Character Analysis: Dangan Ronpa! (Kiyotaka Ishimaru)

I had been planning this for a bit especially because while I was reading the Let’s Play for the first game, I was putting down, mentally, my own character analysis. While some of my own personal head canon is correct, I still need a place to put my thoughts on this blog for personal reference and I can just unload myself because, lol, I need it right about now and I have more important things to store in my brain.

Just so you know this post will have major, major, major spoilers for the entire game. If you have not read the entirety of the Let’s Play! or played the game somewhere, I would absolutely recommend for you not to read it. A lot of the commentary is based on what had already happened, why they did what they did, and what could have been or will be.

Last warning: Major spoilers for the first game of Dangan Ronpa! Turn back now if you have not read the Let’s Play! or played the game.

The entire cast of Dangan Ronpa!

The entire cast of Dangan Ronpa!

At the very beginning, I had a feeling I was going to over think the hell out of this series because of how the characters – by themselves – are based on stereotypes. Even though they’ve tried to hide what Kirigiri’s talent actually was, she still played into the stereotype of her role as a detective.

I’m going to go through each individual character from the roster of the original Let’s Play! thread & that’s the order I’m sticking with. I’ve decided that I’m going to wait until the second game is finished on the Something Awful thread so I could gather my thoughts about the characters and what I’ve learned about them. Well then. Let’s just start the analysis.

Super High School Level Hall Monitor: Kiyotaka Ishimaru

Super High School Level Hall Monitor: Kiyotaka Ishimaru

From the very beginning, Ishimaru has been an extremely intense character. He’s extremely strict about the rules and how the classmates should adhere to them. At first, he had a very clear dislike towards Mondo and how he seemed to constantly pushed his buttons about following the rules while Mondo was the complete opposite of that.

And it only took the both of them to nearly pass out in the sauna to learn how to respect their opposite ideals.

But what caused him to be this intense? It was speculated that maybe Ishimaru had some kind of training because he was always about honor and his uniform actually reminds me of a navel uniform the Japanese admirals would wear during war times. It could just be my imagination though – but he does act as though he was acting from under the top guy – the principal. In this case, Monobear. Now the mole issue didn’t really come up until, I think, right before he died or in the chapter after Celes’s trial.

I’m getting off-topic already. The uniform, right. The uniform stroke me as someone as a soldier much more than a hall monitor only because he always saluted, he had the obedience of a soldier and he treated Hope’s Peak Academy as though it was his country and one should and would have only the utmost respect that he had for it.

Complete opposite of Mondo.

The whole ideal of Ishimaru being extremely loyal to the school is again paralleled to the fact that some soldiers are actually like that towards their respective countries. Obviously, this was played up for humor but let’s look a little deeper.

Ishimaru is all about the law. He is about the written word. He is also about honor, morals, ethics, respect, and everything that a (good) soldier should and does care about.

If you do think about it, though, if you school had hall monitors or anything of the variation, hall monitors are basically soldiers anyway. They do the grunt work the teachers/professors wouldn’t normally do but the hall monitors are sworn in and have to report to their superiors – much like a soldier.

So why did Ishimaru make a complete 180 with Mondo?

It’s simple – Mondo had gained Ishimaru’s respect. The two had a bargain – if one passes out before the other, their morals are the correct morals. Mondo pissed off Ishimaru because Mondo had no respect for the laws. He didn’t care for it and it probably felt for Ishimaru that he was stomping on his very essence.

We don’t know what happened to the kids lives prior to Hope’s Academy except maybe Naegi’s so there’s going to be a lot of speculation here.

I honestly feel that Ishimaru’s home life could have gone one or two ways: either his parents were bushido-types (which I’ll get to in a bit) and they’ve raised him to believe in the same thing or they served in the police force. Or, it could have been the exact opposite: Ishimaru’s parents could have absolutely no regards for the rules and lived in a chaotic world or believed in anarchy. The passion Ishimaru could have in the latter is that he tried to find some kind of control in the world and being a hall monitor, or someone in a position of power, that he wouldn’t have otherwise.

Or he probably had obsessive compulsive tendencies and being a hall monitor is one way to keep that in control.

He saw Mondo as someone who had no regard for the rules – thus he’s someone who disregarded that control. He saw Mondo as someone who enjoyed chaos and who thrived in it. He didn’t listen to the rules that were already in place and decided to make up his own rules. Ishimaru probably hadn’t considered that but he saw that as something wasn’t organized just right. He probably saw that as something that was just so unheard of and just against his line of code.

And yet, that fateful night in the sauna, he had earned Mondo’s respect because Ishimaru then realized that while Mondo didn’t, and probably wouldn’t have under normal circumstances, Mondo had his own code that he himself stuck to.

And, so long as some set of rules were being followed, maybe having your own code isn’t as bad as Ishimaru originally thought. As long as he sticks to it, nothing will be chaotic. Chaos would not get in the way. Chaos would not win.

Ultimately, Ishimaru determined that the one who truly represented chaos wasn’t Mondo – Mondo was just a simple rule breaker. The true chaos was Monobear. He didn’t want Monobear to cause anymore chaos than he already did. When Monobear tried to use the past to lull the students into killing, he wanted to stop that chaos from happening again by revealing everyone’s secret.

