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The School of Hope and the Students of Despair (Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School - Hope Arc)

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The School of Hope and the Students of Despair
Hope Arc.jpeg
"Farewell, Hope's Peak Academy. Farewell, Danganronpa."
Series: Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School
Part of Season: 3
Episode Number: 1
Air Date: September 29th, 2016
Writer: Kazutaka Kodaka
Director: Seiji Kishi
Previous episode: It is always darkest (Future Arc)
Goodbye, Hope's Peak High School (Despair Arc)
Nagito Komaeda and the Destroyer of Worlds (OVA)


"You've made mistakes, but we're with you on that. We've all made mistakes."
Ultimate Imposter/"Byakuya Togami"

The School of Hope and the Students of Despair is the twenty-fourth and final episode of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, and the finale to the Hope's Peak Series as a whole.

Summary

Can the future hold both Hope and Despair?

Why There's Hope

"Now, let's go. We're all going to make our future together!"
  1. First means first, this episode overall is, without a doubt, a huge improvement over the Despair Arc's finale and resolves why Ryota Mitarai tried to eliminate despair entirely (due to not knowing how to eradicate the despair his actions inadvertently caused, he finally decided that Kazuo Tengan's "final solution" of brainwashing all of humanity into an eternal state of hope was the only way to end Ultimate Despair's reign of terror, not realizing that it would actually allow the remaining members of Ultimate Despair to take over the world. Or that his desperation to undo what he indirectly caused would push him into doing something that wasn't much more different than what Junko did, but he felt like he had no choice and that forcibly brainwashing everyone on Earth into hope was the only way to finally end "The Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History"/The Worst, Most Despair-inducing Incident in the History of Mankind).
  2. This episode picks up where Episode 12 of the Future Arc has left off (Ryota uploading his "Hope Video" and countless people across the world watching it, including Komaru Naegi, Toko Fukawa, and even Monaca Towa who had previously launched herself into space in Future Arc Episode 7. The entire Super High School Level Elite Task Force is soon brainwashed and corner Makoto, Aoi Asahina, and Kyosuke, while back at the broadcast tower, Ryota revels in the fact that all of the despair in the world will be entirely eradicated within half an hour. And as Makoto is about to be eliminated by brainwashed Future Foundation soldiers, Yasuhiro Hagakure arrives to save Makoto, knocking out the gunman, only to end up at gunpoint himself. Moments later, Byakuya Togami arrives and sends his bodyguards to knock out the brainwashed soldiers before wryly mocking Makoto's "luck". Elsewhere, a silhouetted figure, who turns out to be Izuru Kamukura/Hajime, is shown walking towards a light, leaving dozens of unconscious soldiers in his wake) and actually resolves that cliffhanger.
  3. Amazing Japanese and English voice acting (although all of the Danganronpa games and animes have excellent voice acting, so it's to be expected).
  4. Class 77-B and the remaining characters from the Future Arc are not only still as likable as ever, but also arguably the best they've ever been, as many of them have seemingly gone through drastic amounts of Character development.
    • Hiyoko Saionji is notably much nicer and more compassionate, especially towards Mikan Tsumiki. This is shown when the latter saves her, and Hiyoko was genuinely thankful for it (despite insulting the nurse to her face mere seconds before) and it's implied she's started warming up to Mikan afterwards.
    • Mikan herself is much more active and prone to taking action in dangerous situations than she was before, as shown when she stabs a brainwashed soldier who was about to kill Hiyoko, and even saves Kyoko Kirigiri's life.
    • Nagito Komaeda is probably the nicest and most stable that he's ever been. Despite the fact that he's clearly still as obsessed with hope as ever, he still decides to cooperate with his classmates to come to the Future Foundation's rescue and save the world from Ryota's broadcast of the "Hope Video". He also seems to be on friendlier terms with the rest of Class 77-B in stark contrast to Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, where he's either feared or despised by the rest of the cast.
    • Sonia Nevermind pays more attention and is seemingly more friendly to Kazuichi Souda (a far cry to how she treated him during the killing game they got trapped in together along with the rest of Class 77-B, although sometimes her behavior towards him was justified due to his stalkerish nature) as shown when she compliments the latter after he uses a swarm of Mini Mechamarus to attack one of the brainwashed soldiers' giant robots during the fight against Ryota's army.
  5. It's also nice to see Class 77-B back as the main leads. Given how little focus they all (excluding Hajime) got during the Despair Arc, where they all mainly served as either comic reliefs or background characters. Nagito had the biggest significance in the narrative, and even then all he got was a single episode dedicated to him before he left the narrative for 3 episodes. Here, not only is most of the episode is dedicated solely to them, but also how the events of Goodbye Despair have affected them and they're desires to atone for their crimes as members of Ultimate Despair.
  6. The battle between Class 77-B and the brainwashed Future Foundation Super High School Level Elite Task Force is downright epic:
    • Nagito starts an landslide just by kicking a single pebble... which manages to bury a squad in rubble.
    • Peko Pekoyama defeats the Ultimate Discus Thrower with nothing but a wooden sword as opposed to her usual Shinai, with Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu even complimenting her on it afterwards.
    • Gundham Tanaka unlocks the seal on his name and unleashes his full power to take control of the Ultimate Falconer's bird and defeat the soldier.
