Danganronpa 2: Chiaki Nanami’s Goodbye Despair Quest Volume 1 Review

Creating a manga adaptation of a popular video game is something that makes sense, especially when a game is popular enough to end up with its own anime series, like Danganronpa. Making a spin-off manga follow-up suggests that you might be trying to milk this cash cow. Making a second spin-off manga feels like laziness.

Despite being a fan of Danganronpa in general, this release, which is a retelling of the story of the original game from the perspective of one of the main non-playable characters, the Ultimate Gamer Chiaki Nanami, automatically feels like it is just being made to get the money from completists.

The plot is generally the same as the game, and indeed those of the two other manga covering it, with a group of students from Hope’s Peak Academy suddenly finding themselves on a remote group of tropical islands as part of a “field trip”, only to find out the dastardly headmaster (and remote-controlled black-and-white teddy bear) Monokuma has ruled that the only way to escape the island is to get away with murdering one of their fellow students.

The only main difference between this manga and the game is that you are following the action from Nanami’s perspective rather than that of Hajime Hinata, the character you play in the game. In this opening volume, it details the students’ predicament, the first murder encountered in the game and the subsequent solving of the case. However, there’s not that much difference between their viewpoints. Generally speaking, it is just the same story retold ever-so-slightly differently, but not enough in my view to justify this story being released in its own right.

In terms of production, the artwork by Karin Suzuragi is good and maintains the standard seen in the original game, which was noted for its character design. However, aspects regarding the English-language release are more off-putting. When I reviewed Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair back in 2020, one of the few issues I had with that release was Jackie McClure’s translation. Namely, the fact that she gave Fuyuhiko Kuzuryu, the Ultimate Yakuza, a very broad accent which does not appear in the original game. Sadly, McClure has done the same thing again, and it still feels misjudged.

Arguably though, the release of this entire manga feels misjudged. While Danganronpa remains a popular series, you can’t help but feel it would have made more sense to have released this manga and the others based on this particular game back when the game first came out around a decade ago. (Yeah, both Danganronpa 1 and 2 came out in Europe in 2014. Feeling old?) Why trot out this manga now when it would have made more sense financially to have done it back then, when the game was fresh and new? It just feels like Dark Horse are trying to squeeze out the last few pennies out of die-hard fans who want to collect everything related to the series.

Thus, if you are wishing to read a manga based on the game, go with Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair as it is the one most closely similar to the game itself. While Chiaki Nanami’s Goodbye Despair Quest does at first bring back some nostalgic pangs and a desire to play the game again, ultimately this new spin-off feels despairingly pointless to those new to it.

Our review copy from Dark Horse was supplied by Turnaround Comics (Turnaround Publisher Services).

5 / 10

Ian Wolf

Ian works as an anime and manga critic for Anime UK News, and was also the manga critic for MyM Magazine. His debut book, CLAMPdown, about the manga collective CLAMP, is available now. Outside of anime, he is data specialist for the British Comedy Guide, is QI's most pedantic viewer, has written questions for both The Wall and Richard Osman's House of Games, and has been a contestant on Mastermind.

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