The Summer 2016 Anime Preview Guide
Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Future Arc
How would you rate episode 1 of
Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Future Arc ?
What is this?
As the world slowly recovers from the Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History, a secret summit of the Future Foundation is held to decide the fate of renegade member (and Ultimate Hope) Makoto Naegi. Hope has its limits after all, and his decision to abduct the Remnants of Despair in an effort to rehabilitate them almost plunged the world into further chaos! But before Makoto's punishment for global treason can be decided in a tribunal, Monokuma hijacks the airwaves again, forcing the Future Foundation itself into one last killing game! Makoto frantically begins to assert that they've learned from their mistakes and no one has to die today, just in time for the first body to come crashing down from the ceiling. Monokuma's not playing around anymore, and this final battle will decide if the future belong to Hope...or Despair! Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Future Arc is the animated conclusion to a series of visual novels and can be found streaming on Funimation, Mondays at 11:00 AM EST.
How was the first episode?
What's this?! This can't be the final chapter in the Danganronpa franchise I know and love! Everyone knows that blood should be bright pink, not red! I feel so betrayed!
But in all seriousness, apart from that genuinely disappointing stylistic decision to turn Danganronpa's glorious pop-art Benadryl-blood back to a normal muddy red color, Danganronpa 3 is every bit the climactic trilogy conclusion you might have been anticipating. (In keeping with the franchise's twisted sense of humor, the episode is titled "Third Time's the Charm," and when Monokuma makes his predictable appearance, he announces that this will be the final chapter of both Makoto's story and his own. How foreboding!)
If you weren't expecting a climactic trilogy conclusion from this new series, that means you're probably only familiar with the first anime from 2013. As a video game series (which I highly recommend now that it's available on Steam for non-Vita havers!), Danganronpa's story has only ramped up in the years following, with Danganronpa 2 and a Danganronpa 1.5 midquel called "Ultra Despair Girls." Unlike the first game in the series, they were never adapted to animation, but this Danganronpa 3 anime is basically pretending that they were, which is really weird and unconventional and I don't blame anybody for feeling confused. Sadly, you'll have to play Danganronpa 2 and maybe also Ultra Despair Girls to understand anything that's happening in this show. I hope the decision to end his story in anime form instead of game form doesn't marginalize Danganronpa's audience too much, because it looks like creator Kazutaka Kodaka is ramping up to an insane finale, using the events of this "Future Arc" to mirror the simultaneously airing prequel "Despair Arc" and make a final statement on the fate of Junko's followers alongside our Hope's Peak graduates.
Of course, if you are enough of a Danganronpa superfan to have all your continuity straight, you are watching this for the plot and doing your best to ignore the barrel-bottom visual execution. Danganronpa has always had fantastically unique music and voice acting, but the show's direction and animation are as workmanlike and uninspired as it gets, becoming somehow inferior in presentation to the more artfully presented visual novel. It's a weird emotion to feel as a fan, being both elated to see the "Despair Versions" of Danganronpa 2's cast for the first time, but disappointed that they're so flat and stiff-looking as anime models compared to the game's more captivating illustrations.
But if you can hold your nose through the incredibly bland visuals of this conclusion, Kodaka's one-of-a-kind sense of humor and characterization is already coming through strong as ever, now that a mix of old faces and new have been brought together for one last killing game. It might have been nicer in theory to get a full visual novel instead of an animation to end the story, but Kodaka clearly thought this narrative coda, while important, couldn't sustain an entire video game experience, so I'll trust him to end the story the way he wants and eagerly await its sibling prequel on Thursday for double the Danganronpa goodness.
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