Why everyone should play Danganronpa 2?

A look into the pure insanity of this game and the psychology of its characters.

Danganronpa 2

Visual novels are very underrated in the video game industry. Many people don’t even consider them games. Although, against all odds, there are few visual novel series that are still popular even years after their release. One of those series is Danganronpa.

Before I start rambling like a crazy fangirl, some of you might be wondering:

What is Danganronpa?

Danganronpa is a Japanese video game franchise created by Kazutaka Kodaka. It was developed and owned by Spike Chunsoft. The series surrounds a group of high school students who are forced into murdering each other by a bear named Monokuma.

Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair is a 2012 visual novel adventure game. It is the second game in the Danganronpa franchise following Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc. It came out on July 26, 2012.

You might be wondering why I am going to be talking about the second game in the series instead of the first. There is no particular reason. I just played the second game first.

But, let us not get too ahead of ourselves!

I am going to be dividing this review into two sections: the Non-Spoiler section and the Spoiler section. The Non-spoiler section will be for people who have not played these games. This section will be explaining all the reasons why you should play this game.

The Spoiler section will be an analysis of specific details that I love about this game. In addition, we are going to go a bit deeper analyzing the story and gameplay. I hope that is clear.

Danganronpa 2

Non-spoiler

We will start by explaining what the story of this game is. You play as Hajime Hinata. Hajime and his classmates from the elite Hope’s Peak Academy have been brought to Jabberwock Island. They have been brought here by a super-cute teacher for a “lovey-dovey, heart-throbbing school trip.”

Everyone starts having fun in the sun until Monokuma returns to restart his murderous game. Since you are trapped on this island of mutual killing, you’re only hope of escape rests in solving the island’s mysteries. It is the only way to defeat Monokuma.

The gameplay is separated into two sections: exploration and class trials. During exploration, you look for clues and talk with your classmates, your teacher, and Monokuma.

Every time a murder takes place, a class trial will happen. In a class trial, your task is to figure out who was the murderer. If you cannot figure it out, you lose and get a game over. If you can, you will be treated to a cut scene where the murder will be killed in a horrific way. Then, the story can move forward in the game.

What is good?

This game is awesome. It introduces so many different elements and still manages to combine them beautifully. On top of that, this game executes all its different engaging components in an unforgettable way.

Danganronpa 2 has a psychedelic and brilliant story that sets the stage for some challenging puzzles of logic and crazily creative minigames. The characters are very intriguing and delightful. This game does a really great job of making you feel sorry for the murders and the people who are killed by those same murders.

Monokuma provided a great blend of being intimidating and being funny. He is a great villain. You should absolutely play this game.

Currently, you can find it on steam, android, PSP, Nintendo Switch, Ps4, ps vita, Mac, Microsoft Windows, and Linux. So, you can find it almost everywhere.

Negatives

There are a few scenes that one might consider a bit inappropriate. In essence, there are a few scenes where the game sexualizes teenagers. They do not happen that frequently, but I would have preferred if the developers did not do it. To be fair, the game does have moments where they do make fun of how ridiculous sex scenes in games can be.

I still did not like them.

They were gross and at times ruined my experience playing this fun game. However, I will let you judge them yourself and see if you can handle them.

Spoiler

So, I will advise you to play this game before continuing on with this discussion.

In Danganronpa 2 Goodbye Despair, the story follows Hajime Hinata. He believes that he was a student who has just become one of Hope’s Peak Academy’s “Ultimate” students, but he has no memory of his talent.

Photo of Hajime Hinata

While, at first, it seems that Hajime was just a self-insert for the player, he actually does go through an arc as the game progresses. He learned to accept himself and the things he has done. I appreciate that the main character has such a relatable story arc. We will explain more of that later.

Hope’s Peak Academy was a very unique school. It trained only the students with exceptional skill and talent. Anyone who goes to this school ends up becoming someone successful.

A normal student can become a student here if they pay an extremely higher entrance fee. They will be part of the reserve course. This created a bit of a social class in this school. As students with talent saw the normal students as inferior to them.

