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Light Novel / Dangan Ronpa Zero

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A pair of Light Novels for the Dangan Ronpa franchise set before the events of Dangan Ronpa and Super Dangan Ronpa 2.

Ryoko Otonashi is a student attending Hope's Peak Academy, an elite private school that only accepts "ultimate" students: the best of the best of the best, regardless of niche. Unfortunately, she suffers from anterograde amnesia and forgets things mere minutes after they occur. To function in day-to-day life, Ryoko carries around "memory notebooks" filled with information written by herself about the events and people in her past.

Because of her disorder, Ryoko has only managed to retain one memory: that of her doctor and (implied) childhood friend, the "Super High-School Level Neurologist" Yasuke Matsuda, who is studying her amnesia in the hope of helping her recover.

Unfortunately, a sinister plot is taking shape in the shadows of Hope's Peak Academy. Someone or something is laying the final groundwork on a plan destined to plunge the world into an endless despair, a plan intrinsically linked to "The Worst, Most Despair-Inducing Incident In The History Of Hope's Peak Academy". As a select few students attempt to uncover the truth, they face not only the organisation behind the Incident but a cover-up by the highest officials of Hope's Peak Academy. In the middle of this is Ryoko, who is dragged into the conspiracy by forces beyond her understanding or control.


A translation is being provided in the Let's Play at the Something Awful forums, in tandem with the Super Dangan Ronpa 2 translation effort. A mirror of the thread can be found here.

An alternate translation which is further along in book 2 can be found here with the remaining chapters of the second book here.

In 2018, a fan game of the novel began production. The demo can be viewed here.

Warning! All spoilers below are unmarked.

It's virtually impossible to list tropes for these books without spoiling everything or creating Self Fulfilling Spoilers because of the large amount of surprising reveals and murderer/victim exclusive tropes these novels contain. Also since these novels are a prequel to Dangan Ronpa and Super Dangan Ronpa 2 there will be spoilers for both games here.


This Light Novel contains examples of:

