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Danganronpa Zero
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The article below is based on non-localized content only available in Japanese.
As such, all information in this article is based on fan-contributed translations.

Danganronpa Zero (ダンガンロンパ/ゼロ, stylized as Danganronpa/Zero) is a light novel that serves as a prequel to Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, featuring events between Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Despair Arc and the games. There are two known volumes, which were written by the creator of the series, Kazutaka Kodaka.


The story revolves around an amnesiac girl named Ryoko Otonashi who is a student at Hope's Peak Academy, and the sharp-tongued Ultimate Neurologist Yasuke Matsuda, with whom she is infatuated.

Due to her constant loss of short and long-term memories, Ryoko has very little interest in the world around her except for Yasuke, who gives her regular treatment. Yasuke, on the other hand, appears to be very stressed by her and the school's situation.

A month after The Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy, the school is full of unrest and secrets, with many people attempting to find out what truly happened and who is to blame. Despite not wanting any of it, Ryoko is connected to the incident and soon gets caught up in its aftermath, learning more and more about what happened.


Main Characters[]

Ryoko Otonashi[]

Ryoko Otanashi ID
Ryoko Otonashi
音無 涼子
She is the main protagonist who suffers from constant memory loss and as a result has to carry a notebook, in which she records her memories, so as to not forget anything important. She gets caught up in the aftermath of The Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy. She holds the title of Super High School Level Analytical Prowess (超高校級の「分析力」), a fact she cannot remember.

Yasuke Matsuda[]

Yasuke Matsuda ID
Yasuke Matsuda
松田 夜助
A student of Hope's Peak Academy who is in charge of school's Neurology lab and Ryoko's treatment. He is a childhood friend of Ryoko as well. While he insults Ryoko often, he truly does care for her. He holds the title of Ultimate Neurologist (超高校級の「神経学者」) and as a result he is very much trusted by the school.

Yuto Kamishiro[]

Yuto Kamishiro ID
Yuto Kamishiro
神代 優兎
This character is a student hailing from Hope's Peak Academy, driven by a relentless determination to unravel the mysteries surrounding The Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy and uncover the identity of the mastermind behind it. In a pivotal turn of events, he strikes a deal with Ryoko. Notably, he carries the prestigious title of "Ultimate Spy" (超高校級の「諜報員」)

Kyoko Kirigiri[]

Kyoko Kirigiri Zero ID
Kyoko Kirigiri
霧切 響子
She is a student attending Hope's Peak Academy who is investigating the mystery behind Izuru Kamukura and The Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy. She holds the title of Ultimate Detective (超高校級の「探偵」).

Isshiki Madarai[]

Isshiki Madarai ID
Isshiki Madarai
斑井 一式
He is a student of Hope's Peak Academy who worked for the Student Council, who were all killed in the school's Tragedy, with the exception of Sōshun Murasame. He now investigates the incident and is specifically after Junko Enoshima. He holds the title of Ultimate Bodyguard (超高校級の「ボディーガード」).

Jin Kirigiri[]

Jin Kirigiri Zero ID
Jin Kirigiri
霧切 仁
He is the Headmaster of Hope's Peak Academy. He is also Kyoko's father, and the one who asked her to investigate the school's incident.

Sōshun Murasame[]

Soushun Murasame VA ID
Sōshun Murasame
村雨 早春
This character is both a student at Hope's Peak Academy and a prominent member of the institution's esteemed Student Council. He carries the weighty distinction of being the sole survivor of The Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy, although he remains in a purported state of coma. His official title is that of the "Ultimate Student Council President" (超高校級の「生徒会長」)

Junko Enoshima[]

Junko Enoshima Zero ID
Junko Enoshima
江ノ島 盾子
She assumes the role of the primary antagonist, bearing the responsibility for instigating The Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy. Her official designation is the "Super High School Level Gyaru" (超高校級の「ギャル」)

Mukuro Ikusaba[]

Mukuro Ikusaba Zero ID
Mukuro Ikusaba
戦刃 むくろ
She is one of the antagonists and Junko's older sister. She holds the title of Ultimate Soldier (超高校級の「軍人」).

The Steering Committee[]

Steering Committee ID
The Steering Committee
Scientists who hold the true power in Hope's Peak Academy. They hid the school's Tragedy for the sake of their image and have indirectly caused many of the school's problems.

Izuru Kamukura[]

Izuru Kamukura VA ID
Izuru Kamukura
カムクラ イズル
He is a mysterious student in the school, known by name only by few and akin to a ghost story. He is the supposed culprit behind The Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy. His location is unknown.

Minor Characters[]

Student Council[]

Student Council
They were students from Hope's Peak Academy's Main Course. They participated in the killing game which was The Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy. All the members were murdered one by one, with only Sōshun and Izuru surviving the killing game.

The Reserve Course[]

The Reserve Course
The Reserve Course students, who began rioting as a response to the school's Tragedy. They created the Parade and a secret society, who repeatedly watch footage of the incident.

Makoto Naegi[]

Makoto Naegi Zero ID
Makoto Naegi
苗木 誠
He is a student attending Hope's Peak Academy. He is mentioned as Mukuro's classmate. He holds the title of Ultimate Good Luck (超高校級の「幸運」) .

Chihiro Fujisaki[]

Chihiro Fujisaki VA ID
Chihiro Fujisaki
不二咲 千尋
This character remains shrouded in anonymity, merely alluded to as a student enrolled at Hope's Peak Academy. In the shadows, he engages in clandestine activities, occasionally hacking into the academy's servers on behalf of Yuto. His official designation is the "Ultimate Programmer" (超高校級の「プログラマー」)

Teruteru Hanamura[]

Teruteru Hanamura VA ID
Teruteru Hanamura
花村 輝々
A student who is only mentioned anonymously. He helps out at one of the school's many cafeterias and his food is considered extremely addictive. He holds the title of Ultimate Cook (超高校級の「料理人」).

