Tuesday, January 8, 2019

Parasyte -the maxim- review

“We've eased each other's boredom for quite a while... It's been quite fun.” 

- Ryuk (Death Note)

First post of 2019 will belong to a rewatch of this Madhouse series. Even though I have to attend uni and everyone else has to work hard in order to move forward in life at the same harsh pace like always, let's try to make this year more fruitful than the ones that came before it, eh?

寄生獣 セイの格率, Kiseijū Sei no Kakuritsu (2014), also known as Parasyte -the MAXIM- is a 24-episode long animated sci-fi thriller produced by the infamous Madhouse, known for their fantastic, high-quality anime adaptations of series such as Death Note, HunterxHunter, Hajime no Ippo, Akagi, etc. Parasyte is originally comic book created by Hitoshi Iwaaki and it ran as serialized work from 1989 to 1995. Because of this over two decade gap between the adaptation and the original work, the animated version is heavy on modernization; computers, cars, phones, types of clothing and so on have been made more digestible for the current generation's audience, however, Madhouse did a fantastic job at modernizing the series as it does not affect the series's writing quality negatively at all.

Truth be told, while this is not the type of series I would normally be writing about, as this blog is about gathering information about how detective fiction series handle different writing styles and of course I try to be both objectively and subjectively critical at series here so I have to focus on the type of genre that I am able to critisize, which is detective fiction, I still decided to post at least something about Parasyte -the maxim- as I did a rewatch on it.

Shinichi Izumi, 16, is a high school student with arachnophobia and glasses. One day as he lays in his bed, he gets attacked by what he assumes to be a snake which then moves into Shinichi's right arm, and, after a struggle, it suddenly disappears from inside the arm. Later, as he is living his daily school life, our main character realizes that his arm is not moving the way he wants it to - almost as if it has a will of its own. When the arm all of a sudden transforms into a mutant that has eyes and can split apart, the watcher of the show can then realize that Shinichi's right arm has been taken over by a what could be called an extraterrestial being that takes a form of its own while stuck to Shinichi as if it was a symbiote, a fused parasite. This parasite gets named and is then to be known as Migi, which translates into 'right arm.'

It is instantly noticeable from the very first few seconds of the first episode that the world is being invaded by these heartless, emotionless beings that arrive to try to take over the world both violently and psychologically. Migi tells Shinichi that he was about to take him over completely, but because he could not get into the brain because of Shinichi not allowing his entrance from the right arm, Migi had to take over the right arm only. What makes these supposed body invaders interesting is that, according to Migi, they specialize in cannibalism. The parasites that take over a dog only eat dogs, and just like so, parasites that take over humans only eat humans. Invading humans is their main goal because a parasite that ate a dog mentioned that he 'failed,' just like how Migi 'failed' because it only ate Shinichi's right arm.

The main story of Parasyte the Maxim deals with Shinichi and Migi collaborating in order to fight off other parasites that get much stronger and smarter by the minute. Cruel murders happen around the globe which is caused by the invaders and the humanity is starting to make their move against them with weapons. In the backgrounds the parasite kind that have taken over humans try to invade into politics, schools, etc. so that they can try and take over the world in a way that no one could ever guess.

Kiseijuu: Parasyte -the maxim- is a fascinating series. It is thriller and slightly action-oriented with a slice of romance. The romance aspects of the series could be much better but the writing style does tell the watcher and the reader that it's been done ~30 years ago, so the slight cringiness and the rare cliches that can be spotted while following the series through, might throw some people off a bit and stop their immersion on the series, however, Parasyte stands through the test of time extremely well all-in-all. Boosted with a neat soundtrack and consistent animation and artwork, Kiseijuu ends up being a gripping and entertaining tale that does not feel like it's a braindead series filled with repetitive and copy-pasted tropes used to garner specific audiences, which is sadly a thing that a ridicilous amount of anime these days tend to do.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Top five Hunter x Hunter chapters of 2018

https://dw9to29mmj727.cloudfront.net/products/1421517876.jpgHunter x Hunter (1998) is a stand-out from other action-adventure manga series in that it gives the readers variety arc after arc, concepts and styles of writing change. The current arc, the Kakin Succession War that leads up to the Dark Continent arc, deals with Kurapika as a main characters going up against multi-layered conflicts (ridicilously so), over hundred characters and complex decisions that move the story forward. It can be likened to a game of 4D chess that dozens of different sides are playing at the same time, without it feeling cheap as the plot does progress constantly. I don't think any other manga has actually done it quite like Togashi has, as the layered manner of the Succession War arc reminds me of something like Ace Attorney 6: Spirit of Justice, except times ten.

Mafia groups, Phantom Troupe, fourteen princes, their mothers, the King of Kakin, bodyguards, the Hunter Association, Kurapika... 

It is a testament to Togashi's great writing skills that he manages to not make this all feel overwhelming to a person that actually pays attention week after week.

Recently I've come to hear about many people complaining about the writing style of the series without actually seeing any real worthwhile complaints towards the series. I feel that the toxicity requires me to say something good in order to balance out the fandom's baseless hype and the haters' baseless toxic comments. Ah, HxH has also sadly been fated never to end because the author, Yoshihiro Togashi (known also for his Yu Yu Hakusho series) only creating one volume a year, and there has been a year recently when he did not create a single chapter. However 2018 is a great treat to the series's fans as Togashi actually created 20 chapters, so to volumes, this year! Just to celebrate I've went and re-read it all (though I remembered it all very well without having to do that), and next year we will (most likely) get our 400th Hunter x Hunter chapter. It is a great time to be HxH fan for sure, even if the heavily praised Hunter x Hunter 2011 anime series by Madhouse is not running anymore.
I've already posted my thoughts on Narutoforums's Hunter x Hunter section but I feel the need to post it in my blog as well.

Let's get to it: As we are now at the end of 2018 it is time to praise the greatest of manga chapters (tbh even in general this is my top FIVE) of 2018. Simply put a great year filled with tension and emotions from Yoshihiro Togashi and his Hunter x Hunter.

I want to also hear about what chapters and in which series were your favourites, please post in the comment section.


5th place. HxH chapter 377 "Scheme"
Nah bro. Just like with showing Ging all of a sudden, Togashi was throwing a massive plot twist on page 8 of this chapter like nothing (mangaka normally would use them as chapter cliffhangers) with Illumi on the ship as he joined the Spiders most likely to protect Kalluto from the killer clown, and he is fully ready to throw hands with Hisoka until one drops. Chapter begins by building up to the "Without You" moment and ends with the mob planning to take out the Spiders. "Now, Bring me Hisoka's head...!!!"

4th place. HxH chapter 387 "Return"
This chapter connects to chapters 383 and 385, taking place during the Banquet, revealing a cleverly kneaded hidden layer of the story that could not be understood until we finally see the entire event that lead up to the resurrection of Tserriednich through his own eyes as Tserriednich gains a new and overpowered ability with which he aims to conquer the World with.

3rd place. HxH chapter 371 "Mission"
"She shall live on shining brighter than in her life, Hui!"
Year kicks off with the Phantom Troupe, Kurapika's side about the phone call and a crazy plot twist at the end after prince Momoze's murder gets related to the true aim behind the Jar ceremony and the Succession War, and most importantly, it was truly a chapter with some real atmosphere to it. Amazing, I could really feel this chapter.


2nd place. HxH chapter 382 "Awakening"
"Farewell... Father...!"
Halkenburg's face-off with King Nasubi has been built up and it all finally explodes in chapter 382. This one deals with tension, Halkenburg arrives to kill the King, fails, attempts to kill himself, fails, and only to come out as an absolute Monster that is the most feared on the ship right this very moment. When 2019 comes? Halkenburg might sink them all.

1st place. HxH chapter 383 "Escape"
As Melody starts to play her flute, Kaccho and Fugetsu make their way to escape from the bloody Succession War with the help of Keeni... And I coulda swore I saw the Hands from Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood. It all ends with a fantastic showcase of what the main man YOSHIHIRO TOGASHI can pull off with his godly writing skills.


Monday, December 17, 2018

Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018) review

Release date for the English dub
"Do the impossible, see the invisible
Row! Row! Fight the power!
Touch the untouchable, break the unbreakable
Row! Row! Fight the power!"

