It’s not every day that you come across a series with a sadistic teddy bear at the helm, but that’s exactly what players get with the Danganronpa series. It’s garnered a passionate following of players thanks to its premise of high school students struggling against the whims of that diabolical (And adorable?) villain — with murderous confrontations as a result.
To learn more about the series, and the upcoming adventure spin-off Danganronpa Another Episode: Ultra Despair Girls, we posed some questions to Director and Scenario Writer Kazutaka Kodaka, and then passed along your inquiries to him as a bonus.
Let’s plunge into one of the minds behind Monokuma, and all the devilish games he plays…
PlayStation.Blog: What was the team’s inspiration behind Another Episode? What do the new gameplay systems add to the game, and the storytelling?
Kazutaka Kodaka: So the idea for the game is two girls escaping, or running away from, despair. The easiest way to tell their story is through an action game because action games actually require movement. So that’s why we ended up going with an action game for this one.
PlayStation.Blog: Will it be possible for players new to the Danganronpa series to start with Another Episode?
Kazutaka Kodaka: Essentially, Danganronpa Another Episode was created in a way that new players can start the series by playing it and be okay.
PlayStation.Blog: How has the Danganronpa series allowed you to be creative in new ways?
Kazutaka Kodaka: Obviously the main focus of a Danganronpa game is its story. That said, I’m always interested in adding in new gameplay elements and finding ways that gameplay can express the story. The Danganronpa series allows me to creatively find new ways to use gameplay to enhance and help the story move along.
PlayStation.Blog: Have any of your personal experiences in life been reflecting in the stories you create?
Kazutaka Kodaka: Not really. My life is actually pretty basic, and not many things happen. There’s actually a column I write in Japan, kind of like a blog, and it’s come to a point where I don’t know what to write because nothing happens to me. It’s not really a case where my life is reflected in my work or writing.
— OasisFan (@oasis789) February 28, 2015
Kazutaka Kodaka: Definitely the order would be Danganronpa 1, Danganronpa Zero, and then Danganronpa 2 is the best way to play it.
— Nathan Ortega (@kenjisalk) February 28, 2015
Kazutaka Kodaka: Basically, I give instructions for what I want to Mr. Komatsuzaki [the artist for Danganronpa]. That said, sometimes he comes up with a design cue that I like so much, I end up rewriting something into the story or scenario that shows off that particular aspect of Komatsuzaki’s character design. In the end, it’s a back and forth thing.
— Jenny Saucerman (@jennysaucerman) February 28, 2015
Kazutaka Kodaka: So originally the idea was to create some space between the scenes of the game. I was trying to think of the best way to do that, and what I came up with was Monokuma Theater. It was the first idea I had, but it ended up being the best idea and the one we went with. So that’s why it’s in the game.
Actually the idea came out of nowhere, but worked well for the first game. For the second game, those became more and more difficult to write. I feel like the ones in the second game aren’t up to par.
— Brad (@Baust528) February 28, 2015
Kazutaka Kodaka: First of all, an RPG. Probably Metal Gear. As everybody knows, in Metal Gear, Snake has a communicator. The famous line is where Snake gets killed and the person on the other end screams, “Snake! Snake!” So that’s what I’d have Monokuma say when he kills Snake.
— Kyle Gaddo (@kylegaddo) February 28, 2015
Kazutaka Kodaka: It would probably be something not in the open. I would just run and run and run away from the killer, only to be enclosed in a room, panic, and get killed. So I guess you could call it a suicide death. [Laughs]
Translations provided by NIS America.