Volume 1 Recap[]

Hope's Peak Academy's Campus Culture[]

In the Faculty Building in the East District of Hope's Peak Academy, all of the academy's faculty gather to listen to the announcement of Headmaster Jin Kirigiri, who is surrounded by the four old men composing the school's Steering Committee. Jin relays his joint decision with them to conceal from the public the horrific incident that took place on the campus a month earlier: a mass murder they internally label "the Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy." Everyone in attendance agrees because they all obsessively believe that the academy must not be allowed to collapse under public scrutiny, which would destroy their pursuit of the very special "hope" they believe humankind's future prospects depend on.

The East District houses the Main Course buildings that are focused on nurturing the "Ultimate" talents of the students personally scouted by the faculty. However, the Steering Committee have recently set up a separate "Reserve Course" complex in the West District that operates much more like a traditional high school. They have done so in a bid to increase the institution's revenue and expand its operation as a research facility dedicated to human talent. To this end, the Committee have instated extremely bloated tuition fees; nonetheless, thousands of students apply for the Reserve Course because of the value the institution's good name offers in helping its alumni job-hunt. This has since improved the Committee's power in relation to the headmaster's position.

Danganronpa Zero - Volume 1 Illustration (2)

The Reserve Course students hold a deep-seated resentment toward the system, which effectively establishes a caste hierarchy where the "commoners" in the Reserve Course financially support the privileged elite Ultimate students. This unjust social structure has garnered widespread disapproval from external observers, likely serving as the catalyst for the recent surge in Reserve Course student protests on the campus. In an attempt to downplay the negative implications of these gatherings, the Steering Committee has publicly referred to them as "the parade" rather than "demonstrations." Nevertheless, it appears that there is an additional, unidentified factor fueling the increasing numbers of protesters.

Ryoko Otonashi is a perky red-headed female student whose anterograde amnesia forces her to have to write down everything important in her personal "memory notebook" and constantly refer back to it to follow with conversations and get around the school. For a while, she has been treated for her condition by her childhood sweetheart on campus, the cold-shouldered "Ultimate Neurologist" of Class 77-A, Yasuke Matsuda, who heads the Neuroscience Institute room in the Biology Building. Matsuda is the reason Ryoko has not been kicked out of the school already, for she is useful as a research subject on account of having both a brain disorder and a brain-intensive talent. For her part, she does not lament her forgetfulness and only hopes to stay with him forever, and her stock mental response to any issue that might trouble her is, "It has nothing to do with me."

Matsuda finds himself in a tight spot, needing to leave Ryoko alone in the lab as he heads to the Faculty Building to meet with Jin and the Steering Committee. In the past, he had assisted them in questioning a specific student who had been the first to stumble upon the gruesome scene of The Tragedy a month earlier. This event had resulted in the deaths of thirteen students, one left in a coma and under secretive institutional care, and another who had gone missing. Now, the Committee has called upon Matsuda to interrogate the comatose student, hoping for fresh insights into the incident that they could then discreetly sweep under the rug.

Matsuda, however, doesn't easily succumb to the power dynamics at play. He momentarily asserts himself when the elderly committee members attempt to flex their authority over him, reminding them that they hold Ryoko's fate in their hands, something they are eager to exploit. Their intentions are clear - they don't believe Matsuda can reverse Ryoko's condition and would prefer to cut ties with her, but Matsuda isn't ready to back down.

Encounter in the Central Plaza[]

Matsuda heads back to the Neuroscience Institute and instructs Ryoko to vacate the premises for the remainder of the day. Ryoko, with her trusty memory notebook in hand, makes her way back to her dorm room in the South District of the distinctive diamond-shaped campus, relying on the hand-drawn map she meticulously sketched in her notebook for guidance.

Soon after, a strange letter is deposited under her door, which claims that other "memory notebooks" belonging to her were stolen from under her bed; the letter threateningly beckons her to come to the wooded Central Plaza after midnight. Since she cannot remember whether she even had other memory notebooks to begin with, Ryoko has no choice but to comply. When Ryoko arrives in the center of the plaza, she discovers next to the plaza's fountain a notebook labeled as her property... next to the corpse of an old man.

In terror, Ryoko sprints back to the student dorms and desperately knocks on Matsuda's door — but his next-door classmate, one especially young-looking Yuto Kamishiro, tells her he's probably in his lab in the East District, which means Ryoko's path to him would be blocked off by school security systems. Ryoko suddenly remembers there was evidence planted near the corpse to frame her and rushes back to the plaza... only to find that the old man's body has since disappeared.

Danganronpa Zero - Volume 1 Illustration (3)

Suddenly, an unhinged girl calling herself Junko Enoshima introduces herself to Ryoko and admits to the killing, and she describes herself as hoping to make "examples" out of the Steering Committee and expose the secrets about the "Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy" they have been trying to conceal. In her mind, the entire world is her plaything in her quest to spread despair, for she has titled herself the "Ultimate Despair." However, Junko seems genuinely perplexed that the body suddenly went missing in the time she went off to clean the blood off herself.