- Libera me from Hell (Gurren Lagann)

While this is not the type of series I'd usually write a review about, as this blog is mainly for down-to-earth mystery series, I've been a huge fan of the shounen action/adventure Dragon Ball series most of my life along with couple other shounen series such as Bleach and Rave Master that I used to follow over a decade ago along with these detective fiction series such as the Poirot TV series. I just happened to decide for christmas and the new year to watch the Broly film subbed and then English dubbed again in January of 2019. Note also that the original Dragon Ball manga was created by Akira Toriyama, known for his beautiful artwork for the fantastic Dragon Quest game series.

Even though I don't have much to say about Super as a series (I heavily prefer the original DB and Z parts of the series and Super is sort of like GT to me), I did watch Super weekly for some of the entertaining fights such as Goku vs Kefla and Vegeta vs GoD Toppo, even the Goku Black arc, as well as the great discussions I've had with other Dragon Ball fans around the world on sites such as Narutoforums and YouTube, and when Dragon Ball Super: Broly was announced and claimed to include the infamous Legendary Super Saiyan in the canon storyline of the series, I've been really pumped up to learn more about it. Actually I had a feeling it was about Broly before it was revealed, and I'm a huge fan of the original Broly movies due to their manly, brutal action. The movie was spoiled by five different trailers that I've heard of many hated, however, DB is not a story-heavy series so I don't mind them; the trailers spoiling almost every plot point in the film did not make me not want to watch it in the slightest. So, in this post I will also be pointing out reasons for why you should watch the movie.

Broly introduced to the canon of Dragon Ball
Dragon Ball Super: Broly (2018) starts with a half an hour flashback, which is something really special to the Dragon Ball series because as I already mentioned; it's not a story-heavy series. It's always been about the action and the character development that comes with it. The flashback deals with the events of Frieza taking over his father's, King Cold's, army and taking over as the dictator of the Saiyan race that are known for their ability to conquer planets from a very young age by turning into Oozaru's, great apes of great power. In the flashback we get introduced mainly to Akira Toriyama's Dragon Ball Minus version of the original flashback that causes Goku to be sent to Earth from planet Vegeta.
The flashback introduces the watcher to Bardock and Gine who are Goku's parents. As Bardock smells death in the air from Frieza's spaceship suspiciously hanging around planet Vegeta despite Frieza's army not telling the Saiyan race anything about why, Gine and Bardock decide to send Goku to a planet with low power level where even their young son could stay alive. That is Earth. It's a neat moment also due to Bardock claiming that he wants to save his weak son because he's been a brutal monster up until that point. So he shows that in his last moments even the original saiyan's can have morals and show heart.
Around the same time, another Saiyan, Paragus, is notified by King Vegeta, father of Vegeta, that Paragus's son, Broly, is to be sent to a faraway planet with powerful monsters on it. King Vegeta with jealousy in his eyes tells Paragus that he should be happy that Broly wasn't getting executed by him despite the young boy being a 'monster' that in the future can become a threat to the Saiyan race. Paragus understands that King Vegeta is actually jealous that the young Broly has more potential than young Vegeta, as King Vegeta's son has to be the strongest of the Saiyan race. Paragus goes after the capsule that was to be sent to the deadly planet, but as he reaches the planet, his spaceship breaks down and him and Broly are left to stay there for many years, decades, to come until Frieza's army finds and recruits them during the present timeline of this Broly film.
The flashback plotlines happen at the same time as Frieza is planning to eradicate planet Vegeta and the ball of death that he uses to destroy the planet is shown once more in this movie along with a quick showcase of Bardock's last stand against Frieza. These three major plotlines are interesting as Dragon Ball doesn't normally do multiple storylines at the same time, and in the first 30 minutes of the film they are pulled off neatly. The flashback is what connects the four most important characters of this movie, Goku, Vegeta, Freeza and Broly, and make the fights feel more personal than they've felt since the Dragon Ball Z era.

The first time God form Vegeta is shown animated
As Frieza was resurrected by Whis, the Angel of Universe seven, at the end of the Tournament of Power arc of the Super TV series, Vegeta has become aware of the threat he poses to the Seventh Universe of the Dragon Ball multiverse (remember also that Frieza during ToP claimed that he will aim to rule above the childish but all-powerful Omni-kings of the multiverse, the Zen-Oh's). That is Vegeta's motivation to get stronger by training with Goku who wants to get stronger in order to be able to fairly challenge the other fighters in the other eleven universes. Up until the end of Super it was hinted that there is a person stronger than the Gods of Destruction in one of the Universes, then that person gets revealed the fans of the series might believe that we've seen the peak power that a mortal can have, and that it would peak somewhere between the strength of a God of Destruction and the almighty power of an Angel (like Whis or his sister). So that would mean that no one could challenge the ones above Angel level of power, such as the Grand Priest and the two Zen-Oh's. 
 Dragon Ball Super: Broly opens up new doors for what can realistically reach the levels of these higher and transcended power wielding characters by further pushing the concept of 'potential' that was brought up in Dragon Ball Z: Resurrection 'F.' As Frieza is able to quickly become a God Ki user in the matter of training for a few months and then being able to fight Goku and Vegeta in their Super Saiyan God Super Saiyan forms (short ver: SSJ Blue), Broly is also able to bring out power that rivals even the Gods of Destruction by quickly learning as he fights against strong opponents. Broly in the movie starts as a fairly powerful child, and later as his father and him get saved Broly is a very powerful young man, but not one that would be able to challenge the Z fighters at this point in the story. However, as the story quickly develops, Broly becomes a monster to be feared and as Broly keeps humiliating Frieza, Goku and Vegeta have to resort to their ultimate trump card in order to take him out.

Broly is frankly a breath of fresh air for the Dragon Ball series. The amount of effort to the artwork and animation that were put into the movie by Toei Animation's top dogs in the animation game really make the movie shine and feel lively - it is beautiful to look at. The movie is also more character focused than Battle of Gods and Revival of F, making great use of some of the lesser character such as Frieza's army's new characters and the flashback cast; there is a sense of synergy between characters and events. I feel that Frieza was written in a more menacing way than what he ever was in Super, it is a great step back to what he was like in Z.
The soundtrack is pretty decent, for example the moment in the flashback where Frieza destroys planet Vegeta has a great OST that I need a full version for, and especially the ending theme song of the movie, Blizzard by Daichi Miura, is fantastic, I've been listening to it nonstop for a while now. 

A man with anger issues
However, that does not mean that the movie doesn't have negatives to it. Mostly the biggest and most obvious one comes to mind: the fact that the fights go at a ridicilous pace, something many can easily see as a negative aspect of the film. We go through probably about a dozen different fights.

As an example of the far, far too quick pacing for the form versus form showcase battles in this movie, take a look at this:

Base Broly vs Base Vegeta
Base Broly vs SSJ Vegeta
Base Broly and rage Broly vs SSJG Vegeta
Rage Broly vs Base Goku
Rage Broly vs SSJ Goku
Rage Broly vs SSJG Goku
Rage Broly vs SSJB Goku
SSJ Broly vs Goku/Vegeta SSJB
SSJ Broly vs Frieza
SSJ Broly vs Whis
SSJ Broly vs SSJ Gogeta
SSJ FP Broly vs SSJB Gogeta

All of that happened within 30 minutes of the film, so nowhere near the amount of time Broly was shown battling individual opponents by brutally beating them up in the original films. This movie definitely was packed and required to be longer, but still would not be as good if it was split into two films due to the content itself not requiring that, just the fights in weaker forms should have been longer.
The Legends Were True
If this movie had been a full three-hour length film, it would not have any notable negatives to it. However, that's not something that the creators can decide as the movies have to have certain lengths to them. I'd say that if the movie ever gets animated the same way Battle of Gods and Revival of F did, definitely those are probably going to be watched for the writing of the characters while the movie can be watched for the animation and quick summary of the Broly arc.

All in all, Dragon Ball Super: Broly ended up being the most entertaining Dragon Ball movie in decades that is written in a different way from the original Broly trilogy, effectively giving the old fans of the franchise something new, and what we got, was great.

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy

"We even saw a whole new side to Luke and the professor. Truly, Raymond, it's a pity you weren't there to witness it."
- Desmond Sycamore [Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy]

Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy (2013) by Level-5 promises the series' fans a grand finale to end the journey of Hershel Layton with. Azran Legacy is the final game of the second trilogy of this popular puzzle-mystery and adventure point-and-click game series. Katrielle Layton is of course now a thing but this game basically wraps the series up in more ways than one, even the theme songs for this game can bring some nostalgia to the player, such as when visiting London and hearing the London theme once more.

