between hope and despair. Given how there were 53 killing games and people are willingly joining them, it would seem despair has already won.
It's arguably worse than that; if it was just despair, then it could be fought against with hope. But as we see in Chapter 6, Team Danganronpa has brought about a world in which both hope and despair are profitable to them, and the killing games will continue no matter which sentiment dominates. The survivors of Season 53 were able to fight against them only by rejecting both hope and despair, which was only possible because of the setup of the class trial; those in the outside world may not be as lucky.
Chapter 6 reveals that the "culprit" of Chapter 1 was actually innocent. Kaede was framed by Tsumugi, Rantaro's true killer and the mastermind of the killing game. Meaning the true "blackened" actually won in the very first chapter. Had Monokuma been following the rules, the entire cast should have been executed, if it wasn't for Tsumugi's desire to keep the killing game going (although Junko was also willing to execute Naegi or Kirigiri for Mukuro's murder, so this is not unprecedented).
Although there was very little chance of that happening: the entire cast getting killed off in the first trial would likely have been almost as much of a Franchise Killer as what Shuichi and the others accomplished in Chapter 6.
Not necessarily. They may have used that motive early on as a means of making sure the cast would actually work well for a killing game. Since parts of the set are still under construction anyway if this cast "failed" to get the viewers interest in time with murder this would let the studio quickly "re-cast" them without causing too much of a fuss.
It at least makes sense for executions to be as grandiose as they are now. A series that's been going on for 53 seasons and an untold number of years is bound to have some serious money to spend on lavish death traps.
In Korekiyo's second Free Time Event with Kaede, he asks Kaede whether she wants to be his sister's friend. She agrees without any suspicion and Korekiyo is very pleased. After seeing the motive of the third case, it seems Kaede won't last that long anyway even if she somehow survived the first case...
Also note that this means that Kaede agreed to this when there was a "first blood perk" in effect that would've let Korekiyo get away with this murder without a trial and the time limit put everyone's life at risk on top of that. It's probably a really good thing for her that she was with Shuichi as much as she was as otherwise she could have just as easily been the first victim so Korekiyo could leave and continue "making friends" for his sister.
Let's take it in even further. His Space Mode ending indicates that he might make an exception for Shuichi. Shuichi just escaped thanks to a "cute" little date fest only to be killed by Korekiyo because of how well they bonded.
Unlike previous games, there is no rule to prevent somebody from killing them all as "two victims per case" rule does not apply here. While fortunately, nobody in this killing game attempted to kill more than two people, with there being 49 unseen killing games, somebody might've Kill 'Em All.
Kirumi mentions in bonus mode that she doesn't like to be regarded as a Team Mom. Why does she play along with it for Kokichi in Chapter 2? It was partly a distraction, but it also could be viewed as the last rite for a victim of her graduation ploy.
As this Tumblr post points out, Gonta could've been a very dangerous person in the killing game. Gonta is not the most intelligent person out there as Tsumugi could've convinced him to kill somebody like how Kokichi did in Chapter Four. However, unlike the case of Kokichi, the mastermind could've convinced him to get rid of somebody who is more of a threat to Tsumugi like Kokichi and Shuichi. If Kokichi decided to go against what he did in Chapter Four for some reason, then things could've been a lot worse.
To be fair, Miu could just be as much as a threat to Tsumugi as Kokichi and Shuichi. What she lacks in brains, she makes up with her inventions which as we seen with Kokichi, played a key role in his ploy to outplay Monokuma and ruin the Killing Game. Without her, Kokichi couldn't exactly execute his gambit of pretending to the mastermind since he wouldn't be able to control the Exisals. Does one wonder if Tsumugi in a way actually did this by designing the flashback light to throw Gonta to despair which led him to kill Miu? Even if it didn't work, it would still end up with Miu killing Kokichi which would pretty much be a win-win for her.
The Flashback Lights' usages come with their own share of horrors:
Given how there is 52 previous seasons and there is a memory light that can implant false memories, there might be some other people who fell victim into what ended up happening to Kaede. It is very likely that could have happened given how having everybody die without defeating the mastermind would be a very big Franchise Killer as stated above.
Among those lines, Team Danganronpa has shown a Lack of Empathy and is willing to do anything for public enjoyment. A simple murder case that a past season had could've been way more complicated thanks to the Flashback Lights' power all for the sake of "good television".
The Light is described to induce any kind of Fake Memories into the victim. As written by a 4chan user, Kirumi went from a dutiful maid to a ruthless person willing to kill just to go back to her 'citizens' that don't even exist. Tying with the ultimate twist, maybe the Lights are also triggered those turn students into Manchurian Agent-esque killers once the act calls for them.
Are people even tuning in to Danganronpa out of genuine enjoyment? Who's saying that the reason why no one sees killing games as immoral is that humanity has been conditioned on a societal scale to show enthusiasm with the franchise?
