Danganronpa : The significance of Despair

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When everything seems like the worst nightmare and your own reality becomes the epitome of it, in those times people have an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness, that nothing matters anymore and seems meaningless the perfect feeling of utter defeat, one would describe it as despair.

Yes, despair is one of the most dangerous feelings to the human being as they potentially become able to either do anything or let everything drop, yet this horrifying feeling everybody is trying to avoid is much more important and meaningful than you think.

And just as we are talking about hope and despair, the one and only anime that might be the perfect representation of the significance of despair can be no other than: Danganronpa! (specifically we will talk about season and game one) 

Let’s dive into the meaning of despair in today’s blogpost and find hope in hopelessness!

Where is light there is shadow

As there can’t be any winning without losing and also no light without darkness, just like that there can be no hope without despair.

And in those times where one despairs the most, when the slight relief of a tragedy and chaos lifts even the slightest bit then what follows is the automatic response, like the other side of the same coin: hope.

If you are only used to hope there is no way you might appreciate the feeling of being hopeful or hoping for something general since the darkest feeling you can have is despair and if that is missing the sudden worth of hope becomes nothing compared.

Seeing how this applies to our cast in Danganronpa, we see that those many talented Highschoolers each one specializing in something find themselves trapped in the most impossible situation: kill or get killed to escape the school grounds and find your own way back to your life.

But there is something more to it, since those students seem to have a perfect talent there is one among them who doesn’t seem to have one at all, Makoto Naegi, our protagonist.

Still the more interesting fact is that the principle of despair is not that simple as many think despair is something that suddenly arises, it’s actually a process of accumulation and factors as we see later on.

Yet if a prodigy talent who have seen success in their lives and maybe were even at the peak of it suddenly fears that they even lose their life?

What is it that makes you wonder, how could this happen in the first place?

Since humans tend to overlook the little shadow in their happy and saturated days it is even more surprising that the shadow that slowly grows and overshadows the light might let one forget that there still needs to be a little light to make it a shadow in the first place.

But in times of despair people do not see that it is a shadow but mistake it for complete darkness, which is simply incorrect.

Shadows exist because of light and light can be distinguished due to the shadow.

Contrasting each other, Hope and Despair can only fully shine because they both exist.

Just like Makoto Naegi seems so plain because there are other people who are much more talented than him, yet when he is the one proposing to not give up it’s his time to mend things together.

As the others suddenly feel that their sudden wonderful lives according to their own memories which they took for granted were taken away from them, this new feeling which they may have forgotten about seemed so strange to them.

One who never experienced despair to that extent and suddenly gets overpowered with it will not react with a sound mind as Naegi did.

Since what Naegi is doing, he feels the certain weight of despair and does acknowledge it yet he forces it back with his hope to overcome it which both only can exist in that context.

Hope is there because it is created when one seeks to escape from despair, and despair is created when the indulgence of hope makes you careless to your surroundings.

Because someone who doesn’t despair has no feeling of fear or losing something precious since that feeling of becoming hopeless that restricts oneself to act according to certain rules or goals, makes others go insane just like Junko causing them to not care at all what the aftermath brings.

It makes one overthink their actions, the consequences and possible mistakes that were made so in the future to not ever encounter an imbalance of despair and hope, the mind is forced to acknowledge both of them.


@datcravat instagram

Despair indulgence, we already mentioned before that despair is not something that is gained simply by just popping up but rather is a process that accumulates through many factors.

And those factors we see where?

Right, when the cast decides to simply go against Monokuma and doesn’t care if they need a bit longer to find the way out, the first factor starts as one of the students gets killed by Monokuma right in front of them.

What is the aftermath?

Fear and the knowledge that the so-called hope of making it out themselves is vanishing right in front of their eyes.

It doesn’t stay with simply little threats and time amplifying this horrible feeling of being forced to either die or kill, get caught and then die due to a class trial.

No, the more the students have the feeling they have lost precious and important memories and that there is a lack of something missing in this whole scenario Monokuma doesn’t hold back to send them videos, letters and many kind of other evidence with ambiguous meaning about what could have happened to their loved ones.

The uncertainty to make it out one day, of getting killed, of having no one to return to or because of one’s own incompetence of not making it out grows steadily and steadily until one decides to indulge in this feeling of absolute despair.

This ultimate form that some just want to avoid but one certain person is seeking for: Enoshima Junko, the Ultimate despair.

Unlike everyone else it’s her way to get her adrenaline kick and feel almost euphoric being able to have no hope anymore and knowing ah this is meaningless, there is no way out.

But it’s a dangerous feeling for everyone else, especially if this feeling is utterly new and has never been experienced before.

Overcoming an indulgent phase of despair can take away the fear of not being able to overcome it at all, which is something that despair leads to what’s the point anymore? It won’t change anyway.

Having overcome despair once and being in a normal state of mind as one can use it under usual circumstances despair can lead to a high-tolerance of stress over time if it has been avoided or overcome several times.

The feeling of: there is nothing I can do, this is the end.

Can become something that gives birth to something new as: it seems pointless right now, but for sure this isn’t the first time so it will change somehow.

Indulgence in despair is also shown in the series when the last students had seen the world outside and there is either staying cooped up in school and being safe or dying outside due to the despair leaking outside.

No way out no matter how I look at it.

Indulging into despair may not be something good but having experienced it once makes one highly-tolerant and guarded to avoid it in the feature, which means it leads to working on oneself and their mental-state to never have to experience such a phase ever again.

Symbol of hope

While we have the Symbol of Peace Toshinori in Boku no Hero Academia, there is one Symbol of Hope in Danganronpa that may not look all heroic but is purely a hero and support at heart, Makoto Naegi whose Ultimate is for sure the Ultimate Hope.

While Makoto didn’t shine through the first episodes and even though he looked much more ordinary and plain next to his peers, the only time he could shine was in peril, it was in despair.

May it be Symbol of Peace or Hope, why is a symbol needed in the first place?

Because the counterpart exists, and it cannot shine if the counterpart is missing.

Being able to create dreams, chances and different realities in our mind like we know them is due to despair if we may admit it or not.

The hard and hopeless times that deprive us out of any current success or feeling of content makes us wonder what lies ahead, let us dream of a better future, of better chances and other possibilities that could lie out there.

Everything is just fading away, so let’s escape into a world of dreams.

And that’s where the Symbol of hope comes in.


Indeed maybe a quote that is often used for memes and fun, but truly something that is needed in perils of life.

“You are wrong”, those words that may seem so simple and unneeded are having a bigger effect in times of despair than in hope.

When someone who is viewed as someone optimistic or in Makoto’s case someone with no redeeming talent like his peers tells you those words it makes you overthink why in the first play you started this process of thoughts and indulgence into hopelessness.

They somehow reach you more, since all you think would be everything is already wrong so what is the one wrong thing you wanted to point out in the first place?

The Symbol of Hope can shine and do his best since there are people who despair and become lost in their own tragic train of delusions.

Because in every despair there is hope and in every hope there is a bittersweet despair that life will at some point not run the way you want it but you have experienced both to know, after every despair there will be hope again.

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