Saturday, August 24, 2013

A few loose thoughts on Danganronpa

Spoilers on episode 4 and the ones prior to it.

Also, feel free to instigate a best girl discussion. You rarely get to see so much material worth talking about anywhere else.

Let's talk a bit about Japan's most recent mystery iteration as far as anime is concerned, traditionally nothing to be particularly fond of and while Danganronpa is, for a change, actually enjoyable not for all the wrong reasons, there are several factors cutting down the enjoyment, ultimately boiling down to one thing: Not the story that is told but how it is told. Or, to be more specific: Its directional decisions.

Let me be blunt - Danganronpa fails as an anime adaptation. I don't mean to say that it's not faithful to the source material or anything - heck, I haven't played that - but this does so little justice to its medium it's almost laughable. It's almost like the anime wants to be the game or something. Which should by no means be something for the people involved to opt for. That's also why the first episode got character poses taken straight out of the game, introduction screens, flat character models in a 3-dimensional environment (please leave this to Yoshiura, kthx) or their positions re-arranged offscreen whenever the situation called for it. Or comedy moments right after someone was just stabbed. Because hey, that's Kishi for you!

And things didn't end there, oh no, they didn't.

You got stuff like this:

You couldn't tell they found glass sphere fragments if not for a text and picture telling you despite them being clearly visible in the background.

Or this:

Yes, people bleed pink blood.

Or this:

We've now reached the point of adapting a comic mini game. Okay.

Or this:

Anime is now an interactive medium. Or something. Kishi probably already lost track off whether he's working on a game, an anime or something inbetween. I'm not so sure either.

Or this:

Now adapting a completely different game because hey, why not?

Leon screaming "retarded" about 30 times while the music was speeding up and the camera going berserk was kind of annoying to watch too. And then there's that entire tracing off the execution scenes from the game thing. Thanks for reminding us that we're merely playing an HD version of the game, Kishi.

As evidentally pointed out above, Danganronpa hardly comes across as a visual treat. What exactly are you in for with this one? Kishi's crude game-direction, the non-animation or the QUALITY art? The character designs are pretty much its only strength. And there's only so much to them with the art going down the shitter for reasons beyond me. Probably bad scheduling. Dunno how much of a big studio Lerche is but taking a guess at it, not a big one and they already had a bazillion animation directors in charge of DeSu 2 last season, so eh. Looks like this thing is still willing to dive even deeper into the cheapness battle between itself, Gifuu Doudou, GONZO's dog show, Titan, Monogatari and perhaps Gatchaman Crowds, depending on how much they are behind their schedule. Boy, did the most recent episode have some production errors at the end. At least GC has a capable director carrying it. This has anything but.

Which brings me back to the direction. Kishi's entire "I'VE PLAYED THE SOURCE MATERIAL! YOU'VE PLAYED THE SOURCE MATERIAL! LET'S BE BEEEEEEEEEEEST FRIENDS!" schtick has long since crossed the line of obnoxious. The show is almost literally screaming "This is the game! We have the game! We are so totally like the game!" at the audience. For what it's worth, that's actually a fairly interesting version of fanservice. "Interesting" is not equal to "good" though. This is not an anime. This is a game. Or wait, maybe I got those two wrong, I wouldn't know. Kishi who was already pretty much known for being anime Hitler and killing the industry prior to this totally reached new lows with this one. I can't wait for him to do a 999 anime. I wonder what retarded ideas he'd come up with for the puzzles. Or the rest of it, for that matter. I also wonder what an Umineko Chiru adaptation by Kishi would look li- ooooh, I hope I didn't jinx anything by saying that.

The writing isn't much to behold either. I think I got a good laugh at Monokuma telling them you'd get released if you killed someone, then a murder occurred and only afterwards did he tell them that they have to kill without anyone else noticing. Oh. Sweet! Thanks for not letting anyone know beforehand! Wouldn't you rather announce the rule that you must not be found out about at the start? Granted, it's also written in the rules but not announcing it only increases the risk of someone killing someone else without even trying to hide that fact, meaning you'd get a real boring class trial which shouldn't be Monokuma's intention.

