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), also called The Worst, Most Despair-inducing Incident in the History of Mankind, is a major event occurring in the Hope's Peak Series of Danganronpa storyline.
The Tragedy has been described by various people as being an extraordinary form of social unrest, which quickly escalated 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". Despite having paid immense sums of money and participating in hotly-contested examinations, they were viewed as nothing more than second-class students by the main faculty and main course students.
In an attempt to become part of the main course he long admired, Hajime Hinata participated in the "Kamukura Project", an experiment in artificial augmentation to instill all the world's talents in a single being. The process was successful, with Hajime being renamed 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.
In her desire to spread despair, Junko forced the Student Council of Hope's Peak Academy into the first known mutual killing game; all the participants were killed, save for Izuru and the heavily-wounded student council president Sōshun Murasame. The events were broadcast to the Reserve Course, manipulating the footage to paint Izuru himself as the mastermind of events while revealing the nature of his origins to the public. The Reserve Course students were greatly upset by these revelations - in their view, the academy had spent their exorbitant tuition fees to create murderers. In response, they rebelled and protested against the Main Course students, not realizing that they were being manipulated from the shadows by Junko and her budding 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 refined the footage of the first mutual killing game using animation techniques she had learned from Ryota Mitarai, creating a "Despair Video" that could brainwash the viewer into seeing things from her own twisted perspective. After testing its effectiveness on Mikan Tsumiki and Chisa Yukizome, she was eventually 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.
With the Academy struggling to control the Parade, Junko turned her attention to Class 77-B, seeking to turn them into her pawns. She lured them into an underground complex and forced them to watch helplessly as she executed their class representative, Chiaki Nanami; coupled with the advanced editing techniques she had learned from Ryota, the video effectively brainwashed most of Class 77-B into agents of Ultimate Despair. They would eventually fake their deaths with the help of Chisa, allowing them to slip into society unnoticed and strike when the time was right.
The Reserve Course eventually overwhelmed the defenders of Hope's Peak and began destroying the academy, only stopping when Junko sent them a second brainwashing video that drove them to commit mass suicide. The incident prompted widespread social unrest 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 Scenario
With Ultimate Despair working to fuel the flames of discontent, the "anti-talent" movement rapidly engulfed the world, becoming more violent by the day; chaos and death quickly became a normal part of society, and the original motives for the protests were lost. Soon, the better portion of the population had fallen into despair and anarchy, and the major worldwide 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 was among those students, and she 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 Killing School Life.
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 to execute 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 the Future Foundation gained more power. The world finally started to show signs of recovering.
Shortly after Junko's death, the Future Foundation saved the few survivors of the Mutual Killing Incident of Class 78th and restored their memories. Makoto, Kyoko Kirigiri, Byakuya Togami, Aoi Asahina and Yasuhiro Hagakure joined the Future Foundation to help their work. Toko Fukawa wasn't allowed to become an official member due to her murderous split personality, but it seems that the Future Foundation allowed her to work with them as an intern and field agent.
Some time after saving 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 the Branch Head 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; by erasing the memories of their heinous deeds, he thought that the Remnants of Despair could return to their original selves. However, the higher-ups of the Future Foundation did not share Makoto's sentiments, wanting to immediately dispose of the Remnants at the first opportunity; at one point, they ordered Makoto to return the survivors to them when they realized that they were in the 14th Division's custody. However, Makoto and other sympathetic members of the Future Foundation were so eager that, against their superiors' wishes, they brought the members of Ultimate Despair into the Program while it was still in its testing phase.
This, unfortunately, proved to play directly into the Remnants' hands - or rather, Izuru's, who sought to determine whether hope or despair was stronger. He had convinced the Remnants of Despair to give themselves up to the Future Foundation; once they were in the Neo World Program, he infected the system with an AI patterned on Junko, allowing her to run amok and cause catastrophic changes that led to the events of Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair.
In the final chapter of the second game, during the Graduation/Retention session, Makoto, Kyoko, and Byakuya had to go to Jabberwock Island and enter the Program themselves 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. However, the rest of the former Remnants of Despair were still comatose due to "dying" in the simulation; the survivors decided to remain on Jabberwock Island and wait for their friends to awaken while Makoto, Kyoko, and Byakuya returned to the Future Foundation.