    • The Ultimate Impostor/"Byakuya Togami" impersonates Kyosuke Munakata to aid him against the soldiers and prevent them from concentrating their efforts on the real Munakata and instead dividing them between the two.
    • Nekomaru Nidai wrestles a giant robot - and wins.
    • Kazuichi builds an army of Mini Mechamarus with rocket launchers (and is FINALLY able to impress Sonia!).
    • Teruteru Hanamura serves meat to Akane Owari that gives her the energy to run at tremendous speeds and deflect the Ultimate Street Performer's knives with her teeth. She also blocks the fire he breathes at her with two large chunks of meat before finally finishing him off by whacking him into the air.
    • Mikan saves Hiyoko from the Ultimate Nailist by stabbing the Soldier in the back using a gigantic syringe (as mentioned in WIR #3.1).
    • Ibuki Mioda plays her song, "Let My Feelings Reach You Too!" to deafen an entire army of soldiers.
    • Mahiru Koizumi saves Ibuki from the Ultimate Marksman by using flashes from her camera to temporarily blind the soldier so that she can then remove her noise-cancelling headphones.
  7. While it's mostly serious and dramatic, the episode still has it's fair share of hilarious moments, like Nagito meeting Makoto Naegi for the first time and gushing over the former while holding (or hugging) his hand, and Akane sending Teruteru spinning after zooming past him during the battle against the brainwashed soldiers, causing him (or Akane in the English dub) to yell out his new celebrity name when in pain/distress: "JUSTIN BIEBER!!!".
  8. The recreated sprites in this episode while Class 77-B is talking to Ryota look great, and seem to be callbacks to Goodbye Despair (Nagito is doing a little wave, Nekomaru is laughing with a hand over his shoulder, Akane is grinning with her hand on her hip, Fuyuhiko is crossing his arms with his head turned to his side, etc.).
  9. Speaking of homages to Goodbye Despair, it has plenty of more nice call-backs to the game like Kazuichi using the Mini Mechamarus (which first debuted after Chapter 4's trial) to aid Nekomaru during the fight against a giant robot, Ibuki weaponizing her song "Let My Feelings Reach You Too!" (an insert song in the game which fully debuted in the stage play Super Danganronpa 2: Sayonara Zetsubō Gakuen THE STAGE) to take out an army of soldiers, and the title itself being the subtitle for the first game's Japanese release.
  10. The speech (about how everyone makes mistakes, and while they are things that you'll have to remember, the important thing is recognizing and learning from the in order to make steps to becoming a better person) that Hajime Hinata and the rest of Class 77-B gave towards Ryota Mitarai in order to stop him from forcibly brainwashing the world into an eternal state of hope was very touching, as it was powerful enough to convince Ryota cancel the worldwide broadcast of the "Hope Video" and join them in atonement.
    • The way the final confrontation was done is also an excellent one. Given how the Future Arc had been more action focused in it’s conflicts than the other installments in the Danganronpa series, it leaves the audience expecting a big explosive battle to serve as the climax. And while it did partially happen here with the fight against the Elie Task Force, the true final confrontation was instead a verbal one; making it feel shockingly and astonishingly similar to the games' classroom trials. And while it wasn’t necessarily as dramatic or energizing as the final trials in the games, it was still very close to how the games would have ended it. Even though it probably would've been better if Makoto was involved, it was still an incredible conclusion and book-end for the saga.
  11. On the topic of book ends, the episode has a huge amount of them, which feels like the final callbacks to the first events in the saga during it's conclusion, just before it's officially over.
    • The Tragedy is started by Hope's Peak Academy covering up a killing game, which is blamed on Izuru Kamukura, and is ended by the Future Foundation (semi-successor to Hope's Peak) agreeing to a cover up of another killing game, with Izuru Kamukura initiating and taking the blame.
    • The beginning of the Prequel has Chiaki telling Hajime how talent isn't everything, and that it's more important to stay true to oneself, while he's looking at his palm and lamenting not having a talent. Side Hope has Hajime, finally having found his inner strength and resolve as a person after the events of Goodbye Despair, repeating Chiaki's words and acknowledging the merit of them while staring at her Galaga-like hairpin in the palm of his hand.
    • The first game showed Makoto waking up alone in a classroom shortly after he and Hope's Peak Academy were introduced. This episode shows Makoto sitting in a desk that has the same relative row-and-column position as it did back then, shortly before he's revealed to be the headmaster of a reborn Hope's Peak Academy.
  12. Awesome Ending: After taking the blame for the Final Killing Game in order to absolve the Future Foundation of any wrongdoing due to Tengan's actions, as well as then faking their own deaths, Class 77-B and Ryota leave on a ship for Jabberwock Island, where they all feast on Teruteru's cooking and Hajime is visited by Chiaki Nanami's ghost. Several months later, a rebuilt Hope's Peak Academy is seen in a field of what appears to be daisies, before the scene shifts to Makoto Naegi sitting in the headmaster's office. Kyoko Kirigiri, revealed to have survived her apparent death thanks to Seiko Kimura's medicine and Mikan's interference, then appears and says that everyone is waiting for him. The story of Hope's Peak Academy comes to an end, with all its tales of despair and the hope that overcame it.
    • And given all that the cast has been through up to this point, needless to say, they've all more than earned their happy ending.
  13. This episode is overall an impressive and powerful way to end not just Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, but the Hope's Peak Academy saga altogether.