Up until this point the told legends of the great Azran civilization which existed a million years ago have been spread throughout the Professor Layton series, specifically through the archaeological findings our professor makes at the end of the Last Specter, the Miracle Mask and even the Eternal Diva, which is a Layton movie that I should make a post about some day. All of the great findings Layton, Luke and Emmy have made have been created by the Azran, so the civilization's existence holds a very important part in the Layton universe, so much so that even the addition of an archaeologist who never appears in the story, Donald Rutledge, and his 'Ancient Histories' books which explain Rutledge's findings of the Azran in the game series, are an impressive addition to fleshing out the world of Professor Layton, as it shows that there're other impressive people who have accomplished much when it comes to being an archaeologist. 'Ancient Histories' depicts the ancient story of Azran more than anything else in the world according to our main character.
Now, since Azran Legacy is by far the longest game in the series, in more ways than one, so I have to consider writing this blog post in a more fitting way as well by splitting parts of this review up. Talking about fleshing the world out, the newspaper-related sidequests in this game give a nice sense of time progression and worldbuilding to the series as well. The sidequests really fit the theme of building a lively world that this game was going for.

As the name says, the game reveals the story of the Azran, and it's actually unlike any other Layton game ever created. The story kicks into high gear right off the bat as the antagonist organisation Targent makes their move toward getting their hands on the Azran's secrets, and the emissary of Azran is found. Targent take control of every piece of Azran area that have been found by Layton in the last two games and even the Layton movie 'the Eternal Diva.' The game from the very beginning to the very end feels like an ending chapter of the other Layton games; it's packed with content and action, which is the game's greatest strength and also its greatest weakness, as the pacing can be at times far too quick for its own good - especially at the end, as the game does not wrap up the best way it could when you consider how much potential there is for it to reach even further heights.

Azran Legacy thrives on its constant use of worldbuilding.
 Layton, Luke and Emmy meet up with many other archaeologists in this game, the curly-haired professor Desmond Sycamore being one of them. Desmond ends up becoming a main cast character in this game surprisingly as he helps Layton and co. travel around the world with his airship and trusty butler Raymond. Some of Desmond's back-and-forth with Layton that deal with different archaeological matters is nice to watch at times, as despite Layton being an archaeologist, he's never really had what you could call a 'rival' - although Desmond is no rival either, he's closest to it that Layton's had in his working career. Sycamore, Layton, Luke, Emmy and a new character named Aurora - a million-year-old girl from the Azran era, are the main characters of this story which takes the cast around the world in search for the five Azran eggs, or otherwise known as Aurora stones, which help Aurora to remember her past during Azran era. Once the five Aura stones have been collected together, the legends say the possesser of those stones can use them as a key to unlock what they call the Azran Legacy, a legendary thing that could bloom the humanity enter into a new era that has not been seen since the age of the Azran.

And as I mentioned earlier, the game's antagonist is a group familiar from the previous game called Targent, a somewhat violent and extremely powerful military organization run by an archaeologist known as Bronev. Targent are after Aurora and the Azran eggs as Layton and co. travel the world from a desert area to the icy Froenborg to the jungle where an unmapped village lie, and so on. 

The Azran Legacy had the ingredients to be like an early 2000's Disney film, as the vibe I got from the story of Azran was very similar to Atlantis: The Lost Empire, so it was building up to be an enjoyable story with neat presentation and ok characters, but man, the creators took these elements and created something special that was consistent and packed with great writing from the beginning to the end.
While Miracle Mask had the flashback part, where it split the story between Layton's past and present, be a new and fresh addition to the franchise that was completely different from the earlier games but still the rest of the game was pretty on and off, the Azran Legacy on the other hand is completely different from any other Layton game in its story structure.

Layton and Sycamore debating about ancient texts.
One of the best things about this game is that you have to constantly pay attention to the dialogue, there is rarely any fluff in the dialogue compared to the other Layton games. If you press the button  two times at a quick succession, you might have missed important plot points already. The amount of characters that the game deals with also has a part to play with that as the main cast in this game consists of five characters aside from the usual three, and each of the characters reveal something new about their backstory or play a heavy part in this game's storyline, especially Layton himself as this game's characters have heavy ties to him, that at the end reveal some pretty heavy plot twists about Layton. That ending part with the multiple revelations should have been dragged out three times longer, as it lacked feeling that was in, say, The Unwound Future. That isn't to say that this game does not offer powerful emotions, it certainly does, there's just a lot to go on as the pacing of the game is so fast when you count the amount of ideas it tackles.  

So - Azran Legacy's story is the direct build-up from the previous games of the trilogy and the movie. The game is more 'grand' in scale than any other Layton project so far as well. The archeological finds of Professor Hershel Layton's; the "Golden Garden" of the Last Specter, the "City of Harmony" of the Eternal Diva and finally the "Infinite Vault" of the Miracle Mask, are at the beginning of this game revealed to all belong to the Azran civilization from over a million years ago.

All in all, the Azran Legacy is closest to a 'great' Layton game that there has been. I personally like the Unwound Future the most, but when it comes to a well-written story and characters, this one is the best due to how well it can handle them all at the same time. If only the game`s pacing was not as quick, it could have been my favourite Layton game. The characters are written really well in Azran Legacy. Layton's intelligence doesn't shine as amazingly as in the past three games, but he's still getting some time to shine such as in chapter three.
The player gets to know Aurora and professor Sycamore alot in this game as they travel with Layton, Luke and Emmy. Layton and Luke get to meet their parents in this game again as they appear here and there, which is neat.
The story of the game plays out much different from any other Layton game. It's action packed, both character and story driven more than the earlier games as well. Aurora is an interesting element in the series from the standpoint that she's almost like a fantasy creature, an element of ultimate archeological find in a Layton game, a series where these huge things are usually revealed at the end of the story. Azran Legacy is a story that was built up from the huge events of the earlier story, and that makes it also feel much more grand, and make no mistake, the story really is "grand." Its scale is world-wide as Layton and co. get to adventure with Aurora, an Azran citizen from million years ago, as they go against Targent.

The soundtrack of the game is great however there are simply not enough tracks for how grand the game is. 

The Prologue

Icy town of Froenborg
The game starts with Luke reading a letter where it reads that a certain person claims to have found a real "living mummy." Professor Hershel Layton along with his assistants Emmy Altava and Luke Triton board a luxurious air balloon-ship known as Bostonius.

Raymond, the butler of a man named professor Desmond Sycamore, an archaeologist himself much like our main character, arrives inside to check professor Layton's identity for sure - with a puzzle, of course, before they leave off. The puzzle is simple: "find out the destination of where they're headed." Layton cracks it no problem and they head towards the snowy town of Froenborg through the air.

Emmy narrates that it would be a grand journey that would take them all across the world as well as the last adventure she would share with professor Layton.

Chapter 1: Frozen in Time

The group heads towards professor Sycamore to confirm the find of the living mummy. A girl named Prima tells them that suspicious looking soldiers have been gathering around the town of Froenborg recently. The suspicious men can be seen talking about "capturing the target." Prof. Sycamore is said to be investigating a cave north of Froenborg so the group decides to go get him from there before the shady characters get there. As the fate has it, the cave entrance is blocked by an unbreakable ice wall and the group has to figure out a way in.
Inside the cave Sycamore can be seen and the living mummy is inside there as well. Both Layton and Sycamore claim that this would be the greatest archeological find ever: A young girl inside an ice possibly older than a million years old sleeping inside some sort of cryogenic sleep; she's somehow alive...! As the ice is broken and the girl wakes up from her slumber, a man and a group of armed people arrive to take her. Layton and co. go on the aircraft and start a fast paced battle through the skies that lasts quite a while. It's unlike anything seen in professor Layton games so far. As you manage to catch up to the enemy ship containing the mystery girl, Layton and Luke decide to board it. As they get to the girl once more - the big boss appears. His name is Leon Bronev, an archaeologist. The chapter ends as Layton, Luke and the mystery girl jump out of the ship on a rope and fly to the ground at rather high impact, the girl drops from Layton's hands a little before they do.

Chapter 2: The Mysterious Girl
Fighting against Targent while flying in the air by Bostonius.

