Naturally, there are SPOILERS FOR THE ENTIRE GAME below. Seriously. Don't read it if you haven't played/read through the whole game, because it's got a wonderful story and cast, and it would be a shame to go into it with spoilers. There's a Let's Play of Dangan Ronpa in its entirety here, so go spend the next few days reading it over!
By the way, this is not the project referenced in the Sneak Peek, which is indeed Vamp!, one of Narita's lesser known series. I'll be starting that one sometime in January/February.
Click here to download the Kindle version. Thanks to Forgotten Alchemist for putting it together!
The world, you see, is full of 'If's.
Without the If of Eve being joined with Adam, society as we know it would never have existed. This world in which you live is only one of countless Ifs, constantly being propelled forward like a pool of mud by these possibilities. Miso soup no naka de, if you will.
What follows is an Iffy world where Ifs If Ifs. An uncertain Klein bottle where the surface and the inside are one and the same. …Oh, don't break it, now. None of you bastards could afford to pay for it.
Ahem. Anyway, this is a world of Ifs. You could speculate and guess and make conjectures all you like, but only the future is a flexible pool of mud. The past is more solid than a -40 degree banana. The past can't be changed, and looking into 'A World That Could Have Been' won't save anyone in the real world. After all, an If is only an If. And even if there was a sickening parallel world where that particular If became real, humans can't cross those lines so easily. In this case, all Ifs are Divergence Ifs.
…You still wanna see it? You've got some sick hobbies, you know that?! Don't you think that's like desecrating Naegi-kun and the others' efforts? They're moving forward past that tragedy now, you know! …I'd still heap desecration on them, though. Upupupupu…
If you really wanna see this If, then it would be best if you looked at the surface of the Klein bottle first. Maybe start by playing this game called "Dangan Ronpa" through to the end. And try to play multiple times so you get to hang out with Junko Enoshima about three times. And if you finish collecting all the items and movie clips, you're just about perfect to go.
But I guess the fact that you're already here means you obviously did all that. I'd still buy it, though. I'd still buy two copies of Dangan Ronpa!
Dangan Ronpa IF ~The Escape Switch of Hope and the Catastrophic Disappointment of Despair
"What should I do…?"
Makoto Naegi was at a loss.
His predicament was exceedingly simple, and could be divided into three categories. The first was that he was currently trapped inside the Hope's Peak Private Academy, a school attended by students with Super High School Level Talent. Naegi, chosen by a draw for the talent of Super High School Level Good Luck, came to the school for the first time that day to attend the entrance ceremony. There he suddenly lost consciousness, and when he woke up, he found that the doors and windows had all been sealed.
The second was the existence of a mysterious robot calling himself Monobear (and the mastermind behind it). "If you wanna leave this school, you have to kill someone", he had declared. The strange remote-controlled robot was telling Naegi and his fellow Super High School Level students that they were to earn their freedom through murder. Multiple Monobear robots were in existence, and each one of them contained a bomb to prevent them from being attacked. Not only that, Monobear had promised a punishment for anyone who harmed him.
Finally, the third was the fact that Naegi was currently holding a button. A red button, and the words "Escape Switch" scrawled upon it with a marker. Although the his first two predicaments were excellent causes for panic, this third problem only left Naegi troubled.
He had noticed during free time that the school store was open, and found himself compelled by curiosity. When he entered, the chaotic interior very nearly made him dizzy, but then he caught sight of something that resembled a capsule toy machine he often saw at supermarkets. The words "Monomono Machine" were written on it, and it seemed to take only the Monobear coins they found scattered in the school sometimes. It looked rather tacky, but it might help them escape the school, he thought, and inserted the one Monobear coin he had collected. The result was this mysterious "Escape Switch".
There should have been a limit to teasing people. Naegi was almost discouraged by the switch, assuming it to be a cruel joke on the mastermind's part.
"But… what if?"
That an entirely plain, ordinary boy like him was granted entry to this school was thanks to the fact that he was chosen in a draw as a bearer of Super High School Level Good Luck. And maybe that Good Luck was real.
If this switch is real, then… Maizono-san…
Naegi took a deep breath and pressed the switch.
His body was instantly struck by an intense burst of pain.
His hands and feel went limp as he fell on the spot, unable to hold his body still. With ragged breaths he tried to figure out what had just happened to him.
Was I… electrocuted?
There was a small needle sticking out of the switch. Naegi realized that an electric current must have been flowing through it. As he lay on the floor, waiting to recover enough to stand again, he fell into thought again.
