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The Tragedy, shortened from The Biggest, Most Awful, Most Tragic Event in Human History (人類史上最大最悪の絶望的事件 Jinrui shijō saidai saiaku no zetsubō-teki jiken in the original Japanese version), is a major event in the Danganronpa series.
The incident had been described by various people as being an extraordinary form of social unrest, which quickly culminated into uncontrolled, meaningless chaos, violence, and death. This incident was caused by Junko Enoshima and the Ultimate Despair.
Facing financial ruin, Hope's Peak Academy decided to allow students without exceptional abilities to attend the Academy for an immensely high tuition fee in the hopes of continuing its search for extremely talented individuals.
These regular students were placed in the "Reserve Course" and, despite having paid immense sums of money and participating in hotly-contested examinations, were viewed as nothing more than second-class students by the main faculty and main course students.
Hajime Hinata, in an attempt to become part of the main course he long admired, applied for an experiment for artificial augmentation, renaming himself Izuru Kamukura and gaining the title of Ultimate Hope in the process; however, his existence was kept a secret from even the main course students.
Junko, in her desire to spread despair, forced the Student Council of Hope's Peak into the first known mutual killing game known as The Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy.
All the participants except Izuru and the heavily-wounded student council president Soshun Murasame were killed. The events were broadcast to the Reserve Course, greatly upsetting them - in their view, the academy had apparently spent the exorbitant fees they had paid to create murderers. In response, the Reserve Course students rebelled and protested, not realizing that they were being manipulated from the shadows by Junko and her organization, Ultimate Despair.
During what would come to be known as "The Parade" (an attempt by the Steering Committee to downplay the true scale of the protests), Junko was confronted by Juzo Sakakura, who was investigating her possible role in recent events on orders of Kyosuke Munakata. Junko admitted to her role as the mastermind, but blackmailed Juzo with his secret crush on Kyosuke, forcing him to claim that she had no connection to the burgeoning chaos in Hope's Peak.
The Reserve Course's social unrest soon became a movement that spread outside the academy's walls, with people everywhere protesting against the wealthy and talented. It was originally spread through the Internet but eventually evolved to the point where it was part of the public consciousness, reaching people of all races, cultures, and social standings.
Global Chaos and the Hope's Peak ScenarioThe movement rapidly engulfed the world, becoming more violent by the day; chaos and death quickly became a normal part of society, and the major world-wide phenomenon known as The Tragedy (or the biggest, most awful, most tragic event in human history) was born.
In response to these dire developments, Hope's Peak Academy decided to cease operations as an educational facility, effectively transforming the school into a shelter for the remaining students. Unfortunately, Junko hijacked the plan from within the locked-down facility by killing headmaster Jin Kirigiri and erasing the memories of the other survivors, except those of her fellow conspirator and twin sister, Mukuro Ikusaba. With that done, Junko plotted to use the Ultimate students as a means to finally erase the last shreds of hope in the ravaged world, setting into motion the events of the first game.
In the end, the plan backfired. Although many students died (including Mukuro), Junko was unable to drag the survivors into despair, largely through the efforts and encouragement of Makoto Naegi. His defiance led to him gaining the title of "Ultimate Hope" and driving Junko into executing herself, simultaneously giving the world a new champion and depriving Ultimate Despair of its founder and mastermind.
Future Foundation and The Remnants of Despair
At an unknown point (presumably after the Tragedy began), an organization called the Future Foundation arose with hopes of reverting the world to the state it was in before the incident. It's mentioned that after the death of Junko, Ultimate Despair's influence grew weaker and Future Foundation gained more power. The world finally started to show signs of recovering.
Future Foundation saved and regained the memories of the few survivors of the Mutual Killing Incident of Class 78th. Makoto Naegi, Kyoko Kirigiri, Byakuya Togami, Aoi Asahina and Yasuhiro Hagakure joined the Future Foundation to help their work. Toko Fukawa wasn't allowed to become official member due to her murderous split personality, but it seems Future Foundation allowed her to reside with them.
Shortly after they saved what was left of Class 78th, the Future Foundation also found what was left of Ultimate Despair, left in utter disarray after the failure of the Mutual Killing Incident.