Professor Sycamore and Emmy land on their flying ship and arrive to where Luke and Layton landed. Sycamore explains that the forest is called Lake Kodh, named Siren Lake by the locals due to it supposedly holding malevolent spirits.
Town of Kodh. Professor Sycamore believes that the mysterious girl led the group to the town in order to lead them towards an Azran relic that she is looking for. The town is known for its heavy number of accidents - aircraft malfunctions, which could be caused by the Azran relic hidden somewhere in the town.
As the soldiers arrive at the town and Layton's group spy on them in secret, professor Sycamore explains that the soldier men of the villains belong to a group named Targent, bent on unlocking the power of Azran, so they have to find the girl before Targent does. A local fisherman claims that a girl is walking on water and with a puzzle you can get to her in the same way by walking across ice cubes. In the middle of the lake the girl opens up a waterfall in the middle of the lake and it shows the ruins of Azran.

The girl calls herself Aurora, an emissary of the Azran. Her mission is to pass on the Azran Legacy to 'pure people,' but after saying that her demeanor changes and she can't remember anything about what she had said. After solving a puzzle in the Azran Chamber, Layton and Sycamore decide that they are to find the five keys that exist around the world - Aurora calls them the Aura Stones capable of storing the power of Azran. After getting to the ship sneakily with Aurora, as professor Sycamore had fixed the engine of the aircraft by then, the group head onwards to try and get the Azran keys/Aura Stones. Time to continue the journey around the world - starting with London, the place where Hershel now lives and works at the university of Gressenheller.

Chapter 3: A Day Out in London 

A few days later. In the HQ of Scotland Yard's (the famous police force of London) archives. We see inspector Grosky (from the earlier two games) talk with Carmichael, his superior, about Targent. We learn that they are a paramilityary organization that is active in all parts of the world, with moles everywhere from politicians to the police force. Even though their criminal activities are open to the police, their motives are not. To catch Targent, Chief Carmichael asks inspector Grosky to unearth the mole of Targent inside Scotland Yard.
As Grosky does his thing in S.Y., we head onto Layton's residence. Emmy, Layton and professor Sycamore talk about five places around the world where they can find the Azran stones as Luke and Aurora talk about shopping places around London, for necessary items such as tea will be required on the adventure when the group tries to get their hands on the Azran stones.

Outside, Layton and Emmy spot Dean Delmona, Layton's boss, as well as inspector Grosky who is hurrying around, apparently on a case. As Grosky can't solve many cases without Layton's help, Emmy pushes Layton to go and help the inspector.

One cool part in this chapter is that we can meet Brenda Triton, Luke's mother, in London as well. After solving a puzzle from her, Luke notices that Aurora has disappeared, gone towards the museum.

At the museum, inspector Grosky runs at Layton, but instead of trying to ask for help, he just runs away. This act of top-secret confidentiality makes Layton question the situation. Aurora can be easily found as well near the museum. Aurora wants to go in the building, but there's a "special closure." The guarding policeman tells Layton and Aurora that there has been a robbery as the police investigation is going on.

As the group can't enter the museum at this point in time, Emmy decides that it would be better to go to a fashion shop and get Aurora new clothes as people keep pointing out her 'rags,' so she stands out a bit.

After getting Aurora normal school girl's clothes (no skirt though), the group decides that it would be time to go back to Bostonius where professor Sycamore is waiting, though after Layton sees Grosky, they decide to go after him.

Grosky is in a sticky situation as the antagonist criminal organization Targent had sent hitmen after his life. Emmy saves Grosky from getting his head shot by one of the hitmen, but even after that, the inspector is not willing to share the information about his top-secret case.

London Aerodome is where the flying ship Bostonius is located at. Layton and co. go to Sycamore and explain Grosky's situation to him. This adds a neat sidestory to the plot, where you can't just linearly go to get the Azran stones.
Sycamore tells Layton that uniformed men, likely Targent's, have been showing up around all Azran sites around the world, and Layton tells him that the police are after Targent. It's an information swapping moment.

Wild wild west town in the desert
Grosky again, while outside, runs away. But there is also a new character, Amelie, Grosky's sister who is going on a honeymoon trip around the world with her husband. And by the way, her husband happens to be inspector Chelmey from the first games..! In Scotland Yard, Layton meets up with Detective Bloom, a higher ranking officer who tells Layton that the office of Scotland Yard is in a bad shape. Layton gets a permission to enter the archives from Bloom.

Because Targent is after Azran artifacts, Layton asks Luke and Emmy to find clues about any thefts of that nature in the archives.

The museum appears to have been attacked by thieves five times in the past year. Professor Sycamore asks the group to just go and see what's up in the museum themselves. At the closed-up museum, Clark Triton can be seen. Luke's father tells Layton and Luke that he's investigating certain things so he has authority to let them also go in the museum. Clark is investigating the stolen-but-now-found ancient remains of a stone tablet. Layton confirms that nearly all the pieces of the ancient remains are fake.

At this point there's an active puzzle, known from the past two games as well. This time it's very different feeling though as it has three archaeologists talking about the archaeological thefts, the culprits, and the mole of Scotland Yard. Layton, Clark and Sycamore come to a certain conclusion that the person who was capable of retrieving the stolen artefacts must be a high-ranking office.

At the Scotland Yard's HQ, the person who could steal the artefact, the person who had the authority to manipulate the police work... That person could obviously only be inspector Bloom. Layton and Bloom get into a short but impressive battle of wots that Layton easily wins by cornering Bloom to 'not do a certain type of reaction' to what Layton asks of Bloom.

It's been a very long and diverse chapter up to the end. Now that the 'Scotland Yard mole case' is over, Layton and co. can finally start their "lenghty and tiring journey" around the world. But before that journey, Lucille and Roland, Layton's parents whom we met in the last game (Miracle Mask), appear to say bye to him. Moments like that are very neat in stories where we flesh out the cast. Professor Sycamore tells that he had called Layton's parents; actually he knows of them and owes a debt to them.

Chapter 4: The Hunt for the Eggs

~This chapter is extremely long in the game due to how much you can adventure around the world.

The Jungle
The adventure on the Bostonius begins with choices. The player can choose where to go in the World. There are eight whole places from the icy Froenborg and London all the way to a Jungle or a Desert.

In this chapter you can deal with the problems in all of the places around the world. Some of the side quests have to do with a newspaper's mentions of odd sightings and events that are going on around the world, and Layton's squad can go to see what's up.

The Jungle
arc begins here. In the jungle there's a village named Phong Gi, made up of mushroom shaped buildings, the population also has mushroom shaped hair. The area around is something you expect to see in a Tarzan movie with a hollow tree forming a bridge and so on, it's just beautiful. The village has a festival contest where they try to make the village chief laugh, but with bad success rate. The chief happens to be carrying one of the Azran eggs as well. I just love how exotic everything is in this 'arc.'
As Layton with a duck face, Luke with a red reindeer's nose and Desmond Sycamore with a bland joke could not make the chief of the village, Morel, crack a smile, the group decides to go get intel from the village on what could help them make a man laugh. Button, the Chief's granddaughter gives some intel and the squad head over to the forest, then the Chief's apartment to ask his wife Lepidella why the chief has gone from being a laughter into never smiling. As Layton figures out from Lepidella's words what the root problem is, they still need to figure out how to deal with the Chief, so Layton needs certain things, such as glue from a snail or a crystal from a cave behind a waterfall, to build an item. Glasses for the chief, that is.
The Jungle arc ends up with Aurora telling that the Azran themselves created an Oasis in a desert, the Oasis being the jungle. Layton confirms how impressive it is that the Azran could affect life itself.

The Island arc, otherwise known as a tropical sun-kissed island, starts off with Sycamore, Layton, Aurora, Luke and Emmy arriving at the island with a beautiful beach.
This takes place in London actually
After learning that there is an aura stone somewhere in the town that's on the island, the group decides to check the place out, only to find... Thousands upon thousands of egg-like things. These are named popoños, and they're a tourist attraction on the island that are hot on the sale. The town with gondola's is known as San Grio. It has a river floating through it.
Layton's squad learns that the one true popoño, meaning the Azran egg, gets passed around the people in the town of San Grio. No one just knows where it is or who got it, there's a harmony code-type of thing that Layton has to learn in order to understand who got the egg. Girls pass the egg to boys, and so on. After tracking the egg down for a while, as it had gone from one person to another, the group heads to the marketplace and an active puzzle starts where you have to figure out how the egg gets passed on, the patterns between who passes the egg onto what kind of person has to be figured out.
After figuring out the true owner of the popoño, the player can truly understand what the person named Bud meant when he talked about circle of harmony.
And that concludes the Island arc.

