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So You Want To / Write the Next "Danganronpa"

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By its very nature, this page includes spoilers for the entire series, including the end of V3.

Danganronpa is mainly known for one thing; A half-white/half-black teddy bear forcing talented high school students to kill each other. Aside from that, it is also known for its colorful cast of characters, each with their own hopes, only for them to be crushed into the weight of despair.

The premise alone allows for an engaging storyline, with rich mysteries behind the plot itself, the characters, and the world around them.

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Necessary Tropes

  • Anyone Can Die: The premise is high schoolers killing each other, so this is basically what you signed up for. (Or in V3's case, what the cast signed up for.)
  • Cast of Snowflakes: You're going to have a cast of 16 students who each possess a talent they excel at, so you need to be able to tell them apart easily.

Choices, Choices

  • Complexity Addiction: You don't have to make all the murder tricks as complicated as the original games, but you also shouldn't make them too simple either.
  • Orgy of Evidence: Just like with Complexity Addiction, you don't have to go overboard with the amount of evidence.
  • Sacrificial Lamb / Sacrificial Lion: A common element of the games is to have the first killer/victim be someone who is built up as important in some way. It's not a necessary element of the games, but it does help give the first chapter more impact when the characters haven't had much time to develop yet.
  • Shown Their Work: If the characters really are at the top of their game with regards to their talent, they must possess the best part of their skillset. Watch movies regarding that talent, or read books regarding said talent. Their internal conflict, which comes in handy during the motives, can also be manifested from here.
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    • Performer (ballerina, singer, instrument player)? Watch media pertaining to that talent and what would possibly make them kill someone. Highly suggest watching movies like Whiplash or Black Swan to have an idea of the character.
    • Detective
    • Academics
    • Sports (may overlap with Performer)

Pitfalls

Potential Subversions

  • Danganronpa is famously formulaic, so you can stick to the traditional structure, or branch out in different ways.
    • All Danganronpa games involve a 6 chapter structure (with a prologue, epilogue, and in DR2's case a chapter 0) but if it fits the story, you don't have to stick to it.
    • Perhaps the most famous example in the original series is chapter 3, which always involves 2 murder victims, and the killer revealing themselves to be unhinged in some way during the class trial.
  • Even if writing within the Ultimate Real Fiction, it's possible to play with that formula.
    • For instance: what if the "Ultimate Survivor" talent was also fake, and it was also their first killing game?

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Writers' Lounge

Suggested Themes and Aesops

  • Hope and Despair

Potential Motifs

  • Specific fields of interest. While the franchise doesn't shy away, one can imagine how a killing game wherein most of the Ultimates are ill-equipped to deal with the situation or easily dealing with it. A team of only those associated with sports, depending on the people, can be far slower and complex to decode trials than one that is more inclined to study.
  • National Stereotypes / A multinational set of students.

Suggested Plots

  • Romantic Subplots
  • Groups turning on each other

Departments

Set Designer/Location Scout

  • For your Killing Game, you need to set up a location that has the students completely isolated from the outside world, however, this doesn't limit your options for settings.
    • Treat the premise akin to Die Hard. As in, pull off a "Die Hard" on an X, but instead of the protagonist overcoming odds against a location taken over by an antagonistic force (which sounds quite similar to Dangaronpa's premise), the protagonist, along with other students must survive through the killing game itself. The first game was set in a boarded-up high school, but the second was set on an island resort. You could go with the standard high school setting, however, if you want to do something different, other options include a hospital, campground, prison, island resort, mansion, ship, hotel, castle, or even a flying aircraft.
  • Your location should have 6 'sections' that'll be unlocked one by one after each class trial. However, this may vary depending on the cast size. The larger the cast, the larger the setting. In addition, one can make the unlocked sections uncover one part of the bigger-scope story, whether it be clues on the Mastermind, the protagonists, the students themselves, or the situation around them.

Props Department

  • One can shift the weapons of choice for the murders. That way, it would be less obvious as to who can uncover the culprit.

Costume Designer

  • When making an outfit for one of the students, it should be somehow related to their talent, whether it's a school uniform with relevant designs (e.g. Kaede's skirt having sheet music printed on it), or something they would wear while 'on the job' (e.g. Miu's goggles).

Casting Director

  • The Protagonist: The main hero/heroine of the story. In a standard plot, they were chosen as part of a "lucky" draw or some circumstance, and have now thrust themselves into the killing game as a whole. Through their friends and clinging to hope, they ultimately succeed in uncovering the truths behind the killing game as well as guiding their classmates through the trials that go by.
    • If one wants to make the audience engage more with the protagonist, they can have a unique internal conflict that drives them through the story, and the killing game can help them overcome this to rise to the challenge. They need not be the Audience Surrogate, and this can allow for a very interesting story going forward. They may survive through the trials, but they are capable of death. In this case, they can be a Decoy Protagonist. However, if one opts to do this, they can put it at the first or the mid-way point.
    • Examples: Makoto Naegi, Hajime Hinata, Shuichi Saihara
    • Examples of Decoy Protagonist: Kaede Akamatsu
  • The Second Lead: They can be of any gender, and they are often the people who carry the class through the trials, though they may have a difficult past that they have to contend to. One can make them the Love Interest of the protagonist, though they may or may not survive the story.
    • Examples: Kyoko Kirigiri, Chiaki Nanami
  • The "Jerk": The closest thing it has to the Anti-Hero of the story. They are known for believing strange things that the protagonists may not support, and will often meddle with the scenery in order to prove their point. Their morals may be ambiguous, but they're really people who will often wedge in their decisions that hinder the protagonists in the trials. May survive the story or not.
    • Examples: Byakuya Togami, Nagito Komaeda, Kokichi Oma
  • Monokuma: The primary instigator of the plot and the main driving force behind the entire Killing Game. They are linked to the mastermind, but their identity is masked by his sadistic personality and loud-mouthedness. Often times, they can spout clues as to who the Mastermind can be, and this can be in the form of character interactions and plot devices.
  • The Mastermind: The primary antagonistic force behind the Monokuma character. Either way, they are the final boss that the cast of survivors will contend to. They will either have a Dark and Troubled Past, or be agents of bigger despair.
  • Gender-Equal Ensemble: Generally used, as all three main games have had a cast of eight men and eight women. This isn't a requirement; Danganronpa 3 Future Arc had nine men and six women.

Stunt Department

  • The methods taken by the students to cover up their tracks after the murder can be downright amazing. This is essential to challenge the protagonists into making decisions.
  • Perhaps one of Danganronpa's most iconic elements, the executions. These should involve the talent in some way, but it's also important to keep the characters' personalities in mind to create a truly miserable execution. Past examples include Leon's frustration with being forced to play baseball, and his execution involving him being literally chained to a batting cage while being beaten to death with baseball. Teruteru's hatred of low-class food and then being turned into fried food, or Celeste wishing for an elegant death by being burned to death, only for her to be smashed by a firetruck at the last second.

Extra Credit

The Greats

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