So it was fake all along, huh.
What kind of sick enjoyment was the mastermind deriving from all this?
I still feel a bit dizzy.
I think I'll just go back and sleep…
Naegi got to his feet, and step by careful step, left the school store behind him.
Naegi had no idea. The truth was, the mastermind would have been a kinder person if the switch really was fake. A small shadow squirmed inside the deserted store. The shadow of a bear.
Monobear looked at the machine silently for some time, but seconds later, he burst into laughter without his expression so much as twitching.
Despite the fact that he was alone, Monobear spoke as though he was conversing with someone. Or as though Monobear himself was speaking to the mastermind wearing his skin.
"I put this switch in here because I thought it might be fun if the last couple of survivors got lucky at the Monomono Machine, but I never thought he'd draw that 0.00000001% possibility. A one-in-a-hundred-million chance? Is this what it means to have Super High School Level Good Luck?"
Monobear blushed and began breathing harshly. Obviously, a robot like him had no reason to breathe, but he was running on futuristic technology, squirming as though he was a living creature.
"Naegi-kun, who was chosen by draw, picked out the Escape switch in a draw. This normally never happens, does it? Is this what they call a miracle? Systems all GreeeeN(1) for escape? Something beyond my understanding has entered the world of a Miracle Virgin like me? Hah… Hah… No no but I felt like I was going to die of excitement at the new possibilities! Cut to commercials!"
Monobear's exorbitantly elaborate built-in machinery ran at full throttle as he shuffled through expressions more smoothly than even a human being could. But he suddenly cut himself short, erased every expression from his face, and spoke through his speakers.
"Buuuuuut… Is this really a stroke of good luck? Nyohohoho… Puhyahyahyahya…"
Whispering to himself, Monobear allowed his laughter to fill the tiny room, with hope and despair--the two emotions representing the incident ahead--in equal measure.
The next day, the dormitory area. Makoto Naegi's room.
Makoto Naegi lay on his bed, his mind lost in a desperate struggle between despair and hope.
Monobear had given each student a DVD. Naegi's showed a scene insinuating that his parents and younger sister were in danger, and so he found himself with the determination to leave this school. It seemed as though the other students had also been shown shocking videos of their own. Something so shocking that they seriously began to contemplate the idea of escaping the school, even at the cost of a life.
But it was also clear that Monobear was laying out a trap. If a student was to kill another, he or she would graduate and leave the school. It looked like the mastermind behind Monobear would do anything to start off this game of murder. But what worried Naegi the most right now was the state of Sayaka Maizono, who seemed to have been hit the hardest by the DVD.
Maizono was a Super High School Level Idol who was also Naegi's classmate from Nekuro Roku(2) Junior High. They had only really spoken in the past few days, but her optimism was a constant support for Naegi--and it went the same way for her.
If nothing else, I have to save Maizono-san… Naegi thought, when he was suddenly struck by a light headache.
Was it the shock of being punched by Mondo Oowada the previous day, or an aftereffect of pressing the escape switch? Naegi ran through the possibilities in his mind, but soon the pain dissipated and he found himself even more determined than before.
Anyway, we have to all work together and- huh?
He realized that his determination was slightly different.
We 'all' have to…?
Naturally, escaping the school with all of his classmates was the most ideal scenario. But other than Maizono, he had never met any one of his classmates before, and he had no idea if he could trust them. Yet for a moment, he found himself believing that they were people worth helping even at the cost of his own life, just like Maizono.
The headache struck again. It was a strange sensation, like an artery in his brain splitting open.
Why did I just think that… I could trust everyone as much as Maizono-san…?
Naegi tried desperately to figure out why his mindset had shifted. Something was off. The pulsating pain in his head seemed to be going hand-in-hand with the sensation of something approaching him little by little. And just as he began to see a ray of light inside the fleshy darkness within his own skull, the doorbell rang.
He quickly clambered off his bed, but the headache only worsened, He gave security no thought as he opened his door defenselessly, and came face-to-face with Sayaka Maizono.
"I'm sorry for bothering you so late…"
"Why are you here at this hour…?"
The moment he caught sight of her, the pulsating pain grew quicker and quicker. It felt as though his world was being torn down from the inside out.
"I'm sorry… Something strange just happened… Naegi-kun? What's wrong? You don't look well…"
Maizono had been trembling and pale when she appeared before Naegi, but she looked like she was surprised by Naegi's even worse complexion.
