Thanasis is a writer, professional geek, and assistant editor at MANGA.TOKYO. He started watching anime with the mecha shows of the 70s and hasn't stopped since. He loves JRPGs.
The first two episodes of the Despair Arc set the scene for the main event. We already know the end and of the Remnants of Despair. But we don’t know the how, and this is what this series is about.
But before we head straight for tragedy, this is the time for some serious school fun. Let’s make some friends!
The episode starts like in a typical school life series: Yukizoma-sensei is happily circling in a calendar the days that she has a full attendance. Her efforts in the previous episode were successful and her class seems to be bonding. The comedic start set the tone for the whole episode. It was more than evident that this was going to be another light-hearted period.
Owari Akane and Nidai Nekomaru are having a bout inside the classroom. The SHSL cook, Hanamura Teruteru, has prepared two magic potions. The first one he gives to Akane to amplify her strength. It’s conveniently called Doping Corn Soup. I have an itch that this is a reference to something but I can’t put my finger on it. To be honest, the whole episode feels like it’s full of references (quite natural since this is Danganronpa after all) but I only managed to catch a few. I will include one or two in the themes section. The electronica background music blends well with the action at this point. This particular style has been used in all the games and it’s kind of a Danganronpa trademark.
At the same time, we learn that Kyosuke-san and Yukizoma-sensei are investigating the reasons behind the creation of the Reserve class in Hope Peak’s academy. There is something going on in their former school and they are right on its trail.
The change of pace and the inclusion of so many themes in this anime are amazing. Right after the games and the fighting and the necessary plot advancement (which was miniscule) we get the necessary fan-service I’ve been expecting. The second potion that Teruteru-san had prepared was an Ero Ero mixture. After Saionji Hiyoko mixes the potion with the student’s meal, the group’s pheromones go crazy and the next few scenes are full of obvious sexual innuendo.
The erotic atmosphere is interrupted by another gaming reference, the Heaven Slaying Dragon Fist. Chiaki tells the group the story of a gangster with a machine gun who had kidnapped a young girl. She defeated the gangster with this special move. After a few seconds we learn that she was talking about one of her favorite games, ‘Double Dragon II’.
At the end of the episode, Chiaki becomes the class rep, and Natsuki Kuzuryu joins the school.
Common Goal: The concept of camaraderie is unknown in a school that favors individualism. Each of the students is an expert in something. He has a personal talent that will serve as his ticket through life. The episode explores the notion that talent is aplenty I the world, but real power comes from collaboration. People though tend to keep apart and act selfishly if there is no common goal to bring them together.
Being Normal: Even though most of the students are exceptionally talented individuals with an expertise most normal people would envy, our protagonist is just exceptionally…normal. Hajime-san believes that a life without talent is not a life worth living. There is nothing to be found in mediocrity. But Tenga-san (whom we also find in the Future Arc) tells him to “not fear being normal”.
Nintendo Tribute: The 8-bit cut-scenes we saw in the last episode might be a regular thing after all. In this episode, Chiaki uses videogames to bring her classmates together. “Games are fun when played by a lot of people’, says Yukizome-sensei. The console she brings looks a lot like a Nintendo 64 and the games are a lot like classic Nintendo games like ‘Super Smash Bros’, ‘Mario Kart’, and ‘Bomberman’. I don’t know if one of the animators is a Nintendo fan or it’s a tribute to recent events, but this was a nice gaming touch.
The events are also relevant to the Future Arc. Many characters appear in both series, regardless of the role they’ll play in the Tragedy that changed the world. Yukizome’s excitement as a teacher seems even more tragic considering the first episode of the Future Arc.
I am wondering if each episode is going to focus on each of the students. This episode had its eyes on a few of them but the main protagonist was definitely Chiaki and her gaming talent.
And there is something that’s bugging me: in a scene, Chiaki hits Teruteru and as he falls he shouts Taylor Swift. Why?
As a gamer I loved the gaming references. I also enjoyed the slice-of-life comic pacing and the chance to learn more about the students. Danganronpa is known for its peculiar sense of humor and the inclusion of references, and the anime does a pretty good job of giving us the same overall feeling.
NEXT TIME: Beginning of the Twilight
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