This is why I will always maintain the belief that Hope’s Peak Academy technically caused all the problems that happen in this series. Although, I am getting ahead of myself again.

Hajime woke up on a remote tropical island called Jabberwock Island with no memory of how he got there. Hajime befriended the calm but mentally unstable Nagito Komaeda.

A place where they have been marooned by their alleged teacher, a small, rabbit-like mascot named Monomi.

She claimed that the students are on a field trip. Now, I should probably introduce the students that the player will meet during their journey.

Peko Pekoyama was a sword woman who fights for those who are important to her.

Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu was a yakuza who hated everyone but learns to open up to people.

Hiyoko Saionji was a girl who is way meaner than she might first appear.

Kazuichi Soda was someone a little too obsessed with pretty girls.

Mahiru Koizumi was someone who you felt really bad for when she died.

Byakuya Togami was not the same character from the first game, but he acts like he was.

Gundham Tanaka was a kid who acts like a supervillain, but he spends most of his time taking care of cute animals.

Teruteru Hanamura was a pervert who I really wish was not in this game.

Sonia Nevermind was like a Disney princess if a Disney princess was also kinda a geek and obsessed with murders.

Nekomaru Nidai was a Buffy boy.

Mikan Tsumiki was a shy nurse with low self-esteem and a possible rape victim who is sexualized way too much.

Akane Omari was an athlete who was made to lighten the mood when the story gets too dark.

Ibuki Moda was also was made to lighten the mood when the story gets too dark.

Chiaki Nanami was one of the smartest people in this game.

You hang out with these characters for a while. Everything seems like the ideal paradise.

However, Monokuma, a lover of despair wants to kill everyone and wants to have fun with everyone as he kills them, arrives. Monomi was powerless to stop Monokuma. He announces the students cannot leave the island unless they murder another student and get away with it.

If the students can identify the murderer in a Class Trial, that culprit is executed, but if they make the wrong assumption the killer goes free whilst everyone else would be sentenced to death.

Everyone was horrified by this news, but no one can stop Monokuma. He basically has extreme control of everything in this game.

In between each death, the player can get to know the other students and explore the islands that unlock after each chapter.

Nagito Komaeda stands out to me because, at this point of the game, he does not seem like he is mentally unstable. He actually acts completely like a regular nice and friendly kid.

It is not until the first trial that the player actually sees who he really is.

In fact, on the surface, each character seemed a bit stereotypical. However, as the game goes on, each character is shown to have some kind of depth that makes them unique. In addition, when you do everyone’s free time events, you come to learn everyone has more to them than it first seems.

Photo of Nagito Komaeda

Nagito is a prime example of this. According to his free time events, he has a pretty insane backstory that really explains why he acted so crazy. To start, he has a series of illnesses which are Frontotemporal Dementia and Malignant lymphoma stage 3. His parents were killed in front of him in an airplane. He was kidnapped in middle school.

To cope with all these horrible events, Nagito began to believe that there was a cycle to his luck. In order for something good to happen to him, something bad has to happen to him. This is why, during the story, Nagito does horrible acts. He believed that the only way hope can happen is if it follows after despair.

In other words, his degenerative brain diseases were slowly eating away at his ability to think rationally. Speaking of bad luck, one horrible thing after another happened to these students.

Byakuya Togami was inadvertently killed by Teruteru Hanamura in an attempt to stop Nagito from committing the first murder.

Like I mentioned before, this Byakuya was not the same arrogant and serious heir from the first game. Byakuya was later revealed to be the Ultimate Impostor. His plan was really smart. He just probably didn’t expect that he would be the one targeted.

This character does take the role of whoever he is impersonating really seriously. He did genuinely want to protect everyone. In one scene, he explained,

“Don’t worry, as long as I’m the leader, I won’t let anyone become a victim. I will guide you all! That much, I promise.”

There is not much to say about Byakuya’s killer.

