Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Future Arc
by Jacob Chapman,
How would you rate episode 6 of
Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Future Arc ?
Dammit Hiro, we successfully got your useless butt out of the main story, the least you could do is keep your trap shut! This episode of the Future Arc is uncharacteristically optimistic, but now that the woefully inaccurate Ultimate Clairvoyant has predicted a happy ending, things can only get way worse before they get better. Thanks for nothing again, Hiro!
First off, that worst case scenario I proposed last time (Chisa being the killer or mastermind) seems less likely this week. The first thing Munakata does after learning the true killer's identity is steal Kimura's super-juice (possibly killing her in the struggle) and lumber back to Chisa's corpse for a final warrior's goodbye. And by warrior's goodbye, I mean he plants his katana into her chest with a curious degree of shame and resignation. (We then see Gekkogahara's corpse elsewhere outside, negating the bait-and-switch-body theory.) All these clues point overwhelmingly to the world's most obvious culprit being the killer: his best friend Sakakura. Munakata is both saying goodbye to the friendship the three of them formed together and resolving to face the killer with his bare hands. It's the only explanation that makes sense, but there's also a feeling of disappointment for me in that it makes too much sense.
I said early on in these reviews that making Munakata or Sakakura the mastermind or an accomplice to them would be the least interesting choice the series could make, and I still feel that way. The fact that fully half the Future Foundation seems to be in on this scheme does lessen the disappointment, since Sakakura is probably a hostage to Monokuma's whims as much as Mitarai or Tengan were (and who knows where Monaca sits in all this), but there's still not much catharsis to be gained from such a bland twist. We're only halfway through the series though, and it looks like this Killing Game is just a drop in the bucket of Monokuma's much larger plan, so the killer's identity may be small potatoes anyway.
So assuming that Sakakura is the killer, his past actions do make a tragic amount of sense. His targets so far have all been the original five members of the Future Foundation, including the "accidental" death of Bandai, which was secretly intentional if Sakakura knew his forbidden action. Munakata beat him to executing Tengan, who also either knew everyone's forbidden actions or just had Sakakura's figured out. This would have put Munakata up next on the chopping block, but his execution was delayed by one turn when Sakakura had to kill Izayoi first for discovering a secret entrance to the facility that could deeply compromise the game. This creates a rare situation in Danganronpa where the audience has more information than the main characters instead of less, since even with Tengan's death figured out, they're still confused about how Kimura's corpse factors into this. Adding in the killer's MO, a single stab wound to the chest, also goes hand-in-hand with Sakakura's probable forbidden action, which I originally theorized to be "punching someone in the face," but may also be "punching someone fatally," since punching Tengan at full power in the skull could have killed him as well. Whatever it is, it's definitely related to Sakakura's fists. While the rest of the characters remain confused over the killer's identity, Munakata has likely figured out that if he can't find Sakakura and take him out before the next lights-out, he'll never wake up again.
The final loose end to all this rigamarole is Kizakura's continued insistence on being a douchebag. Whether friend or foe, he's definitely in on the secrets behind this Final Killing Game, as he follows Kyoko with a watchful eye, telling her to stop being so forensic and start following her feelings instead. While I guess this should make me more suspicious of him, it actually suggests to me that he might be on the side of good in all this. The how and why behind each death probably isn't important if it's just Sakakura sticking a knife in someone every 90 minutes until he's caught. By emphasizing emotions over logic, Kizakura is probably trying to nudge Kyoko back to Makoto's side, which could be a good thing if Monokuma's real goal is to trick Makoto into becoming his puppet. (This hypothesis seems more and more likely every time Monaca, a definite bad guy, wins Makoto's heart over the woefully misguided good guys like Munakata collapsing under the game's unfair setup. It also matches up with the complex thematic conclusions of Ultra Despair Girls, which continued to push the franchise further away from the moral absolutes and platitudes that buoyed its first game.)
Ironically, while Munakata's head is more wrapped up in the rules of the killing game than ever before, Makoto has decided to rip a page from his enemy's book and try breaking the rules to shut down the killing game manually. (His horrible nightmare about losing Kyoko to his naive dependence on platitudes was definitely a shot in the arm too.) Unlike when he was a helpless high schooler before, there's no reason that Makoto can't use the Future Foundation's resources to send out an SOS. But when Byakuya answers his call for help, Makoto's relief is interrupted by a couple horrible twists. For one thing, the killing game is not being broadcast to the outside world, or at least not the entire world. It might be broadcasting on a smaller scale, and the only Remnant of Despair with those kinds of resources would be the MIA trouble-tot Monaca Towa. (Byakuya keeps that last part to himself for fear of what Monaca-as-Gekkogahara will do to them if backed into a corner, but he does give the Ultra Despair Girls a call to hunt down the target and finish what they started. I can't wait to see them in action again!) The other thing Makoto learns is that Munakata wasn't particularly interested in how his tribunal was going to turn out, so he's already sent a task force to Jabberwock Island to exterminate the Remnants of Despair! To make matters worse, the episode's final shot gives us another shocking reveal: Izuru Kamukura is still alive and well inside Hajime's body! But now that Hajime's taken control back to some extent, is this ghost in his head an Izuru for good or an Izuru for evil?
As much as I didn't really want firm answers on what happened to the gang in Danganronpa 2 after they woke up, seeing superhero Izuru/Hajime rally his buddies to defend Jabberwock Island would absolutely knock my socks off. What was that about never going back to the island, Kodaka? You lying devil. Well, some promises were made to be broken, I guess. Narrative ambiguity in service of a powerful message is great and all, but I guess seeing stuff blow up to satisfy my id isn't so bad either. (Fortunately, more Ultra Despair Girls content has no such thematic downside, and I can't wait to see those ladies go toe-to-toe with Monaca again.) If next week's episode is an action bonanza featuring the cast of Danganronpa 2 and Ultra Despair Girls kicking ass on an islandwide/citywide scale, I'll be one happy fanboy. Sometimes it's the simple things you treasure most.
Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Future Arc is currently streaming on Funimation.
Jake has been an anime fan since childhood, and likes to chat about cartoons, pop culture, and visual novel dev on Twitter.
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