"Oh, yeah… I… I'm fine… It's just… a head-"
Naegi was unable to finish his sentence. His eyes rolled back as he slowly collapsed on the carpet, Sayaka Maizono's beautiful scream ringing over his head.
The next day, the Infirmary.
"Oh, you're awake! G'morning! You okay? How many fingers am I holding up?"
Naegi's vision returned to the sight of fingers adorned with fake nails waving before his eyes.
"Huh… huh? Wha…? E… Enoshima-san…?"
"Hey, why do you sound like you're not sure about my name? I'm just a tiny bit hurt."
Despite what she had said, the girl called Enoshima--Junko Enoshima, the Super High School Level Fashion Girl--was laughing. Naegi looked around and found himself in an unfamiliar space. It looked somewhat like a hospital, with three beds (including his own) lined up in the room. All kinds of medical instruments were laid out around them. The pitch-black ceiling felt rather oppressive, but Naegi's mind immediately hit upon one possibility as he sat up.
"Where are we…? Did we get rescued?!"
"Weeell, if only." She replied, looking away. She explained that they were in the school infirmary on the first floor.
"That stupid Mononbear said, 'I can't bear to see my dear students getting sick' or something, and opened up this place this morning. But isn't it totally suspicious? What if all the medicine here is actually poison?"
"To be honest, I think that's a real possibility…"
Naegi remembered his misadventure with the self-proclaimed Escape Switch and sighed.
"…Come to think of it, what are you doing here, Enoshima-san?"
"If you want to thank someone, go to Maizono. She was looking after you all night."
"Ma-Maizono-san?!" Naegi exclaimed.
"Yup! But then Ishimaru went and started getting all fired up about taking turns looking after you. And it just turns out I happened to be on duty! Togami just ditched, though."
"I-I see… Thank you."
"I tooold you, you should save the thanks for Maizono. Anyway, how're you feeling? Is everything all right?"
Naegi thought for a moment, and recalled something that had been bothering him earlier--before he had lost consciousness.
"…This might sound… a little weird, or… well, it is a really weird question, but…"
"What is it?"
"Enoshima-san. We've never met before… have we?"
Her eyes turned to dinner plates as she gaped for a few moments. But the girl soon burst out into laughter.
"What? What're you talking about? Are you trying to hit on me?" A rather serious look crept into her grin. "Just warning you, don't expect too much. I might look like this, but I totally care about my virginity!"
"Uh… no, I mean… expectations aside, I never…"
"Well, that's totally expected. I mean, you're pretty obviously an herbivore man…"
Naegi spent some time talking with her. Although he was slightly concerned about the fact that she did not leave to get the others, instead choosing to talk with a guy like him, Naegi did not ask why. He just wanted to talk to someone, anyone. He felt as though he would figure out the truth behind the things squirming in his head by spending time and interacting with the other students here.
Ten minutes later.
Naegi and the girl talked about things like 'herbivore men and carnivore women', her time living on the streets, and about the past and dreams for the future. The final topic was a lot heavier than the ones preceding it, but she seemed to have been cheered up by Naegi's calmness. She put on a sincere smile and whispered,
"Thank you, Naegi."
Perhaps in exchange for listening to her, she expressed a rather terrifying sentiment with that same smile on her face.
"If I ever decide to kill someone, I'll make sure it isn't you!"
Please don't say scary things like that… Naegi thought, but the words that came out his mouth expressed a different idea.
"I see… Thanks. But I still wouldn't want you to kill anyone…"
For some reason, Naegi felt as though her horrific words were completely natural. She seemed to be the most surprised about Naegi's reaction as she quickly stumbled forth.
"You-you thought I was being serious? I was just joking, Naegi! It's just a joke!"
"Huh?! Oh, uh, right! Sorry! That was weird of me."
"Don't worry about it. Let's just say you were totally having a fever dream!"
The girl's tone became light again as she stretched on the spot and turned to Naegi.
"I'm going to go back now, so try to stay alive until the next person gets here, okay?"
Naegi sent her off, and thought to himself as he lay in the bed.
What… is this feeling…?
The dull headaches continued, and his thoughts became foggy.
I was just talking to Enoshima-san, but it's as though… I was talking to someone else…
Who? Who? …Who is she?
The more he thought, the more it felt as though his memories were sinking into a bog. But it also felt like the pulsing pains were creating waves on the surface of that same bog.
What… am I feeling…?
It was an unpleasant sensation, as though someone was calling to him inside his head. Naegi tried to go over everything that had happened to him so far, but his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of a bell.
