Danganronpa at its core, is a story of “Hope” and “Despair” as opposing ideals. The two concepts, conceptualized through the main characters of each respective entry in Danganronpa Decadence clash in brutal death games where characters are in “despair” and forced to kill each other, while at the same time portraying the the “hope” of one day achieving salvation. However, there is more to the story than what’s just found in the game trilogy on the new switch release.
The Danganronpa games, at a glance my seem like a series of disconnected games, each one with a new cast and theme, but in reality it’s about the stories of the two main characters: Makoto Naegi & Hajime Hinata, from the moment they are admitted to Hope’s Peak Academy (and even before it), to the point where they save all of mankind and unlock humanity’s future. But to follow the series’ proper chronology and conclusion, we will need to look at some extra material, and watch important anime shows as well.
Spoiler Warning: Everything included in this article has to be checked only after finishing the story of the first two games: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Good Bye Despair. The story of the third game V3: Killing Harmony and the new spinoff game: Danganronpa S: Ultimate Summer Camp are non related to the chronology and can be experienced at the player’s leisure.
The Tragedy of Hope’s Peak Academy
Also known as Hope’s Peak Academy’s Biggest, Most Awful Event (希望ヶ峰学園史上最大最悪の事件), is the chronologically first mutual killing to occur in the Danganronpa franchise. It was first referenced various times during the events of Danganronpa: Triger Happy Havoc, but it’s never really revealed what happened, despite being one of the main mysteries of the series, and the cause of various repercussions and killing games.
To figure out the truth, you will have to read the novel Danganronpa Zero (Credits to the translator). The story occurs one month after the Tragedy, and revolves around an amnesiac girl named Ryoko Otonashi who who is a student at Hope’s Peak Academy, and the sharp-tongued Ultimate Neurologist Yasuke Matsuda, with whom she is infatuated with. There are new characters, but they are tightly connected to the incident and soon gets caught up in its aftermath, learning more and more about what happened.
There is also a fangame being made based on the novel, you can support the creators here.
Danganronpa Zero still does not reveal what actually happened at the most awful event in humanity’s history, but it gives a lot of exposition about the main antagonist and their true identity and motifs. To finally figure out what the actual tragedy is all about, in addition to witnessing the series’ proper conclusion, you need to watch both sides of the anime Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School.
Hope’s Peak Academy Storyline Conclusion
The end of Danganronpa’s main story line is actually written as two anime seasons, because the director couldn’t see it handled as a visual novel. If you check the anime’s page on Funimation, you will find a total of 24 episodes, separated into 12-episodes of Despair Arc, 11-Episodes of Future Arc, and 1 finale episode called Hope Arc. (Pretty confusing I know, blame japan for that, not me).
The airing was also pretty weird as one episode of each Arc aired simultaneously during the same season, but since we are following chorological order, It’s best to start with the Despair Arc season, as it’s a prequel to the whole series, and tells the true story of how despair corrupted everyone’s minds, and the true cause of the tragedy that is referenced a lot during the main entries’ narrative. This arc involves Hajime Hinata and the cast of the second game, and elaborates on their role in the grand scheme of things.
After that you can enjoy Future Arc and Hope Arc‘s finale episode. Future arc is sequel to Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair. It follows Makoto Nagei, Kyoko Kirigiri and multiple other characters from the first game in one last killing game to determine humanity’s future. Hope Arc is the true finale of the series and concludes everything pretty well. The anime is also available in both sub and dub broadcasts to accommodate everyone’s preferences.
Supplementary/Additional Material (All credits to respective translators)
- Super Danganronpa 2.5: Nagito Komaeda and the Destroyer of the World: a side canon story focusing on the character of Komaeda Nagito (Important). Available subbed on youtube.
- Makoto Naegi Secret File (Naegi Makoto, The Worst Day of My Life): A prequel story focusing on Makoto before enrollment into the academy. Important, Read here.
- Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls: a third person action adventure game that acts as an interquel between Danganrona 1 and 2. Only available on PS4, PSvita and Pc, but could be coming to switch according to the director.
- Danganronpa IF: An Alternate timeline story. Non-Canon but really enjoyable. You can find it here.
- Danganronpa Another End: a non canon hidden scenario to be checked after clearing the first game. Check Here.
- Danganronpa 1 Anime adaption: a retelling of the first game with nothing new, available on Funimation for those interested.
- Danganronpa Kirigiri: A series of 7 Novels focusing on Kyoko Kirigiri and her detective days prior to the events of the series. A translation of the first three volumes can be found online here and here and here, with audio book version for the first one available on Youtube.
- Danganronpa Togami: is an ambiguously canon light novel series (as it is not directly referenced in canon material) that focuses on Byakuya Togami and his encounters with the Ultimate Despair in the Czech Republic. Translation of the first volume is found here (Audiobook version), with summaries for the rest on tumblr.
- Kirigiri Sou: a Sound novel that that came bundled with the third Japanese Blu-ray box set of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School’s release and focuses on Kyoko Kirigiri’s character. Full translation found here.
- Danganronpa 1-2 Beautiful Days: Short stories focusing on the daily life of the characters. (Novel + Audiobook).
- Danganronpa Gaiden: Killer Killer: A side manga story happening between the events of Danganronpa 1.5 and Danganropa 2. Translations available online if you look. The rest of the manga volumes are retelling of original game events with more visual details.
I am confused, Give me the TD;LR version
Play the games in the collection, read Danganronpa Zero, Watch Danganronpa 3, everything else is not equally important. For a more detailed approach, check this graphic summary here.
I am still craving for more Danganronpa, what should I do?
Check out the director Kazutaka Kodaka‘s other works, which involve the same art style or narrative similarities. The recurring themes of contrasting ideals of hope/despair, luck/talent, reality/fiction, truth/lies; mixing tragedy with dark humor, and numerous plot-twists.
- Death Come True: an interactive film adventure game in which the player is tasked with finding clues and uncovering the truth of the protagonist’s actions. The player has the ability to “time leap” with the protagonist, who can be sent into the past. Available on Android, PS4, iOS, Nintendo Switch and PC.
- World’s End Club: a platform puzzle game about a group of students forced to play a “Game of Fate”, a life-or-death game of tasks by the hand of the magical robot. Available on iOS, Nintendo Switch and PC.
- Akudama Drive: A dystopian future anime original series that has similar characters with themed roles and mainly inspired by Quentin Tarantino’s 1992 film Reservoir Dogs. It is widely considered to be one of the best anime series of 2020.
- Tribe Nine: a sports anime coming in 2022, not much is known about it, but if you are already invested, you can’t miss it for the world.