And then, an imposing stranger giving off a snake-like vibe suddenly intrudes on the conversation. Introducing himself as Isshiki Madarai, he seeks to interrogate the one called "Junko Enoshima" on account of a rumor claiming she was involved in "that incident." Junko suddenly engages him in an intense bout of martial arts, wanting Ryoko all the while to jot down what she observes about Madarai's movement patterns in her memory notebook. Junko just as suddenly disappears, leaving Ryoko to try to escape him on her own. During the chase through the plaza, Ryoko uses what turns out to be her talent — super analytical proficiency — to predict and dodge each of Madarai's thrusts, just as Junko had apparently wanted and expected of her.

Ryoko dashes into a storage shed in a clearing in the plaza and hides behind burlap sacks of powder. As Madarai follows, she spreads the powder through the air and claims she will ignite it with a spark, successfully tricking Madarai into pulling out a vaccuum cleaner to prevent a deadly explosion — only for all the shelves of paint cans it was supporting to topple over and crush him underneath. Ryoko explains it was actually cement powder, but Madarai warns he has not yet deployed his "ace" as he loses consciousness.

Just as Ryoko exits the shed, she's caught off guard as someone grabs her by the neck, and to her shock, it appears to be Madarai, seemingly unscathed from their previous encounter. He menacingly starts to threaten her, preparing to inflict violence and extract information about the incident. However, the horrifying turn of events takes another unexpected twist as Junko intervenes with brutal force, snapping Madarai's neck right before Ryoko's eyes. Overwhelmed and traumatized by the gruesome scene, Ryoko faints from the sheer shock of it all.

In the Neuroscience Institute[]

Ryoko wakes up on the bed back in the Neuroscience Institute, having been restrained to it by Matsuda; he claims to have been frustrated by her disappearance last night and his fruitless attempts to look for her across the campus, only to find her sleeping in his lab when he returned. Oddly, Matsuda was crawling out from underneath her bed when she woke up.

Matsuda reminisces on the last time she had irritated him with an outrageous stunt: In elementary school, Ryoko had spent a month in the sand box sculpting an astonishing sand model of the Sagrada Família church, of all things — but then it suddenly got destroyed one night. Matsuda spent a lot of time looking for the culprit, driven forward by how upset she presented herself over it, only for her to reveal to him later that she destroyed her own creation on purpose. Ryoko does not understand why her past self would do such a thing.

Danganronpa Zero - Volume 1 Illustration (4)

Ryoko recites what she had written in her notebook that one "Junko Enoshima" killed someone in the Central Plaza and left the body for her to see. Hearing this prompts a dark shift in Matsuda's demeanor, and he tells her that no such incident could have occurred, given that the school would be in an uproar otherwise. He even goes so far as to say that she must have made the story up to cope with the feelings of loneliness brought on by her own "it has nothing to do with me" mantra. He tells Ryoko to believe in him instead of the notebook — though she becomes upset when Matsuda implies his duties mean he cannot "be her memory" forever.

After Matsuda hastily leaves for another appointment, Ryoko is suddenly untied by Yuto Kamishiro — who had been standing in the room without either of them noticing. This talent is what his title as the "Ultimate Spy" is owed to; he is studying to become a secret agent to capitalize on his abnormal lack of presence, which had previously tormented him as a kid. He also has a perverted streak.

Kamishiro reveals he has been investigating the rumors about a so-called "Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy" being the reason why fourteen members of the Student Council suddenly and supposedly "went overseas to study" without any advance notice being given to anyone else. What he has found out thus far is that Junko had been investigated by the school, but never charged; however, several weeks ago, she sent a cryptic email describing the mass murder to every student in the Reserve Course. Kamishiro found this in the school's servers with the help of a certain "Ultimate Programmer" from the recently instated Class 78. Junko has not been going to her classes recently, either. Now that "Junko" has exhibited interest in Ryoko and evidently wants her involved in her plans regarding the incident, Kamishiro offers to use his intelligence-gathering skills to continue the investigation for Ryoko's benefit.

After Kamishiro leaves, Matsuda returns to the lab and sullenly apologizes for the earlier conversation; even though Ryoko has already forgotten it, she is more than content to capitalize on this latest excuse to embrace him.

Kyoko Kirigiri's Investigation[]

Kyoko Kirigiri is a student in Class 78 who bears the title of "Ultimate Detective." Indeed, she had been employed by Hope's Peak's headmaster — her own father, Jin Kirigiri — mere days earlier to investigate the disappearance of one of the members of the Steering Committee. She has called over another member of the Committee to the base of a clock tower in the East District to personally question him about what she has found out was a certain truth they were trying to hide even from her client.

Danganronpa Zero - Volume 1 Illustration (5)

Except, as soon as the elderly man arrives... he gets crushed to death by multiple school desks hurled from the roof of a nearby school building. The figure responsible attempts to take out Kyoko the same way; rather than quail or seek shelter, Kyoko rushes headlong into the building and runs up to the roof. When she arrives, she is frustrated to find that the murderous perpetrator has already fled the scene. What most unsettles her, however, is that when she looks back down on the pile of desks from the roof, she finds that the dead body has already disappeared. Kyoko promptly heads off to the headmaster to give an urgent report. A few minutes later, Junko returns to the scene and is once again legitimately taken off guard to find that the body has disappeared.

In the Headmaster's Office in the Faculty Building, Jin reacts to the stunning news by hypothesizing that the murderer might be targeting the Steering Committee because the Committee's members know the identity of the culprit behind the Tragedy and have been hiding that person's location, even from him. Kyoko reveals she had found out on her own that the culprit's name was Izuru Kamukura, but she asks why Jin would ask her to find Kamukura at this stage when the Committee is presumably sheltering them as much as is needed to cover the incident up. Jin feels that whichever force that had set off the Tragedy may cause an incident even more grave despite the Committee's efforts to fully bury the story, so he had wanted to question Kamukura personally.

