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Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Future Arc
Episode 7

by Jacob Chapman,

How would you rate episode 7 of
Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School: Future Arc ?
Community score: 4.2

This week, Danganronpa 3 threw the ugliest baby in its set of triplets out with the bathwater, through a largely comedic throwaway adventure that pays an appropriate amount of lip service to Ultra Despair Girls, right before turning Monaka's entire involvement in the Final Killing Game into a cheeky red herring by literally firing her into space with a shrug. Well, at least I totally wasn't expecting that.

Honestly, this might have been a bigger problem if Ultra Despair Girls was a shinier jewel in Danganronpa's crown, but it was always an awkward midquel compared to the main two games, with frequently frustrating gameplay in service of a solid but unbearably protracted story that really would have worked better in a different format. Heck, even its potentially powerful finale lost some punch from the misguided decision to make the player repeat their final choice half a dozen times over what felt like an hour of shouted dialogue. The game also featured the most tone problems the franchise has ever had, with a few cringey moments (pointless gratuitous deaths, brief digressions on child abuse) that veered too dark for the game's comedy or commentary to justify. Anyway, I can recommend Danganronpa 1 and 2 with no caveats, but I tell people to just read a wiki or youtube the big scenes of Ultra Despair Girls for the most positive experience. Nobody deserves to suffer through those janky controls.

So giving Komaru and Toko's adventure closure by showing the Warriors of Hope alive and safe, followed by a few sharp nods toward the game's best jokes and little else, wasn't such a bad move. It was already obvious that Monaka couldn't be the mastermind in control of the Final Killing Game, so learning that she wasn't involved at all wasn't much of a stretch. Her only attempt to join the fun (faking Aoi's death) went over like a fart in a packed elevator: unpleasant for everyone but unlikely to draw any attention to the culprit. Junko 2.0 is a truly pale imitation of the original and she knows it now more than ever, so Monaka has elected to leave the game early and mull over her future in isolation. She has no idea what to do now that this whole Ultimate Despair thing isn't working out, but she knows for sure that she doesn't want to end up like Nagito, so for now, it's a NEETstronaut life for Monaka.

Naturally, this also means she isn't responsible for sneaking the Monokuma AI into the central system; she only used the Usami AI to express the truth that a third party had hacked The Future Foundation from the inside. Oh well. We're back to square one on any theories that relied on Monaka's involvement. Whether you find this twist brilliant or disappointing is up to you. I'm of both minds on it myself, finding it brilliant in its wickedly dry sense of humor but disappointing in its retroactive diminishment of Ultra Despair Girls to the story. (In the end, it looks like that game's greatest contribution to the franchise was its development of the theme rather than the plot or characters, which is rare and bizarre for a video game series.) Still, we may not have seen the last of Monaka in Danganronpa 3. I'd keep an eye on the stars when we start reaching the end of the Future Arc.

In the leadup to this cruel anticlimax, we get a heaping helping of reference gags from Code Geass to Utena to Himouto! Umaruchan, proving further that the Future Arc only brightens up as the Despair Arc gets darker. If it weren't for all the welcome laughs, this episode might have been a real bust of filler, but I can't be too hard on an episode that made me smile so much. Toko's domestic fantasies sure are something else. At the end of all its goofiness, this episode had just one major twist to offer: The Final Killing Game was designed to get Makoto himself to cause the death of "a fellow survivor."

I guess they're being coy about this to play more mindgames, but it can't be anybody other than Kyoko, right? The world-changing tragedy of this scenario would be obvious even if Makoto weren't already having prophetic nightmares about it. To make matters worse, Monaka seemed to be talking about this as if it was an absolute certainty, no matter how the rest of the game goes down. How does she know this if she isn't directly involved in the scheme? Could it be that Kyoko herself is a traitor as well? It's too early to say, but even with a one-episode vacation from the main plot, Danganronpa 3 has me on the edge of my seat.

Rating: B

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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