Photo of Teruteru

Teruteru was the Ultimate chef. I know that I am a bit hard on Teruteru. He did seem to really feel guilty for murdering Byakuya and did care about everyone. I just don’t like how the game kinda brushes off his perverted actions. It is sad to say that I am sort of glad that he died first. The next person to be killed was Mahiru.

Photo of Mahiru Koizumi

Mahiru Koizumi was killed by Peko Pekoyama, to prevent Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu from killing her to avenge his sister.

Mahiru was the Ultimate photographer. Mahiru is pretty underrated in the fandom. I feel that this is a shame. She is known mainly for being very critical of the guys in the game. I did not mind it as much as people did. While her backstory is not extremely tragic, it is still interesting. Mahiru’s interest in photography came from her mom. Her mom is a famous war photographer and she wanted to be like her. Mahiru is kind of mad at the extra work that she had to do because her dad is so lazy. She still loves both of her parents really much.

During the story, she tended to be a sort of voice of reason to the insanity of the other characters. The relationship between Mahiru and Hiyoko was adorable. They acted like they were sisters.

This does not mean that the person who killed her was a horrible person. Peko Pekoyama was the Ultimate swordswoman.

Photo of Peko Pekoyama

Peko Pekoyama’s free time events showed how much she cares about Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu. These two characters are really connected. Throughout their lives, Peko has always been the one to protect him. She believes that this is her main purpose in life. Their relationship was pretty wholesome, to be honest. However, at one point, she said that she believes Fuyuhiko hates her. Even then, she was still willing to give her life for him.

Photo of Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu

Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu was the Ultimate yakuza. Now, Fuyuhiko does not actually hate Peko. Fuyuhiko is a complicated person. He is the heir to the yakuza clan, the most dangerous mafia gang in Japan. However, I think that deep down, he has always been more kind-hearted. Peko even doubted that he would go through with her plan because he is a good person.

However, he puts up this facade of being a ruthless yakuza in order to not appear weak. He might do this because, due to his kind personality, some members of the yakuza might have doubted Fuyuhiko would be able to lead the clan.

Well, at the very least, he thought that they did. He is technically only the heir because his sister turned down the title. Fuyuhiko wanted to prove that he can be a ruthless leader without anyone’s help. This is why he had trouble opening up to the other students in the class. The reason that he pushes Peko away is that he wants to prove that he does not need to rely on her to do things. He wants to be able to handle things on his own.

As the game continues, more characters are killed. Ibuki Mioda and Hiyoko Saionji were killed by Mikan Tsumiki as she was under the effects of Despair Disease.

Photo of Ibuki Mioda

Ibuki Mioda was the Ultimate musician. She is a character that I did not pay attention to too much at first. I know that sounds mean. However, I have changed my mind about her. According to her free time events, she used to be part of a music club that was really popular and competed against other schools. Ibuki later quit the club due to creative differences. When a talent scout was going to be watching one of their performances, Ibuki refused to play more traditional appealing pop music. This was because she was much more into the heavy metal genre.

She might have also quit because she did not get along with her fellow band members very well. In her free time events, she says that she wishes to play with someone she trusts. This implies that she hasn’t done that yet. Even though Ibuki was very optimistic, she does have despair that she tries to hide. In her free time events, she worries that she will never find someone who will truly like her for who she is. She worried about this because she is so eccentric and loud. There are other characters with problems from their past.

Photo of Hiyoko Saionji

Hiyoko Saionji was the Ultimate traditional dancer. She has a past that does explain her actions a bit. Looking through her free time events, it is revealed that, since she was born, she was pampered and spoiled. Her rich family wanted her to focus only on traditional dancing. Hiyoko does not even know how to tie the bow behind her back. She feels really insecure about this because she felt like her only worth came from dancing. She is so dependent on other people that she can not even do basic stuff without help. She worried that people will see her as worthless.

This is why she tends to bully people a lot. She wants to hurt them before they can hurt her. You could argue that this might be the reason why she was always so mean to Mikan. Mikan reminds Hiyoko of her own insecurities. In addition, Mikan always gives a strong reaction to the bullying. As a result, Hiyoko ends up wanting to beat down Mikan as much as she can.