Kyoko internally chastises herself for letting the fact her client is her father get under her skin. She had resented him ever since he, in her perspective, abandoned his family, in stark contrast to how much she had revered her grandfather, the head of the Kirigiri family of detectives. As Kyoko turns to leave, Jin notes that the Reserve Course's parade is growing more radical by the day, and that the timing for it lines up too well for it to be unrelated to the Tragedy. Therefore, as a father would, he asks her to be careful going about this job.

Junko Enoshima's Vow[]

In her dorm room, Ryoko is woken up by the sounds of harsh thumping on her door — and when she opens it up, Junko Enoshima forces herself inside with astonishing physical strength. She unexpectedly hugs Ryoko while threateningly calling on her to summon up murderous hatred for her so that this "story" would become that much more despair-inducing for it. She implies that Ryoko will be "reborn" as her "real self" at the end of all this, and she states matter-of-factly that Ryoko Otonashi has plenty to do with the Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy, no matter how much Ryoko might insist that the things she cannot remember are meaningless to her.

Deciding that it is up to Ryoko to find out on her own the degree to which she is involved with that incident, Junko promises to go away for good once Ryoko writes down the following "hints" in her notebook: that Junko's first goal is to grind to dust the school's "symbol of hope," Izuru Kamukura... and that her second goal is to kill Ryoko's beloved darling, Yasuke Matsuda. Junko wordlessly leaves Ryoko to her troubled thoughts. But rather than collapse over this direct threat to Matsuda's life, Ryoko becomes singularly focused on becoming his savior and protecting the world they share. As she runs off, she has no way of knowing at this moment that the despair that fate has in store for her has only begun.

Volume 2 Recap[]

The Comatose Survivor[]

The audience is shown a flashback to Matsuda and Ryoko's conversation after the sand castle incident. She had explained it was a stunt to get him out of the house, for he had been despondent over the recent passing of his mother; by the end, her mental condition had deteriorated to the point she did not even recognize him anymore. His belief that he could have treated her would eventually lead to his decision to pursue neurology as a vocation. At the same time, Ryoko's promise to be his "lover" whenever he would be sad was the starting foundation of their present-day relationship.

In the present, Matsuda is led through the usually empty fourth floor of the Faculty Building by the physician initially tasked with taking care of the comatose survivor of the Tragedy. He is left alone to try his hand at communicating with the survivor on his bed: his own classmate and the "Ultimate Student Council President," Sōshun Murasame. It quickly turns out that Murasame had only been pretending to be vegetative and is no longer the man Matsuda knew him as. Matsuda muses about how the Steering Committee would probably find a way to permanently silence Murasame once they are done extracting the full story of the incident out of him, since they most likely cannot afford to let him loose into the public. Murasame distantly responds that Izuru Kamukura was the killer of the Student Council... but not necessarily the incident's "culprit."

But when Matsuda asks about what connection to the incident Junko Enoshima might have, Murasame's reaction gives the impression that his body and mind have just become possessed by a demon. He violently rants about Junko and screams that he must kill her at all costs. This reaction darkens Matsuda's mood past the point of no return, for he now knows that Junko Enoshima is most likely Hope's Peak Academy's true enemy. But since he had long since resolved to protect that person at all costs... Matsuda chokes Murasame to death.

In Pursuit of the Truth[]

Ryoko, seeking to protect Matsuda from Junko, rushes back into the Neuroscience Institute, only to find another boy his age waiting for Matsuda inside: Makoto Naegi, the decidedly plain-looking "Ultimate Lucky Student" of Class 78, who had come by to return to Matsuda the latter's lost e-Handbook. Makoto is rather perplexed by Ryoko addressing him as a stranger, but he then recalls a rumor that a student has become forgetful on account of an illness. When questioned by her, he confirms that he knew her before she became forgetful, meaning she did not have this mental condition when she first came to the academy. This tells Ryoko that Junko was lying to her about having taken "other" memory notebooks from under her bed in her dorm, and she tries thinking about what else Junko was being dishonest about.

Danganronpa Zero - Volume 2 Illustration (1)

Suddenly, Madarai makes another appearance and firmly clamps onto Makoto's shoulders, claiming himself to be an "immortal" who "got killed by his own target" late that night in the Central Plaza. He reveals himself to be the "Ultimate Bodyguard" who was once charged with protecting the Student Council. As such, he felt deep humiliation over how whoever murdered them did not even consider him a target and denied him even so much as his chance to fight, and he now seeks to atone via confronting his failure and exacting revenge. Ryoko continuously insists that she has no knowledge of, or involvement with, the Tragedy, so Madarai escalates the standoff by threatening to crush Makoto's head between his large hands.

Unable to process the terror of the situation anymore, Ryoko distantly mumbles that none of this has anything to do with her and states that Makoto's situation is owed to his own rotten luck. Madarai prepares to bloodily demonstrate the full extent of his resolve... But all of a sudden, another stranger rushes into the room at lightning speed and renders Madarai unconscious with a decisive kick to the chin. Revealed to be Makoto's classmate, "Ultimate Soldier" Mukuro Ikusaba, her only guess as to why she just happened to be in the area and thus capable of saving Makoto at the opportune moment was that she was "just passing by," as if Makoto's own luck had saved him.

