Danganronpa 2: Ultimate Luck and Hope and Despair Volume 1 review

Following on from the hit manga adaptation of the original Danganronpa game from Spike Chunsoft, Dark Horse present a new series based on the second entry in the series that sees a new group of students undertaking the twisted activities of Hope’s Peak Academy under the watchful eye of twisted teddy bear/principal Monokuma. The new group find themselves on a surprise school trip to a tropical island, they also find that suspicion and death is the only ticket home from this so-called paradise! Here, in the name of “hope,” Ultimate Lucky Student Nagito Komaeda is willing to kill anybody and everybody… including himself!

Fans of the first entry in the Danganronpa franchise – whether it be the original game or manga adaptation – will find plenty to enjoy in this second entry. It once again brings a fresh twist to the youths fighting to the death theme established in Battle Royale, this time the objective is getting away with murder and managing to get through a class trial without being caught – with both the culprit and the members of the court’s lives at stake if they get the wrong outcome. Like the previous series, any friendships formed can be quickly thrown aside as the kill-or-be-killed mentality creeps in. This time, there’s the added tension that almost the entire cast can be wiped out at any moment if they are unable to identify the murder culprits.

Once again, the strength of the series is the variety of different characters that make up the students. As you’d expect, principal Monokuma steals every scene he’s in, but the other character more than pull their weight. Hajime provides plenty of intrigue as he tries to piece together his forgotten past so he can learn why he was selected for Hope’s Peak Academy in the first place, and is a nice contrast from the more optimistic Makoto from the original series. There are again several student types thrown together which creates plenty of drama, although this time the focus is more on their individual skills than the stereotypes that you’d see in most manga series set in schools. Nagito (the first character you’ll meet) is definitely the most compelling character as he displays many traits that you’d expect from a protagonist of this genre. However, there is more to him than meets the eye and you can’t rely on initial impressions when the characters are placed in such a precarious situation.

Artist Kyousuke Suga does a great job in keeping the art faithful to the source material and making each character distinct. His work with Nagito is particularly top notch which really enhances the arc the character goes through. Plus his Monokuma is right on target.

Danganronpa fans should definitely keep reading and those who enjoy this fresh merging of murder mysteries and students battling to the death will be more than satisfied.

Danganronpa 2: Ultimate Luck And Hope And Despair Volume 1 is released on 26 December 2018 from Dark Horse

9781506707334 – P/B – £10.99

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