Thanasis is a writer, editor, and professional geek. He usually writes about what he thinks he knows about the struggles of studying languages, surviving as a creative soul, and socializing as an extroverted introvert.
I am still in shock by the revelation that Chisa was a Remnant of Despair. Last episode I was delighted that she managed to overcome the lobotomy season of Junko’s twin sister, except that she didn’t. I was a little careless on the last episode and I failed to notice Chisa’s sinister smile, but I’m not making the same mistake twice. As it seems, no one can escape the clutches of despair.
Japanese Name: 君は希望という名の絶望に微笑む
Hope and despair are like a spinning yin yang that has half its circle covered. Each time you can only see either hope (tainted with a bit of despair) or despair (tainted with a little bit of hope. The catch is that for any of the two to prevail it must get the other side out of view. Junko had to eradicate all hope if she was to bring despair. And the paragon of hope in this Arc was Nanami.
Nanami is tricked by a brainwashed Chisa to take part in the first ever game hosted by Junko (the student council doesn’t count since it was just a killing orchestrated to create the first brainwashing video). Junko is convinced that Nanami’s death is the only way to finalize her brainwashing video. As she jungles her way through a labyrinth full of trap, the class, stranded in a room with a stuffed Monokuma, are forced to watch her in her futile attempt to find her. Her eventual brutal death was just the cherry on top of the pie: the class is transformed into the Remnants of Despair.
But there is no yin without the yang. Just before passing away, she managed to instill that little stain of hope to Izuru. It seems that Hinata is still inside him.
Izuru is crying: One of the best scenes in the episode, and probably the only one that explains the ship that leaves Jabberwock Island during the last Future Arc episode. Hinata is still in there.
Sakakura is Gay: Many viewers thought that Sakakura was ambiguously gay. I didn’t. I always thought that he was in love with Chisa, but now that Junko revealed the truth everything fell into place. Sakakura’s insistence to follow Munakata to the end was not because of his loyalty as a friend to him or (and) a sense of duty to protect his love interest’s love interest. He had a crush on Munakata all along. Cool stuff.
Game Start: Junko is one sick bitch. But her sense of taste is incredible. The 8-bit pixel start and end of her Nanami game was delightful. The Despair Arc had its bits of game pixel scenes, my favorite still being the intermissions of the second episode (was it the second episode?)
Reference to Games: I was told that the title is a reference to chapter 5 of the second game, ‘Smile at Hope in the Name of Despair’. I am still playing the first game so I don’t know what happens there. Still, small trivia like this are nice to know.
First Game Death: Nanami took part in the first game hosted by Junko. It’s the first death of the franchise, and for me the most brutal death of all in the two Arcs until now. She was forced to play a rigged game whose only purpose was to kill her in the most ruthless way possible to instill the brainwashing effects of Despair to the rest of the class.
Bullying: When Junko reveals to Juzo that she knows he’s gay, he treats in a way that reminds common school bullying: He stands in the center, humiliated and helpless. The arch bully is revealing the object of this affection while the rest of the class laughs at him.
LGBT: Creators are slowly becoming more open to the possibility of including LGBT characters in their stories. It’s always welcome when it’s not a direction towards a more diverse cast but a conscious choice that works in the story’s favor. This was definitely a choice.
The whole episode was just nightmare fuel for me. Not because of its horrific scenes or the pink blood excess. Not even because of Nanami’s brutal death. It was heartbreaking to see so much hope crushed under Junko’s despair. I am still in shock. Chisa killing all those orphans. The class succumbing to despair. Their hope impaled by a dozen spears.
After all, at the start of despair, the end of hope seems only appropriate.
Nanami’s death was only as tragic as Junko wanted it to be. Tragic enough to instill despair to both the class and the viewers. We knew it was a trap. The class knew it was a trap. Nanami didn’t. And she kept on fighting until the very last moment. There was a tiny glimmer of hope left in the end. A glimmer witnessed only from Kamukura.
I don’t know about you, but I would have ended up succumbing into madness even if the video had no brainwashing capabilities.
This could have easily been the last episode of the Arc. My guess is that the next episode is going to introduce Monokuma and the first game of the series, a connector between the first episode of the Despair Arc and the last episode of the Future Arc.
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