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 special Hope Arc episode of Danganronpa 3 delivered exactly what it should have: a closure to a story that begun with the first episode of the Despair Arc, continued within a few videogames and several other media, and concluded in an episode whose main theme was plain as the day: sometimes you don’t need to have grand battles and tear-jerking drama. Sometimes, things just work out and life goes on.
Japanese Title: 希望の学園と絶望の高校生
I am not going to go all fangirly during the plot. I leave that for the comments section. Here is a recap of the episode without betraying any of my emotions:
Makoto is ready to face Mitarai in a battle of hopes. He and the rest of the 78th class are assisted by the arrival of their senpai from the 77th class who Hajime managed to restore to normal and bring back from Jabberwock Island because Izuru’s powers are just that awesome.
Not even the hypnotized former High School Level Task Force could stand in their way as the former Remnants of Despair make their way to Mitarai who blames himself for everything that happened. He was the one who was present to see everything that happened from the first day up until this. But this is the anime world, and no one has to carry such a burden alone. Hajime and the others are as much responsible as he is and convince him that there is only one way to atone their sings. Mitarai stops the countdown and rejoins his classmates. They take responsibility for this last game and set off towards an unknown future.
Meanwhile, Kyosuke, full of guilt for Chisa and Juzo, leaves Makoto in charge of the Future Foundation. He decides to rebuild Hope’s Academy and serve as its headmaster. Oh, and Kyoko is alive.
Kyoko is alive: I have to say that I was really glad that this happened. I felt like Makoto needed this gift.
Remnants of Despair: Not anymore. Not only they are back, but they convince Mitarai to stop his plan. Everyone from the second game is alive and they are not the Remnants of Despair any more. Quite the closure for the 77th class.
The Rays of Hope: At times of great calamity, a reddish or darkish sky is always one of the prevalent signs of despair. As Mitarai gets convinced by his classmates to follow them into the future, the sun clears the darkness and lights the scene.
The Burden of the Hero: Hajime and Makoto are the two protagonists of the games. Now that the story is over, and according to the events portrayed by the series, they have to follow the path that was bestowed upon them. One is burdened with despair as the other is burdened with hope. The world needs them both.
The episode started with a promise that it would go the way most viewers expected it to go: a showdown of Hopes between Makoto and Mitarai. A battle of wits and steel that would determine whose hope was going to prevail. That’s the way of war, isn’t it? It doesn’t matter who is right and who is wrong but instead the only thing that matters is who has the biggest cannon. The winner could argue all about his moral duty after the battle has been won. It seemed like a plausible way to end the story and certainly one that we are used to from the majority of anime series.
But no. That was not the way the creators wanted this story to end, and thank the Anime God for their decision to not take the easy way out. Danganronpa was full of stories: love, hate, friendship, betrayal, hope, and despair. It was clear that the guys at Spike Chunsoft wanted to close any unfinished business and give each and every character (dead or alive) closure. What a wonderful word. It was the only thing left to do.
How do you do that in the most beautiful way? You take a beautiful song from almost 20 years ago (hide with Spread Beaver – Ever Free) and let it run in full as the credits roll down and the story reaches its end with people eating and smiling.
No one has seen the future. We’re always headed towards a gray, cloudy sky where hope and despair are mixed together and it’s hard to tell which is which. That’s a scary thing but nothing will change if you just wait around. In a future where you never know what’ll happen, we’ll take one step at a time forward. Thinking about the people we care about, looking at the sky, hoping that tomorrow is going to be a better day.
That’s exactly how you do it. That’s exactly how you finish a series that you don’t want to revisit. This was not (only) about promotion. Of course, more people will now want to explore the story through the other mediums, but the main purpose behind the anime was to just end the story with hope.
I for one am satisfied. This was a good journey and I have no regrets.
I am touched. I really am. Monokuma preached that this was going to be the perfect ending to their story, and even though I am sure that he had something entirely different in its mind, his words came true.
It was just a sunset, our protagonists and the future that lied ahead of them. No villains and new adventures or regrets and unfinished business. A few burdened shoulders, sure, but no Junko, no Monokuma, and no killing games. Just sweet and warm closure. I want to close this review in the words of Hinata Hajime:
An ending like this isn’t so bad
It isn’t, is it?
NEXT TIME: This story is over, but a new one will begin in the new video game, Danganronpa V3: Everyone’s New Semester of Killing.
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