Character Analysis: Dangan Ronpa! (Naegi Makoto)

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 on the original Let’s Play! thread & that’s the order I’m sticking with. I’m actually debating on whether or not I should wait until the second game is finished on the Something Awful thread or if I should just do it anyway…Well, whatever. Let’s just start the analysis.

Super High School Level Good Luck: Makoto Naegi

Super High School Level Good Luck: Makoto Naegi

Naegi is the main character. He’s the player’s avatar. Average in literally everything in life, except in winning the draw to enroll in the Hope’s Peak Academy, Naegi didn’t seem to have anything expected of him. He had been accused of killing Maizono and pretty much at least once in every case. Even when he was about to be killed by the masked man, he was accused of lying.

The cast themselves kept making the joke about how “unlucky” he was – especially when he was accused to be the true murderer in case 5. He was lucked out in his own execution when Alter Ego had managed to take over right at that instant. He was lucked out when he was “dumped” literally into a dump. He lucked out on so many things… It was actually not hard to see how he could be extremely lucky.

Obviously, as the main character, most of the major things will happen either around or to him. He won’t ever be the victim, he won’t ever be the murderer, he won’t ever be part of the grand scheme of things other than finding out certain information about the plot, other characters, or whatever. As I mentioned before, he is the player’s avatar but I think that’s where people start calling that his shortcomings. Because of the fact he’s the player’s avatar, he’s one of the characters the player could slip themselves in so it would be like they themselves would be there.

I’m going to assume that the creators for this game probably didn’t intend for this series to be as popular as it is – these characters are all based on stereotypes after all. Naegi’s stereotype is clearly the boring, uninteresting, average, and yet somehow extremely lucky protagonist where information just falls on his lap. He’s truly the good luck charm to have (unless you’re Maizono) around if you want to survive – which is probably why especially Togami was trying to keep him around him more and more near the end.

Even the characters themselves started to acknowledge and commented about how lucky he is and how he’s supposedly the main character of the show! I think that’s why Naegi is so lucky – he’s lucky because he’s the protagonist. He’s lucky to be the player’s avatar. Luck drew him to becoming the protagonist and, sure, while shit hits the fan and he’s in trouble yet again – because he’s the main character, nothing too terrible can happen to him.

There’s no real risk involved being Naegi. Of course, he’s had a few close calls – when the Masked Man attempted to kill him (he was lucky that Kirigiri was there to stop him from being murdered) and especially lucky that Alter Ego saved him from being executed. Was there any actual fear that Naegi was going to die? For me, admittedly, yes. That scene with the execution really tested his luck, in my opinion.

During the game, as I’ve mentioned, literal dumb luck has saved Naegi countless times. For a good long while, he was safe. He was virtually untouchable. However, during the execution of case 5, it was becoming more and more obvious that maybe, just maybe, his luck was actually not going to save him. We had seen the bad ending already – it would have been Kirigiri in that seat during “Detention” rather than Naegi but we know already that’s not the true end.

The true end would have had Naegi killed. And that what really made it scary & truly suspenseful. It was then I learned that not even Naegi was safe. Thankfully, as luck would have it, Alter Ego came and rescued him – Alter Ego put him in the dump. Alter Ego was then destroyed by Monobear but only after it had saved Naegi.

If he was not the main character, it’s very likely they would have him killed from the get-go, making it super ironic that the good luck charm had died early on. Maizono and Leon could have lived longer than they did if Naegi was not main character.

I think that Naegi is ultimately true to his ability and maybe there was more meta commenting on the fact that Naegi was lucky enough to become the protagonist and as we all know, nothing ever truly bad happens directly to the protagonist.

Another thing that I think is part of his luck when Monobear kept trying to give the students motivation to kill – Naegi had never and will never kill. He didn’t have a reason to. His big ultra secret was that he wetted the bed until the 4th grade or whatever. He didn’t really take an interest in money. And, sure, while his family were probably in danger, he didn’t let it get to his head the way Maizono did. He wasn’t tempted by money and he always seemed to keep his cool (and he wasn’t an asshole about it like Togami). He was lucky enough to get relatively well with the others to the point where they would give him information about their lives before the memory swipe.

That really does take some kind of luck to get that much information out of people like that in a game, no, situation like Dangan Ronpa!. Naegi didn’t use any skills to get it out. Why did he have to? He thinks of himself as just an average teenage boy who was lucky enough to get average grades – not too low or too high to be noticed. He’s lucky enough to have an average life while everyone else lived lives in ways they may not have wanted to (as hinted by Mondo, Chihiro, Sakura, and many others). He’s lucky that he has not faced death or hardship before Hope’s Peak Academy.

