This page contains unmarked spoilers. You Have Been Warned!
Ryoko Otonashi is a student attending Hope's Peak Academy, an elite private school that only accepts "Super High-School Level" 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 Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy". As a select few students attempt to uncover the truth, they face not only the organisation behind the Tragedy but a cover-up by the highest officials of Hope's Peak Academy, the Steering Committee. In the middle of this is Ryoko, who is dragged into the conspiracy by forces beyond her understanding or control.
Another, complete full translation of both volumes can be viewed Here.
In 2018, a fan game of the novel began production. The demo can be viewed here.
This Light Novel contains examples of:
- Amnesiac Hero: Ryoko can't remember her past or form new long-term memories, requiring her to keep a memory notebook.
- Anyone Can Die: As in the games, perhaps even more so.
- As You Know: Played with: as Yasuke 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 Super High-School Level Bodyguard doubles as Super High-School Level 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 "Super High-School Level" students, Hope's Peak opens up an expensive second campus specifically for non-Super High-School Level 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 Kirigiri 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: Yasuke references the various uses of controlling, compiling or completely erasing people's memories, which is a major plot point in both Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. 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 Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy.
- The Cameo: A few characters from the games appear here, namely:
- Chihiro: Yuto mentioned having help from an underclassman who was also a programmer.
- Teruteru: The Super High-School Level Cook who worked at the Café and made food so good you'd swear it was drugged.
- Makoto, Kyoko and Mukuro also appear but are all important (for a while at least) and named so they might not count.
- Childhood Friend Romance: Junko and Yasuke are a rather depressing example.
- Create Your Own Villain: The conditions at Hope's Peak help foster the creation of Super High-School Level 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 Ryoko gets closer to the truth. There's much more graphic violence, much more suffering and an absolutely brutal Downer Ending.
- Decoy Damsel: Junko pulled this off.
- Deuteragonist: Both Ryoko and Yasuke are this to each other, with the story more or less focusing on the two equally.
- Downer Ending: Nothing ends well here. It all goes according to Junko's plan... and even she gets despair out of it.
- Dr. Jerk: Yasuke.
- Elaborate University High: Hope's Peak Academy. Yasuke explains more about how it operates to Ryoko.
- The Ending Changes Everything: Rereading both volumes with the Tomato Surprise in mind makes much of it come off very differently...
- Fan Disservice: When Ryoko 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 Super High-School Level 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 Super High-School Level Talents enjoy. The students are largely segregated from each other, with little interaction between levels.
- Foregone Conclusion: As a prequel to the first two games, those familiar will know which of the cameo characters are Doomed by Canon and who has Plot Armor.
- For starters, take a look at the cover shown on this page. Now notice which side of the Monokuma face Yasuke is on...
- Pay close attention during the first scene between Ryoko and Yasuke and note when Yasuke 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 Yasuke. It's vague at first as to what they're talking about, but, with the ending in mind, it becomes clear they're talking about Yasuke's ability to block out people's memories.
- When Ryoko meets Junko for the first time she gives a fairly cohesive description of Junko's appearance, bar her face. This is a big clue to the reveal that "Junko Enoshima" is actually Mukuro in disguise.
- When Ryoko's talking about The Power of Love in regards to Yasuke, Isshiki responds that love is the element that causes people to do crazy and evil things. Now, what is Yasuke driven by?
- After Ryoko knocks Isshiki out, he suddenly reappears, unharmed. Turns out there's more than one Madarai running around.
- At one point, Ryoko is tied to Yasuke's bed while Yasuke is under it, something played for comedy. Kyoko's investigation of Yasuke'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 (Yasuke) or refers to her by a nickname (Yuto). This is the lead into the revelation that "Ryoko Otonashi" is a false identity.
- The Hero Dies: Granted, neither are precisely 'heroes', but Yasuke is dead by the end of the book, as is (in a way) Ryoko.
- 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 Super High-School Level Hope Project. Right in the sense that Izuru 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, Yasuke'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, Yasuke scorns the idea, describing it as just a way to keep stringing them along.
- HeelFace Door-Slam: Yasuke'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.
- Soshun is killed due to this, as is Yuto.
- 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 Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History.
- Memory Gambit: Played with. Yasuke Matsuda erased Junko's memories when Hope's Peak Academy asked him to interrogate her via mind scan about the deaths of the Student Council members she caused. However, Yasuke keeps Junko amnesiac to protect her and keep her from spreading more despair. But it turns out Junko knew he would do this thanks to her Awesomeness by Analysis, and let it happen so she could experience the despair of murdering her boyfriend.
- Neck Snap: The fate of Yuto at the hands of Yasuke.
- Note to Self: The purpose of Ryoko's Memory Journal.
- The Resenter: As it turns out, the Monokuma Maid Cafes are being used to foster resentment among the Reserve Coursers.
- Shell-Shocked Veteran: Sōshun Murasame, the only Student Council members to survive the Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy, to the point where he's practically insane.
- Surprisingly Sudden Death: Late in the second volume, Ryoko is startled when she discovers Yuto with his head twisted around wrong.
- Tomato in the Mirror: Ryoko is just a false identity created to protect Junko.
- Tomato Surprise: The fact that Ryoko is a false identity of Junko Enoshima and Junko's status as Yasuke's lover are no secret to Yasuke himself, who has about half of the story taking place from his perspective.
- Twin Switch: Mukuro 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 Yasuke and "Junko's" perspective reeking of the narrator outright lying to the reader.
- In a strange example, the book makes it out like Yasuke doesn't know who Izuru is. Later supplementary material would go onto imply that Yasuke was employed by the academy as Izuru's creator.
- Unusual Euphemism: The Steering Committee insists on referring to the Reserve Course protest as "The Parade".
- Unwitting Pawn: Yasuke. He doesn't take realizing that well.
- Villain Protagonist: Both Ryoko and Yasuke are technically this, with Ryoko as the amnesic version of Junko Enoshima and Yasuke as her (partially unwitting) conspirator and lover.
- The Watson: Ryoko functions as this. Not only does Yasuke explain to her things she should have known already, but she catches a lot of exposition from other characters.