Welcome to Despair Academy: #01 Prologue is the first episode of Danganronpa: The Animation. It first aired on July 4, 2013.
Makoto Naegi arrives at Hope's Peak Academy, a very prestigious school where only the best of the best attend. His day dreams are cut short when he passes out and when he wakes up he's in a classroom barricaded with steel plates. He meets his classmates in the gym where their "principal" Monokuma appears. Everyone is then shocked when Monokuma reveals the rule of 'graduating' by killing someone without being caught. Everyone tries to find a way out, but every attempts fails.
Monokuma then gives everyone a motive for murder by giving them each a shocking CD about something close to them; this makes everyone want to get out of the school whilst avoiding murder. Sayaka Maizono breaks down, but Makoto promises that they'll find a way to get out of the school.
The episode begins with Monokuma appearing under a spotlight in a dark room with a button. Monokuma watches a blindfolded man struggle to free himself from the chair he was tied to. Monokuma presses the button and a rocket, designed to look like Monokuma, appears around the man. The man screams as the rocket's doors slam shut and engine propellers emerge from the sides of it. Fire shoots out from the rocket, sending it through all the levels of a building and into space. The rocket begins falling back down into the atmosphere, becoming incredibly hot as it does so. The rocket lands upside down before Monokuma, who is now in a destroyed classroom, and opens to reveal the dismembered skeleton of the man. The camera zooms in on Monokuma as he begins laughing hysterically.
In the next scene, Makoto Naegi's voice can be heard. He begins talking about an intimidatingly large building in the middle of his town as a picture of Hope's Peak Academy is shows on screen. A picture of Makoto browsing forums on his computer is shown and a scene of Sayaka Maizono performing on stage is shown. He explains how the school brings the top students of each field together. Leon Kuwata is pictured playing baseball, various magazine covers of Junko Enoshima's are seen and Mondo Owada is witnessed riding his bike.
The scene changes to Makoto standing outside the school, looking up at the large building. He begins to wonder if a normal boy like him can really make it in. He looks down at the letter in his hand and reads the acceptance letter explaining how it was through sheer luck that he got into the school. Makoto then closes his eyes and heads into the school building. As he steps into the school, he thinks about how his new high school life should be filled with hope. However, Makoto's vision begins to grow fuzzy as he grunts in pain and confusion, before he passes out. He then says,
"That's where it all began, when my normal life came to an end."
As the high-tech door blocking the entrance locks, Makoto explains how he should have realized that he was not Ultimate Lucky Student, but rather, Ultimate Bad-Luck.
Subsequently, Makoto wakes up in a dim classroom. Confused, he looks around the room which has giraffe patterned walls, security cameras and iron plates over the windows. After struggling to remove the steel plates bolted to the windows, a brochure for the school catches his eye. He walks over to read it. Inside, a message with a doodle of the school has been messily scribbled in crayon.
The leaflet reads: "Welcome to the School. A new semester has just begun. Since yer starting new lives, this school will be yer new world. Gather in the gym at 8 for the welcoming ceremony." Noticing the message about the entrance ceremony, he quickly looks up at the clock. It reads 8 'O clock. Cautiously he heads out of the classroom into a corridor with purple lighting. He takes a deep breath and slowly walks down the hallway until he comes to the gym.
Makoto pulls the two gym doors open to reveal the rest of his classmates inside. They turn to see who opened the door as Makoto looks from side to side, scanning his new classmates. He steps into the gym confused. He begins to talk, only to be cut off by a young man with brown dreadlocks asking if he was also a new student. He is introduced as Yasuhiro Hagakure along with his title, Ultimate Clairvoyant. Hiro begins talking how the school is strange when a plump boy bursts in front of him. He is introduced as Ultimate Fanfic Creator, Hifumi Yamada, asking Hiro if he really thinks this is all of them.
Suddenly, a fierce boy with a white uniform points at Makoto, who is taken by surprise, as the boy begins shouting about how important it is to be punctual. He is presented as Kiyotaka Ishimaru, Ultimate Moral Compass. A girl with pink hair tied in pigtails appears, questioning in a rude tone what Taka said. Her title is Ultimate Fashionista, Junko Enoshima. Junko then goes on to say that they shouldn't care about being late if they don't even know what's going on currently.
A girl with short brown hair timidly raises her hand before asking if Makoto also awoke in a classroom. She is Chihiro Fujisaki, Ultimate Programmer. Makoto nods, and she goes on to explain that everyone else had the same experience. A young woman with long black twin-drill pigtails and red eyes comments on how strange it is that everyone had the same experience. Her title is Ultimate Gambler, Celestia Ludenberg. Mondo, the Ultimate Biker Gang Leader, is shown wondering about the sort of place they were in before a boy wearing a punkish outfit asks if they had been kidnapped. He is introduced as Leon Kuwata, Ultimate Baseball Star.