The infirmary did not have doorbells like the dormitory rooms. The sound was a chime that was echoing throughout the entire school building.
"Ah, ah. Testing, one-two. This is a school announcement."
Monobear's voice was coming from the speakers.
"Now that Naegi-kun is awake, all students must gather in the gymnasium."
Naegi got off the bed like on Monobear's heartless order.
I have to go…
He stepped forward one foot after the other, his movements dictated by the rhythm of his headache.
Slowly and slowly he made his way forward, not knowing if his path led him to heaven or hell.
"Naegi-kun! Are you all right?"
Maizono came running to Naegi's side as soon as he staggered into the gymnasium.
"Yeah… I'm fine. Sorry about yesterday. I must have made you worry."
"Not at all! It's my fault for barging in when you were feeling sick…"
"Come to think of it, what did you want yesterday?" Naegi asked. Maizono shut her eyes for a moment, then flashed him a practiced smile and shook her head.
"I-it's nothing… I'll tell you later."
Suddenly, Ishimaru Kiyotaka--the Super High School Level Hall Monitor--came up to them and pointed at Naegi.
"You're late, Naegi-kun! Explain yourself!"
The other students frowned, obviously wondering why Ishimaru was demanding this answer from someone who was sick. But Naegi smiled kindly and quickly gave his answer.
"I was sleeping in the infirmary because I wasn't feeling well. Could you put my name down on the class note(3)?"
"Of course! Excellent, Naegi-kun. It matches up perfectly with my information. If that is the case, you are completely excused!"
The conversation went along smoothly. Ishimaru grinned and continued.
"Hahaha! I'll make sure to fulfill my responsibilities as hall monitor, so focus on your convalescence, Naegi-kun! And if your condition worsens, check in with a member of the Health Committee immediately! Uh… It seems we'll have to appoint one as soon as this meeting is adjourned." Ishimaru mumbled, opening up a class note he found in the school's storage room and walking away. Seeing this, Celestia Ludenberg, the Super High School Level Gambler, came up to Naegi.
"That reply of yours sounded surprisingly used to his unusual demands."
Her comment snapped Naegi back into reality. The fact that he was sleeping in the infirmary because he was unwell was true. But for some reason, when Ishimaru asked the question everyone already knew the answer to, Naegi did not feel at all annoyed. It was as if he had expected such a question from him. He wondered why he had accepted Ishimaru's quirks as something normal so quickly. He did not understand why he had said something so unnecessary like "put my name down on the class note".
Why did I say that? It's as if… I was used to it.
It was just like the way people breathed without consciously moving their lungs. Somewhere in his mind, the idea that 'Answering like this will make the conversation go smoothly' had come up and out of his mouth in sentences.
Each time he tried to find out why, the headache worsened. Naegi stumbled through his thoughts, when suddenly--
A monochrome doll popped up from behind a table set up in the gymnasium and spun around as it spoke in a clear voice.
"Ah, is everyone here?"
He sounded as though he was leading the students on a picnic, but no one looked particularly in the mood.
"What's next? Are we gonna seajack a luxury cruise liner and come face-to-face with a gigantic worm?"
Of course, the one exception was the Super High School Level Fortune Teller, Yasuhiro Hagakure. He still thought the school was staging an event for them. Monobear ignored him and spoke in a cutesy tone.
"Today I'm gonna teach you bastards about our wonderful school system. 'System', huh? Isn't that such a nice word? It smells almost as dangerous as a bear! I hope you bastards grow up to be real hardboiled villains who can trample over the corpses of your friends. I don't mind naughty students, as long as they're malicious!"
The incomprehensible introductory statement came to a close. Monobear continued, bringing to light the despicable system in the school--the school trial.
"---…So, that means just killing someone isn't enough. You have to kill them without anyone else finding out."
Monobear went on about the rules pertaining to graduation. But perhaps because there hadn't been any murders so far, the students did not seem to be in much despair. If no one was killed, there would be no trial. But they could not guarantee that a murder would not occur. As the students stood in suspicion and doubt, Monobear continued his explanation…
"H-hey, wait a second!"
One of the girls stepped forward as Monobear explained about the executions dubbed "punishments".
As Naegi watched the girl unleash her anger, the rhythm of his pulsating headache began to change.
"What you've been saying… It's all messed up!"
The Fashion Girl raised her voice in complaint. She looked like a different person from the smiling student in the infirmary.
Was Enoshima-san… always like that?
