Danganronpa: Kibou no Gakuen to Zetsubou no Koukousei – The Animation
Released Year : July 5, 2013 to September 27, 2013
No of Episodes : 13
Genre : Action,Horror,Mystery,Psychological
Plot : A group of 15 elite high school students are gathered at a very special, high class high school. To graduate from this high school essentially means you'll succeed in life, but graduating is very difficult. The school is presided over by a bear called Monokuma, and he explains to them that their graduation hinges around committing a murder. The only way to graduate is to kill one of your classmates and get away with it. If the other classmates discover the identity of the killer, the killer is the only one executed. However, if they fail to catch the killer, only the killer graduates and the others are annihilated. Which of the 15 will survive the bloodbath to come? (Source: MU)
Our Review : Yadda yadda, first review, bluh bluh.
A group of teenagers, each of them exceeding in their own field, be it sports, programing or leading an outlaw biker gang, get locked up in an elite school with no obvious way to escape, except one: Kill a fellow student and don't get caught. An interesting take of the snowed-in-in-a-mountain-cabin trope and good set up for a murder mystery. Or is it?
Danganronpa was based on a game of the same name. Since the game was a success which spawned a sequel and huge, dedicated fanbase, it was only natural to cash in on it. An anime is a nice way to do so. While I do understand that converting one medium of storytelling into another is not a copy-and-paste process, I can't help it but to compare those two. The game was awesome. The show, less so. Why is that? A few reasons which boil all down to the same problem: the show only has 13 episodes. Let me elaborate:
While the story itself is captivating and interesting (even if sometimes over the top) and the characters sympathetic and, more or less, not cardboard cutouts of certain stereotypes, none of them is given the time to breathe and develop. Every single story arc gets compressed into 2 episodes: the murder and detective work getting down, and the school trial, an event in which the boys and girls need to determine who the murderer is. The game got a good balance between those two. Every arc is a few hours long, allowing the player to build social contacts, get to know the cast, investigate the crime scene and have a debate in which the murderer is uncovered. Many of those things do not happen or happen in a very compressed form because of the limited time the show has. The result is that the viewer does not get to know the characters and has no chance to connect with them, the investigation part is reduced to a few minutes of listing the evidence, and a, sadly in many cases, too short episode to find the culprit. It gets confusing and leaves a general feeling of something missing. That's all I have to say about the differences between those two. Lets talk anime-only.
Ignoring there was a source material we've got a cast of throwaway characters of whom the majority only serves to be killed of. The story and its creative setting are captivating, but do not get enough time to leave an impact. I seriously can not stress enough how little time this show has to develop it's story and characters. The animation is pretty weak and not up-to-date with other anime. The soundtrack is good (*cough*keeptfromthegame*cough*).
In conclusion, I have no idea who this anime was targeted towards. Fans of the game will only get quick reminder of the experience they had with it, people who would want to play it will get spoiled without enjoying the "whole" story, and people who are just in it for the lulz will get a mediocre murder mystery with terrible pacing. Should fans of detective anime watch this? Yes if you want a general idea of the events but can not or do not want to play the game. No if you want a good ride for your money (and time). There are better mysteries out there like Death Note (obviously), Monster, Another, Ergo Porxy and (the very lengthy) Detective Conan (aka Case Closed).
6/10, would only recommend to fans of the game.