The Danganronpa series is not an easy one to describe. There are three main entries in the series.
All Danganronpa games in order- Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc which was followed by Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, followed by a third installment, Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony.
Each Danganronpa game has a similar premise but features different characters. The settings also change with each game.
What is Danganronpa?
The premise of the game sounds incredibly dark.
In every game, 16 talented students are trapped by the robotic bear, Monokuma.
Monokuma traps the cast into killing games. Here if they want to go back home they must kill another person whilst staying innocent in their classmate’s eyes during the trials.
This may make the game sound like some bizarre Manhunt/Persona mashup. But in fact, the gameplay resembles more of a Persona/Ace attorney mix-up.
The game is made up of three different sections and each section features certain unique gameplay.
Daily Life resembles a visual novel or one of those flash dating sims from the early 2000s. Players wander the grounds, develop relationships, progress in the story, and learn new skills.
Deadly life is a most-murder investigation where the player must find clues as to who committed the most recent murder.
Finally, Class Trial is a selection of mini-games during which the characters gather and try to determine who the murderer is.
The series has become hugely popular and somewhat of a cult classic. Part of this positive reception has been attributed to these interesting gameplay choices the developers made.
However, the reason most fans have become obsessed with the series is likely due to one major fact.
The Danganronpa games feature a bizarre, twisted but incredibly multifaceted range of characters.
Whilst the gameplay is interesting it really wouldn’t work if the player didn’t care about the Daganronpa characters being picked off one by one.
How many Danganronpa characters are there?
There are well over 40 Danganronpa characters across the series and most if not all of the Danganronpa characters are well written. Each game features a similar cast of characters.
There’s normally an antagonist, a hidden antagonist, a male protagonist, a lead female heroine, and then the cannon fodder for the murder investigations.
To help you out, we’ve whittled down the cast to a handful of the most important Danganronpa characters. These characters are either all recurring characters in the franchise or main characters in their respective installment.
We’ve cut out the cannon fodder.
If you want to check out all Danganronpa characters you should check out the Danganronpa characters Wikia for a list of Danganronpa characters.
Danganronpa Characters: Trigger Happy Havoc
“She’s dead no matter how many phoenix feathers you stick down her throat!”
Monokuma is one of the primary antagonists in Danganronpa games.
He is probably the most famous of all the Dangonrompa characters – a stuffed mechanical bear who is half white, half black, representing the yin and yang to a certain degree.
He has a white, cuddly “good” half whilst his black half represents his evil nature.
The duality is also represented in personality. One second Monokuma can be offering characters kindly, sagely advice, and the next he is enjoying the murderer and mayhem.
Whilst initially thought to be the primary antagonist it is later revealed that Monokuma is little more than a puppet.
2. Makoto Naegi-
“If the world outside is void of hope, and if despair is contagious, then I will have to infect everyone with my hope.”
Makoto is a major protagonist of both Danganronpa 1, 2, and 3. There is no danganronpa main character, but Makoto gets close.
He is the only “normal” student and is depicted as being pretty much unremarkable. He’s a normal student accepted to the academy through a raffle. This makes him the “Ultimate Lucky Student.”
His two defining traits are his optimism and luck. Makoto represents hope in this series and his bizarre luck is the key to defeating Monokuma and his plans.
Unfortunately, outside of his luck, Makoto isn’t always that interesting compared to later protagonists. I kind of just remember him as one of the few Danganronpa characters with brown hair.
Makoto returns in later episodes of the franchise as an ally to later protagonists.
3. Kyoko Kirigiri
“It’s odd, isn’t it? People die every day and the world goes on like nothing happened.”
Kyoko is the heroine of the first game. A common trope of Japanese JRPGs and anime is the amnesiac hero. Dr characters often fall into this trope.
Case in point: Kyoko fits it perfectly. Since she has amnesia she has no idea what her talent is.
As such she is labeled as Ultimate??? Kyoko can be described as level-headed with keen reasoning skills.
She starts off the story distrusting others but soon learns to trust the ever-optimistic Makoto. She is a key ally to Makoto in the class trials.
These traits are unsurprising as it later turns out she is actually an Ultimate Detective. This explains why she has lost more of her memories compared to the others. Her skillset is a major threat to Monokuma’s plans.
4. Byakuya Togami
“Just go away and die your meaningless death alone. Don’t drag me into it.”
Byakuya is the Ultimate Affluent Progeny. Which is a nice way of saying the Ultimate Douche. Which is pretty close. Byakuya is one Danganronpa character we are not meant to like early on.
Byakuya is the heir of the incredibly wealthy and powerful Togami family. Thanks to his elevated social status Byakuya starts the game as an unlikable jerk who sees himself above the other students.
He views the game as a competition and refuses to help the others. Specifically, he singles out Makoto as a potential rival.