After the Azran stone is found, we learn that Sycamore's assistant Raymond seems to be keeping a close eye on them and Aurora gains new memories which she had lost.

The Desert arc
brings Layton and co. into the red desert. As Aurora only senses a faint presence of the Azran egg, Layton explains that they have a long journey ahead of them and that they should go to the nearby Torrido town to gain intel on Azran ruins that might exist nearby.

Contrary to the places before, the wild wild west-styled Torrido town is hostile towards outsiders, however they also have a bigger problem; a massive 'mighty wolf' called Old Red tends to attack the town every now and then and keep the citizen panicking. The wolf started coming down to Torrido about three weeks prior and it happens to be carrying an egg with it.
The sheriff of the town gives the squad a fair warning but they won't back down, so the group decides to head to an old abaned mine nearby which is the den of Old Red. As they find the beast, Luke tries to talk to it. Old Red tells Luke that because he doesn't have much longer to live, he's been going to Torrido because he wanted to meet a girl who once saved him. That girl also gave the Azran stone to Old Red, so he won't be parting with it until he can give it back to the girl.
Layton and co. find a girl named Scarlett who wears a red scarf as Old Red told them that the girl who saved him wore one, however, Scarlett was not the one. As leads begin to die out, Scarlett tells them that they should meet up with her grandmother who knows everyone in Torrido. After seeing an old photograph, Layton deduces that the old lady, Ruby, is the girl who had saved Old Red.
After meeting Ruby, Old Red gived her the Azran stone, and Ruby gives it to Layton.

The Desert arc ends with Layton and co. arriving at the ship once again. Aurora regains more memories from the stone, partially only, though, as the Desert used to be a wasteland even in the times of Azran.

Next up, the Hillside arc which references the famous love story Romeo and Juliet. The place is 'a rustic idyll known for its strong winds.'
Newspaper article talking about Froenborg
The farming village of Hoogland with its windmills exists in the windy area surrounded by mountains. Hoogland has a wedding going on and Emmy plans on taking a photo or two of the bride, however a small tornado attacks the town. After the storm passes, the group heads towards the ceremonial stage which is a chapel uphill.
Romilda is the bride who is heading inside a chapel door, but the wedding is not what Layton expected. Romilda walked inside the building as "Dragonlord's bride." Becoming the Dragonlord's bride means to sacrifice oneself and blow through the wind as a soul, in order to calm the storms around the area, and as Sycamore best puts it, "that is no chapel, that's a prison." And as Aurora senses; inside the prison, an Aura stone exists.
To get inside the prison chapel and save Romilda, the group needs to ask around town for more information as always.

Romilda was about to be engaged to a man named Julien, however, due to the superstition about fear towards the Dragonlord, Romilda chose that it would be better to sacrifice herself by becoming the bride to the Dragonlord.
The town has a superstition that the bride of the Dragonlord who gets locked in the chapel turns into wind because always after the chapel door gets opened later on, only the wedding dress can be found inside.
Beatrix, one of the women in town, tells them that she's been bringing change of clothes to women that have been locked in the chapel for generations; so that the women can escape the town unseen through the tunnels. Layton and co. ask Julien for help in order to get Romilda out of the chapel, because she truly believes that she's calming down the wrath of the Dragonlord by dying in the chapel.
As the group along with Julien makes their way through the tunnels to Romilda, they spot her at a dragon statue.. Created by the Azran. Romilda reveals that her ultimate plan is to die in the chapel and leave the body for everyone to see; to show that the Dragonlord does not care about the brides' life and no one ever actually turned into wind.
Layton decides that it's for the best that they put an end to the Dragonlord's 'wrath,' and to do that, they have to solve the Azran puzzle in the chapel. After solving the puzzle, the mechanical Dragon opens its mouth and showcases an Azran egg, which Aurora takes.

As peace and harmony has returned to Hoogland, the group returns to Bostonius. Aurora tells Layton that she had remembered more of her Azran past, not much, but little things about the ancient civilization also utilizing special aircrafts.

The walled city arc deals with a legend of a Phoenix. The Walled City of Mosinnia is filled with quiet streets and deserted houses. Layton's group runs into a young man named Umid who tells them that every 'grown-up' in the city has fallen into a coma, Umid's mother included, and it's been that way for a whole week.
Umid tells them about the legend of the phoenix that could cure any illness, so he wishes to find the phoenix in order to save his mother.
Tropical Island

The group gains a lead about a Phoenix's nest that exists outside of the city, and they decide to go and check it out. On a hill that exists in a creepy forest Layton and co. finds a large hawk named Adler. Luke translates its words to get lead towards finding the even larger Phoenix.
One of the other city kids' grandmother takes care of a temple in north. Although she's sleeping like the other adults, she mutters hints towards the truth: "wake the phoenix, solve the mural."
After solving a mural in the temple the group decides to go to the city centre to the clock tower where a wall has opened to reveal Azran writing which Aurora translates. Afterwards they head to the forest towards a 'gate' to figure out the identity of the legendary Phoenix.
After solving the puzzle on the gate, an Azran door opens up to flood the city's river with water. The Phoenix is the form of the river inside the city itself, and one of the hills inside the city opens up a road beneath into an Azran library.
Layton creates a remedy to wake up the adults, and the story ends with the temple Keeper lady awards the group with an Azran egg that they could not pinpoint anywhere.

Aurora remembers that there was a legend of a firebird during Azran era as well and the arc closes up.

Now, after finding all of the five Azran stones, the player can gather them all together at the same time for Aurora to try and remember everything, however, there are also puzzles left to do around the world, and the World Times' mysteries.
What are these W.T.'s mysteries, you ask? In Azran Legacy there is a journalist who also travels around the world to do articles about the mysterious events that take place in every area. The player can read these articles and try to go and figure out what exactly is going on. These news-related sidequests really help to deepen the worldbuilding of the Layton world, I really like that they exist. Azran Legacy as a Layton game is definitely more story- than puzzle-heavy, which is surprising.
I will put a few examples of World Times's sidestories that you can learn more about:

In the town of Froenborg there's a problem with a snowman that can be quickly figured out spoiler; it's just a publicity stunt.
In Kodh there are rumours about a monster, there's a Loch Ness monster kind of deal going on, spoiler; it's just a giant eel that looks bigger on a photo.

And many, many more that you can solve during chapter 4, after you have gathered all of the Azran eggs.

The fourth chapter closes up when the player is ready to gather them all together to Aurora.

The five stones are gathered but it is revealed that that one of them has been swapped with a fake somehow. Layton assumes it's Targent's doing, and the reason why they left the four others is because they are guiding Layton somewhere.

Chapter 5: Into the Nest
Layton's parents.

Layton and co. decide to return to the Azran dome which they found below Lake Kodh where Aurora's power of sensing the stone's is at its greatest. Aurora senses that the stolen Aura stone is in Targent's HQ, so Layton and co. should prepare to head there by finishing off the remaining puzzles around the world before they go.

The Nest, the base of Targent which our main characters infiltrated, is a city-like area with a small military base. In the city, Targent is after an injured man, an Azran researcher named mr. Mackintosh, and trying to prevent him from leaving the area. Layton, Sycamore, Luke and Emmy decide to help the man, but he ends up disappearing from their sight. The group infiltrates the base even deeper in search for Mackintosh until they eventually meet after couple of puzzles. Mackintosh tells them that he was planning on hijacking the main ship and pleads that the Targent should return to being what it used to be, and then he falls down. The group carries the man into Bostoniu unseen where Sycamore's butler Raymond heals him.

The squad decides to head back into the Nest, to meet the Targent's leader Bronev who apparently has twisted Targent to become a violent organization from something completely different. Bronev resides in a skyscraper named the Obsidian Tower. Inside the building there's an Azran stone that mentions the five Aura stones which makes Layton question why Bronev is luring them to the headquarters by only stealing one stone from them.
Layton and co. take the elevator upwards. On the way professor Sycamore says something interesting about how Targent has given more than enough reason for him to resent them.
On the upper floor there's another Azran stone mentioning about a "last legacy," which seems to be the ultimate goal of Bronev.
The journey in this building is very calm for being a villainous place. Layton solves another puzzle or two and reaches the top floor. From this point on, when you enter Bronev's room, the player cannot do any adventures until they complete the main story.

