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YMMV / New Hope University: Major In Murder

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Is Saya a Guile Hero whose cunning is necessary to uncover the killers' plans so that the spotless can survive, or is she a Sociopathic Hero who enjoys manipulating others in the trials?
    • In the third Chapter, Ashley says that her father is a "fucker" and an "outright psychopath," but insists that his parenting methods helped her succeed. Is she honestly grateful to him, or is she, like many abuse victims, making excuses to rationalize her abuser's behavior? The fact that she was the one who killed him further complicates matters.
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    • Is Saya's jealousy over Lucina ending up with Katy understandable, or does she feel entitled to Lucina? Is Katy really in love with Lucina, or does her inability to see lesbian relationships as anything other than tragic mean it will never be healthy? Is Lucina really happy with Katy?
    • Related to the above, there's the fact that Katy is willing to let the rest of the class (herself included) die to ensure that Lucina isn't executed for killing Juliet, while Saya reluctantly outs Lucina as the killer (at Lucina's request), resulting in Lucina's execution. Does this mean that Saya is ultimately a better match for Lucina than Katy is? Or did Saya ultimately have to learn to respect Lucina's wishes even if they don't end up together, as a result of Lucina choosing Katy over her, meaning that she wouldn't have changed for the better if Lucina had gotten together with her?
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  • Angst? What Angst?: The cast's reaction to the first culprit's execution is noticeably more subdued than the canon games and some other fan works. While in many cases, the first execution is grim proof of how cruel the killing game is, hardly any of the students seem upset at all in this fic.
  • Author's Saving Throw: The first three culprits were relatively unsympathetic, making it harder to care about what happens to them or anyone else. The fourth and fifth culprits, however, have more understandable motivations, making the outcomes to their trials sadder. Of course, it later turns out that the fourth culprit faked his own death by using a command to negate his execution.
  • Base-Breaking Character:
    • Nicole. She received the most votes for "least favorite character" in a poll held by the author just after the third chapter's murders, but nevertheless has enough fans to avoid being The Scrappy. Part of the divide comes from her role as Barrett's ally in the feud between them and Earl and Ashley. It doesn't help that she ends up becoming the third culprit. That said, her popularity improved in the Chapter 5 poll.
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    • Katy became this over the course of Chapter 4, after she got into a romantic relationship with Lucina. Readers are divided over whether her belief that all lesbian relationships end in tragedy is a sympathetic character flaw, or whether their relationship is inherently toxic.
    • Juliet ended up being the most polarizing character as of Chapter 5, receiving both the most likes and most dislikes in that chapter's poll. Considering that she's the Token Evil Teammate of the group and is responsible for inciting a fair amount of the story's conflict (much like the similarly divisive Nagito from the second game), this is unsurprising.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: While bleakness is par for the course in Danganronpa canon and fan fiction, the fact that a good portion of the characters, particularly the culprits, are not particularly sympathetic can make it hard to care about what happens.
  • Epileptic Trees: The Fall Break chapter naturally invites this, since there are twelve stories about each student being a prince or princess (or a pauper, in the last case) in a fairy tale. While readers have pieced together clues to determine which student is in which fairy tale, and some have since been confirmed, the exact meaning of each fairy tale for the students' pasts or futures is open to speculation.
  • Fridge Brilliance: As one participant on the Discord server pointed out, all of the students designated as Knights ended up being killers. This is fitting since knights, with their unusual movement pattern, can most easily attack other pieces without being at risk from that piece. The only two exceptions are Earl(a Rook), who ended up being killed by Nicole soon afterward, and Bepi, whose status as a pawn has its own significance.
  • Funny Moments:
  • Harsher in Hindsight: Katy's belief that lesbian relationships are inevitably tragic gets harsher once you hear about her Ill Girl girlfriend dying shortly after falling in love with her. This goes From Bad to Worse with Lucina, Katy's second girlfriend, being executed in the fifth trial.
  • Heartwarming Moments: While the end of the fifth trial is a Tear Jerker, it's still touching to see Saya ultimately decide to honor Lucina's final request to expose Lucina as Juliet's killer, then allow Lucina to spend her final moments before her execution with Katy. Even though Saya Did Not Get the Girl, she still shows that she selflessly cares for Lucina.
