I’m screaming. I’ve been screaming for a while, and it’s all because of this trailer.
Outside of Free!, I’m not sure that there’s any series that I have fallen so hard or so fast for as Dangan Ronpa. I’ve already done a couple fanfiction posts on it as well as a Manga Mondays and I have more posts planned as long as I keep myself from devolving into typical fangirl babbling. This trailer however, I hate and love.
[Spoilers for Dangan Ronpa]
I hate it because the beginning they tease us with the game we all want deep in the depths of our hearts. A game outside mutual killing. A game where our students get the chance to act like normal kids enjoying their school lives. It’s cute and idyllic, but for that reason it’s also impossible.
No, instead of Danganbu, we have Absolute Despair Girls: Dangan Ronpa Another Episode. While the original game took place within the confines of Hope’s Peak Academy, Another Episode seems to be taking place in the outside world. The world has already been taken over by Super High School Level Despair—the terrorist group whose only wish is to bring anarchy and well, despair to everyone—and it’s left to the few purveyors of hope to wipe Monobear, the symbol of despair, off the map.
What’s interesting about this, but not entirely unexpected, is the choice of protagonist for this game. Where it would have been simple to go with someone from the first game instead we have Komaru Naegi, better known as the unimportant sister of Dangan Ronpa’s protagonist, Makoto Naegi; though we certainly can’t call her unimportant any longer. Now that it’s clear that she survived the uprising of SHSL Despair, it leads me to wonder, most of all, if she’s the only remaining member of the Naegi household. In Dangan Ronpa, Makoto himself was shown a picture of his living room all torn up, implying that his family had been murdered.
And even though Makoto survived the mutual killing that took place in Hope’s Peak, there’s not a trace of him in the trailer. He could be leading the resistance against the Monobear army, or he could be dead. More importantly, how would this impact Komaru? It’s clear that she’s brave and intuitive enough to have survived this long without falling into despair, but as the title hints will she be able to remain out of despair? Does she even still care about her brother—it’s entirely possible that she too thinks he’s dead. Her character arc will be interesting, to say the least. Also, as something that interests me on a linguistic level her name may play an important part as well. ‘Makoto’ means ‘truth’ or ‘sincerity’, so it comes as little surprise when Makoto Naegi becomes one of the main detectives and remaining arguably the most trustworthy person in the first game. On the other hand, ‘Komaru’ means ‘to be worried/troubled’. She certainly has enough to be troubled about, sure, but will she have enough hope to beat out this world-wide despair? The more I think about it, the more I’m worried for her.
The final thing that I’ll mention is that the only other playable character mentioned thus far is Genocider Syo, the alternate persona of Touko Fukawa. (Also my favorite character. Score!) As another survivor of the first game, Syo brings with her a hope that the rest of the characters we know survived remained alive. However, this also presents an interesting point of view. At this current time, this video game is completely from the perspective of two high school girls. How many games do we have about high school girls trying to protect the world that aren’t sexualized? Not many and certainly not enough that I can pull a title from the top of my head. Of course, this also leads into worries about having gross, unnecessary undertones of sexual assault being thrown in, and I can’t say with any certainty that they’ll be avoided. I can just hope that they will in favor of putting in something cool like driving a motorcycle off a ramp and an explosion happening in the background.
I’m sure that Another Episode will be a great game to the Dangan Ronpa library: of this I have no doubt. I just hope that they can avoid the moe shit and give us a game where girls can go about saving the world without the stupid tropes.