Character Analysis: Dangan Ronpa! (Sayaka Maizono)

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 Idol: Sayaka Maizono

To start things off, I have to say that in discussion about how Maizono really is the idol that she lived up to.

Note: I’m only going to be referring to Japanese idols. Not Korean idols.

So first of all, what the hell is an idol? According to Wikipedia:

[I]dols are media personalities in their teens and twenties who are considered attractive or cute and who will, for a period ranging from several months to a few years, regularly appear in the mass media, e.g. as singers for pop groups, bit-part actors, TV personalities, models in photo spreads published in magazines, advertisements, etc.

And that is what Maizono is. First of all, it had been stated by Naegi that they both had shared the same junior high class. Maizono had also revealed that she had saw Naegi take care of an injured crane during this time, and had planned to talk to him – but didn’t.

She was raised by her father and relied on the idols’ smiles she saw on television when she was alone. Determined to become one of them, she auditioned and worked tirelessly until she managed to become a super high school level idol.

But it’s actually not that far from reality. The idols are usually 13 to about 17 years old, which is the perfect age range for Maizono.

However, all that glitters isn’t gold. It has been hinted throughout the course of the first chapter that Maizono had done some things that she now regrets and wants to rectify before she leaves her idol group. Once Monobear shows the video as a motivation to start the mutual killing spree, Maizono gets scared, really scared, and actually switches rooms with Naegi (after he showed her how to open his weirdly built bathroom door).

She was going to possibly murder Leon Kuwata and frame Naegi for it; instead, she became the corpse herself. She managed to spell his name in her own blood before finally dying.

Okay, where should I begin? The beginning of course. When Maizono had mentioned that she had done things that she regrets, that could actually be a number of things.

In the Japanese idol world, it is an open secret that Johnny Kitagawa of the infamous Johnny’s Entertainment was accused of molesting the talents within that company. While he was originally acquitted, there had been books released as sort of a tell-all about the experiences they had gone through. Of course, the man is still around the underage boys but really has no more real power over the company as he’s over 80 year old. There is a huge page about the incident; you can check it out here but I have to warn you, it is a long ass page and you will need to take breaks – also an allotted trigger warning containing mentions of child abuse.

What I am getting that is that she possibly had to do some do some sexual things in order to get in her position or, as I want to believe, that she had done some backstabbing (figuratively).

As unfortunate as the Johnny’s Entertainment scandal is, it wasn’t enough for that man to go behind bars where he belongs to pay for his crimes and, sadly, that’s how it is.

Not only that, Sayaka mentions how she would love to quit her idol life for a special someone and this had people scratch their heads on why that’s so. Why? Because an idol is to present a front of a pure, innocent girl that has no need for men. The only men in her life is the creator (and usually song writer) of her group and her male wota, or extreme fans. She doesn’t need anyone else.

To illustrate this further, and to use a more recent scandal, in the idol’s contract (for both men and women) that they do not have a public relationship. Again, it’s to keep the image of the pure, innocent singer who has eyes only for their fans. AKB48 member, Minami Minegashi, was demoted to trainee status in her group after she was caught with GENERATIONS’ Alan Shirahama in the tabloid Shukan Bunshun. In a surprise twist, she actually went live online and shaved her head as an act of shame.

Sadly, it’s part of the idol culture to continue to be “available” towards their fans only and no one else; especially if they had been caught by a tabloid magazine.

While Sayaka can tell Naegi how much she loves her band, she gave me the notion that maybe she hated the life she led. She barely slept, couldn’t hang out with her friends, couldn’t normally date…She had a lot of pressure on her as an idol…That’s tough to deal with when you’re in that era. It’s hard enough dealing with the natural hormones and changes that’s going on in your bodies when you’re young but to add that extra stress in one’s life is just not good.

And I only say that because I don’t think her video is what Naegi had seen. I really do think the video tape originally had the actions she had done in order to get to where she was. My evidence is simply this.

Recall when Naegi first saw his own video.

He saw that his house was in ruins and that his family were missing, presumably dead.

Now let’s look at Maizono’s tape, when Naegi views it.

It’s the same thing, except here, you could see the girls either fainted or dead. Now, of course, one can always argue Maizono really did care about the girls and their group. But this isn’t just their careers at stake – I’m pretty sure while Maizono cared about them as her coworkers and friends, she probably didn’t care about them as much as she cares about herself.

>That is, to say, it’s entirely possible Monobear had created the fake tape just to throw off the scent. Granted, he could have easily just let Naegi see what Maizono did to “regret” her actions but I really do feel that it’s possible that this was a warning of what Monobear could and had done (especially regarding Sakura’s suicide note and slipping up in chapter 5).

Or, here’s another possible theory, the tape shows what the viewer expects to see that’s despairing. Monobear says that it has their loved ones or whatever on there, and this isafter introducing the mutual killing, that as soon as it’s mentioned – the students are already thinking the worst. Naegi knows the worst thing that could happen to his family is if someone broke in and if they’re missing.

And in this case, he probably thinks that this is the worst thing that could have happened to Maizono. I could be completely wrong and this could be actually why she attempted to kill Leon over but we all know that the students have something to hide about themselves (especially Chihiro and Mondo) and Sayaka is just a dime a dozen in that department.

Remember where the tape was found? In her trashcan. For someone who was almost completely pale, why would something like that be in the trash can? It’s possible that she was really scared into attempting to kill to stop whatever was happening outside of Hope’s Peak Academy before she could do some damage control.

Sayaka may have been true to her idol name to her very last breath, but is it what it seemed? Did she actually tried to save Naegi from being framed at the last minute?

My senses tells me no. She wanted to stop whatever it was going outside more than anything – even and especially in death. At one point, she may have been interested in Naegi but she used every idol trick in the book to get him to falling for her looks and the old junior high spirit Naegi had known long since before to get him to trust her – to get him to open up to the deception. I wouldn’t go as far as to say she plotted to have Naegi executed. Like I said, she may have wanted to save him from the deception once she realized the position she was in.

But ultimately, she had the plan to kill Leon in his old room and wanted to pin it on Naegi. That doesn’t seem very idol-like, does it?

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