  • Amnesiac Hero: Ryoko.
  • Anyone Can Die: As in the games, perhaps even more so.
  • As You Know: Played with: as Matsuda keeps reminding Ryoko, she should already know about how things work at Hope's Peak, and he doesn't appreciate having to explain to her constantly.
  • Backup Twin: As it turns out, Mukuro isn't the only one running around. The SHSL Bodyguard doubles as SHSL Octuplets.
  • Big Bad: As before, this applies to Junko Enoshima. In actuality, this applies to Ryoko, who is the amnesic version of Junko Enoshima.
  • Black Blood: The blood is red in the descriptions, but it's still pink in any actual images we see of it.
  • Brand Names Are Better: To fund their talent research and pay for the scholarships of "Ultimate" students, Hope's Peak opens up an expensive second campus specifically for non-Ultimate students who wish to exploit the academy's reputation. This idea is particularly common in Japan, where the name of the university you graduate from is said to carry more weight than the qualification gained.
  • Break Her Heart to Save Her: Near the ending, Headmaster Jin engages in this by threatening Kyoko, informing her that if she continues investigating the incident, breaks any rules or steps the least bit out of line, she'll be expelled from Hope's Peak.
  • Call-Forward: Matsuda references the various uses of controlling, compiling or completely erasing people's memories, which is a major plot point in both Dangan Ronpa and Super Dangan Ronpa 2. There's hints he may already be capable of doing this, when the Hope's Peak staff try to blackmail him into tampering with the memory of any student who knows about the Worst, Largest Despair-Inducing Event in Hope Peak Academy's History.
  • The Cameo: A few characters from the games appear here, namely:
    • Fujisaki: Kamishiro mentioned having help from an underclassman who was also a programmer
    • Hanamura: The SHSL Cook who worked at the Café and made food so good you'd swear it was drugged.
    • Naegi, Kirigiri and Ikusaba also appear but are all important (for a while at least) and named so they might not count.
  • Create Your Own Villain: The conditions at Hope's Peak help foster the creation of SHSL Despair, giving them plenty of disaffected students to work with.
  • Darker and Edgier: While the first volume is fairly moderate in tone, the second descends headfirst into this trope as the Ryouko gets closer to the truth. There's much more graphic violence, much more suffering and an absolutely brutal Downer Ending.
  • Decoy Damsel: Enoshima pulled this off.
  • Deuteragonist: Both Ryoko and Matsuda are this to each other, with the story more or less focusing on the two equally.
  • Dr. Jerk: Matsuda
  • Elaborate University High: Hope's Peak Academy. Matsuda explains more about how it operates to Ryoko.
  • Ending Tropes:
  • Fan Disservice: When Ryouko goes to the Maid Cafe. The Monokuma Maid Cafe.
  • Fantastic Caste System: Hope's Peak student body is divided into two levels. You have the SHSL Talents, who were hand-picked so their special skills can be studied and amplified by getting the best schooling possible... and the Reserve Course, made up of Ordinary High School Students who are paying for the privilege of attending. Their campus functions as a completely ordinary school, without any access to the perks SHSL Talents enjoy. The students are largely segregated from each other, with little interaction between levels.
  • Foregone Conclusion: This is a Prequel to Dangan Ronpa. Those familiar with the original know which of the cameo characters are Doomed by Canon and who has Plot Armor.
  • Foreshadowing
    • For starters, take a look at the cover shown on this page. Now notice which side of the Monokuma face Matsuda is on...
    • Pay close attention during the first scene between Ryoko and Matsuda and note when Matsuda visibly hesitates. Also, he states that the demonstration the Reserve Course is preforming might be orchestrated by a single person but doesn't give his reasons as to why, mostly because he has perfectly good knowledge of what is going on.
    • The scene where the Steering Committee confronts Matsuda. Its vague at first as to what they're talking about but, with the ending in mind, its clear they're talking about Matsuda's ability to block out peoples memories.
    • When Ryoko meets Enoshima for the first time she gives a fairly cohesive description of Enoshima's appearance, bar Enoshima's face. This is a big clue to the reveal that the "Junko Enoshima" is actually Ikusaba in disguise.
    • When Ryoko's talking about The Power of Love in regards to Matsuda, Madarai responds that love is the element that causes people to do crazy and evil things. Now, what is Matsuda driven by?
    • After Ryoko knocks Madarai out, he suddenly reappears, unharmed. Turns out there's more than one Madarai running around.
    • At one point, Ryoko is tied to Matsuda's bed while Matsuda is under it, something played for comedy. Kirigiri's investigation of Matsuda's lab reveals his bed actually conceals a passage into the storeroom used to help hide the Committee members corpses.
    • On a more overall note, notice that no one actually calls Ryoko by name. Everyone either just avoids using her name (Matsuda) or refers to her by a nickname (Kamishiro). This is the lead into the revelation that "Ryoko Otonashi" is a false identity.
  • The Hero Dies: Granted, neither are precisely 'heroes', but Matsuda is dead by the end of the book, as is in a way Ryouko.
  • The Ghost: Izuru Kamukura is referred to several times, but never makes an appearance. He appears to at one point, but it's not him.
  • Gone Horribly Right/Wrong: The SHSL Hope Project. Right in the sense that Kamukura is the ultimate Ace, wrong in how he fell into despair.
  • Gorn: The book can get very descriptive in terms of describing dead corpses. Even then Matsuda's death is especially brutal.
  • Hard Work Hardly Works: While it's technically possible that a student from the Reserve Course could excel at their studies and earn their way into the 'true' Hope's Peak, Matsuda scorns the idea, describing it as just a way to keep stringing them along.
  • Heel–Face Door-Slam: Matsuda's realization that his girlfriend was using him as an Unwitting Pawn happens shortly before she brutally stabs him to death.
  • He Knows Too Much:
    • Ryoko is accused of this, despite her memory problems.
    • Murasame is killed due to this, as is Kamishiro.
  • Kill 'em All: Pretty much everyone who didn't appear in the original game is dead by the end.
  • Mind Screwdriver: A lot of Backstory to the games is revealed here. Readers finally learn how the students' memories were erased, as well as some of what led up to The Worst, Most Despair-Inducing Incident in the History of Mankind.
  • Neck Snap: The fate of Kamishiro.
  • Note to Self: The purpose of Ryoko's Memory Journal.
  • Official Couple/Victorious Childhood Friend: Enoshima and Matsuda are a rather depressing example.
  • The Resenter: As it turns out, the Monokuma Maid Cafes are being used to foster resentment among the Reserve Coursers.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: Murasame, one of the only survivors of the first mutual killing game, to the point where he's practically insane.
  • Shout-Out: It's brought up early on that Ryoko and Matsuda saw Home Alone together. This actually helps Ryoko at one point.
  • Surprisingly Sudden Death: Late in the second volume, Ryoko is startled when she discovers Kamishiro with his head twisted around wrong.
  • Tomato in the Mirror: Ryoko is just a false identity created to protect Enoshima.
  • Tomato Surprise: The fact that Ryoko is a false identity of Junko Enoshima and Enoshima's status as Matsuda's lover are no secret to Matsuda himself, who has about half of the story taking place from his perspective.
  • Twin Switch: Ikusaba acts as a Body Double for her sister.
  • Two Aliases, One Character: Ryoko Otonashi is Junko Enoshima after getting amnesia.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Deliberately played with Ryoko, mostly due to her memory problems. In reality, it's actually much stronger than that, with the chapters from Matsuda and "Enoshima's" perspective reeking of the narrator outright lying to the reader.
    • In a strange example, the book makes it out like Matsuda doesn't know who Kamukura is. Later supplementary material would go onto imply that Matsuda was employed by the academy as Kamukura's creator.
  • Unusual Euphemism: The administration insists on referring to the Reserve Course demonstration as a "parade."
  • Unwitting Pawn: Matsuda. He doesn't take realizing that well.
  • Villain Protagonist: Both Ryoko and Matsuda are technically this, with Ryoko as the amnesic version of Junko Enoshima and Matsuda as her (partially unwitting) conspirator and lover.
  • The Watson: Ryoko functions as this. Not only does Matsuda explain to her things she should have known already, but she catches a lot of exposition from other characters.