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Smile at Despair in the Name of Hope (Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Despair Arc)

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Smile at Despair in the Name of Hope
Danganronpa 3 - Despair Arc Title Card (Episode 10).png
And just when we thought torture episodes wouldn't get any worse...
Series: Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School
Part of Season: 2
Episode Number: 10
Air Date: September 15, 2016 (sub)
October 16, 2016 (dub)
Writer: Ukyo Kodachi
Director: Yusuke Kamada
Previous episode: Chisa Yukizome Doesn't Smile
Next episode: Goodbye, Hope's Peak High School


"I don't want to watch this! Don't make me! I can't!"
Hiyoko Saionji


Smile At Despair in the Name of Hope is the twentieth episode of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School and the tenth episode of the Despair Arc, which serves as a prequel to the Hope's Peak Academy series.

Summary

Hope's Peak will recite - its death haiku of Despair - for no hope remains

Why It Has Been Found Guilty

To think that the lobotomy scene from the previous episode was disturbing enough.
  1. First and foremost, this episode feels like Danganronpa's answer to the infamous Spongebob Squarepants episode One Coarse Meal, as it literally feels like it's solely focused on making Chiaki Nanami suffer severely by Junko making her go into a maze filled with booby traps and then said character tortures Chiaki to death. In fact, Chiaki's execution goes on for almost the entire episode, making it a rare animated example of an actual torture porn, which is highly execrable, even for Danganronpa standards.
    • It also feels too similar to Bowser Junior’s Punishment from SuperMarioLogan, as both of these episodes also have the respective characters, Bowser Junior and Chiaki Nanami, getting tortured in the worst ways possible in these two episodes, with the torture being taken to the extreme. At least Bowser Junior’s Punishment was actually deleted and banned later on, unlike this episode.
    • Hell, this episode takes the concept of torture porn way, way too far, to the point where this episode feels more like an extended Punishment Day video with much more brutal punishments rather than an actual episode. Most of the episodes from SpongeBob SquarePants where Squidward gets treated like the butt-monkey he is were already bad enough, but at least they didn’t go this far.
    • Speaking of Chiaki Nanami’s Execution in this episode, it is considered one of the worst, executions in all of Danganronpa history , more then Mikan's insane and fanservicey execution in Danganronpa 2 goodbye despair (if not the worst one of all time), considering that the execution goes on for almost the whole episode in a disturbingly mean-spirited way, and it takes the execution motive to the extreme. And you thought Mr. Krabs torturing Plankton in One Coarse Meal was already bad enough. Not even Leon Kuwata or Celestia Ludenberg's executions from Trigger Happy Havoc were this disturbing (despite still being interesting executions). Hell, this execution even tries hard to be like Indiana Jones, however, because of this execution’s mean-spirited tone, it lacks the charm that Indiana Jones had.
    • Sure, Chiaki Nanami got executed in Chapter 5 of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, but even then, Chiaki’s execution wasn’t the main aspect of that chapter. But here, most of the plot feels like it brutally throws Chiaki Nanami away, for no absolute reason other than to show Junko’s mean-spirited nature and to cause the rest of Class 77-B to fall into despair.
    • This also leaves a hidden middle finger to the Danganronpa fans who actually wanted Chiaki Nanami to go through character development, as this execution simply throws any chance of that away for no apparent reason other than to terrify the viewers. This comes off as too edgy for Danganronpa standards.
  2. Not only does Junko Enoshima solidify herself as a "complete monster", but she is also at her absolute worst in this episode as she lures Chiaki into a maze filled with booby traps where she is slowly tortured to death (as mentioned in WIHBFG #1), with Junko delivering the killing blow by impaling Chiaki with a bunch of spears, all the while the rest of Class 77-B are being forced to watch the entire thing through monitors that don't allow them to move or look away. To make matters worse, the execution goes on for almost the whole episode (also mentioned in WIHBFG #1) and is shown in graphic detail. And it isn't being stabbed by the spears or any of the traps that kill her, but instead a slow and agonizing death of bleeding out after said impalement. And not only that, but by the end, the brainwashing effects combined with the despair of watching their friend and beloved class rep being brutally tortured to death turns the rest of Class 77-B into the Remnants of Despair. This incident scarred a lot of Chiaki Nanami fans. And no, we are NOT joking. Even people who didn't like Chiaki were horrified by her death. Sure, Danganronpa was no stranger to characters with tendencies to act mean-spirited towards others like Hiyoko Saionji from Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair and Tenko Chabashira from Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony, who act this way towards Mikan Tsumiki and the male students of the Killing Game respectively (the latter of which even thought that the entire male population they should be rounded up and shot), but neither of them took it to this extent. Hell, even Katsuki Bakugo, one of the main protagonists of My Hero Academia, wouldn't go that far... and he once told Izuku Midoriya to go kill himself!
    • Even worse, Junko showed zero remorse and even cracked a sick joke about it, which may just surpass the moment in One Coarse Meal where SpongeBob pointed out the consequences of Mr. Krabs' deeds, followed by him laughing and pointing out how much of a mess Plankton is now in terms of how tasteless it was.