When meeting Bronev, he decides to offer Layton a place in Targent. Layton cleverly declines. Bronev offers a coin game, whoever wins, gets the Azran egg, which Layton agrees to do. After winning the coin game, Bronev decides to threaten Layton by hurting his parents, but as Layton still declines, Bronev gives him the final Aura stone back. Aurora begins to summon the power of Azran through the five eggs at the Targent HQ. As the eggs have been powered up, they transform into five different shapes in order to form an Azran master key. As Aurora remembers her memories, she runs to the edge of the skyscraper thinking of taking her own life. Aurora gives the key to professor Sycamore for safekeeping, but the man starts to laugh like a maniac and reveals that he was Descole, an antagonist from the earlier two games, all along. Quite a shocking truth because Layton and the squad has been traveling with Sycamore the whole game, getting to know him..! As Descole tries to get back to the Bostonius, professor Layton creates a flying pad that he uses to get to Descole.

At the end of chapter 5, there's a swordfight with Descole where he reveals that the Azran Legacy is all he has left. His butler Raymond pilots a small flying...machine and picks Descole up while leaving the Bostonius for Layton. Layton's group deduces that they must be heading towards the icy town of Froenborg with the Azran Key, so that is also Layton's destination.

Chapter 6: The Azran Sanctuary

Everyone in the icy town of Froenborg is evacuation due to an avalanche alert created by the Azran sanctuary awakening. Inside the cave of Froenborg, Descole stands. As he's about to solve the final Azran puzzle, Bronev appears with gunmen and steals the key from Descole. Aurora tells Bronev and his Targent men that he should not do anything as Azran Legacy has the power to destroy the world. An Azran defense mechanism starts to activate - the same mechanism as in Hoogland, the one that steals weapons from the enemies. As Luke steals the key and throws it to Layton, something surprising happens... As Emmy starts to threaten Layton by hurting Luke, saying that she's been working for Targent since the very beginning, for all this time she's been 'Professor Layton's assistant,' she's been watching over Layton's every move.

As Bronev leaves for the final puzzle along with the Azran key, Luke, Emmy and Aurora, Layton and Descole are left behind. They set their differences aside for now, in order to stop Bronev.
Luke is easy to find, as he reveals that Emmy left him behind on purpose due to her good intentions despite being part of Targent. She reveals that Bronev is her non blood-related uncle who has been taking care of her ever since she was little, although now Bronev seems to have been taken over by madness, the want to discover the 'great' Azran Legacy.

Puzzle after puzzle gets solved to get deeper into the sanctuary, Descole protects Luke from a trap. As Descole rests injured in Layton's arms, he reveals couple of massive plot twists. Descole and Hershel Layton are brothers. Their father was an archaeologist obsessed with Azran, and they were taken by Targent. Descole reveals that his enemy was the Azran, and Targent, for ruining their lives. Their mother died years ago, and their father... Is the antagonist Leon Bronev. The biggest twist of all is that Hershel Layton is not Layton's name, it's Descole's...

Finale: The Azran Legacy

The story of Professor Layton closes up with a grand finale. Emmy, Bronev and Aurora stand at a puzzle. As Emmy is about to go and risk her life doing it, Layton tells her to stop and decides to solve the life-threatening puzzle himself.

Bronev believes that the Azran Legacy will bring a bloom to human civilization, while Layton says that it will bring destruction instead. The Azran Legacy requires Bronev to pierce through Aurora's heart, and so he does, because he's spent years

The Azran Sanctuary is revealed to be a flying vehicle which summons machinery that will destroy the humanity. Aurora walks out and tells that 'humanity will suffer the same fate as the Azran.'

Aurora reveals that the Azran used to thrive due to being masters of technology, however in time the Azran began to view themselves as gods and created artificial beings that would do the tasks that normal humans would do. These golems were fully sentient beings, and so the golems wanted to be freed from the hands of the Azran. The golems, Azran's own creations were the ones that destroyed the great Azran civilization. And the golems are the ones that were revived through Bronev's actions, to destroy the world.
The chrysm inside the middle of the sanctuary lets out a light on five pedestials. Aurora tells that to stop the lights, people have to step on the pedestials at the same time- however there's a catch - the lights will kill whoever goes into them. Luke, Descole, Layton, Bronev and Emmy decide to risk their lives. As they do, the light of the chrysm takes their lives but Aurora decides to use the Azran hourglass in the middle of the Sanctuary to turn back time for them.

The story ends with Aurora's purpose as Azran emissary being finished and her disappearing along with the flying Azran Sanctuary. Descole escapes toward other adventures along with his butler, Bronev gets handcuffed and taken away by inspector Grosky and Emmy leaves as she stops being Layton's assistant, leaving that role for Luke.

The end of the finale loops back to the first game in the franchise, the Curious Village, as Luke and Layton travel on the Laytonmobile to solve the mystery of the curious village.

Professor Layton    / END

Emmy starting off her own journey.

Despite the far too quick pacing for wrapping up the plotlines at the end, Azran Legacy ended up being the magnum opus of the Professor Layton game series due to the handling of multiple characters at the same time, the ability to layer the story more than ever before along with some really great worldbuilding. I was feeling this game a lot due to the substance it had, more than the emotional moments. I can see why as a 'Layton game,' many would choose the Unwound Future as the peak of the series, however, this was so different in the structure of the storyline that it's remarkable. As I mentioned in the beginning of this post, it was like every chapter from the very beginning to the end was a final chapter from the earlier Layton games, and that, along with the heavy build-up towards Azran from the earlier games&the Eternal Diva movie and the amazing style of worldbuilding through adventuring and learning of other characters such as Ancient Histories created by a famous professor known as Donald Rutledge (whom we never actually meet), were what made this game so grand.

First trilogy

Professor Layton and the Curious Village
Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box
Professor Layton and the Unwound Future

Second trilogy

Professor Layton and the Last Specter
Professor Layton and the  Miracle Mask
Professor Layton and the Azran Legacy 

Other games 

Professor Layton vs Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney
Layton's Mystery Journey: Katrielle and the Millionaire's conspiracy

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc

"Mystery is the antagonist of truth. It is a fog of human invention, that obscures the truth, and represents it in distortion."
- Thomas Paine 

Makoto Naegi is a boy who calls himself the most average guy that a guy can get, but yet, despite all this he has gotten an invitation letter to get into the greatest academy around the block that guarantees sure success in life after you graduate; The Hope's Peak Academy. The weird part of Makoto getting and invitation is that every other person in there is said to be "the absolute best/ultimate" at something (very similar to Kubikiri Cycle, probably some kind of popular japanese writing trope to garner interest by overblowing everything) - modelling, being a bike-gang leader, literature writing, you name it... As Makoto heads inside the academy to investigate as no one is around, he loses focus and everything goes black. As he wakes up in a class room with windows bolted tight with thick steel plates, he finds a paper saying that "from this point on, this academy will be your life."

For this review we'll be looking at Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, the first installment in the Danganronpa investigation-mystery game series. It was created by Spike Co. Ltd in 2010 for the handheld PSP console. The genre cocktail of the game is very similar to the story Ripper (1994) by Michael Slade; it's a mix of the slasher sub-genre and the murder mystery genre, inspired by series such as Saw and a couple popular golden age detective fiction series. Half of the gameplay happens while moving in 3D, where the player is looking for clues, while the story plays and moves forward in the visual novel format. It's very similar to the Kyle Hyde game series in it's investigative format and the Ace Attorney game series in everything else.

Aside from Makoto, in the Hope's Peak Academy there are 14 others that appear at first and they all claim to have lost consciousness during entering the academy as well, and they had gotten their phones taken from them as well. Every one of the other students have overly quirky personalities, weird designs and an "ultimate" trait to them to make them stand out. Most of them are not that well realized as real characters though.

