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Review: Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony

670 Words

This review contains spoilers for the entire Danganronpa series, as well as the TV show Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks is a TV show that began airing in 1990, written by David Lynch and Mark Frost, about the murder of a young girl in a small town called Twin Peaks. It follows the story of FBI detective Dale Cooper as he attempts to unravel the mystery of who killed Laura Palmer by learning about her relationship with others in Twin Peaks and how they were affected by her death. Its uncanny style of storytelling, melodramatic characters and surreal humor led the show to acquire a sort of cult following some time after its release, not unlike Danganronpa.

The show never explicitly tells the viewer, but through clues scattered throughout hundreds of hours of material (including interviews with David Lynch himself) allow the sharp minded to deduce that Twin Peaks was never really about who killed Laura Palmer, unlike every other show airing at the time, but instead about the town, the people who lived there, and how the death of a young girl impacts them. Lynch very explicitly says in an interview that Laura’s murderer was never supposed to be revealed, and only was so due to pressure from viewers who wanted “closure” and ABC, the company that broadcast the show. 1990s TV was infected with “murder of the week” shows, where every week a character would be created solely to suffer and die, and for the audience to be quickly rewarded with the reveal of who killed them. Lynch believed this phenomenon was undesirable, and thus Twin Peaks was created to balance it out, with a murder that was never supposed to be solved.

Like every other murder mystery in the past 20 years, Danganronpa V3 is not afraid to show how it was influenced by Twin Peaks, especially after the ending. It is revealed to the cast that they’re characters in a TV show called “Danganronpa”, and the only reason for them to exist is to die for the pleasure of the audience, and of course this extends to the characters in the other 2 games as well. In the midst of this reveal is a bunch of jabs at the audience as if they’re just entitled crybabies who would have the game going forever, as seeing other people suffering is all that matters to them, with the main character at some point literally battling the audience for the right to end the killing game.

In the moment this works very well. It comes completely out of left field and the constant breaking of the 4th wall keeps the audience engaged through the clusterfuck that’s unraveling before their eyes. But at the same time, it feels incredibly self indulgent for a studio to make three entire games where high schoolers are forced to kill each other, just to at the very end throw a punch at the audience as if it’s wrong to enjoy this kind of entertainment. I don’t have an issue with this belief, and is certainly a position I can see being defended, but I don’t think it makes sense for it to be defended by the people who used this very tactic to make bucketloads of money off of this very premise. From my perspective, watching people kill each other for fun is certainly less reprehensible than making them do so in the first place.

This is a position similar to the one that led Twin Peaks to exist, but it seems to miss the entire point of the show it is taking influence from. Lynch doesn’t think fictional murder is bad, or that audiences are depraved for enjoying that kind of content, but rather that murder doesn’t always have to be the entire point. It’s a much less judgemental and subtle commentary on the subject, and it certainly didn’t need a literal fucking boss fight with a stand-in for the audience to deliver that message.

Miu is the best character ever written though. 10/10