Granted, Asahina could say the same thing but she’s had the same passion for swimming and doughnuts, and really, not much else but I’ll talk about her more when I get there. My point is that Naegi may have had an average life, compared to the rest of the cast, but all things considering – he was really damn lucky for it. The cast needed someone who’s average, and sure, Naegi is really slow on the uptake and the game does has its flaws of having to go at a snail’s pace at times.

But when you have the Super High School Level Serial Killer, Hall Monitor, Heir (or Asshole, depending how you want to define Togami) and much more, you need someone who’s lucky enough to keep their head in that average state. Someone needs to be on the ground level. Sakura may have had a code to stand by but she ultimately broke on her own accord and for her own reasons. Naegi didn’t have a code to live up to because he figured he didn’t need to – he’s an average Joe. He was lucky enough to have been raised right and with, really, morally correct ethics to handle himself in such a situation and the trials. Without Naegi, I don’t think the rest of the cast would have been able to figure out who the killers are in the time that they had.

Okay, granted, they’ve always accused Naegi somehow and in someway and he always had to prove to the rest of the classmates that he didn’t do it. It honestly got kind of annoying of having Naegi always having to prove that he didn’t do it for whatever reason. And it seemed that he had an infinite amount of patience even when Hagakure insisted on putting the fact whether or not Kirigiri was a ghost or not.

It was sheer dumb luck, though, that Naegi and the rest of the cast (okay, Asahina, Hagakure, Togami, Fukawa, and Kirigiri) managed to figure out that Enoshima was the mastermind behind the whole thing and why she did what she did.

To be honest, Naegi’s only good for luck. That’s really it. He’s not that smart; he’s not that athletic and, again, some of his luck may be misconstrued as bad luck. Remember in the beginning that he managed to get the one room with the broken bathroom door? Not only that, his bathroom was the scene of the first crime. Yeah, no matter how you look at that, that’s just bad luck. However, I suppose in the end, it was good luck. Good luck in the sense that now the player is in his shoes – he’s the protagonist. He’s safe. He was going to be safe from the very beginning. He was never really in any real danger.

Why?

Because he’s the Super High School Level Good Luck.

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One comment

  1. I feel like this is missing a huuge chunk of Naegi, his personality, and his role. He obviously has his own personality and quirks, and he gets along better with certain classmates better than others. The narrative pushing the fact that he is completely ordinary is ironic, because he *isn’t*. He has unnatural optimism, and he doesn’t give in to the situation he’s put in. I’d say quite a few “normal” people would give up, especially given what he went through at only 17. He can pump people up and remind them of hope with just his words, even under pressure, and even while he himself may have nearly lost his cool. To say that he stayed the most level-headed I think is false: out of all of them, Kirigiri and Togami stayed visibly more in control– it was his adaptability (Celestia was right!). He could adapt to being Kirigiri’s assistant, or Togami’s partner, or Asahina’s friend. He could even adapt to being put on the spot in a murder trial. He is abnormal, like Sayaka says, it’s just not in the way Hope’s Peak is situated to. Chalking up his survival to being the protagonist I think really destroys the point behind his survival, and the meaning of his luck. His luck really IS more like bad luck, but it always turn in the end to his favor. Getting into the situation was bad luck, and everything about it was bad, being the protagonist doesn’t take that hardship away from the character. (And let’s remember: “the protagonist doesn’t suffer any hardships” is rarely true– and let’s just look at Tokyo Goul for an example on the opposite of that statement!) His life is extremely normal, but he doesn’t necessarily love that about himself either. He starts appreciating it more later on in the game, but by then he *isn’t* that anymore. By then, he is becoming an ultimate– the Ultimate Hope. He is deeper than just the Protagonist shell, although that is undeniably his stereotype. He has his own reactions to things, and some of his observations in the game are hilariously *abnormal*! (“We can’t eat those chickens.”) He forms his own opinions aside from the player as well, and one can see how he’s developed from the “normal” lucky student from the beginning to “Super High School Level Hope” at the end, and the way he has changed his thinking. It’s even more obvious past the first game, into DR2 and the anime in DR3: Side: Future. I feel like I jumped around to a bunch of different subjects and went down a few rabbit trails, but I wanted to comment and add what I think was missing from his character in this analysis.

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