In the epilogue of Danganronpa 2, 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 the world is beginning to overcome the effects of The Tragedy following Junko's demise. In response, Monaca Towa caused a huge riot in Towa City, hoping to escalate it to a full war that would reignite The Tragedy. She also made plans to mold Komaru Naegi into a successor for the late Junko, both to give Ultimate Despair a new leader and to punish Makoto for thwarting the original's final scheme. When Monaca's plans were defeated in the end, she decided to become Junko's successor herself; however, the endless speeches of Nagito Komaeda soured her to the entire conflict of hope and despair and prompted her to abandon the war entirely. The conflicts in Towa City continued, but remained confined to its borders, preventing The Tragedy from escalating.
In Danganronpa Gaiden: Killer Killer, it is shown that human civilization is slowly being restored; the idol industry, hospitals, and the manga industry are conducting their standard business activities despite the continued influence of The Tragedy.
Towards a World Without Despair
By the time of Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School, some semblance of order has been re-established. Special crimes only happen occasionally, and 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. Furthermore, the Future Foundation began to suffer dissension in the ranks of its upper management, primarily between Kazuo Tengan and Kyosuke Munakata.
While Kazuo initially supported Kyosuke's belief that every trace of despair must be annihilated in order to save the world, he eventually realized that meeting despair with violence cannot foster hope in humanity. Kyosuke, on the other hand, wished for the active battle against despair to go even further, quietly goaded on by Chisa Yukizome (an undercover agent of Ultimate Despair ever since the fall of Hope's Peak Academy). The conflict worried Kazuo greatly; should knowledge of the internal struggles between the two most important figures in the Foundation leak out, the public's faith in them would be shattered. Moreover, since the division heads are all Hope's Peak Academy alumni and thus symbols of hope to the people, Kazuo knew that any form of intrigue, betrayal, and killing between any of them would send the masses into despair if it went public.
As he grew more hopeless thinking about the future of the Foundation and the world at large, Kazuo was approached by Chisa, who handed him flash drives with Junko's despair video and "Monokuma's Gloomy Sunday" - the video who brainwashes whoever watches it into committing suicide. Inspired by Chisa's suggestion of using Ryota's skills to undo The Tragedy, Kazuo hatched a plan; knowing that Ryota had privately made the Hope Video that could theoretically brainwash people "out of despair", he intended to force Ryota to use it while dealing with his other "problems" at the same time.
Kazuo plotted to place all of the Foundation's division heads, save Ryota, in an isolated location and subject them to an inescapable "Killing Game"; instead of a murderer, the division heads would be forced to kill themselves by watching the Suicide Video. By claiming that the Final Killing Game was being broadcast worldwide and having Ryota watch the events transpire from the outside, Kazuo hoped to create a situation where the division heads would reveal their underlying tensions and be "finished off" away from the public eye. At the same time, Ryota would be pressured to use the facility's global broadcasting station to expose humanity worldwide to his Hope Video - thus putting an absolute end to despair by brainwashing everyone to be incapable of feeling it.
Despite some setbacks - including Ryota accidentally joining the Final Killing Game, Makoto, Aoi, and Kyosuke surviving along with Ryota, and his own death during the proceedings - Kazuo's ultimate objective is achieved; driven to desperation by the latest tragedy, Ryota decided to brainwash the entire world to finally annihilate despair. The other three survivors joined the 14th Division on a desperate chase to stop the former Ultimate Animator, believing that brainwashing the entire world to believe in "hope" was akin to stripping away their humanity. Fortunately, Ryota was finally persuaded to cancel his broadcast by his former classmates, now awakened from the Neo World Program and purged of their brainwashing by Hajime/Izuru. Nevertheless, the brief broadcast of the Hope Video served to counteract much of the despair still lingering in the world, leaving The Tragedy's remaining supporters critically weakened.
In order to preserve the Future Foundation's credibility and power to rebuild the world, Class 77-B decided to make a broadcast as the Remnants of Despair, claiming to have orchestrated the Final Killing Game before returning to Jabberwock Island. With the last advocates 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...
- 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; in contrast, it is ended by the Future Foundation (semi-successor to Hope's Peak) agreeing to a cover-up of another killing game, with Izuru initiating and taking the blame.