The Flashback Lights could have had a very, very wide variety of uses. They can grant amazing talents to average nobodies just by flashing the right things at the desired subjects. Military training, ANYTHING-training, brainwashing, therapy, hypnosis, interrogation... yet (for now) it doesn't seem like they're being used for anything except to create "real fictional characters". Crosses into Reed Richards Is Useless.
Given that the flashback lights can be used to implant false memories, it is possible that the audition videos shown in the last trial were fake as well, and in the interviews where the characters confessed their love for the show and their willingness to participate they were already brainwashed to act like that; it is, therefore, possible that Shuichi, the rest of the cast and EVERY participant of the 53 seasons were all forced to play the game from the beginning. In fact, there is direct evidence for this: in the prologue, before getting their memories from the Monokubs, the characters react in an entirely different manner to the announcement of the killing game than in the video of that same scene shown in the last trial, suggesting that the Danganronpa Studio kidnaps teenagers from the street, brainwashes them to believe they want to participate in the killing game to make the audience think they're watching volunteers lessen the moral burden, then installs the false characters into their psyches and makes them kill each other.
Which is backed up by Kaede's recollections at the beginning. First, she was shoved into a black van and taken away on a street in broad daylight, which would be a strange way of getting someone who auditioned to appear. Second, she seemed to recognize the Monokubs and seemed really confused and annoyed, not in an exciting way that a fan of the Killing Games likely would be. If this has gone on for 52 previous seasons, it's quite likely she would've recognized them for exactly who and what they are if she were a fan. Depending on whether or not you believe Tsumugi, it could be that she recognizes either from these previous seasons, from the Danganronpa games themselves, or even from the Remnants of Despair. Either way, there's a lot to suggest that she and her friends participate in the games was not their own desire.
And whether or not any of this is true, there are still fans such as Makoto (not Naegi) who actively want to participate in Danganronpa. Despite knowing that they will be subject to immense amounts of psychological torture and risk brutal deaths, the show still has countless fans who want to escape their lives and live in the world of Danganronpa instead.
Considering Flashback Lights can alter human personalities, it's not a stretch to think that they are responsible for some nasty personality quirks like Kiyo's insanity, Tenko's tactilophopia and Kokichi's lack of empathy. In other words, this thing can give people mental disorders just by shining light on them.
More like Fridge Squick, but considering Keebo was the intended Audience Surrogate in the reality show format, and as such was their eyes to what happened in the killing the game, certain comments in the game makes this disturbing in context. Remember how Miu installed a camera into K1-B0's eyes for the sole purpose of taking photos of her poop? Yeah, turns out since said eyes are also the window for the audience to observe the killing game, the audience also got a collective Brain Bleach because of Miu on regular basis.
This actually perfectly explained Tsugumi's absolute shock when she heard about the subject, she knew that the audiences would suffer brain bleach and decide to ditch the show.
By the end, it is implied that if the group votes for Hope to win, Tsumugi would have returned as the mastermind once again for the 54th Danganronpa. Given how she can make pitch-perfect cosplays as the past characters, it could very well be likely that Tsumugi was the mastermind for almost all of the past killing games, and the "Tsumugi" we saw was actually her "cosplaying" as a "fictional" teenage girl.
Some Fridge Squick can be added to this. If Tsumugi was the mastermind for a vast majority of those killing games, then Shuichi doing her Love Hotel scenes as well as perusing her Space Mode path would basically be him unintentionally trying to romance at least a middle-aged person.
For some evidence to support this theory, Tsumugi accidentally Saying Too Much during her Ultimate Salmon Dating Simulator ending implying that her current appearance might be a cosplay. To further cement the implication, Tsumugi's "mastermind eyes" briefly appear when she realizes her mistake, and she plays it off as an "inside joke".
While it's possible that Tsumugi was involved with all 53 seasons of Danganronpa, it is just as likely that she was an obsessed Otaku fan who got a job writing for the game at some point during those 53 seasons. Furthermore, if you look closely during the reveal, whenever Tsumugi dressed up as one of the past characters in the series, their eyes always had a V3 symbol in them, V in their right eye, 3 in their left. Yet, when Tsumugi is in her high school outfit, you just see her real, evil version of her eyes, which are brighter and colder. Therefore, her dressing as a teenage girl could be her real appearance but is older than she looks, which isn't hard to pull off for a Japanese woman.
A few characters develop feelings for the protagonist by the end of their friendship arcs. This includes some of the killers (or attempted killers in the case for Miu). If their character arcs are finished before they commit murder it would mean they did it, knowing full well the one they loved would be executed alongside everyone else if they avoided being convicted during the class trial.
The protagonist must be going through hell during the trial, as they realize the same person who declared their feelings for them is the murderer. Prove it, get them voted guilty, and watch he/she get executed. What if they had felt something for them too?
The Love Hotel advents in general if one really thinks about it, especially with the "Truman Show" Plot reveal. It's indicated Monokuma could be drugging the students that come to the Love Hotel with Shuichi to make it them think he is their "ideal" as it's quickly mentioned that the students involved will easily write off anything they remember of the night as a dream and part of why Shuichi needs to play along with the role they set for him or it will end the scene. The mastermind also claimed that she brainwashed Maki to fall in love with Kaito as "a part of her character" so that could also be at play here. There is also the strong possibility that the entire thing is being filmed for the world to see, and might not be "cutting off" where it does for the player which given the ages of the cast is concerning.