And then, Yuto Kamishiro suddenly makes his presence known in the room. Flexing a rather self-important air, he unilaterally decides to bring Ryoko away to an important private talk, leaving to the "side-characters" Mukuro and Makoto the daunting task of finding a way to hide Madarai without letting the security department become aware of any of this. Kamishiro brings Ryoko to the bustling school cafeteria of all places, which ironically offers better cover for sharing secrets than any conspicuously out-of-the-way spot.

Kamishiro first casually reveals that he had wiretapped Ryoko's room, which had let him find out that Junko Enoshima paid a violent visit to her room recently. After writing off Junko's brazen announcement of her planned killing of Matsuda as a bluff to some end or another, Kamishiro then reveals he had also wiretapped a private room for female teaching staff. From what he gleaned from the staff's conversation, Izuru Kamukura is indeed the culprit of the Tragedy. However, none of the students on campus ever recall knowing a student by that name; it was as if Kamukura had somehow appeared out of thin air in time for the incident and only got promptly hidden by the Steering Committee after it occurred.

The faculty conversation had also confirmed for Kamishiro that Junko was both the Tragedy's first discoverer and the one who spread the rumor about Kamukura... and yet, despite being interrogated with radical brain-wave-measuring technology, she was released as a suspect. Kamishiro suddenly realizes that only Yasuke Matsuda could have performed this neurological interrogation on behalf of the school, indicating a connection between the two that might be the important context of Junko's death threat against him. As Kamishiro leaves the cafeteria to follow this case to its resolution, Ryoko is left to wrangle with the implications of Matsuda somehow having a secret connection with Junko.

Then suddenly, Junko herself struts up to Ryoko's table and quietly vows to her that the latter needs to attain more hands-on experience with despair at the moment. Ryoko suddenly falls unconscious from a tranquilizing substance administered to her.

Sometime later, Matsuda rushes to Ryoko's dorm and then the Biology Building in search for her — only to find Junko waiting for him in the Neuroscience Institute. She gloats that she has merely been standing by while everyone else runs around campus doing her work for her, Ryoko included. She reveals that she knows that he got into a lethal altercation with Murasame, and she taunts him with the statement that his attraction to Ryoko likely has to do with her resemblance to his sadly departed mother. She is very confident that the Steering Committee will issue Izuru Kamukura the blame for the Student Council president's death as well.

Junko recommends Matsuda find out Kamukura's whereabouts for both their sakes by questioning the Committee — but she makes it clear that it does not actually matter to her if they don't give up the answer, even though that would cause all of her plans to fall apart. To her, that would just be another manifestation of the despair she seeks. Nonetheless, she knows it matters greatly to Matsuda that he not fail in his goal to protect his beloved. As she calls on him to win over despair with his hope, Junko suddenly gives him a long and rough kiss on the lips, which he does not pull away from. He finds out too late that Junko had administered a paralyzing substance to him through her poisoned lipstick, leaving him standing motionless as she walks back out unimpeded.

The Secret Society[]

Ryoko finds herself waking up in an underground, concrete complex in the company of a schoolgirl dressed as a maid and wearing an off-putting mask resembling a monochrome cartoon bear. Oddly seeming to treat Ryoko as a guest of honor, the maid shows her around what she calls a secret society that has taken residence in the basement of a now-defunct club room in the West District. Dozens of Reserve Course students wearing the same mask — which the maid identifies as a mascot the Reserve Course students call "Monokuma" — are lifelessly watching videos on their monitors. The maid explains that they are dissatisfied with Hope's Peak's caste system — though oddly enough, they rather relish the feeling of being "oppressed" by the East District.

Danganronpa Zero - Volume 2 Illustration (2)

The so-called parade going on outside is seen by these students as their revolution to change not just Hope's Peak, but the world itself. Their collective aim is to destroy Hope's Peak Academy's fantasy of attaining the "Ultimate Hope," which the school has allowed untold torment in its pursuit of. This "Ultimate Hope" the Reserve Course students seek to crush is an individual who is said to be so transcendent in terms of talent and genius that they might be worth calling "the pinnacle of human evolution." The maid becomes more unhinged as she rants about how the academy has been secretly funding this superhuman-creation project from the steep tuition paid by the Reserve Course students.

To Ryoko's relief, the maid tells her that she is not necessarily expected to do anything specific for the society. Her attention is then drawn to the video the Monokuma-headed cultists are watching over and over again; it appears to be a propaganda piece displaying horrific scenes of Hope's Peak students murdering each other, as if forced to abide by terms set by someone not pictured onscreen. The students watching the video explain to her that it shows a "Mutual Killing exam" that can be taken as proof of how "insignificant" hope is. The Reserve Course students here have since discarded idealistic notions of "hope" because they believe people in general are quite ready and willing to do just that when forced into mutual killing scenarios.

Ryoko runs through the concrete basement in search of an exit, but the passageway she ends up taking leads her to the barred doors of two holding cells. The occupant of one cell is dead, and the occupant of the other, revealed to be one of the Steering Committee members, had his eyes bloodily sewn shut by the cultists. The man explains that the Reserve Course students had tried to extract from him the location of Izuru Kamukura, but he successfully kept that fact hidden because the students would otherwise become capable of crushing Hope's Peak Academy by exploiting Kamukura's existence. The old man willingly discloses to Ryoko that the Steering Committee have been hiding Kamukura in the Old School Building in the blocked-off North District.

Just then, the Monokuma cultists follow up Ryoko from behind and tell the old man that only more despair awaits him. As the old man starts to panic and lash out, Ryoko's perception of the world begins to distort, and she faints as it becomes apparent that the man is getting carved apart.