      • It also doesn't help that not only does Junko never shut up, but she even taunts an injured Chiaki as she refuses to give up.
        • This is also one of those moments where a villain takes their motive way, way too far, to the point where Junko Enoshima can be considered the Kaname Asagiri of Danganronpa, due to both Kaname and Junko torturing the respective female characters, Aya Asagiri and Chiaki Nanami, in some of the worst ways possible. Hell, Junko’s actions in this episode can even be compared to Tomoo from Elfen Lied and Wallet from Object Terror, due to their truly mean-spirited nature.
    • In fact, there was a scene where Junko Enoshima forces Juzo Sakakura to tell Kyosuke Munakata that she is completely innocent. Really!? After what happened in this episode!?
      • Not helping matters is that in order to blackmail him into saying this, she publicly humiliated Juzo in front of the Reserve Course students because of his love for Kyosuke, therefore making her a homophobe. She even goes as far as to say that she "isn't devoid of compassion" as she threatens to kill Munakata if Juzo doesn't keep him from finding out that Junko was responsible for the events to come. And after he and Chisa lie to him about Junko's innocence in the following episode, Juzo ends up going into the bathroom and punching the wall until his fist bled, making it obvious how torn up he was over what Junko forced him to do.
        • Keep in mind that this incident is what drove Juzo to despise Junko to the point where he grew to also hate Makoto Naegi for being the one to defeat her, something he was determined to do after what she did to him.
  3. Chiaki is treated like a punching bag in this episode with said trope being taken to the extreme, as she is literally tortured throughout almost the whole episode, and far worse than Plankton was in One Coarse Meal, the exact episode this is the equivalent of (as said in WIHBFG#1). To make matters worse, Chiaki has done almost nothing to Junko beforehand and only died because Junko saw her as the final tool to finish the "Despair Video".
    • Not to mention, earlier in this arc, Chiaki Nanami’s character arc felt very rushed, so why end it with Chiaki getting tortured to death!?!? That only makes her role in this arc much, much worse.
  4. Just like what the writers of One Coarse Meal did to Plankton, the writers of this episode seem determined to make Chiaki suffer as much as possible, as they literally make Chiaki Nanami's execution extend for almost the entire episode and make it so mean-spirited to the point where it ends up making it seem an eerily lot like other torture episodes such as One Coarse Meal (the exact episode that this is basically the same as) from SpongeBob SquarePants, Arnold Betrays Iggy from Hey Arnold!, Quest 31: The Hyakujuu Sentai, Defeated!! from Hyakujuu Sentai Gaoranger, Arthur's Big Hit from Arthur, The Boys of Bummer from The Simpsons, Stanley’s Cup from South Park, Bowser Junior’s Punishment from SuperMarioLogan, It’s a Dog’s Life from the Ren and Stimpy Show, Blue Cat Blues from Tom and Jerry, I Only Have Surprise for You from Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, PC Roary from Roary The Racing Car, Fix and Lift's Music Battle from Titipo Titipo, The Apple Pencil Pro from Solar Opposites, Eating Out from Angry Birds Toons and the entirety of Magical Girl Site and actually managing to be worse than most of them. That being said, unlike those episodes, there was a reason for why what happens in this episode happens that is connected the the overall story of the series (Junko did it in order to execute her plan to plunge the world into despair due to her view of despair as being the only exciting thing in life, an event that ends up leading to the events that occur later in the series), but it still doesn't make Junko's actions here any less despicable.
    • On top of that, Chiaki's execution was already interesting and compelling in the video game she debuted in, so there was no reason to make an even worse execution for her!
      • The only possible explanation for making a more sadistic and painful execution for Chiaki was so it would make her death all the more devastating for Class 77-B, who were being forced to watch her being tortured to death by Junko. As making Chiaki suffer an excruciating and brutal demise would increase the chances of her classmates falling into despair and being left vulnerable to Junko. But it's still a horrendous reason to torture someone to death, and the fact that she's mentally torturing other people in the process only make Junko's actions in this episode all the more deplorable and horrible.
        • On top of the events in this episode being disgusting and repulsive, they also feel like a massive waste of potential in order to showcase what drove Class 77-B into despair. As it would've been much more interesting if Junko dragged each member individually into despair using their backstories or something similar. It would've made much more sense than simply watching the death of someone they barely knew (make no mistake, they certainly would've cared if Chiaki died, but it still would've been more effective to use traumatic experiences in their pasts or the death of someone they've known for much longer and had a stronger connection towards in order to turn them into the Remnants).
  5. The brainwashed Mikan Tsumiki and Chisa Yukizome are also both unlikable, to the point where this episode makes the viewer think that Mikan and Chisa both entered Flanderization territory. However, this can all be blamed on Junko Enoshima, since she was the one who brainwashed them in the first place. So you can't really blame them for what they do, since they aren't doing them out of their free will. The previous episode even has Mikan apologize to Chiaki while pushing her through a hidden panel that causes her fall into a corridor below.