No. She's different. Enoshima-san acts like that, sure, but…
Was she really Enoshima-san?
…? Huh? What am I thinking…?
As Naegi struggled with his confusion and headache, the back-and-forth between Monobear and the girl continued.
"So what are you saying? You're not going to cooperate? If you don't, I will have to penalize you!"
"Maybe I'll lock you up in a dark, scary prison…"
This time, Naegi's suspicions fell on Monobear.
Lock her up?
No… They… they wouldn't… stop there…
A series of images flashed through his mind, leaving Naegi with the impression that he had just watched a parade. But he realized that was a mistake. What he saw were buildings on fire, and the red lights illuminating the scenes were originally inside the bodies of people.
It wasn't confined to just the school, or even Japan. Images of death and destruction all over the world slowly popped up in his mind, all to the rhythm of his pulsating headache.
I… I've seen all this before…
Other than the fact of the indescribable violence taking place in the images, there was one thing connecting them all.
'They'? Who are 'they'…? They're…
The images rampaging in his memories contained pillagers wearing monochrome masks. They took away everything--money, valuables, lives, families, dignity, pasts, futures, or--hope.
The masks of the pillagers looked identical to the face of the doll arguing with the students before him.
"Shut up! I don't care what you say. I'm never going to go along with this!"
"It's your body. Do whatever you want!"
"You're the one doing whatever he wants! Go on, I won't have anything to do with your sick game!"
"Your overwhelming display of rage… actually kinda scared me. B-but I… I won't give in to evil! This is the Monobear way, fighting to the very end. So… if you want to move forward, you'll have to go through me!"
Monobear swung his arms around as he charged at the girl with pitter-patter steps. But she stomped down on the self-proclaimed headmaster with ease.
"Satisfied?" She asked, eyes wide open. Monobear spoke, still pinned underfoot.
"That's what I should be asking you."
"Violence against the headmaster is forbidden. It's in violation of the school rules…"
A chill ran down Naegi's spine.
Enoshima-san is going to be killed.
It was because Monobear's words carried a tone of terrible danger. It was not a suspicion or a guess. It was as though Naegi knew the danger represented by the symbol of Monobear from the beginning.
At this rate… he's going to kill…
His mind had not yet fully understood the circumstances. But as he raced towards his memories of the truth, he found himself racing forward physically as well.
His feet landed on the floor in beat with the dull aching of his head. He felt dizzy.
"Summon magic! Save me, Gungnir the Spear!"
Monobear's high-pitched scream came at almost the very moment that Naegi rushed towards the girl, screaming her name.
"Ikusaba-san! Look out!"
The girl who claimed to be Junko Enoshima widened her eyes in shock. Perhaps in an attempt to avoid Naegi as he charged towards her, she stepped back with speed and reflexes unthinkable for a teenaged girl. And at that very moment, countless spears pierced the place where she had been standing only a moment earlier.
The sudden turn of events left the girl and the other students wide-eyed in shock. Contraptions installed in the gymnasium floor and walls had suddenly shot out spears towards her, not that Naegi himself could tell.
Huh? Why… Why'd I call Enoshima-san… Ikusaba-san…?
As he grasped for answers, he felt a sharp impact in his side, followed by deathly pain running down his spine and carrying through his entire body. The spear lodged in his side tore apart his muscles and shot out his back, covered in blood and lipids. At that very moment, the dark fog in his mind was dragged into death itself, as his struggling consciousness remembered everything.
Because of the special electrical signal and the chemical formula the escape switch had provided him with, Makoto Naegi had found escape. He had found an escape from the game where he and his classmates had been robbed of their memories and forced to play a deadly game of despair.
Of course, in terms of the fact that this had led him to a life-or-death situation, perhaps he had only escaped into a pit of greater despair.
At the same time, his actions had led yet another person into despair. She was a girl who had disguised herself as her beloved little sister Junko Enoshima, concealing her own identity. The Super High School Level Soldier (Super High School Level Despair), Mukuro Ikusaba. Her past, her future, or perhaps, her hope itself.
For the moment, Makoto Naegi's story comes to an end here.
Following it is the story of a certain girl--a girl more wrapped up in disappointment than anyone in this sealed-off school.
(1) A reference to the Japanese rock/hip hop group, GreeeeN.
(2) I can't figure out what this is supposed to be referencing, but it sure as heck doesn't sound like any normal Japanese school name.
(3) Something like a daily record of what happens in the classroom every day. For example, if a student gets sick in the middle of class (like what happened to Naegi), their names are written down here.