However, he was steadfast. He kept his chin up even after Chihiro died, at least until Naegi pointed his finger at Mondo. He defended Mondo because how could his fellow bushido commit such an unhonorable act? It was against the law to kill someone – it’s even against the rules in the society Monobear created. Mondo didn’t defend himself (but I’ll explain my theories on why when it’s his post) and had to literally tell Ishimaru to stop. He had to because he knew Ishimaru would use everything in the book to stop the chaos. The chaos that would have ultimately executed Mondo.

Then, chaos won. Ishimaru lost control and chaos won.

This was clearly a massive loss for Ishimaru. He probably saw the classmates as people who encouraged the chaos and that was why he must have felt he had to scream at them in his way of trying to retain control of the situation. He was the hall monitor after all, no chaos was allowed in the hallways or anywhere, really, on the school property. He always tried to keep his head on straight but when he lost his friend, he must have felt that his soulmate died. He literally felt a part of him, arguably half, died.

Just note that I’m using soulmate not in a romantic sense. It is possible to be soulmates with someone and not be romantically involved (although one could make arguments for that as well).

After the discovery of Alter-Ego and after he apologized on Mondo’s behalf, that was when Ishida was born. People like to say that it’s really half of Mondo’s spirit plus Ishimaru’s but I honestly believe it was just Ishimaru’s next stage of grieving. Ishida is probably Ishimaru forcing his way to start anew in terms of moving on. New spirit, new obsession. Why obsession? Because he was just obsessed with Alter-Ego after that. He wanted to believe so much that Mondo was within the laptop and that if Ishimaru would just get to it, he will be with his soulmate again.

Ishida was probably the chaos within Ishimaru that was released when Alter-Ego accepted his apology as part of its program. When that chaos was released, there really was no stopping Ishimaru from breaking all kinds of rules that he normally wouldn’t dare to do. Ishida may have been a probable combination of Mondo and Ishimaru, but it was the Mondo side of him that got him killed.

If Celes hadn’t plotted to kill both Yamada and Ishimaru/Ishida in one go, someone else would have killed him for another reason by using that chaos to their advantage. When his whole world was built upon an endurance test only to end about a day or less later, it does things to you. It makes you obsessed with keeping that joy of having a soulmate around and to finally say, damn the rules – there’s always the code. However, Ishimaru died for nothing. His death was senseless.

Anyone who wasn’t all that attached to Ishimaru will probably never understand how truly sad his story really is.

Ishimaru died with guilt of failing to protect his soulmate, Chihiro, and those who didn’t deserve to die. He died with no one to have his back.

Ishimaru died alone.

And ultimately, loneliness was and will always be Ishimaru’s tragedy.

Now, I’ve mentioned earlier about the bushido code. Time for a history lesson! According to the Art of Manliness, Nitobe Inazo wrote a book entitled Bushido: The Soul of Japan. It’s supposedly a slim volume of how he interprets the samurai code of behavior: how chivalrous men should act in their personal and professional lives. Here’s how the code broke down as well as a breakdown of Ishimaru’s character:

  1. Rectitude or Justice Despite the situation he was in, along with everyone else, he always tried to get justice for those who have been murdered. Even though he despises Monobear (and really, who doesn’t?), he tries his best to align himself with the rules Monobear has placed in order to get the justice the deceased deserves.
  2. Courage Again, the situation he was in with his classmates took an amazing courage. Despite not having the communicative skills he probably could have with the rest of the cast, he still had the courage to stand up to Naegi for Mondo, even if he knew that he was going to die. He voted against the idea of Mondo being the murderer, even if he said so.
  3. Benevolence or Mercy I can’t really think of any solid examples of this right now. I might edit this at a later date, sorry!
  4. Politeness He was always polite to those he talked to or at least he tries to. He’s a little awkward when it comes to talking to people or making friends but generally he’s pretty polite. I’m just glad that he’s polite towards the girls (and even those who identifies as such) and tries not to be too much of a butthole towards Sakura’s looks.
  5. Honesty & Sincerity He always tries to be honest with everyone around him. He usually says what’s on his mind and what the cast needs to do. I feel that he wasn’t really lying during the final moments of the trial in chapter 2 – just extremely persistant on how Mondo couldn’t have been the one who killed Chihiro, but that’s probably for another category.
  6. Honor He always seemed he had lots of honor as a hall monitor. He made sure that everyone was in the cafeteria in the morning for breakfast and seemed to make sure that everyone was in bed at the allotted time. He always tried his best to stay according to his code and never seemed to lose his dignity until he became Ishida.
  7. Loyalty He is probably one of the most loyal charcters of the cast, Fukawa nothwithstanding. He argued on Mondo’s behalf when Naegi accused him of murder and voted against the majority. Technically, he broke a rule but I suppose Monobear let it slide for ultimate despair. Even after Mondo died, Ishimaru was still extremely loyal to him and even became half of what Mondo was…supposedly.
  8. Character & Self-Control Okay, so maybe he didn’t have a lot of self-control near the end there with Alter-Ego but before, he did have some kind of self-control and he was quite a character. While I think Ishimaru is among the saddest story of the cast, he’s still a memorable character by himself.

While we won’t probably ever know the story behind the characters before Hope’s Peak Academy, I really do wish Ishimaru in the afterlife meets Mondo and Chihiro and gets to be with them again. I never got the notion that Ishimaru condoned what Mondo did – but just being with him would be a relief in this story of despair. Maybe Ishimaru had lived a life of despair all of his life before remeeting Mondo and before he died and maybe he’ll get to spend the after life with him so he could at least rest in peace.

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