    • What doesn't help is that the brainwashed Chisa gave out a heartwarming message towards Chiaki, only to then push Chiaki into the elevator and push the down button to take her to the maze filled with booby traps, which is exactly what Junko wanted the brainwashed Chisa and Mikan to do to help her complete the "Despair Video".
  6. Basically, Junko only lured Chiaki into a trap just to complete the "Despair Video", which is a really terrible and horrifying reason. Not helping matters is that there wasn't even a proper reason for Junko to do this to Chiaki, so this execution comes off as random and out of place for a series like Danganronpa, since the blackened is usually the one who gets executed in the Danganronpa games. But here, Chiaki gets tortured for no proper reason other than to turn her classmates into Ultimate Despairs.
  7. Junko Enoshima doesn't even get punished for what she did in this episode, making her a Karma Houdini (although this doesn't last long, as she is later defeated in Trigger Happy Havoc and Goodbye Despair by Makoto/Hajime and the other surviving students).
  8. After the boulder scene, right as Chiaki says that Chisa and the rest of Class 77-B are going to kick Junko's butt, Junko mocks her by saying "Now there's the hope I wanna crush!", proving that Junko has no mercy whatsoever.
  9. During the execution, Junko says that she will give Chiaki a 10-second head start, only for a spear to go through Chiaki's right knee before the 10 seconds were even up. Even worse, Junko had to make the "Oops, my timing's off!" excuse to ignore the head start, while the Japanese version has her blame it on her "despairingly bad memory".
  10. Even for a series like Danganronpa, this episode contains a lot of disturbing moments (Yes, the Danganronpa series is sometimes known for its disturbing moments, but here, they took it way too far), such as metal balls smashing into Chiaki's head and right arm, a spear going through Chiaki's right knee and Chiaki getting impaled with seventeen spears before being left to die from blood loss.
  11. Horrible Ending: Chiaki is left in a pool of her own blood, crying that she doesn't want to die, before then crawling over to Izuru Kamukura/Hajime Hinata and apologizing to him for not being strong enough. The episode then ends with Chiaki dying, Class 77-B being fully converted into Ultimate Despairs and joining Junko in laughing at Chiaki's death since they have all been brainwashed into embracing Junko's ideals (another scene that's extremely hard to watch, especially if you’re emotionally attached to any of the characters in Class 77-B), and the beginning of "The Worst, Most Despair-Inducing Incident in the History of Mankind".
  12. All of this lead to the Despair Arc taking a decline in quality, as it sucked the charm out of Episode 11 of the exact arc this episode is part of. In other words, because of this episode, the Despair Arc was never the same again. However, because of the Hope Arc, this downfall didn’t last long.
    • Hell, this episode even gives Chapter 5 of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair, AKA, Smile at Hope in the Name of Despair, a very bad name due to the problems listed above.
  13. It turns out that the events in this episode happened due to a devastating turn of events that mainly started with Ryota Mitarai’s anime obsession, which is beyond nonsensical for a series like Danganronpa.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The scene after Juzo's defeat (as well as before Chisa's betrayal of Chiaki) that shows Class 77-B continuing to make their way to Junko's lair to find and save their teacher was alright. Certainly much better than the events to come, as well as the ones that previously took place.
  2. The characters are still likable (excluding Junko, as well as the brainwashed Mikan and Chisa).
  3. Great animation and voice acting, as always.
  4. As previously mentioned (in WIHBFG# 4), as torturous and abhorrent as the events that occur in this episode are, they're still tied to the overall story of the series and are meant to explain major events that happen in it, which is more than what can be said about other mean-spirited torture episodes. As more often than not, they only exist for no other reason than to be mean-spirited torture episodes (although that still doesn't make the events that occur here any less horrific and atrocious).
  5. The scene in the end where Izuru Kamukura cries over Chiaki's corpse (the first time he's done so since his transformation) was touching. As it shows that he isn't completely devoid of emotion or humanity and heavily implies that Hajime Hinata's memories and persona weren't entirely erased during the Izuru Kamukura Project.

Reception

Smile at Despair in the Name of Hope received overwhelmingly negative reviews from audiences, especially Danganronpa fans. Who criticized the episode for it's mean-spirited nature, overreliance on shock value, and overall undeserved need to cruelly torture Chiaki. It is widely considered by many fans to not only be the worst episode of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, but also one of the worst things to ever come out of the Danganronpa franchise as a whole.

Trivia

  • The title of this episode is a reference to the title of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair's fifth chapter: "Smile at Hope in the Name of Despair."
    • Both this episode and the chapter also feature both executions for the AI Chiaki and the real-world Chiaki, with the executions being "Please Insert Coin" and "Game Over", respectively.
  • During the Danganronpa 3 radio show, Kana Hanazawa, Chiaki's Japanese voice actress, described during her screams for her execution, all of the other actors had to remain silent. All of the voice actors for Class 77-B were gathered in one booth to watch Hanazawa scream for more than ten minutes. Megumi Ogata, Nagito Komaeda's Japanese voice actress, commented that the actors looked like actual people slowly falling in despair.

Videos

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