Kiyotaka Ishimaru a crazy "class rep"-type of guy who follows the rules absolutely.
Toko Fukawa, a girl who wrote a novel when she was 10 years old and got everyone to speak of her. she's said to have written masterpieces; literary works that reach top-seller lists. As a character she's quick to jump to conclusions and gets very angry about what she thinks people think of her.
Sayaka Maizono, the ultimate pop sensation and a lead singer of a band.
Leon Kuwata, the "ultimate baseball star" who has never gone to a single practise and hates baseball. He's the type that dyes his hair to show off and
Hifumi Yamada, the "ultimate fanfic creator" is a fat guy who believes that he's unappreciated in this time due to his hobby not being appreciated.
Aoi Asahina, "ultimate swimming pro" is a tanned easy-going girl.
Chihiro Fujisaki, the "ultimate programmer" is a girl who apologizes easily.
Kyoko Kirigiri, a girl who's not willing to talk about her specialities.
Junko Enoshima, "ultimate fashionista" a girl who's not a pretty as in her photoshopped cover pictures on magazines.
Mondo Owada, the "ultimate biker gang leader," a man with your usual biker gang member looks, the large-sized pompadour.
Sakura Ogami, "ultimate martial artist" is a person who looks like an ogre with scars on her - she IS female, yes, surprisingly.
Byakuya Togami, "ultimate affluent progeny," a boy that is the heir to his family's large conglomerate. He doesn't think of our main character to be on his level.
Yauhiro Hagakure, the "ultimate clairvoyant." A guy with a messy hair. He's 21.
Celestia Ludenberg, the  "ultimate gambler." Also known as Celeste, a gothic lolita clothes-lover who has never lost a bet. She's known as the ultimate liar.

The entrance ceremony is to happen at the gymnasium. A teddy colored black and white with a large belly button named Monokuma calls himself the school's headmaster. The bear just happens to be the type of person who wants to see people despair. He pushes the students to try and commit violent acts on others, even as far as to try and give them motives. And here's the thing: there is no ending to this school-life. The students will have to live their communal lives until the day they die. However there is a "graduation clause" which allows a person to leave - "you must kill somebody if you want to leave." The hope's peak academy is about despair to Monokuma, but, is someone remote-controlling the bear?

School regulation list:
Regulation one: Students may reside only within the school. Leaving campus is an unacceptable use of time.
Regulation two: "Nighttime" is from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Some areas are off-limits at night, so please exercise caution.
Regulation three: Sleeping anywhere other than the dormitory will be seen as sleeping in class and punished accordingly.
Regulation four: With minimal restrictions, you are free to explore Hope's Peak Academy at your discretion.
Regulation five: Violence against Headmaster Monokuma is strictly prohibited, as is destruction of surveillance cameras.
Regulation six: Anyone who kills a fellow student and becomes "blackened" will graduate, unless they are discovered.
Regulation seven: Additional school regulations may be added as necessary.

The school has rules, and if you try to break them, there will be dire consequences... For example as Mondo Owada tried to hurt Monokuma, the bear exploded.

In the dormitory part of the academy every one of the 15 students have a room assigned to themselves with their personal bathrooms. Each room has a lock and the girls' bathrooms have locks as well. Similar to dating simulator games or Persona (3 and up) games you can spend time with the other students to get closer to them, during the Free Time stages of the day. The "school life" is basically only dormitory life. The morning time begins with 7 a.m. and the nighttime with 10 p.m.

Rumours take place between the students about a serial killer named Genocide Jack who murders their victims in cold blood in bizarre ways and leave a message of "bloodlust" which is drawn at the crime scene with the blood of their victims. He disappears and appears without a trace. Could the person behind this be Genocide Jack?

The second halves of the "cases" in Danganronpa feature self made trials by Monokuma in the Hope's Peak Academy where you have to figure out the killer, who happens to be one of the 15 students, via a popular vote. The killer is what is called "blackened." You figure the killer out and they will die, you fail and point at an innocent and everyone else dies, alot of pink gets spilled and the culprit gets to "graduate," in other words they get allowed to leave the premises.
The trial room has 16 seats despite there being 15 students. The characters point out the potential holes and facts about the case in a nonstop debate and it's the player's job to expose the truth with "Truth Bullets" in other words overglorified evidence from investigations. The trials end with a part where you re-enact the crime by adding what happened in the correct order with comic-book panels.

The first trial is incredibly simple. A murder happened in one of the rooms; the room in which is happens should be obvious to the played due to a certain set up with a door, with a scooby doo-tier dying message being found on the wall of the bathroom. I figured out the culprit immediately during the investigation and had my suspicion confirmed by yet another clue in the trash can area of the school so it was definitely lackluster especially due the investigation+trial taking some hours to complete, and they tried to forcefully make it seem like there were numerous twists even though it was all rather obvious, basically more overglorified gameplay to try to make mediocre ideas stand out, but many first cases in games tend to be worse than the rest - the first three Ace Attorney games have those after all.

After the trial ends there will be punishment - as I said before, manage to find out the culprit and the culprit/"blackened" gets the punishment for being found out instead of getting to graduate with everyone else dying. The punishment happens in animated format where the blackened get killed in very overblown ways by Monokuma. And after the punishment, a new area will open in the school for the students to visit, containing even something like a swimming pool.

Makoto finds a letter in the second floor's library that is supposedly from Hope's Peak Academy officials who claim that certain "serious issues" were the reason why the Academy has actually been Closed. In other words the mastermind behind the killing games must know these reasons because they were capable of taking advantage of the situation and remodel the school to their likings.
- Monokuma seems to be better than NASA's machines.
- The Mastermind must be a powerful individual to be able to make the despair game a reality.

The second case and trial has to do with the body of one of the 15 students being found suspended in air inside the girls' locker room in the newly opened area. Could the killer be the infamous Genocide Jack? Byakuya surely believes that as he needs Makoto's help to solve the case.
The second case was definitely better than the first, although the set-up still had a certain part to it which just felt as if it had to be connected to the murder without any seeming reason and it was brought up only again at the final culprit reveal so I knew that either of the two had to be the culprit, because that part was not brought up again - until they spoke about trust and the victim, which made it pretty clear to me who had done it. However, the case has two misdirections to it, nothing that special but still enough to throw people off the loop and make it more interesting. The Genocide Jack part of the story was lackluster though in my opinion. The case definitely helps to make Byakuya a standout character from the rest though.

After the end of the second trial more of an overarching story begins to arise related to the true culprit behind Monokuma; a shadowy figure who might be one of the supposed-to-be-dead students appears to be talking to Monokuma and is said to be one of his old friends. Also they talk about the "sixteenth student" we have not seen.
Many areas open up after the 2nd trial as well - sculpture room, room with a billiard table, some kind of room with boxes and a room with an air purifier.

The build-up of the third case includes an artificial intelligence. Chihiro had fixed a broken laptop they'd found a while ago and inserted an Alter Ego into it to analyze the secret files that may give our heroes an upper hand against the mastermind, but the files are well protected and it takes a while to hack through them, but then it just so happens that the laptop goes missing with more than one suspect who could have done it.
Then Monokuma himself appears and tells the students that $10 000 000 will be the graduation reward.
The third case itself is about a person in a robot suit attacking people with numbered hammers. The first hammer is small and numbered "1" up to "3" and "4" when two victims are found dead. "3" hammer victim in the first floor, "4" hammer victim in the back of the third floor. Then the body of the victim of the "3" hammer disappeared and soon the victim of the "4" hammer on the 3rd floor disappeared after everyone went to the first floor.

By the books misdirection in this case. Incredibly easy to figure out how the case will fold while playing as it had barely any originality to it. It worked in novel format with works such as Death on the Nile by Christie and The Dutch Shoe Mystery by Queen but not here where everything is visual. You have to be able to take advantage of the medium when you think of the kinds of cases to create - here the idea was simply copied from a novel format into a game and the case had a pretty poor misdirection to it related to the assumed murder weapons. I let the first case go without much critisizing because it's a warm-up albeit a rather long one, but this third case... Unacceptably long and dragged out pacing for such an obvious turn of events. I literally knew everything they would do in this case, every trick and twist before they even happened, because it must be written while following some kind of "trope book" orders. Pathetic. Goddamn pathetic for its length.

The third case ends with the supposed reveal of Monokuma's Spy.

After the third trial, the fourth floor of Hope's Peak Academy opens up and the artificial intelligence Alter Ego has something to say about the school. A year ago "the most terrifying event to happen to humanity" went on in Hope's Peak Academy which made the school decide to make a project where the students live in there for the rest of their lives. Just like what Monokuma is trying to do for the rest of their lives. The headmaster, a man in his late 30's, was who approved of the program, and according to Alter Ego, he may still be in the school.