Photo of Mikan Tsumiki

Mikan Tsumiki was the Ultimate nurse. She has a lot of mental problems. Like I mentioned earlier, it is implied in her free time events that she was sexually and physically abused. Mikan described that her bullies even made her strip for them. She also clearly has very low self-esteem. Mikan’s worst fear was people ignoring her. She feels that, without this attention, she will be viewed as a mistake and no one will care about her. She expressed this belief a lot. In free time events, she explained that she loves taking care of people because they need her.

Her patients always depend on her and she can see them as weaker. She believes that people who are weaker than her can not hurt her. In a way, being a nurse, she can see people as her bullies usually see her, weak. It is a dark personality trait for her to have.

As the game goes on, Nagito discovered and explains that Hajime was part of the reserve course. This means that he was not extremely talented when he entered Hope’s Peak Academy. Hajime does not take this news really well. He tries to focus the how to solve the killings. However, it is still clear this revelation clearly affects his self-esteem. More people are killed.

Nekomaru was killed by Gundham Tanaka in an honorable duel. Gundham did this because Monokuma was starving everyone until someone was killed. So, he did it to prevent the rest of the students from starving to death.

Photo of Nekomaru Nidai

Nekomaru Nidai was the Ultimate team manager. He acted like a figure of motivation and hope while having a moral compass. During the game, he called people out when they were jerks to each other. He cares about everyone, but he truly connected with Akane. Nekomaru was her wise teacher who helped her become her best self. However, despite his chilled-back personality, he has a very sad backstory. In his free time events, he reveals he was born with a very deadly disease.

Doctors did not think he would survive past 20 years of age. Nekomaru could not play sports growing up. However, he found motivation from a team manager. The team manager made him realize something important. Even though he could not play sports, he could still share people’s experiences playing by watching them play. This motivated him to become a team manager and eventually become famous for doing it. So, Nekomaru found happiness motivating others like he was motivated. Nekomaru full filled that role proudly until Gundham killed him.

Photo of Gundham Tanaka

Gundham Tanaka was the Ultimate animal breeder. Gundam has an unusual personality, even compared to everyone else. He often exaggerates the events in his life and paints himself as an evil villain. Because of that, it is hard to define what his backstory really is. However, there is something we do know. Many fans wondered why Gundam fought so hard to win the fourth trial.

He revealed at the end of chapter four that he killed Nekomaru to save everyone. So, why did he try so hard to win the trial? Well, I think Gundam wanted to play the role of a villain one last time. He knew that the class would find out the truth eventually and knew he was going to have to die. So, Gundam probably wanted to enjoy his persona for one final fight.

As these murders occur, the group becomes aware of an organization monitoring them, the “Future Foundation”. Nagito also learned more about them.

So, Nagito, through a convoluted process, arranges his own death. The group realized that Nagito’s true goal was to plan out a murder that could not be solved. However, everyone was able to figure out that Chiaki was the one who did accidentally. As a result, she was eliminated.

Photo of Chiaki Nanami

Chiaki Nanami was the Ultimate gamer. Throughout the game, Chiaki has been one of the characters who has had the most screen time. She has been right there with the player on every trial, investigating who was the culprit of each crime. Technically speaking, she only killed Nagito by accident. So, this was intended to be a really sad death. I would be lying if I said watching this death did not make me sad. We will talk more about her later and the twist the story reveals about her character.

After Chiaki’s death, Hajime recovered memory of arriving at the islands with Nagito, who had transplanted the arm of a woman. This woman was Junko Enoshima.

Before I continue, I should probably talk about some of the other students that are still alive at this point.

Photo of Akane Owari

Akane Owari was the Ultimate gymnast. Many people tend to brush off Akane. They see her as a funny girl who eats a lot. However, there is more to her than what meets the eye. First of all, there is a reason why Akane eats so much. According to her free time events, she was born extremely poor. There were points in her life when she did not know when her next meal would come. So, she has a habit to eat a lot of food when she has food. She doesn’t know when will be the next time Monokuma will feed them. So, she takes advantage of the situation.