Makoto, now of the 14th Division in the Future Foundation, had hoped to reform the members of Ultimate Despair by using the Neo World Program to replace the memories of their time in Hope's Peak Academy and therefore erase the memories of their heinous deeds; the higher-ups of the Future Foundation, however, did not share his sentiments, wanting to immediately dispose of Ultimate Despair members at first opportunity, and at one point ordering Makoto to return the survivors to them when they realized that they were in the 14th Branch's custody. However, Makoto and other sympathetic members of the Future Foundation were so eager that, against the higher-ups, they pushed the Program upon the members of Ultimate Despair while the program was still in its testing phase.
This, unfortunately, backfired thanks to Hajime - as Izuru - who uploaded an AI patterned on Junko Enoshima into the Neo World Program via a memory device, allowing her to run amok and cause catastrophic changes to the system (e.g. introducing violence into a program that supposedly had none), leading to the events of the second game.
In the final chapter of the second game, during the Graduation/Retention session, Makoto, Kyoko, and Byakuya had to go to the Jabberwock Island, and enter the Program to save the remaining students by activating Forced Shutdown (which required at least eight people to activate, a number that they were short of because there were only five survivors left). Despite AI Junko's efforts to stop them, the Forced Shutdown was successfully activated, erasing the viral AI and allowing the survivors to escape the program with their new memories at least partially intact.
In the epilogue of the second game, Makoto notes that the Future Foundation still has much to do to stop the Tragedy and erase the work of Ultimate Despair.
The exact state of the world at this time is unknown, but it is presumed that large areas of the world are still in a state of anarchy and despair.
In Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, it is mentioned that Ultimate Despair's influence grew weaker after Junko's death and the world started to have at least slightly better times. Because of this, Monaca Towa caused a huge riot in Towa City that she hoped would blossom into a huge war that would continue The Tragedy. After being thwarted, she planned to become the successor of Junko Enoshima, but eventually decided against it after the endless speeches of Nagito Komaeda soured her to the entire conflict of hope and despair.
In Danganronpa Gaiden: Killer Killer it is shown that human civilization is being restored slowly as the the idol industry, hospitals and the manga industry are conducting their standard business activities.
By the time of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak Academy, some semblance of order has been re-established. Murders and special crimes only happen occasionally, as the murder rate dropped to "only" 40 per month. Nonetheless, despair still remains, as a significant amount of people (including the Secretary of State of a foreign nation) still enjoy watching people kill each other.
Towards a World Without Despair
As the Future Foundation's long fight against Ultimate Despair continued, Kazuo Tengan originally supported Kyosuke Munakata's belief that in order to save the world every trace of despair must be annihilated. Over time, however, he began questioning the effectiveness of this approach, realizing that meeting despair with violence actually births more despair in humanity's heart.
Kyosuke, on the other hand, only wished for the active battle against despair to go further, as continued suggestion and emotional manipulation by Chisa Yukizome (who has now been under the effects of brainwashing into despair for several years) strengthened his belief that humanity can only be saved if all despair is uprooted, meaning that the battle must only grow more fierce.
Kazuo and Kyosuke's conflicting beliefs regarding the Foundation's future activities worried Kazuo, as he knows that should knowledge of internal struggles within the two most important figures in the Foundation were to leak out, the public would fall into more despair. Moreover, Kazuo is also aware that, since the division heads are all Hope's Peak Academy alumni and thus symbols of hope to the people, any form of intrigue, betrayal, and killing between any of them, should it become public, would send the masses into despair.
As he only grows more hopeless thinking about the future of the Foundation itself and the world, he is approached by Chisa, who hands him flash drives with Junko's despair video, and "Monokuma's Gloomy Sunday" - the video who brainwashes whoever watches it into committing suicide. Suggesting to Kazuo that perhaps, since these videos were made using Ryota Mitarai's skills, it is those same skills that can cure the world, Chisa inspires Kazuo's plan to defeat despair.