This imagined rivalry leads to him becoming a secondary antagonist of sorts. He frames Toko for Chihiro’s death as a way of testing Makoto. This has major repercussions for the story.
Firstly, it outs Chihiro as secretly trans which is pretty tragic, and secondly, it helps lead to Toko’s unmasking as a serial killer.
Whilst initially unrepentant Byakuya gradually starts to come around and eventually becomes an ally to Makoto, helping him defeat the mastermind. He goes on to survive the game and returns to it in later installments as a much more likable guy.
5. Junko Enoshima
“Wherever there is hope, there is most definitely despair.”
As you may have realized from reading about Monukuma and Toko, Danganronpa is a series that likes to play with duality. Nowhere is this more evident than with Junko.
Junko initially appears as the Ultimate Fashionista. She is bubbly, charismatic, and a little bit of an airhead. She supposedly dies early on, murdered by Monokuma for breaking the rules.
This is all a ruse though. In fact, Junko is the primary antagonist of the series and acts as the antithesis to Makoto. If Makoto is all about hope then Junko is all about despair.
She is the true brains behind the killing game and the puppet master of Monokuma.
Her despair has driven her insane and her only goal is to make the whole world feel despair.
At the end of the first game, just as she is about to be defeated by Makoto and the others she succumbs to her despair and commits suicide.
She returns as a digital version of herself in Danganronpa 2 after being digitally copied to Monokuma during her suicide. She is again the antagonist here, taking over the rehabilitation program and turning it into yet another killing game.
Junko is responsible for turning class 77 into the crazy Ultimate Despair terrorist group, causing the Tragedy (killing billions), and then ruling over whatever remained through Monokuma.
She is responsible for the suffering of every Danganronpa character.
Even long after her death, her influence is felt as the Future Foundation continues to clean up after her atrocities.
6. Toko Fukawa
“Stop staring at me like I’m some filthy creature!”
Toko is a great example of how great Danganronpa’s writing can get. She is the Ultimate writing Prodigy. Toko is initially standoffish and anti-social.
However, she is not as interesting as she appears at first glance. It is revealed that Toko’s personality is split in two. Whenever she sees blood (causing her to pass out) or sneezes her alter ego takes control.
Her alter ego is a serial killer known as Genocide Jack/ Jill. Jill likes to crucify attractive males with scissors and calls herself the Ultimate Murderous Fiend.
Toko and Jill share the same knowledge and emotions (like a crush on Byakuya) but have separate memories. This comes in useful as whilst most characters have some form of amnesia all of Jack’s memories are intact.
Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair Characters
1. Hajime Hinata
There’s a lot of despair out there, too… And I don’t know what kind of future it’ll become… But our future is ours! We’re not going to leave it in anyone else’s hands anymore!
Hajime is another pretty standard JRPG/ anime hero. An amnesiac protagonist with a tragic/ dark past. You may have heard this before.
As an Amnesiac Hajime has no idea what his Ultimate Talent is. It soon turns out he doesn’t have one and he is only on the Killing School Trip because he was a member of Hope’s Peak’s Reserve Course Department.
This is where his tragic backstory comes in along with lots more duality.
In reality, Hajime was a talentless student who was desperate for talent. This led to him agreeing to take part in the Izuru Kamakura project.
He was surgically implanted with every talent known to man, but at the cost of his emotions and memories.
He was reborn as Izura Kamakura. This alter ego is the one responsible for releasing Junko into the simulation. This makes Hajime indirectly to blame for everything that happens in the second game.
With the help of Makoto, he reconciles the past and leads the students of the second game to victory. He returns in later games as a protagonist.
2. Chiaki Nanami
“There’s more to life than just talent. That was something Instructor Chisa told me, but… Your life won’t be interesting just because you have a talent. By getting involved with others and making memories, hope, which is more important than talent, is born. I have fun playing with you… I think.”
Chiaki is the Ultimate Gamer and the primary heroine of Danganronpa 2.
As her talent would suggest she is a master gamer and a lover of all types of games. She is portrayed as laid back and sleepy.
She also comes across as socially awkward, so enraptured with her games that she struggles to socialize.
She soon becomes a major part of the trials and is the accidental culprit of Chapter 5 when she kills Nagito, accidentally.
In doing so she foils his plan to kill all the other students by confessing to the murder and forcing her own execution.
This is not quite as upsetting as you might first think. Chiaki is in fact an AI acting as Mole for the future foundation. She acts as an NPC within the Neo-World program meant to help protect the students during the experiment.
Towards the end of the game, she returns in fragments to urge Hajime and give him the hope he needs to succeed.
3. Nagito Kamaeda
“Hope is exclusively found on the side of the weak. The losing side.”
Nagito is essentially the crazy version of Makoto. Like Makoto, he is optimistic and believes in hope. He is also known as the Ultimate Lucky student after winning the raffle.