And then there was the entire room exchange thing. Think about it: Someone (in this case Maizono) opens up to you about being targeted and then offers you to switch rooms, meaning someone with the intent to kill would come to you. Do the maths. Either Naegi didn't think of that (which would make him an idiot) or he preferred that to sharing a room with a cute girl (which would make him even more of an idiot). Neither would make him look any good. Well, anime protagonists.

Episode 3 s writing wasn't particularly great either. Leon fighting back against Maizono and when cornering her, killing her was just downright retarded. Once you corner someone to the point they can't fight back, there's no need to kill them if you merely acted out of self-defense. Besides, he could have just left her room and called for help the moment he was attacked. There were 13 other people around who'd be willing to help him and catch a potential murderer. Good grief. Yes, I know that in the game, it was revealed that he clearly had a killing intent but that wasn't mentioned anywhere in the anime and just goes to prove once again that this show doesn't really know what "adapting" stands for.

My personal highlight were Sakura and Aoi though: "Well, she took a knife out of the kitchen. We didn't think of that as suspicious.". Eh. Now that was literally the writing forcing a killing to occur. The mystery couldn't have worked out the way it did anyway without a professional baseball player being the culprit (that's what I call gimmickry writing) and Naegi coincidentally getting the only room with a bathroom door not working was fairly lazy as well. Mysteries shouldn't rely on too many extraordinary circumstances in order to work.

That aside, Fujisaki's killing doesn't seem to be any better either and appears to be a really mediocre mystery since boy, are thing obvious with that one. That said, hear my guess:

First of all, there's an elephant in this room and it doesn't want to be ignored: Fujisaki is obviously a guy. Both his appearance as well as his voice are typical trap-like stuff. Of course, since this is Danganronpa and we can't have a mystery without utilizing the characters' special traits, the entire mystery will probably revolve around the misconception that he's a girl (hence why everyone will suspect Sakura of the killing since she's the only girl who could have done the deed) until Kyouko, who was glancing a tad too meaningfully while investigating Fujisaki's skirt, points out that he's a guy. Naturally, this also means he was killed in the men's room and then transported to the women's room so the culprit could have an alibi (he also figured everyone would suspect Sakura anyway). The strain of blood on the poster indicates this all the more since why would you actually have a boy group poster hanging in the guys' room and a bikini model in the girls' room? That one changed rooms as well because hey, the corpse in the girls' room and blood-stains in the guys' room? Wooh, wouldn't that make it obvious that rooms were switched? Same for the carpet. Also, the culprit stole the notebook because he didn't want the others to figure out that Fujisaki's actually a guy. I suspect all notebooks contain personal data, the gender included. I'd laugh even more if the culprit hid it in his room or anything and it'd become a proof later on.

So, who's the culprit? Obviously a boy. Which leaves us with:



Otaku guy

Fortuneteller guy

Biker guy

Morality guy

Obviously, Naegi isn't the culprit. From here on, it's going by the clich s rather than trying to figure things out by conventional means: Togami is investigating something different at the moment and has joined Nagi's detective party so hey, no need for the writing to make him the culprit. Neither fortuneteller guy nor otaku guy would appear to be classic culprits either. Besides, otaku guy probably couldn't lift that thing anyway. Which leaves us with the last two and those make the most sense anyway, as it would give the "Embarrassing moment of the past" a deeper meaning. Biker guy probably has quite a troublesome past whereas the other one seems so rule-abiding that the writing would abuse that for an ironic twist regarding his past ("He's seemingly perfect and yet has a stained past" or something like that). "Embarrassing moment" might very well refer to more drastic things, for instance a murder, too, so that'd be a reason for killing someone in order to conceal it.

Of course, I'd be pretty pissed if it was either of them since firstly, that's just way too predictable and clich d and secondly, those two guys are fun and I don't want their bromance to end. Well, it better not be quite as obvious as explained above but I don't have high hope.

With all that said, is Danganronpa actually watchable? Yes, it is. You don't watch this for the presentation's gnawing flaws and the writing certainly isn't perfect either, but hey, it's also far from bad. The show's relatively exciting, gets you to care about what's going on and the character interactions are enjoyable. It's certainly one of the better shows this season (which is one of the best seasons in years anyway, really) and we haven't had a mystery spawning forth speculation on the Internet sinceUmineko? Oh boy.


Not sure whether I should call this his distinctive style or just plain unoriginal.
Full Post

No comments:

Post a Comment