Additionally, who is to say that Shuichi wasn't the only key holder? It's possible that he was the "invited" for another student that got a hold of the love hotel key but just doesn't remember like the students who he visits. Students of particular concern are Keebo due to being a living first-person camera, Tsumugi for likely being the only party who wouldn't need to be drugged for any of these and may have "wrote" them, Tenko needing to play along with any male student's scenarios, and Korekiyo for any scenes he could have with a female student period.
Tsumugi states she can only cosplay fictional characters. Fictional doesn't necessarily mean they were never real. After all, it just that matters if if the world believesthey're fictional. All the sacrifices that Makoto, Hajime, and all his friends made; all that struggle and hardship; all those promises of hope and friendship. Every last bit of it wiped away and transformed into a fictional narrative in this new hellish world.
It also makes her antics in the sixth trial a majorKick the Dog moment.
While it was just at Hope's Peak in the original games, here it's the entire country that's divided by a Fantastic Caste System. Ultimates are the only people allowed to vote and run for public office. And this was during the intro before the Fake Memories are implanted and in a period of time that was erased from everyone's mind. In other words, this tidbit of information might be true.
And suddenly it makes a bit of sense why the Killing Games exist and are so popular in at least three major ways. 1) What better way to vent your frustrations at the privileged upper class of society than by making them kill each other, particularly if they have been trying to hide the fact they are gifted. 2) They are taking ordinary people off the streets, making them think they're these very same people, and then making them kill each other either to show why "ordinary" people can't really match up to a "true" Ultimate or vent those frustrations on easier to reach targets. 3) Ordinary people do volunteer for the games as a way to "win" the right to be made into an Ultimate and earn these privileges by keeping the memories and personas they are implanted with to start the killing game.
One can only imagine just how the others would've reacted to the news that they're all "fictional characters" and the sight of their audition tapes.
There are multiple references to the cast's families and loved ones, such as Shuichi's uncle, Kaito's grandparents, and Himiko's master. Are they also a fabrication or were their memories of their loved ones twisted around as part of their new identities as Ultimates? If they do exist, are they watching the 53rd season of Danganronpa as well? Were they aware that these kids possibly signed up willingly?
In Trial 6, Shirogane says "I'm also part of Team Danganronpa... We make the finest killing entertainment! Everyone enjoys our work oh-so-much!" If she claims that they make the finest killing entertainment, could there be other killing shows in production as well? Could entertainment revolving around death and killing have become an entire industry?
Let's assume for a moment that Tsumugi was telling the truth about the killing game being a beloved reality show that everyone signed up for. After 53 seasons, the show must also have been a truly massive undertaking, with hundreds or even thousands of people employed by Team Danganronpa. With the show's death, as hopeful as that ending might seem, what does it mean for Shuichi, Himiko, and Maki? They ended one of the world's most popular shows, which could have put countless people out of work. And while it's true that their desire to change the world could have reached people, in a world that places so little value on human life that shows revolving around murder not only exist but are popular, how long before someone comes after them for ruining everything?
Kokichi is ambiguous on what he means when he proclaims that he "betrayed Gonta" after he's executed. When the plan that Kokichi originally formed was to kill everyone around him in order to "save everyone" by having them all vote incorrectly for himself over Gonta, Kokichi vengefully tells everyone that Gonta is the true culprit of the case when Shuichi proves that Kokichi could potentially have been the only one to kill Miu, without any previous implications of Gonta. His reveal of Gonta being the culprit is the betrayal Kokichi is referring to, and not something similar to that such as aggressively arguing with Gonta for not forming their planned arguments.
Gonta's execution is horrible, but it gets worse when you consider that Gonta dies knowing that he committed a murder, but he doesn't remember killing anyone, doesn't feel as if he has the capability to kill anyone, and likely still doesn't really understand how it happened.
Ryoma's death. Imagine how frightening that was for him, knowing that Kirumi, the mature and calm Team Mom of the group has given into Monokuma's motive, and though Shuichi determined Ryoma struggled thanks to all the scratch marks his handcuffs left on the sink, Kirumi overpowered him.
If you believe that everything was just a reality show with participants being brainwashed to have talents and personalities, it gets ultra horrifying if you think about characters from previous games. Toko and Hajime were likely given other personalities on top of their real ones, as seen with Korekiyo. Whoever Nagito was could have somehow been given frontotemporal dementia for the sake of good TV, and this isnt much of a stretch since Team Danganronpa was able to infect Kaito with a made-up virus. The implications for Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls are even worse, since the antagonists were literal children.
When playing the Ultimate Talent Development Plan mode as Miu, an optional scene has her use the Hookup Counter on Mikan...with results that apparently surprise Miu. Now recall Mikan's backstory of abuse...