Today's horror anime of interest is none other than the infamous, Dangan Ronpa! Now before you leave a comment saying, "Uhh excuse me but Dangan Ronpa is actually a video game" I know that. I have also done another post on a video game turned anime when I wrote about Corpse Party. I figure we've evolved enough that this doesn't always have to be about anime, and even if you say it does then cool! There is a Dangan Ronpa anime for you to watch.
Now I would have liked to talk about all facets of this franchise but, alas, I have only finished the first installment in the series. To give you a short rundown about what this series is about, it starts out with several exceptionally gifted kids trapped in a high school by a charismatic robot (?) bear named Monokuma who lets them know that they must kill each other if they want to graduate. However there is a catch. If you murder someone you have to go through a school trial and be found innocent by your classmates who will then be punished by death for not realizing who the true killer was. On the flip-side though, if they get enough evidence and correctly accuse the killer, then only the killer will be executed. Luckily for the characters, they've got someone on their side with exceptional luck who is really good at gathering evidence and is friends with a detective also trapped in the school.
Dangan Ronpa brings back a lot of memories for me because back before it was localized in America and even before the giant let's play movement on YouTube happened, people were playing the game and then transcribing it on a website for people to read. Basically it was like reading a novel with some screengrabs and an audio file so you knew who was who. It was always riveting but there was an update and at one point the webmaster put up a paywall so people had to pay to read the game. It feels super nostalgic now that it's so easily accessible, but it was definitely a fun way to experience it at first. Eventually after the first season of the anime ended, and more and more games came out for it, I lost track of which one I should play next and what I should watch next so I fell out of interest with it, but I really do want to start watching/ playing it again. What I really enjoyed about it was the soundtrack. It was so good, it definitely is a defining aspect of the game. The characters and art style are also so visually striking and pop art-esque with their vivid colors.
I realize I haven't really sold you on the horror aspect of this franchise. It is essentially in the same category with Battle Royale and Hunger Games where friends are filled with despair and have to kill each other and whatnot. As for the anime, when it aired in Japan they had to censor the blood because it was too graphic to be shown on their networks. So if you watch it and wonder why the blood is pink, that's why. The deaths are also a bit different in the anime than in the game because the way people are killed/executed in game is a little more graphic than audiences can handle. If I had a category to put this in, I would call it a psychological horror because along the way things are revealed that really mess with the characters' minds. There is memory loss and friend killing is just not a very easy thing to do in general.
To close out this post I would like to say that Dangan Ronpa is definitely something you need to experience first hand in order to understand the hype around it. Whether you play the game, watch the anime, or read it online somewhere it is definitely an immersive experience. I love it for a lot of reasons, the cast of characters is great, the voice acting is exceptional, the music is phenomenal, and the art is really amazing. It is also very filled with despair and makes you sad at times when your favorite character dies, but there is hope to be found. Also apparently in the game there are multiple endings and various conversations you can have with characters and relationships you can develop through gift giving and I'm a sucker for those kinds of games so definitely check it out! I highly recommend this classic Japanese horror game/anime hybrid.