The fourth case of the series has to do with a locked room murder in the rec room, the place with a billiard table. The door was locked by moving a chair in front of it from the inside.
The fourth case is somewhat decent. Althought the culprit is pretty easy to guess due to yet again a mention of a certain thing taking place right before the crime and then the stretching of that vital clue up until the final moment - you can easily point the finger at the right person - but there were, not exactly misdirections, but series of coincidences which took place at the same time that lead up to the "moment of death." Those coincidences help to add some content to the case that make it more interesting, however, they are pretty much impossible to figure out until the people related to them explain what happened in the courtroom, so they were used to try to throw the player off the right track. However, the real murder method was obvious from the very very beginning and that part really annoyed me. The characters act as if these simplest things take alot of deducting to do for some reason and it takes hours of dragging out until they figure it out. The one who gets Punished at the end of the fourth trial is kind of a surprise I guess.

The beginning of the fifth case opens up a brand new floor, the fifth floor. With a locked bio-lab, a classroom with some kind of old murder scene filled with white chalc marks of human shapes as well as RED blood (wow!) all over the place, and a large garden room filled with plantations, even a massive human-eating plant. That room has five healthy chickens in it as well.

Toko found a knife and the remaining group of students gave it to Makoto who put it in one of the drawers of his room's desk. Makoto caught up with a fever and fell asleep. The first time he woke up was when a person with a mask was in his room with a knife, then everything goes black. Then he wakes up again to see Kyoko there but can't hear what she says, then again, everything goes black. When Makoto wakes up in the morning he notices that the knife that he'd taken for safekeeping has gone missing. Then, Makoto finds Monokuma who is being torn apart by the others. The robot bear has stopped working so the group comes into the conclusion that something unexpected must have happened to the mastermind. While going to the Garden to get a pickaxe to take down the headmaster's room door, the group finds a person with a mask murdered with knife in his stomach. When trying to take the mask off, the person's body exploded, making it so that it's impossible to tell who it was, but it's possible to tell that the corpse was a female.
So in this fifth case our MC, Makoto, is considered the prime suspect by the cast just in like the first case however this time it's better.
The trial ends unexpectedly, however, it's not a finished product. I'm not sure what to say about it. Had a decent build up but things were not really made to make sense for the player and the end kind of goes against the whole scheme of the trials. Feels kind of like a waste of such a unique setting, what was going on with that large flower...? Meh...

The fifth chapter has to do with two things: re-doing the trial of Mukuro, the hidden sixteenth student who was found dead in the garden on the fifth floor in order to expose the Mastermind, and in order to "win" the finale the remaining group of students also has to expose all of the mysteries surrounding the school as well, such as the "worst thing to happen to humanity" related to it.
For the fifth case, out of making it "fair" for the players, Monokuma opened every single locked door in the school for the characters to explore in order to find the truth behind the mysteries of Hope's Peak Academy and the identity of the true mastermind.

The sixth and final trial deals with the fifth trial which did not have a fair trial back then, which is heavily tied to uncovering the secret identity of the Mastermind and the person behind Monokuma, as well as the mysteries surrounding the school. The player at this point has the access to every place in the game and every information required to pinpoint the truth about these questions. The final case and trial as of themselves are... fine. As I mentioned the sixth chapter's "case" is basically just the trial as it's a repeat of the fifth case; figure out the death of the sixteenth student. And the answer to that case is mentioned to the player hours before the sixth trial; it's done at the end of the fifth trial, and the fifth trial did not do justice to the set-up of the case in the first place.
We learn major plot twists about the meaning of the Hope's Peak Academy, The Tragedy which happened a year ago etc. However the "truth" is just far too grand. It all mostly makes sense in the series's settings and it's all something that the player undoubtedly has to have as a thought at the back of their head throughout the game, sure, but it's also impossible and obvious; both effective ways to make the interest towards the story and game wane off pretty hard.

 The planning of this game is mostly lackluster because of the pacing. Obvious things are made to seem like huge plot twists, obvious answers to questions drag on for hours. The main character is a generic lazy template and the motivations of the Mastermind are bad.
The story is also written in a far too mechanical way for a game. The ideas are taken from cases that fit shorter stories.

Now the gameplay itself looks very nice. Character models bounce on the screen and look different and the artwork is great. The school structure and the maps as well as the somewhat limited free time to spend with getting to know the other students is a decent add-on to the game, however, I said it looks cool, nothing more. It doesn't take any time loading the screens which makes it acceptable for a gameplay that doesn't drag (if only the story was like that), but there is nothing really to "do." Even though you move the character in 3D, akin the Kyle Hyde mystery games, every action you do in order to figure something out or hand something to others is "automated." It happens automatically, you don't have to think about what to do yourself so that you can move forward in the game - all you have to do is investigate every nook and cranny, read the dialogue, then get to the trial with really easy cases, as in everything is far too obvious aside from the second case which was decent enough despite being somewhat draggy. The trials themselves have multiple different modes to them in order to corner the culprit and make them more interesting, but they are ultimately simply wasted on a lackluster story.

Summary about my thoughts on the cases:
Chapter 1: Bad case and everything about it was like an open book, however because it's the first case&trial to kickstart the game, I avoid bashing it too much. The C&T format does not fit this case - and it does not work perfectly for any cases in the game either despite being the part the series is known for - at all due to how much it unnecessarily drags on until things are allowed to get revealed.
Chapter 2: Decent case, pacing problems. Best case in the game, does not mean much though.
Chapter 3: Bad case, worst offender of god-awfully obvious writing if you are familiar with the tropes of the genre (from many novels including Death on the Nile by Christie and the Dutch Shoe Mystery by Queen), the third case and trial have the worst pacing due to nothing unexpected happening in it.
Chapter 4: Okay case. Badly handled timings for the clues, the case utilizes coincidences to throw the player out of the loop - the truth of the killer itself is obvious however and nothing changes that fact despite the writer's attempts at misdirection.
Chapter 5: Bad case. The setting for this one was the best but it's wasted. The meaning of the Danganronpa game itself is just practically thrown out of the window after Chp 4. The fifth trial does not end the case either and it's done in a lackluster way.
Chapter 6: OK investigation and trial. The trial handles the truth behind the Hope's Peak Academy, the Trial of Chp. 5 is re-done and the identity of the Mastermind is revealed. The Mastermind is cool even though their motivations are frankly stupid. The major plot twists in this are just too much, not due to them being well written or anything but they are far too unrealistic. It's not like the twists are special either, they're just not build up to enough or even explained as much as they needed to be. Especially the part about the students, "how" these things were done or happened were never explained, which is not how this genre works, and ofcourse they're not explained because they're impossible to ever really happen in the real world. Supernatural cases in mystery genre are nothing special; the writers of Danganronpa seemed to have simply skipped over those numerous stories in their robotic ways of gathering information on how to create a "proper mystery" and nothing more. The game tries to be too grand with its ending without much substance backing it up. It's not shocking due to the both bad and lacking layout of information which foreshadows the ending.

Yeah, final thoughts would be that the game was pretty damn lame. Everything from the story to the character writing for a majority of the cast, aside from Byakuya, feel incredibly flat. They are geniuses with quirks and human emotions to them, sure, but it does not feel like there is much actual substance to them past that. The main character is terrible as far as characterization goes apparently it's supposed to be acceptable  because he's justified to be a bland person in the beginning. He's the generic anime lead character with no personality. The atmosphere of the game is samey and repetitive each chapter without exception due to them being locked up in the school the entire game, should have been one chapter of gameplay in the outside world at first, atleast. Lack of proper build up due to the limited setting, and lack of fleshing out characters and events make the game feel just a killing game that tries to masquerade as some kind mediocre murder mystery series, which it sadly is. Bad pacing up the wazoo, soundtrack is mediocre at best, twists that are easy to guess if you just bother to think for a second, generic cases that are far too long for no reason; obvious things take hours to get mentioned again and when they do, they're "the proof we missed all along to corner the culprit!" and the whole thing practically feels like a waste of time for a game with such nice artwork. The ideas for some of these cases, especially the third case, were basically ripped off from the novel format, done by Queen and Christie multiple times, and put into this game. The problem with this is that it just does not work like that. It works in the medium it was created for the best. In this game it's just so goddamn obvious and unnatural that it made me cringe. I could see everything that would happen in the third chapter a mile away due to how badly it was structured.

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is surely enough to entertain novice people who have no idea how the tropes of the genre work as they most likely won't notice the awful pacing problems. For the rest - You can skip it and save time, literally, the hours of time wasted on nothing in this game just kill it for me. The game does not know how to present information and clues for a challenging and worthwhile fair-play mystery.