Review: Dangan Ronpa: The Animation
Dangan Ronpa is one of my favourite PSP games (full review here), and its story is both involving and thrilling. The strong source material works in favour of the anime retelling, and whilst Dangan Ronpa: The Animation may feel a little familiar, the combination of a superb narrative and impressive presentation is a difficult formula to beat.
For those who haven’t played the game, Dangan Ronpa is the story of fifteen high schoolers who are imprisoned in an evil school where the only escape is to murder one of their peers (and get away with it). The main focus is on the interactions between the characters, and the ever growing sense of paranoia that everyone is secretly plotting to kill each other.
On PSP this is an involving experience, and progression requires you to actively take part in the story. As an anime, things translate surprisingly well, although the lack of interaction obviously means there are times when things feel less immersive. Still, the fierce debates, discussions and arguments are all brought to life with some beautiful animation, and this makes for great watching.
The game’s look and feel has been captured perfectly, and the immense art style is retained. The only real difference is that Monodo’s hair cut now looks slightly less like a sweetcorn, and this is probably a good thing. Exact facial expressions and poses are taken directly from the game, but the flat and static characters are now fluid and full of motion. If you’re a fan of Dangan Ronpa on PSP and want to relive the story, there’s no way you will be disappointed.
But for newcomers my recommendation would be to start with the game. Each investigation is a well crafted puzzle. Someone gets murdered and it’s up to you to find the clues, stack up the evidence, and find out what happened. In the anime this is all taken care of for you, and things move at such a fast speed that it would be nearly impossible for you to work out what happened before the answers are presented to you.
Not only this, but you can’t really watch the anime first and then play the game if you decide you like it. Both the fun and challenge comes from solving the cases, so you won’t get the full experience if you already know the culprits.
This was inevitably going to be a problem, and every time the story of a game is converted into anime there’s always one or two issues that arise from the change in medium. But Dangan Ronpa: The Animation is still a brilliant watch, and compliments the game well. It’s gripping from start to finish, and is a fine retelling of an exhilarating story.
Play first: Dangan Ronpa