Knowing that Ryota, despite how his techniques were used by Junko Enoshima, hasn't given up making animation and privately made a "hope video" that could theoretically brainwash people "out of despair", Kazuo put together a plan to force Ryota's hand to use it, while dealing with his other "problems" at the same time. By placing all of the Foundation's division heads, save Ryota, in an isolated location and subjecting them to a "Killing Game" where in fact it is the suicide video that would make them kill themselves, claiming it is broadcast worldwide and having Ryota watch the events transpire from the outside, Kazuo could create a situation where the division heads would reveal their underlying tensions and be "finished off" away from the public eye, while in the same time pressuring Ryota to use the facility's global broadcasting station to expose humanity worldwide to his hope video - brainwashing the despair out of them all and thus putting an absolute end to despair.
Despite Ryota, Makoto, Hina and Kyosuke surviving, the game's ultimate objective is achieved, as Ryota decided to brainwash the entire world, leading to the three survivors, along with the 14th branch, on a desperate chase to prevent the entire world brainwashed forcibly into such "hope". Fortunately, Mitarai is finally persuaded to cancel his broadcast by his former classmates, now awakened from the Neo World Program. In order to preserve the Future Foundation's credibility and power to rebuild the world, Class 77-B decided to fake that they were still acting under despair and orchestrated the Final Killing Game before returning to Jabberwock Island.
With the last supporters of despair neutralized by Ryota's brief global broadcast, the Future Foundation was able to rebuild and capitalize on the opportunity to restore order to the world. Soon, the sky cleared up and Hope's Peak Academy was re-opened with Makoto as the Headmaster, marking the end of the Tragedy at long last.
The biggest, most awful, most tragic event in all of Hope's Peak Academy's history was actually only the beginning to what would be the world's end. This event lead the reserve-course students to rebel…
At first, it was optimistically thought that everything would calm down soon, but the situation worsened and quickened its pace. The movement happened on the Internet, and formed a community of its own.
Soon, not just students were involved. The rebellion came to include people of various races and nationalities in its development and spread off the internet and into real life.
At the beginning of the movement, it involved demonstrations regarding social issues, but as it spread through the world, its abnormality began to show. At some point in time, the motives and modus operandi changed, and left behind only meaningless destruction and violence.
Strong people killed weak people...
Weak people murdered even weaker people...
Weak people formed factions and lynched strong people
As the violence and death spread, people became desensitized. As if time had gone backwards, people took death to become a certainty. The media reports overflowed with death, and people ate as they watched. By the time the world had noticed the abnormality, it was already too late.
The overpowering “despair” became a huge wave that swallowed up the world in the blink of one's eye...
Soon, terrorists and coup d'etats sprang up and caused the despair that is war. It wasn't war that happened due to the clash of ideals, religion or profits…It was just war.
Therefore, no way to solve the problem was found. However, the question still remained…how did what was originally a students' movement develop into such a despair-worthy situation? This was because of... the existence of “a certain group of people”.
It revolved around the “certain students” who led Hope's Peak Academy to its destruction; a group called “Ultimate Despair”.
Their talents, recognized by Hope's Peak Academy, were used not “for the sake of causing hope for humanity”... They used their talents “for the sake of causing despair for humanity”. Those who held great power brainwashed ordinary citizens to spread despair...
Those who had talent with computers created software to spread despair...
Those who had great influence over people created new ideals to spread despair.
This is how the biggest, most awful, most tragic event in human history was produced. Indeed, as long as “Ultimate Despair” exists, this despair will not end...
The biggest, most awful, most tragic event in human history will not end...
- According to Danganronpa: Togami, the true cause of The Tragedy is the "Despair Book". This book was the source of a virus; whoever read from the Despair Book contracted "Despair Fever", a mental illness that drives the afflicted insane, often completely reversing their personality. However, it should be noted that this is non-canon.
- Danganronpa 3 implies that The Tragedy was set off by a "Despair Video" created by Junko and an unwitting Ryota Mitarai; anyone who watched the video was subtly influenced and brainwashed into serving the cause of despair despite their best wishes or intentions to the contrary.
- The beginning and end of The Tragedy mirror each other. It was started by Hope's Peak Academy's attempted cover-up of a killing game, which is blamed on Izuru Kamukura and is ended by the Future Foundation (semi-successor to Hope's Peak) agreeing to a cover-up of another killing game, with Izuru Kamukura initiating and taking the blame.