  • He's Just Hiding!: Some participants in the Discord server have proposed that the first and fifth culprits may have somehow survived their executions, especially if they're actually the mastermind. Some speculate that the first culprit swapped places with the dead body of his victim, who was also male, since only an arm can be seen poking out from under the collapsed scoreboard. As for the fifth culprit, it's speculated that being killed in the virtual world didn't kill the culprit, hence why Monokuma set the culprit's pod on fire, and that the culprit's body had been switched with a substitute before it was burned alive. In reality, Bepi's the one who faked his own execution.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Ashley is not a pleasant person, but she's had a very difficult childhood under the thumb of her abusive father. This even applies once it's revealed that she's the mastermind, that she killed her abusive father, and that she knew about Nicole's planned murder of Earl and let it happen. Katy recognizes it as a rather cruel betrayal, but also recognizes that since Ashley had spent years in the killing game, she was incredibly lonely, which is why she took the last chance she had for an intimate meeting with the guy she loved.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Juliet was probably past it by the start of the story, but what really establishes her as the group's Token Evil Teammate is manipulating JP into killing Emily, causing both their deaths, and getting off scot-free, at least until the fifth Chapter.
  • Nightmare Fuel:
    • The first body discovery is perhaps more gruesome than most of the canon ones, since Saya finds the victim's severed head.
    • The second body discovery. Saya finds Juliet, who seems like the murder victim, but not long after she finds out that the first victim is alive, she comes face to face with the actual victim, Emily, who was tortured and killed.
    • Juliet's character portrait has her smiling cheerfully... with rivulets of blood on her hands.
    • Juliet's actual death is quite gruesome and painful, with the victim being hanged, as well as repeatedly cut, eventually dying of blood loss while strangling to death. It's almost enough to make you feel sorry for her.
    • After the fifth culprit is executed in the virtual reality simulator, Monokuma sets the culprit's pod on fire. Saya sees the culprit's charred skeleton inside, throws up and passes out.
  • Prolonged Prologue: Par for the course in Danganronpa fanfiction, there's a two-part prologue (meant to introduce the fic for prospective character providers), and a four-part introductory chapter that introduces everyone. The first murder doesn't happen until the end of the third part of the first Chapter.
  • Rescued from the Scrappy Heap: As mentioned in Base-Breaking Character, Nicole, while not unanimously hated, received the most dislikes in Chapter 3's popularity poll, but was somewhat better received in Chapter 5's poll. It's unclear whether any specific event caused this change, because Nicole got executed in the third trial, but it's possible that people looked on her more kindly.
  • The Scrappy: JP Laettner, who received several dislikes in Chapter 5's poll and no likes. Possible reasons include having a weak motive for murdering Emily and generally ending up as a cat's paw for Juliet, much like Teruteru was for Nagito.
  • Tear Jerker:
    • The fourth culprit's Motive Rant and subsequent execution, especially the part when Bepi refers to himself as "Cadet 2," discarding the name he chose for himself, and claiming that he was "nobody". While Saya had been somewhat unemotional about the first three executions, this one strikes home, especially since it's the first time Saya loses someone important to her.
    • At the end of the fifth trial, Lucina turns out to be Juliet's killer and is executed. Saya and Katy, both of whom loved Lucina are devastated.
    • In light of revelations in the final trial, Earl's murder of Ashley becomes this. He ended up being betrayed by the woman he loved and found out that she was the mastermind, resulting in him being forced to kill her, an act that broke him emotionally. Shortly afterward, he's murdered by Nicole, resulting in his classmates thinking of him as a traitor to the group until midway through the final trial.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Ashley, the original mastermind behind the killing game, is killed off in the first half of the fic. It might have been interesting to see the character long enough for the survivors to confront her over her plan, rather than have the final confrontation be with her accomplice, Bepi.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: In the fifth trial, Saya realizes that Katy is willing to take the fall for the murder and let everyone else, herself included, die so that Lucina can live. This realization has little impact on the story, and seems to be mostly forgotten about save for one conversation between Katy and Saya after Lucina's execution, since the survivors almost immediately start on the final investigation. It might have been nice to see Katy undergo a redemption arc like Fuyuhiko did in the second game, or otherwise see the consequences of those actions play out.
  • Unintentionally Unsympathetic: Saya comes off this way when Lucina criticizes her manipulative actions in the first trial, since she quickly becomes defensive and asks if Lucina would rather let everyone die. Quite tellingly, Saya gets more upset about Lucina's rebuke than she is over Morgan or Therion's deaths.
  • Vanilla Protagonist: Downplayed with Saya, who's less of an ordinary person than the canon protagonists, but is also less eccentric than most of her classmates.
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