Bad Qualities

  1. Teruteru can still come off as gross, by saying "My wiener thinks you'd make a fine addition!". While he was trying to help the rest of Class 77-B get Ryota Mitarai to redeem himself and join them in atonement, Teruteru only referred to his wiener rather than thinking that Ryota would make a fine addition to Class 77-B.
  2. While most of the characters get their happy endings, the same can't be said for Munakata. After experiencing the deaths of Juzo and Chisa, killing his best friend out of paranoia that he was a Remnant of Despair, and discovering that his girlfriend was part of said group, he simply leaves the Future Foundation and it's never made clear where he is now. It's also implied that he's planning to commit suicide so he can be reunited with the deceased Chisa Yukizome and Juzo Sakakura in the afterlife.
  3. The story could've flowed a lot more smoothly if the episode had been an hour-long special.
    • In fact, because it wasn’t an hour-long special, the ending of this episode, while good, felt very rushed.
  4. While it's a relief that Kyoko isn't dead, the fact that they had her die only to bring her back later can feel like a pointless fake-out death. Not to mention that it was the third time the anime had done this.

Reception

The School of Hope and the Students of Despair received mostly positive reviews from Danganronpa fans. While some complained about Kyoko's fake-out death and a few of the major events feeling rushed, many still praised the episode for picking up on the cliffhanger that the previous episode was left on, it's handling of the final confrontation, and overall serving as a strong and satisfying conclusion for the Hope's Peak Academy saga. MyAnimeList has a rating of 7.31.

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