Something else noticeable about her is that Akane is not just talented as a gymnast. She was extremely athletic and can perform a wide variety of sports including fighting, swimming, and so much more. Her arc was about her becoming an amazing warrior. Overall, she was a lot of fun to watch. There are other characters who are as underrated as her.

Photo of Kazuichi Soda

Kazuichi Soda was the Ultimate mechanic. Many fans generally only know Kazuichi for his attraction towards Sonia. Although, there is so much more to him. In his free time events, Kazuichi revealed that his family was poor. They own a small bike shop, but people did not go there to buy bikes. People mainly went there to fix their flat tires.

He worked at this shop. Here was where he developed his love for fixing and repairing machines. He was basically seen as a genius in his family. Kazuichi also has trust issues, because of his past friends. When he was a kid, he used to be too nice and trusting. As a result, people usually took advantage of him. His friendship with Hajime is cute. You get the feeling that he likes to spend time with Hajime, but he is also afraid that he can not trust Hajime. It is an interesting dynamic. Now that we talked about Kazuichi, we can talk about his crush.

Sonia Nevermind was the Ultimate princess. Looking at some fan reactions, something becomes obvious. Many people do not like the way Sonia Nevermind was handled. Many argued that she did not contribute much to the story or the trial. Some fans even say that it might have been better if she was killed earlier on in the game. These fans explain that it might have been interesting to Sonia as a murderer.

While I do see where the potential in that type of storyline, I have to disagree with the notion that Sonia is a bad character. There is so much to say about her. To start with, Sonia gives off the impression that she was really sheltered growing up. However, she was not dumb. Sonia was really intelligent, studying matters like economics, international relations, political science, and 30 foreign languages. Throughout the story, she goes through an arc that allowed her to become more mature and not fall into despair. I found her extremely enjoyable to watch. The story becomes more and more insane.

As reality falls apart around him, Hajime learned that everyone has been currently trapped in a virtual simulation.

During graduation, Monokuma transforms into an AI version of Junko. Junko was the villain in the first game. Junko also explains that, even though they are in a virtual simulation, all the people that died, died in real life too. Their bodies are in a brain-dead state. It was discovered learned that Chiaki has been this entire time an AI program created by the late Chihiro Fujisaki. This was done to observe and protect the students during the Future Foundation’s experiment.

The twist that Chiaki is an AI means several things about her character. She knew who the traitor was from the beginning, but, due to the nature of her programming, she could not reveal it. There are several hints in her free time events that she was always an AI. During one of them, she expresses that she does not know what Girl’s Day is. Chiaki also said that she is better at games where failure and success is decided by numerical values. This AI does not really go through much of an arc, but she does not really need to. Chiaki works well supporting other characters.

Even more, crazy news was discovered. Hajime also learned that Nagito, he and his fellow students are surviving members of Ultimate Despair. This was a group Junko led, whose terrorist actions led to a crisis known as the Tragedy, which caused societal collapse worldwide.

I just realized something. Unlike the first game, most of the deaths committed were done to protect others. The only exception was Mikan, but you could argue that she was not really herself when she did it. Even Nagito only wanted to kill everyone to protect the world from the wrath of the Ultimate Despair. This does not mean the deaths are better. I just find this really fascinating.

Photo of the characters

Chiaki works for the Future Foundation. The Future Foundation has been attempting to undo Ultimate Despair’s damage. Makoto Naegi captured the surviving members of the Ultimate Despair. For those who do not know, Makoto was the main character from the first game and one of the survivors of Junko’s killing game.

Rather than executing them, Makoto decided to rehabilitate them by erasing their memories of the brainwashing Junko did to them while they were in high school. In order to do that, it was necessary to put them in a virtual reality program.

Makoto warned Hajime that an artificial intelligence copy of Junko has hijacked their program and is trying to manipulate events to possess the bodies of the deceased students, which are still intact in the real world, once the surviving students “graduate”.