Junko Enoshima's Scenario[]

Ryoko once again wakes up on the bed in the Neuroscience Institute, notably capable of remembering some of the details of her time with the secret society without needing to refer to her memory notebook. She finds that Kyoko Kirigiri is the only other person in the room; having received the report that Sōshun Murasame was found dead in the Faculty Building and that the now-missing Matsuda was the last person to meet with him, Kyoko is now seeking clues that could point to Matsuda's motive.

Kyoko explains to Ryoko that she found a hidden storage room beneath the floorboards underneath the bed, and that its contents happen to include bloodstained clothes and a flatbed cart capable of transporting corpses. This leads Kyoko to believe that Yasuke Matsuda is, if not the actual murderer of the Steering Committee members, at least involved in their deaths and disappearances in some way. When she breaks it to Ryoko that Matsuda was definitely the murderer of the Student Council president as well, Ryoko bellows in panicked disbelief.

At that moment, Madarai smashes his way through the room's door, and Ryoko recalls that he had been brutally beaten down three times thus far. To Madarai's surprise, Kyoko reveals she knows about both his role as the Ultimate Bodyguard and the secret behind his so-called "immortality" ability. He thus deigns to reveal his "true power" to Ryoko by having two of his identical brothers step into view. The truth of the matter is that "Madarai" is really a group of eight octuplets, officially titled the "Ultimate Multiple Birth Siblings" on account of their seemingly superhuman synchronization and coordinated teamwork; they have all posed as one individual "Ultimate Bodyguard." The three Madarai brothers attempt to violently bring the girls in for interrogation, but Ryoko acts on a sudden flash of inspiration and leaps through the hallway window outside to "safety" — though she gets roughed up from taking a three-story fall onto the garden below.

Danganronpa Zero - Volume 2 Illustration (3)

Unfortunately, the seventh and eighth Madarai brothers are there waiting for her... but right on cue, Mukuro suddenly restrains them from behind. Two of the three Madarais still in the building then join the fight outside. Though Mukuro is now surrounded by four virtual duplicates of the so-called Ultimate Bodyguard, she sternly tells them to give up in their search for information and cryptically states that "the girl responsible" for what they are going through does not care in the least about their hopes and feelings. The four Madarais pour their efforts into a pack-attack aimed directly at her, but she proceeds to execute a flawless "combat dance" of dodging and striking maneuvers. As if she were from a different dimension, her movements and blows only increase in speed and intensity even as her opponents falter, and she ends up knocking them all out.

When asked why she saved Ryoko, Mukuro oddly implies that everything that has happened is in accordance with a "Scenario" Junko Enoshima had authored; Mukuro's only role has been to prevent the "story" from diverging off its prescribed path. Ryoko is stunned to learn that Junko is Mukuro's sister — though she states authoritatively that this fact would never matter to Junko in the least. Mukuro's expression and tone take on an odd and intoxicated glee as she explains how Junko's world is drenched in a vicious cycle of despair. With a mixture of bitterness and affection, Mukuro states that it's because Junko is the "lowest" kind of sister that she, the only person who can understand her, personally cannot abandon her. As Mukuro sees it, Junko herself doesn't realize that she needs Mukuro as well.

Mukuro, having reluctantly accepted that Junko's scenario has now arrived at this dark turn, then reveals that she can disclose Yasuke Matsuda's whereabouts to Ryoko — but only if Ryoko does something for her first. She explains that the four unconscious Madarai siblings will likely go on a despair-fueled murderous rampage aimed at the murderer of the Student Council president once they find out about it — and she reveals that Yasuke Matsuda was his killer. Ryoko is completely beside herself after hearing this, and Mukuro tosses her a knife and calls on her to "overcome Hope's Peak Academy here and now" and attain true hope by sacrificing the Madarais... as per the scenario Junko assigned to Ryoko.

Ryoko grips the knife in a trance, mentally grasping that she can overcome her present feelings of despair by "seizing hope" in this dark way. And so, she begins stabbing... and stabbing. She soon lets out a primal scream of panic over the four corpses she has created and shrieks to Mukuro that all this rambling about hope and despair has nothing to do with her. As she plaintively calls out for Matsuda to help her, Mukuro has to resort to giving Ryoko what she wants by revealing that Matsuda is at the Old School Building, where the "climax" of the Scenario is set to take place.

Ryoko, suddenly filled with hope to the point that she seemingly forgets what she was sobbing about, thanks Mukuro and runs off to the North District, leaving Mukuro to clear the scene of what remains of the four Madarais. Mukuro also makes plans to help Kyoko deal with the one remaining Madarai brother and find a way to uneventfully "remove" her from the Scenario. Ryoko, meanwhile, sees herself as sprinting toward her idealized happy ending with Matsuda, uplifted by the promise of returning to those happy days under his care.

The Old School Building[]

As Ryoko approaches the fenced-off Old School Building in the North District, a group of high-school-aged security guards suddenly surround her — but they bizarrely disperse just as quickly, with one of them flashing a "Monokuma" medal to her and pointing her to a hole in the fence she can use to get inside. Ryoko is obviously perplexed, but she proceeds convinced that everything will be all right once she reunites with Matsuda, the one person she believes in.

