First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episodes 11 and 12

Sorry for the incredibly late updates. I’ve had a busy time lately that I’d like to claim is all work’s fault, but it really has as much to do with Valkyria Chronicles 2 and the general greatness of Gatchaman Crowds. Which I’ve rewatched episodes of for hours episode 10 specifically, and is definitely the turning point pushing Kenji Nakamura past the ranks of very, very good situational directors into the tier of “watch me nail this magic trick I’ve never done before,” greats.*

Anyway, I’ll be getting back to writing over this weekend, skipping pics and just dishing my thoughts on the shows I was supposed to be covering** until I’m caught up. Also, look forward to some more crunched numbers; I’ve been running some data on anime adaptations of award-winning manga and the frequency of mecha anime pre- and post-3D mech animation techniques that should be ready relatively soon.

That said, let’s dive into the penultimate chapters of Dangan Ronpa, which didn’t so much take the premise and flip it on its head as they did show a vulnerable villain pulling out the cheapest cards in thier hand trying to cover their ass. Monokuma’s increasingly desperate scrambling was best illustrated by the moment where he pulled the plug on the pc right in the middle of the old principal’s video message. It’s been fun to watch how abrupt his panicking started; up until 3 weeks ago, he was holding pretty much all the cards. Naegi and co have really turned the tables, thanks at least in part to his terrible poker face.

The pseudo-execution in episode 12 was a neat bit of trickery. Since the executions have been rendered in a different style than the rest of the anime, those graphics set up the audience to expect a certain thing. So despite the main character being the one on the chopping block, I legitimately wasn’t sure what was going to happen. That’s getting some fancy payoff out of a move that seemed more than a little gimmicky at an earlier date.

I thought the series’ overarching plot was pretty stupid and convoluted when I was getting bits and pieces of the evidence, but lined up in a row, it’s actually pretty solid. If you can accept the amnesia, it makes a neat of sense. And the fact that it was delivered via a six-shooter of logic bullets straight to Monokuma’s face made it all the more glorious. My only complaint is that I’m not entirely sure what else is left for Naegi to prove, but I’m still looking forward to the finale of what’s been a solid show throughout.

*The fuller thoughts on this are in a review that’s been in editing since episode 5 or 6 started bringing in the show’s full-cash payoff, but the long and short of it is this; Gatchaman Crowds is as close to perfect as anime gets. In a genre and style markedly different from anything Kenji Nakamura’s done before. That’s a feat not at all common for anime directors. If you gave me an anime project and didn’t tell me the genre or format, there’s only 4 (now 5) guys I’m trusting to pitch the full 9 innings on resume alone; Takahiro Omori, Kishi Seiji, Ryutaro Nakamura, Taniguchi Goro, and now Kenji Nakamura.

I can name lots of people I’d like to see direct more in any one genre, but those are the guys who have killed it by making smackdown top-quality anime in multiple genres and situations. They don’t always hit home runs, but they aren’t held back by a fondness for one particular style or genre (look at how big of a departure Sakura Wars is from Serial Experiments Lain, or Koi Kaze from Baccano, or Kamisama Dolls from Astro Fighter Sunred). Each also has some ridiculously fascinating career arc (Kishi’s maximum-bro teamup with Makoto Uezu and Satoki Iida that turned an average career into a great one overnight, Nakamura’s getting getting his first career start from noitaminA and then coming back to resuscitate the timeslot after the Fractale debacle) that makes them an even more fascinating discussion prospect for an anime hall of fame. If it had one (not that it needs one, but you can’t deny it would be cool if one existed).

**Except for Space Brothers. It’s just talk to say stuff about that show every week without mentioning xenophobia or not sounding preachy, and it’s filibustering like a Senator in 2013.

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2 thoughts on “First Reactions: Dangan Ronpa Episodes 11 and 12

    • That it is. The combat’s as good as in 1 and the story is solid. And I love how so many of my favorite VAs are in bit parts; I’ve deployed the combo of Ian Sinclair (Reiner), Steve Blum (Helmut), and Crispin Freeman (Zeri) in every mission possible.

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