Alter Ego Junko’s ultimate plan was to download herself into every person on the planet. Makoto told Hajime if the class votes not to graduate, it will allow him to reset the system and purge Alter Ego Junko.

During this part of the game, the story really played around with the idea that your memories and experiences make you who you are. Identity is a fascinating concept.

In the article: On identity: From a philosophical point of view, Sollberger explains,

In philosophy “identity” is a predicate, which functions as an identifier, i.e. a marker that distinguishes and differentiates one object from another object. Thus, identity in this sense focuses on the uniqueness of the concerned object.”

Junko attempted to deter Hajime by revealing another shocking twist. Hajime was actually Izuru Kamukura, the former leader of Ultimate Despair. Apparently, when Hajime lead the Ultimate Despair, he was not the same person he currently is. During his time in high school, Hope’s Peak Academy subjected Hajime to extremely painful experiments. The whole experience erased his memories and he became a completely new person. Makoto reluctantly confirms that this is true. This twist is interesting.

Hajime technically got what he always wanted. He became someone with exceptional skills. The problem was he had to sacrifice everything, including his own identity. During this scene, he has a small mental breakdown as he does even know who he is. The scene was also heartbreaking as he learned that he was betrayed by a school that he admired so much.

The other students start to freak out. They hesitate, afraid of reverting to their original personalities. This is a great scene because these characters actually act like scared teenagers who do not want to become horrible monsters. They have suffered the loss of so many of their friends and now might have to lose themselves.

Our past plays such a huge role in defining who we are. Our memories shape what kind of motivations, thoughts, and goals we have in the present. We develop new identities as we grow into different stages of our lives.

As a kid, we may act wilder and just try to have fun as much as we can. However, as adults, we change and, in a way, become different people. As grown-ups, we have different hobbies, friends, and responsibilities compared to the ones we had as a kid.

In some twisted way, you could actually view this scene in Danganropa 2 as a metaphor for the fear of growing up. Many people would prefer not to move on. They do not want to change. They would want to stay in a happy environment where no one gets hurt. These people probably would not want to let go of the friends that make them happy. All of this is especially true when you know that the alternative is entering a world where everything is full of despair and seems hopeless.

Regardless, as Hajime realizes, we have to move on. Maybe we are entering a horrible world. However, that does not mean it has to stay horrible.

Hajime eventually finds the inner courage to thwart Alter Ego Junko’s plan. He persuaded the other students, Fuyuhiko, Sonia Nevermind, Kazuichi Soda, and Akane Owari to refuse graduation. He proposes that they create a future in which they do not have to forget. They decided to create a future where they move on, but they will not forget who they are.

After all the horrible things that happened, this scene was so satisfying. I also laughed like crazy when Monomi came out of nowhere and used her magical girl powers to defeat AI Junko.

Hajime, Makoto, and the others reset the system, delete Alter Ego Junko and retain their memories. In the epilogue, Makoto was confident the students will find a way to revive their friends. Technically speaking, it made no sense for Hajime and his friends could still have their memories. However, I will excuse the plot hole, because this scene is really sweet.

In conclusion, as I said before, this game is extraordinary. The characters are memorable and charming. The story is absolutely insane in the best way possible. The writers knew when to add serious moments and when comedy was necessary to relieve tension. Unlike some visual novels, I found the gameplay really fun and engaging. I enjoyed exploring every single corner of this messed-up world. I hope to revisit this despair-inducing world sometime soon. Those are my thoughts on Danganropa 2.

What was your opinion on the game?

Sources

Sollberger, D. (2013, July 31). On identity: From a philosophical point of view. Child and adolescent psychiatry and mental health. Retrieved February 14, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3751052/

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Writer. Geek. Someone who is here to talk mental health, video games, Dnd, cartoons and the craziest stories.

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Karina Ramos

Karina Ramos

Writer. Geek. Someone who is here to talk mental health, video games, Dnd, cartoons and the craziest stories.

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