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Visual Novel / Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

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All spoilers for the game will be left unmarked in the trope examples below. You Have Been Warned!
Welcome to Despair Academy.note 

"Wherever there is hope, there is most definitely despair."
The Mastermind

Danganronpanote : Trigger-Happy Havoc, subtitled The Academy of Hope and the High School Students of Despair in Japanese, is a "high-speed mystery action adventure" by Spike, released in Japan for the PlayStation Portable in 2010, the Play Station Vita in 2013, Steam in 2016, PlayStation 4 in 2017, the Nintendo Switch in 2021, and the Xbox One in 2022. It is the first installment in the Danganronpa franchise.

The story takes place at Hope's Peak Academy, an illustrious private school that only accepts "Ultimate" students: the best of the best of the best. The criteria extends to any niche, so in addition to super-geniuses and super-athletes, they take super-idols, super-gang-leaders, and super-nerds.

Makoto Naegi is an utterly unremarkable Ordinary High-School Student who is still baffled as to how he got in: being chosen by a random lottery, which admits him as the "Ultimate Lucky Student." His luck turns out to be quite the opposite though, as when he is about to begin his first day at school he suddenly loses consciousness.

When Makoto awakens, he finds himself trapped with fourteen other students within the walls of the academy, with the exits and windows all bolted and sealed. A sadistic Killer Teddy Bear named Monokuma (or Monobear) reveals himself as the instigator of their plight and gives the students two options: they can either live out the rest of their lives peacefully within the Gilded Cage of the school, or attempt to escape by "graduating".

To "graduate", a student has to commit a perfect murder by killing another student and getting away with it. When a murder happens, a class trial is held amongst the survivors, who investigate the case, then vote on who they think the murderer is. If they are correct, then the guilty party is messily executed for "disturbing the public order". If they are wrong, then the murderer "graduates" and is allowed to leave the school, while everyone else takes the punishment in their place.

As Monokuma, hungry for a spectacle, introduces additional "motives" for the students to kill each other, the tension within the school reaches breaking point and the bodies start to pile up. It's up to Makoto to make sure that the culprit of each murder is found so that the innocent students have a chance to figure out the secrets behind the school and possibly escape — all while a traitor hides among the group...

The game has originated a franchise, whose other works can be seen here. A compilation game was later released called Danganronpa 1・2 Reload, which includes both the first installment and its sequel with some incremental improvements to both, such as a bonus scenario for the first game called "School Mode": a social mode that lets Makoto hang out and form relationships with the other characters without worrying about the main plot progressing.

The sequel also included a side story by Ryohgo Narita of Baccano! fame titled Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc IF: The Button of Hope and the Tragic Warriors of Despair'', a What If? scenario where Makoto manages to obtain an item called the "Escape Switch" from the gift machine before the first murder occurs, dramatically changing the events that transpire.

An anime adaptation aired in the summer of 2013. Funimation is streaming it for those in the US, and has dubbed the series as well in 2015. For the dubbed anime, the only returning voice actor from the original game was Makoto's.

The game also has has a number of translations (official and unofficial) varying in consistency, so that context may affect how certain examples are written.

From that moment, I should've realized... These weren't tropes of hope. These were tropes of despair:

Original game:

