The 'Shroom:Issue 64/Dangan Ronpa Explained

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Dangan Ronpa Explained

by TheGreatBlockyBoo (talk)

Hello, 'Shroom readers! I'm TheGreatBlockyBoo (aka Superchao), bringing you a special guest section. As those of you who frequent the forums likely noticed, myself and several other people got name changes around a month and a half ago to a bunch of different Japanese names. These characters originate from the japanese-only game Dangan Ronpa.

"But Blocky", you may ask, "what is Dangan Ronpa and where do I find out more about it?" Well, I'm glad I wrote that you asked that, because I have all the answers right here.

What Is Dangan Ronpa?

Dangan Ronpa (lit. something like "Bullet Rebuttal") is a Japanese-only murder mystery game that came out in December 2010 for the PSP. Our protagonist is Makoto Naegi, who was chosen to attend the super-prestigious and super-exclusive "Hope's Peak Academy", as a person of "Super High-School Level Good Luck" (i.e. he was chosen randomly). Every character in this game is Super High-School Level - from a baseball player to an idol to a gang leader, they all excel in some field.

When Naegi steps into the school, however, he's suddenly knocked out by a mysterious force. Waking up in a classroom, Naegi soon finds that the other fourteen members of this year's class are all in the same predicament - and the school has turned into a prison, with metal plates over every window and a giant vault-style locked door in place of the entrance that Naegi had just walked though.

It turns out that they've all been locked in the school by this half-white, half-black bear, named Monobear. Monobear declares that they have two choices: either they live in the school forever... or they "graduate" by killing someone and not being caught. When the first murder case happens, Naegi is forced into the role of detective, and it falls on him to solve the mystery behind each death.

But When Did It Get Popular?

In December of last year, the Something Awful user orenroren created a Let's Play of this game in their LP forum. Since the game was unlikely to ever be localized, orenroren decided to show it off via playing through it and translating it. The LP became rather popular due to the game's interesting cast of characters as well as the premise, and pretty soon it began to spread to outside of the SA forum.

The LP itself really picked up during chapter 2 of the game - the first chapter took about 45 pages at the default, but by the end of the second chapter the thread was over 200 pages long. Now in chapter 4, the thread has already gotten past 350 pages, far more than most Let Plays ever get close to.

But Why Is It Popular?

To answer this question, I polled various members of the wiki community who are regular readers of Dangan Ronpa. Their responses are published here.

<Salsa> i think the characters are interesting
<Salsa> also the plot
<Salsa> i mean im usually really interested to see what comes next

<Crocodile_Dippy> For one, it's part of the murder mystery genre, the only reasonable application of the horrendously pointless visual novel genre. But I enjoy the unique story, colourful cast of characters, interesting cases, and how much of it doesn't really feel like the standard motions of an anime-esque Japanese video game.
<Crocodile_Dippy> The LP is genuinely well-done and beautifully translated, especially orenronen's explanation of Japanese culture

<Prims> i think the concept is intriguing and the characters are interesting enough to make it solid
<Prims> i guess?
<Prims> also i like stories that make me despair as long as they're not -complete- downers
<Prims> more like love-hate than like

<Anton{Hypnotoad}> it's relatively easy to understand what's going on
<Anton{Hypnotoad}> and discuss with people
<Anton{Hypnotoad}> I like the characters

<Crash> For one it's entertaining, the plot is intriguing, and other stuff, why?

<tfp> i dunno its unique
<tfp> ive never read a vn like this
<tfp> this is my second vn

<Edofenrir> its well-written and enjoyable

<Bop1996> Well, I find the plot genuinely interesting, the characterization always keeps me on my toes, the music to be excellent, the gameplay diverse, and the overall package to be very entertaining.

<MrConcreteDonkey> well, i find the story interesting and engaging and i like most of the characters (who are all different)

Mario4Ever: I think that as a video game, it has some unique elements that some would not think would work well until actually seen or experienced, but as something I've been reading/watching (when videos are available in updates), it has a great story, and it has a great story because of its characters, who are really fleshed-out (rather than stock characters whose only function in the story is to die. Even if characters do die, they contribute much more to the story) and have varied and entertaining personalities, which really shine when they interact with one another.
They make me want to keep reading to see what happens to them, to see who ends up being the culprit, who dies, and what sort of crazy shit Monobear's going to pull because it feels like that I'm not just an observer. It feels like I'm experiencing Hope's Peak alongside the characters. There's a saying I'm sure you've heard before: "The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the game is." Of course, here, it's not plastic but a computer screen, but the sentiment's the same.

In summary, it seems the greatest strength of the game is the characters (as well as the plot). The game's developer said that his goal was to make a murder mystery that makes you care about the victims and the killers, and it seems he has succeeded admirably.