Unlike Makoto, Nagito has supernatural powers. He is continuously experiencing either extreme good or bad luck. This had led him to some great success but also came at great personal cost.
Although initially coming across as friendly and positive, if a little quiet. It is soon revealed that Nagito has more than a few screws loose.
He is truly obsessed with hope. He believes his fellow students are the chosen ones for bringing hope to the world. As such any despair or tragedy they face is just a “stepping stone” to their hopeful ending.
This turns him into an antagonist as he believes himself to be one of these “stepping stones”. This idea to him becoming the final murder victim in Danganronpa 2 as he tricks Chiala into killing him with a canister of poison gas. He would return in later Danganronpa media as a protagonist.
Danganronpa 3: Killing Harmony Characters
1. Kaede Akamatsu
Once we get out, we’ll all be friends”
Danganronpa V3 does a cool rug pull by killing off the initial protagonist at the end of Chapter 1.
Kaede acts as a false protagonist during Chapter 1 and is known as the Ultimate Pianist.
Kaeda is responsible for bringing all the students together, encouraging them to work together to escape the school and the killing game.
She attempts to kill the mastermind but tragically this appears to lead to Rantaro’s death. Kaede is then executed slowly and painfully for eight hours.
It is later revealed she never killed anyone and Rantaro’s death was just another one of the Mastermind’s machinations.
Like most V3 characters it is later shown that Kaeda may have a secret past. She may have actually been a talentless nobody who wanted to take part in the killing game so badly that she agreed to have her memories wiped in exchange for talent.
During a pre-game interview, she described herself as a nihilist with “no faith in humanity.”
2. Shuichi Saihara
“Some lies can lead the world to hope… Some truths can lead the world to despair… So I don’t think anyone can really say which is more right in the end”
Shuichi becomes the game’s main protagonist after Chapter 1.
He is known as the Ultimate Detective after solving a series of high-profile cases for his local police department.
However, Shuichi is plagued by self-doubt as he believes himself to be a fraud who only solves cases due to luck. However, he is spurred on by Kaede and soon takes on a leadership role during the trials.
Shuichi is ultimately responsible for defeating the killing game. Given a choice between either sacrificing 2 friends and taking part in the next killing game in the name of hope or staying in the current game but prolonging the sadness, Shuichi refuses to choose.
Instead, he convinces the audience to the game for good by forming a suicide pact.
He is ultimately spared however and allowed to live on.
It is revealed that pre-game Shuichi may have just been another killing game wannabe. An ordinary, if a slightly psychopathic boy who was obsessed with earlier killing game detectives and had concocted the “perfect murder”.
3. Maki Harukawa
“Leave me out of it.”
More duality and false identities here. After Kaede dies Maki soon becomes the primary heroine of V3. She is the Ultimate Child Caregiver.
This does not seem to fit with her cynical demeanor or the fact that she openly dislikes children!
Later she şs shown to be the Ultimate Assassin which makes much more sense. Her prior backstory is shown to be false and in fact, she was raised by assassins.
She becomes increasingly close to Shuichi throughout the game and is one of the games’ three survivors.
4. Tsumugi Shirogane
If you guys are willing to die to stop the killing game, I’ll die to continue it. Even if it’s just fiction, I gave my life to make it. I’ve given my life… to Danganronpa.
Tsmugi is the primary antagonist for V3. As is par for the course with Danganronpa she has two identities.
She is initially known as the Ultimate Cosplayer and a master seamstress. She is a huge anime fan who loves making cosplay outfits but refuses to wear them.
In truth, she is the mastermind of the game. She is responsible for Rantaro’s death in Chapter 1 and the framing of Kaede. Furthermore, she is working with team Danganronpa to help run the murder game as one of the producers.
Tsumugi represents the ultimate toxic fan. So obsessed with her favorite show she’ll go to any lengths to prolong its run.
The storyline of Danganronpa can be pretty out there and hard to follow. The series has many shocking twists, and characters are often killed off and brought back.
Adding to this sense of confusion is the series’ obsession with duality. As has hopefully become clear by now Danganronpa is a series where very few characters are who they initially appear to be.
Heroes turn to evil and villains become heroes and everyone seems to have a mysterious backstory.
Whilst a series of games repeatedly using the same tropes could become boring that never happens with the Danganronpa franchise.
The characters are so well written that each surprise and twist feels earnt. Nothing is done purely for shock value.
This is ultimately why the series has done so well and why fans keep coming back for more. Danganronpa keeps them on their toes.
We can’t wait to see what Danganronpa 4 characters the makers have come up with when the next game in the series launches in 2022.
In the meantime, if this article only whets your appetite and you can’t get enough Danganronpa, you can find more about Danganronpa all characters here.