Inside the darkened structure, as Ryoko calls out Matsuda's name, she suddenly encounters Kamishiro, who had infiltrated the Old School Building a short time earlier after making his own connections between this place and the recent incidents. As part of what he labels his "resolution phase" leading up to him ideally putting a stop to the scheme that's afoot, Kamishiro provides a summarized explanation of what he's found out about the Tragedy of Hope's Peak Academy:

Thirteen members of the Student Council were murdered in this very building, and the only two survivors were Sōshun Murasame and Izuru Kamukura. The latter was, in fact, the product of the faculty's collective and clandestine efforts to force every Ultimate talent into one individual's body. This person was raised in a completely sheltered state, and the school hid their existence and all knowledge of the experiment from all the other students even while making use of the Reserve Course as financial stepping stones. But then Kamukura, the so-called Ultimate Hope, caused that bizarre mass murder... or so it is said.

The Steering Committee, likely facing pressure from outside the school as well, attempted in earnest to fully conceal Kamukura's roles as both the incident's survivor and its likely perpetrator, and they supposedly kept Kamukura in the Old School Building since then. However, Junko Enoshima discovered the truth of the incident and sought to find Izuru Kamukura, having decided to overthrow Hope's Peak Academy by exploiting that figure from the academy's sordid history. In Kamishiro's opinion, the Committee members' recent disappearances certainly appear to have been her handiwork; perhaps she was aiming to force Kamukura's location out of them.

As Kamishiro and Ryoko discover and ride a hidden custom-built elevator taking them down below, Kamishiro expresses his cautious excitement about advancing his talent as a spy and becoming a legend to Hope's Peak by solving this case. More importantly, Kamishiro shares a working theory, based on how the Steering Committee members had taken great pains to keep Kamukura merely hidden on the campus, that Kamukura is actually a misblamed victim awaiting justice to befall the true culprit.

Kamishiro states his belief that Junko Enoshima is the mastermind pulling the strings from the shadows — and that Yasuke Matsuda has been secretly operating as her accomplice. On top of having gotten the school to clear Junko as a primary suspect, it appears to Kamishiro that Matsuda might have been involved in the disappearances of the Steering Committee members as well. Kamishiro's basis for this conclusion is that he had witnessed what he interprets to be conclusive evidence of a connection between the two: a certain "love scene" they partook in. Ryoko's mind devolves into utter chaos upon hearing this, leading her to presume that her own feelings for Matsuda were arranged by Junko Enoshima from the start.

As Ryoko glances around the minimally furnished basement chamber they end up in, Kamishiro suddenly gets his neck broken by an unseen assailant. A young man suddenly steps into view and regretfully expresses that Kamishiro should not have meddled in Junko Enoshima's affairs, and he claims to be Izuru Kamukura in the flesh.

"Kamukura" narrates to a thunderstruck Ryoko that the Tragedy of Hope's Peak does not actually mean much to Junko Enoshima; she simply made use of Kamukura and the Student Council as sacrifices to stir the pent-up emotions of the Reserve Course, inciting their parade in a manner that could be likened to brainwashing. He claims that the incident itself was a mutual killing contest she forced upon the Ultimate Hope and the proud elites of Hope's Peak after locking them in the closed-off Hope's Peak school building. That done, she had the Reserve Course watch videos of this killing game, staining them with resentful despair, and she made sure Kamukura would survive so that it would come across to everyone that the school's own Ultimate Hope was the one responsible for the atrocity. It was also likely that Junko planned for the school's top brass to hide this sin, given that it led the Reserve Course to despise the entire institution just as she had intended.

When Ryoko asks what he and Junko have to do with each other, the man venomously calls Ryoko out for her implication that she cannot remember him because she is, ironically, only just now remembering that he was never an important person to her. For he is not actually Izuru Kamukura, who had actually been taken from here a long time ago... but Yasuke Matsuda. Ryoko looks at her notebook's sketches of Matsuda and is perplexed to find that she is not feeling any emotions, corroborating his claim. She tries proposing that the two just forget about all this and go back to the lab, but he solemly intones that there is no going back for either of them now.

Matsuda muses that he only realized after the Tragedy of Hope's Peak that his entire life was a false scenario set up by Junko Enoshima to control him, and that everything he did was out of a mistaken belief that he could save her by stopping her. First, he sought to protect Junko by concealing her existence, and yet she proceeded to have the Steering Committee members killed off. Therefore, he hid the corpses for her sake, and he even went so far as to murder inconvenient people for her sake — namely, Sōshun Murasame, who knew the truth of the incident, and Yuto Kamishiro just now. To answer Ryoko's question why Junko is so important to him, Matsuda explains that Junko saved him from despairful loneliness at a critical time in his life by impudently promising to be the most important thing in the world to him. To Ryoko, this revelation of his relationship with Junko wipes away every last vestige of her hope.

Just then, the girl who purported herself to be Junko Enoshima all this time comes down the elevator to provide some supplementary explanation to the other two: She is actually Mukuro Ikusaba dressed up and disguised as her sister. Mukuro explains that everything she has done, even right down to her spoken lines, was set up by Junko. Matsuda realizes from this that the real Junko saw through his plan to hide her and made Mukuro put on a performance in order to make Ryoko believe in Junko's existence for a particular reason.

Danganronpa Zero - Volume 2 Illustration (4)

Ryoko, of course, is completely incapable of following the conversation, but her takeaway is that she might as well give up and let everything end now. Pondering whether his own desire to protect Junko was the genesis of a true despair that will not end unless he takes action, Matsuda wraps his hands around Ryoko's neck and states that his intention is to "end things once and for all." Ryoko is content to let herself die in her and Matsuda's little world... but suddenly, "Ryoko Otonashi" ceases to be, and she makes a sinister confession that there never was a girl by that name to begin with — for she has now remembered who she is.