A tanned girl pops up in front of the camera speaking in an excited tone about this being a special program. She is Ultimate Swimming Pro, Aoi Asahina. She asks if it is all a special arrangement that is part of attending the school and turns to a muscular girl with long white hair. She is Sakura Ogami, Ultimate Martial Artist. Sakura states that it would be wise to ascertain the situation, Makoto nodding in agreement before looking around the room.
He spots a girl with long braided hair who freaks out over the fact that he is looking at her and jumps to the conclusion that it's because she is ugly. She is Ultimate Writing Prodigy, Toko Fukawa. A blonde boy remarks on how much of an eyesore she is before being introduced as Ultimate Affluent Progeny, Byakuya Togami. He glares at Makoto, who quickly turns his gaze to a girl with long lavender hair.
She seems to be deep in thought and is shown as Kyoko Kirigiri, Ultimate ???. She turns to him and gives him a questioning look. Laughing nervously, Makoto waves his hands and says it was nothing before walking away.
He sighs, as a young girl with long blue hair asks if he was Makoto. He looks up to see Ultimate Pop Sensation, Sayaka Maizono. She explains how they went to the same junior high together and that she was glad there was someone she knew here among all the commotion.
Makoto blushes, surprised she still remembered a boring guy like him. She becomes upset and covers her face, hurt that he thought of her as such a cold person. Makoto panics and quickly apologizes, much to the amusement of Sayaka, who laughs and says it was a joke. She giggles and Makoto blushes before being interrupted by Byakuya who says they needed to stop fooling around and get down to business. Explaining that they needed to find out what was going on, he turns to the podium at the front of the gym. Junko complains that she can't find her phone, which leads to the whole class frantically searching their pockets for their mobiles only to find that they were gone. Coming to the conclusion someone took them, Hiro draws out his crystal ball, saying that it is telling him that the situation is the orientation for the school. Leon questions the accuracy of it and Hiro exclaims that his fortune telling is accurate 30% of the time.
Feedback from a microphone fills the hall and the students cover their ears. A high pitched voice tests out the microphone. Everyone turns to the front of the hall as the voice announces the commencement of the welcoming ceremony. Hiro seems relieved by this fact, stating that it was really just a welcoming ceremony, before Kyoko tells him he is wrong. Suddenly, a black and white bear jumps out from behind the podium at the front of the hall. Everyone is taken by surprise, in which Makoto thinks it's a stuffed bear.
The 'stuffed bear' introduces itself as Monokuma, principal of the school. The students stand in confusion. Monokuma continues regardless telling everyone to say good morning. Taka is the only one to listen as Monokuma states: "Overflowin' with potential, you high schoolers...are none other than the hope of the world! In order to protect our wonderful rays of hope, yer expected to live here on campus and nowhere else!" The students are shocked as Junko asks what Monokuma is saying. Monokuma ignores them and continues,
"As for the cutoff period for the communal life...There is no such cutoff period! In other words, yer gonna spend the rest of yer lives in here!" Anxiously, the students question what he means. Monokuma continues, reassuring the students that they won't run out of resources because of the school's huge budget. Everyone continues on worrying as Makoto asks if the plates on the windows are there to keep everyone locked in the school. Monokuma confirms it, telling them no one would come and help them no matter how much they screamed for help. Celeste states that they can't possible live there forever, as Monokuma clears his throat.
"For those of you who wanna leave I've established a certain rule! You are free to murder however you like. The only student permitted to leave is one who has committed murder. It's a simple rule, and the only one. Beat! Stab! Club! Slice open! Torch! Crush! Strangle! Cast a curse!" Monokuma, having leapt from the podium to stand behind the students, talks about the endorphin running through his body and how "rays of hope" getting thrown into this situation get him very excited. The students, stunned and bewildered, begin shouting at Monokuma. Monokuma happily walks in between the students and explains that from now on, the academy is their home, their world and they are free to do whatever they want.
Angrily, Mondo demands to know if this is all a joke, Monokuma asks if he is talking about his hair style. Offended, Mondo picks up the bear and threatens it. Monokuma flails and says that violence against the principal is against the school rules before a beeping sound starts. Kyoko warns him that it's dangerous and Mondo quickly hurls the bear through the air seconds before he explodes. Seconds later, another Monokuma appears from behind the podium and tells the students if any more rules are broken, they will be punished. He dismisses them and quickly disappears behind the podium.
After Monokuma is gone, everyone begins questioning if they really have to kill someone to escape. Makoto's inner thoughts are heard:
"And thus began our new school lives. But this was not the school of hope I had anticipated when I first came, filling my heart with expectations for the future. It was a school of despair!"
Later on, Hina and Sakura are standing near a steel wall, Sakura punches the wall in a failed attempt to break out. Meanwhile, all the students are looking at their electronic student handbooks. Hina returns to the group of students, saying that they couldn't find a way out. Leon and Mondo confirm that they also couldn't find an exit. Taka bursts into view, furiously exclaiming that they mustn't lose hope and that they have to continue searching for a way out. The students agree to go look around the school. Byakuya announces that he will be searching alone in case anyone tries to kill him. Mondo, angry with Byakuya's selfishness, threatens to beat him up. Makoto quickly tries to break them up. Mondo, angry that he is trying to tell him what to do, knocks out Makoto with a forceful punch.
