Recommended : Maybe
Ohhhh I hear you all going.
As a Danganronpa fan, a fan of the games the first anime series and the concept as a whole you might have thought it was a shoe in for being 100% go watch. It is only a maybe though so why?
First up this is only dealing with the Despair Arc, there will be a more general Danganronpa ANIME Final Thought blog when all the final episodes have aired (as well as a Future Arc one when that final episode airs next week.)
As for the Despair Arc what obviously went wrong? Or what also went right?!
The concept of telling two stories at the same time was interesting. It could’ve worked too. I feel they tried to do too much and watered down both series though.
It was never felt more strongly then in the Despair Arc though which when left to its own devices turned out to be the stronger of the two. The Future Arc hasn’t ended but nothing it does in its final episode is going to top the Despair Arc when it finally was left alone.
So it started as a Slice of Life comedy, introducing characters that if you played Danganronpa 2 or watched the Future Arc first episode first you knew would turn into the Remnants of Despair. It had a sad feeling in the air as you fell in love with characters who you knew would suddenly change completely. You didn’t know where this journey would go, what would happen to them or why they fell into Despair but you were excited to find out.
Only it fast felt like that story was thrown to one side.
Just before the Slice of Life feel ended we had a episode or two that really were only there to bulk up emotional feels for what was happening in the Future stories. Characters from that side of the anime were making their way into this one to further their backstories to make the Future stories seem sadder. Whilst I enjoyed that feeling and thought it worked brilliantly it wasn’t until that had ended and so to the Slice of Life feel that I realised that it took away precious time to really get to know the characters who were extremely important to the Despair Arc.
After that it became the Junko show. It became the origins of Despair HER Story. It showed how truly Despair filled she was. How she grew to be so powerful, what she went through to get what she wanted. In all this the Remnants of Despair were forgotten until she wanted them.
The final part of the series then rushed through Despair filled story after Despair filled story.
The Biggest, Most Atrocious Incident in Hope’s Peak High School was a bit of a disappointment for me, not because I didn’t see WHY it was named that but because instead of focusing on the Despair that Junko was spreading it focused on Junko’s and Izuru’s reaction to it. It took me a while to figure out why I disliked it but that was it. Sure having Mukuro singing quite a sweet sounding song (not talking about the lyrics just the tune) over the killing added to the horrors but they weren’t horrors you cared about. The Killing Games you witnessed either in the Future Arc or the original anime worked because you saw people lose hope, this was just a massacre for Junko’s enjoyment.
After that seeing the downfall not only of the students but especially of Chisa turned a alright series into the series you wanted to see.
Getting to know the class, getting to know Junko even getting to know Izuru are great ideas. This was the prequel though to a world we know all so well and you kind of wanted to see the Despair, the destruction, the hate and the chaos. You didn’t want it to be side lined and ignored. It very nearly did get side lined.
The final few episodes did a lot of what you wanted to see but rushed because it had run out of time.
It hadn’t given you enough time to love the students beforehand, it hadn’t given you enough stories about the people in the Future Arc to make you care enough about that story and then it tried to throw you in a pit of Despair with the characters half heartedly.
I think the ending worked it was just a tad on the weak side.
Anyone who played the second game possibly felt like they wanted to see what the Despairs did after Junko set them free on the world, the montage of burning buildings and destruction didn’t really fill that gap between this story and the game that I wanted to see.
It ended up a Maybe because on its own its nothing. If you like Danganronpa you might be disappointed with it but it at least fills some gaps and introduces some concepts and is a origin of sorts. It you don’t like Danganronpa then you might enjoy it but a lot of the impact it has I believe only works when you know what comes after it.
Everything is rushed so you fill in the gaps as best you can by KNOWING what comes next. Not having watched this without prior knowledge I don’t know if you could enjoy it as much without knowing what it was leading too. Personally I don’t think I would like it as much. Whilst Servamp is one of those things that I kind of love without being able to say why I’d have found this way too confusing and would have been left wanting more. Sometimes that is a good thing and it would lead new people in to watching the other anime series and playing the games but I don’t think I would have enjoyed it. I’m not sure I’d have kept watching after the first few episodes. It never gave you anything to really sink your teeth into and just played off of people knowing what it meant when it was bumbling along.
The last part of the show was some of the best storytelling I’ve seen. It was horrible but it always had me on the edge of my seat and ready to throw up. It was some of the best parts of Danganronpa because it showed you the world that Naegi and co are trying to save.
For a series that has one of the best stories I’ve ever seen it was the story that let the Despair Arc down. It tried to do too much at once and ended up diluting all the important parts of the story. Nothing was really explored in detail and the important characters were kind of left at what they were. It was disappointing for the majority of it.
So for the Despair Arc I give it a maybe. If you are interested in Danganronpa, seen or played any of the other parts of it then sure go ahead and enjoy it. If you are new to the series only watch it along with the Future Arc and after the others.
Personally I enjoyed the series whilst being disappointed.