Matsuda suddenly recoils from the knife the girl once called "Ryoko" has just embedded in his stomach. He venomously spouts that the "treatment" he had been giving her this whole time was actually him laboring to prevent her from remembering anything at all. Mukuro nervously adds that, while she was playing out her role in Junko's disguise, the real Junko was conducting plans of her own that she did not disclose even to her... plans that called for Junko to deceive even herself. Matsuda realizes that everything has gone just as planned for Junko Enoshima, the true identity of the girl now standing before him.

However, Matsuda still wonders why Junko went so far as to have him take her memory in order to dodge the school's investigation. Junko irritably tells Matsuda off for presuming that she went through all that hassle just to bring the likes of him into despair. She does take a cruel delight in suggesting to him, however, that she was the reason his mother turned out the way she did. Plunged into the utter depths of despair upon hearing this, Matsuda weakly asks what she means by that... but Junko waits idly until he is dead. The despair Junko now feels over having personally killed off the most cherished existence to her, in the most despair-inducing way possible for the victim himself, is wonderful beyond all comprehension to her, and she cackles as she kicks Matsuda's corpse so brutally that it gradually starts losing its resemblance to a human.


Kyoko wakes up in an infirmary under the watch of her father, Headmaster Jin. Her last memory was of the moment Mukuro came to assist her when she was cornered by one of the Madarai brothers in the Neuroscience Institute. Jin reports to Kyoko that Mukuro had also rescued Junko, who is now temporarily hospitalized in the Faculty Building's infirmary. It is understood that the shock of the whole ordeal seemingly made Junko recover her memories, which will allow her to return to her class soon.

Kyoko is then stunned to hear that Jin intends to close his investigation request regarding Izuru Kamukura, and he cannot disclose the reasons as to why; he only states that measures involving confidential information have shifted in response to the inaugurations of the new Steering Committee members, which have taken place just today. In response to her question regarding what happened to Yasuke Matsuda and the Madarai brothers, he states that they were dealt with by the new Steering Committee through "expulsion," with others soon to follow. Of course, the new Committee intends to completely conceal this latest incident.

Despite this being where things currently stand, Kyoko makes it clear that she will still be laboring on her own to look into what happened despite no longer being bound by a request to do so. As his response to this, Jin warns that if Kyoko either endangers herself or attempts to circumvent the school's regulations at any point, she will be the next to leave Hope's Peak. Jin walks out, pained from having had to say that to his daughter as a means of keeping her away from the incident for her own good. But he knows that the situation has already progressed far beyond his reach.

Despite the new Steering Committee's initiative to fully conceal the recent incident by announcing the termination of the Kamukura Project as a way of saying that the individual known as the "Ultimate Hope" never existed, Jin gets a dark premonition that the incident is by no means over. Something horrific is set to befall the school... and the world itself would plunge into a maelstrom of chaos because of it. Believing that the talent bearing the ability to wreak despair across all of society is lurking somewhere in Hope's Peak Academy, Jin thus resolves to speed up the timetable of his plan to let the the Main Course students take refuge in the Old School Building, a place beyond the sight of even the new Steering Committee.

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Junko eventually returns to her dorm room to reflect on the results of her audacious stunt to have Matsuda temporarily lock her own memories away. One of her many aims was to test Matsuda's memory-manipulation methods on herself in advance of an upcoming stage of a grand plan of hers to inflict despair on a greater scale. Among her other aims were to test her ability to author a scenario in which everyone, even her own amnesiac self, would move exactly as predicted; to test Mukuro's capacity to convincingly roleplay as her; to force the location of Kamukura out of the Steering Committee and have them replaced; and to assess whether she could force an entire group of students into a mutual killing scenario and spread despair at large by showing recordings and transmissions of that.

On all these counts, Junko's plans went off without any hitches — to the point that she found it rather boring, particularly in regards to how quickly the mutual killing portion of it played out. After all, she had even sown some seeds elsewhere that would come into play if any of her schemes failed at any point. Therefore, she adjusts her plans by having her future mutual killing scenario presented as a more drawn-out "game" that would optimize the tension and despair-inducing drama. She finds the "Monokuma" mask adopted by the Reserve Course students to be a worthwhile mascot for her own use. She also decides to leave Kamukura alone for the time being, for he is now apparently embracing despair as well.

Amid the tumultuous parade of disgruntled Reserve Course students, their emotions teetering on the edge of eruption, Junko seizes the moment to bring Mukuro by her side. Together, they make their way to rejoin Class 78, a malevolent glint in Junko's eye as she eagerly anticipates the unfathomable despair that her elaborate machinations are poised to unleash upon the unsuspecting students.


  • It is the first novel released in the Danganronpa franchise.
  • Several characters cameo in Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School and Danganronpa 2.5: Nagito Komaeda and the World Vanquisher.
    • In an interview with Anime News Network, Kazutaka Kodaka stated that he meant these cameos as "a kind of Easter Egg for core fans of the franchise—but more than that, [he] wanted to show everyone that everything [the novels, the anime, and the games] was all connected."[1]
  • When asked for his opinion on a hypothetical anime adaptation of Danganronpa Zero, Kodaka stated that adaptating it into a series would be too difficult, though it could work as an anime movie.[1]
  • Danganronpa Zero merchandise was released for the first time since its release in January 2021, after being announced in November 2020 as part of the Danganronpa 10th Anniversary celebration.[2]



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Hope's Peak
Light Novels Danganronpa ZeroDanganronpa KirigiriDanganronpa 1 ・2 Beautiful DaysDanganronpa: Togami
Short Stories Makoto Naegi Secret FileDanganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc IFUltra Despair Hagakure