Makoto awakes on his bed in his school bedroom with Sayaka by his side looking incredibly worried. Embarrassed that she was in his room, he quickly sits up. She explains how everyone has their own room and that Sakura carried him to his. In addition, she says that she stayed to care for Makoto while everyone else went to look for an escape. Makoto blushes and thinks about how amazing it is that the famous idol remembers him. Sayaka reminds him that she does remember him and Makoto is stunned that she heard his thoughts, and she tells him that she is an esper before laughing and explaining that she was just intuitive.
Makoto gets off his bed saying that he couldn't rest at a time like that. Sayaka tells him that she'll be his assistant, grabs his hand, and then says to try their best to get out of there. Blushing, Makoto nods his head in agreement.
Makoto walks to the cafeteria with Sayaka, where the rest of the students were having a meeting, Hina asking if Makoto was fine. After Makoto and Sayaka sit down, Taka declares the first regular meeting of Hope's Peak Academy open. They begin exchanging the information they found about the school. The scene changes to Mondo aggressively kicking the futuristic door as Celeste watches, Mondo explaining how he couldn't kick the door down. Another scene change, this time to Hina and Sakura standing in front of a gate blocking the way up a flight of stairs to a second floor. Kyoko concludes that they can only explore the first floor. The next scene is of Hifumi bouncing up and down on one of the dorm beds, commenting on how comfortable they were. Chihiro begins explaining how she found the fridge to be full of food and that Monokuma told her that they were refilled daily.
Celeste concludes that they are trapped in the school and Toko panics, making all the students nervous. She continues, saying that the only way to survive is to adapt. From that, she proposes that everyone stay in their room after 10pm, which is mentioned as 'Night Hours' in the electronic student handbook.
The scene changes to the next day, where everyone continues to look for an exit. Makoto and Sayaka search together and come across the barred garbage area and a room filled with monitors. Even the next day, they were still looking. By then, everyone had become rather hopeless, and Chihiro begins wondering if they were really trapped at the school forever. Hina comforts her, saying the police must already be working on busting them out. All of a sudden, Monokuma appears at the end of the table, laughing and asking them if they really were relying on the police. Monokuma then says he left them a motive in the Multimedia Room room. The students go to the room filled with monitors and find a labeled DVD for each of them. Makoto takes his DVD and watches it.
The DVD begins with Makoto's family sitting in their living room begins. His sister and father smiling happily at the camera while his mother exclaims how proud they are for him to be accepted into the school. As his sister and parents smile, the happy scene suddenly flickers and is replaced by the image of his living room, now wrecked and in ruins, with his family nowhere to be seen. Makoto's eyes widen in horror and murmurs and gasps can be heard around the room coming from other students. Makoto begins muttering, saying that he must get out of the school. He glances at Sayaka, who looks horrified at what she had seen on her DVD. She screams and pushes herself against the wall. Makoto rushes to her while she begins screaming that she couldn't stand it anymore. Monokuma's laugh is heard and the image of the bear shows on the screen at the front of the room. Kyoko begins questioning him and his reason for trapping them here. Monokuma explains how he wants them all to despair.
Sayaka screams and runs out of the room with Makoto chasing after her. He grabs her arm while she screams at him to let her go. Makoto comforts her by saying if everyone works together they will be able to find a way out. He promises her that he'll get her out of the school, no matter what he has to do. Sayaka blushes and begins crying. She throws herself into Makoto's arms and wails while Monokuma's laughter can be heard in the background. The rest of the students watch, all concerned. As Kyoko, Celeste, Toko and Byakuya remain in the Multimedia Room, thinking about thoir situation.
The following are in order of appearance:
- Jin Kirigiri
- Makoto Naegi
- Yasuhiro Hagakure
- Hifumi Yamada
- Kiyotaka Ishimaru
- Mukuro Ikusaba (Disguised, as Junko Enoshima)
- Chihiro Fujisaki
- Celestia Ludenberg
- Mondo Owada
- Leon Kuwata
- Aoi Asahina
- Sakura Ogami
- Toko Fukawa
- Byakuya Togami
- Kyoko Kirigiri
- Sayaka Maizono
- Komaru Naegi (Minor role)
- Makoto and Komaru Naegi's parents (Minor role)
- Ayaka Haneyama (Minor role)
- Satomi Aoba (Minor role)
- In the Funimation subbed version, some of the student talent titles are changed:
- Hifumi is listed as the Ultimate Fanzine Artist,
- Mukuro is listed as the SHSL Fashion Diva,
- Sakura is listed as the SHSL Grappler,
- The backdrop during the ending sequence in this episode was different in both the original and English versions. The original version had the credits rolled out against a black background. However, in the English dub, the backdrop was a classroom with Makoto all by himself.