General examples

Tropes with their own pages


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    School Mode
  • Alternate Universe: Sayaka's ending strongly implies that School Mode takes place in this. School Mode!Makoto even has a flashback from Chapter 1 of the main story.
  • And I Must Scream: Played for Laughs. Some of the Monokuma backups buildable in include the "entertainment" model, which moans that its life is a travesty and welcomes the sweet release of Monokuma smashing it to bits, and the "adult" model, which has a zipper on the back and a voice inside it screaming to be let out.
  • And Your Reward Is Clothes: The reward for getting a character's ending? That student's underwear. Um... yay? Word of God says that it is supposed to be a representation of an intense bond between Makoto and the other character... which just so happens to appear as that character's favourite undergarments.
  • Bellisario's Maxim: Invoked in the tutorial, which lampshades the fact that the regular sequences of free time events are identical to the ones in the original game; hence, characters talk about killing even when Monokuma just has them building robots and hasn't actually said a thing about "graduating" yet. Though he does offhandedly mention something about the students killing each other, a fact that is not lost on Byakuya.
  • Big Ball of Violence: The "fight" between Monokuma and Usami.
  • Breaking the Fourth Wall: The Excuse Plot involves the students being ordered to create backup bodies for Monokuma, who says that he'll need them because not only does he explode in the prologue, they dissect him in Chapter 5.
  • Call-Back: When Makoto receives Imposter!Junko's panties, the game takes care to note that despite being built for combat, it is not spear-proof.
  • Captain Obvious: Some of Makoto's possible observations during "trips", including observing to Celeste "That's an accordion" and asking Aoi "So you like donuts, right?" His classmates can be caustic about it.
  • Crotch-Grab Sex Check: In the original Japanese version of Chihiro's ending, Chihiro proves he's a boy to Makoto by moving Makoto's hand somewhere "on his body", which is strongly implied to be this. In the localized version, it's specifically said that Chihiro moves Makoto to feel his chest, likely to appease the censors. Although Makoto implies that he was expecting the crotch and was relieved that his hand ended up somewhere else.
  • Early-Bird Cameo: The ending has Usami show up to save the students. Monokuma complains that she isn't supposed to show up yet.
  • Entertainingly Wrong: In the ending of School Mode, "Junko" seems unsettled after Monokuma's defeat. Aoi says they're probably thinking the same thing, "Junko" is visibly shocked... and Aoi worries about if they'll stay in touch after they leave the school.
  • Everybody Lives: In this universe, Monokuma assigns them with creating backup robots for him, and as Makoto bonds with the other students, the final robot turns out to be Usami, brought to life because of the bonds the students made, who proceeds to kick Monokuma's ass while the latter is flabbergasted since she's supposed to appear LATER. With that, Usami gives the students the exit switch and they all escape together.
  • Guide Dang It!: Figuring out which dialogue options / Trigger Happy Heart combinations increase a character's friendship level the most during trips - while most of them are intuitive enough, a few of the most desirable choices are completely out of left field (one infamous example is a list in which one of the choices has you flat-out mentioning that Hina's gained weight - one might reasonably expect this to be a spectacularly bad thing to bring up, yet somehow it's the best option of the three given).
  • New Game Plus: School Mode allows the player to carry over the accumulated skill levels for gathering materials and cleaning the school to a new playthrough. The in-story justification is that Monokuma forces the students to start over after being dissatisfied with all the backups they build in fifty days.
  • Relationship Values: Finishing the free time events for all characters is one of the requirements for the good ending. School Mode also has a new set of Relationship Values, viewable by asking Monokuma, which determine whether a character gets a concluding scene during the ending.
  • Video Game Cruelty Potential: Trigger Happy Heart events, as implied by their name, usually have the student in question with their pain, fears, frustrations, vulnerabilities and insecurities all on display, while the only available command involves agreeing or disagreeing with these internal reflections. Depending on the context, it's possible to make Makoto say some incredibly mean things to the other students.

    Stage Play
  • Adaptation Distillation: It's bound to happen when the adaption is of a game that's 20+ hours. Because of this, Kiyotaka never becomes Kiyondo, as a new rule comes into play that those who voted wrong will be executed with the murderer if the majority vote right, but by spears, not a custom execution.
  • Adaptational Heroism: While neither were exactly villainous, Celeste and Hifumi don't murder someone in this version.
  • Adapted Out: Kiyondo, Kiyotaka possessed by Mondo's spirit, doesn't exist as Kiyotaka dies alongside Mondo.
  • Dies Differently in Adaptation:
    • Kiyotaka's death occurs by the hands of Monokuma instead of Hifumi and Celeste for refusing to vote Mondo Owada as the killer in chapter 2.
    • Celeste and Hifumi die because they voted for Celeste as Sakura's murderer, instead of Hifumi being killed by Celeste and Celeste then getting found out.
    • All of the executions are changed from over-the-top deaths by irony to the convicted simply being killed by a bunch of spears. Probably for the best, as the game's executions weren't something that could easily be replicated on stage.
      • This gets slightly averted in the 2016 version. Leon’s execution still involves him getting killed by spears, but both Mondo and Celeste are given executions closer to the ones seen in the game.
  • Extremely Short Timespan: In comparison to the game, which takes place across a number of weeks, this version happens over the course of three days. The first day being introductions, with Sayaka dying during that night, the second day being the first trial and the aftermath, with Chihiro dying on that night, and the third day having that death’s trial, Sakura’s suicide and subsequent trial, and the mastermind trial shortly after.
  • Face Death with Dignity: As with canon, Mondo and Celeste do this, and Taka is added to the list as well, though he may have been a case of Driven to Suicide as well. Averted with Leon and Hifumi, the former going out crying and begging for his life, the latter desperately trying to run away.
  • Spared by the Adaptation:
    • Kyoko only finds Alter Ego after the students read Sakura's letter, so Alter Ego doesn't get executed.
    • In the original 2014 run, the surviving students don't allow Junko to execute herself, believing that staying alive is a worse punishment. This gets averted in the 2016 version.


Video Example(s):


The Ultimate Punishment

Junko is only capable of feeling pleasure through despair, even if it comes from her own death. In the stage adaption, Makoto cuts her from executing herself as the ultimate punishment for her crimes, thus sparing her in an alternate continuity.

How well does it match the trope?

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Example of:

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