The Danganronpa video game series has a similar plot setup for each of the three main games: sixteen teenagers are kidnapped and forced to participate in a killing game by the infamous Monokuma, or rather, by the person controlling the robot bear. The students are quite obviously appalled and scared at the prospect of becoming a killer (or even worse, a victim), but usually, an irresistible incentive is offered up to the first one who betrays his or her fellow students. When their freedom is at stake, even people who seem harmless and sincere can transform into cold-blooded murderers.
The best murder cases require thinking out of the box, leaving little to no evidence, and precision planning. The particular murderers who made it onto this list seem to have a talent for non-conventionalism, conscientiousness, and meticulousness.
Warning: Major spoilers ahead!
10. Mukuro Ikusaba disguised as Junko Enoshima (Killed by Junko Enoshima) [Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc]
After gathering the students in the gym, Monokuma begins to explain the rules of the killing game. Junko, or rather Mukuro Ikusaba impersonating Junko Enoshima, makes it clear that she does not want to participate in the mandatory killing game. Monokuma, enraged by her blatant disobedience, charges (okay, more like waddles) toward her so that he can apply the rules using physical violence. At least, that was his plan! Junko/Mukuro easily topples the teddy bear and pins him down with her fashionable boot. Violence against Headmaster Monokuma is a violation of the rules, and she ends up paying the price for it when Monokuma summons the “godly spear Gungnir.” Multiple spears instantaneously appear out of nowhere, impaling the poor girl so much that it puts Swiss cheese to shame. After a few final words, Junko/Mukuro dies from blood loss and severe internal damage.
While this murder never really got a trial (not that it needed to have one), it still deserves to be mentioned on this list due to the unique advantage that it gave Junko Enoshima. With Mukuro (disguised as her sister Junko) unquestionably dead, it gave the real Junko the opportunity to run the killing game from behind the scenes while her classmates, a.k.a. the unenthusiastic killing game participants, think that she is dead. When the game reaches its finale, Junko reappears for the final trial, much to everyone’s surprise, including the players’.
9. The Ultimate Imposter disguised as Byakuya Togami (Killed by Teruteru Hanamura) [Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair]
Cleverly tripping a breaker, Nagito managed to engineer a blackout that enveloped everyone at the party in the dining hall. Byakuya, using his night vision goggles, prevented Nagito from getting underneath the table, then crawled under it himself to conduct an investigation. Meanwhile, Teruteru, who had already known that the blackout was going to happen, grabbed his hidden skewer, draped himself in a tablecloth, and snuck under the floorboards. Finding the spot that he had marked earlier with glow-in-the-dark paint, Teruteru stabbed up, through the floorboards, penetrating an unsuspecting Byakuya. His death was relatively quick, but very painful.
At first glance, the perverted little chef seems harmless, but Teruteru actually did a pretty good job for his first kill! In the right frame of mind, one can see how many dangerous items are found in a kitchen: knives, skewers, blenders, corkscrews, etc. Teruteru played his cards wisely by choosing to piggyback his murder plan off of Nagito’s plan. Had it gone a bit smoother, Teruteru may have gotten away with it in the end.
8. Rantaro Amami (Killed by Kaede Akamatsu) [Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony]
Kaede Akamatsu, the main character and Ultimate Pianist, decided to take fate into her own hands and kill the person thought to be the Mastermind behind the killing game which they currently found themselves trapped in. While investigating the library with Shuichi, Kaede rearranged the books atop the bookshelves to form a hidden channel, careful not to let Shuichi notice. After the motion detecting cameras triggered the portable alarm on Shuichi, Kaede pushed a shotput ball down into the ventilation shaft. The heavy metal ball gained tremendous speed since it was rolling at a downward angle and just as Kaede had planned, it perfectly followed the hidden channel she had built across the shelving. When the channel ended, it deposited the weighted ball several feet above the victim’s head which, at that height, instantly killed whoever was unlucky enough to be standing beneath it. The victim, lured to that particular spot by the automatic camera flash, was none other than Rantaro Amami.
What a twist! The culprit was the initial main character all along! Even though this plot twist was only achieved by omission of information, we can say with a fair amount of certainty that very few people saw this coming (least of all Rantaro). The scheduling required to pull off such a scheme could only be executed by someone who has a knack for precise timing; like, say, the Ultimate Pianist!
7. Ibuki Mioda (Killed by Mikan Tsumiki) [Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair]
Broadcasting onto the security camera transceiver in the hospital, Mikan, who was dressed in a hospital gown with a bag over her head, acted as if she were about to commit suicide. Hajime, who was watching the feed, immediately sprinted out of the hospital and straight over to the music venue. Upon arrival, Hajime found the body of the real victim, Ibuki Mioda, already completely lifeless with the noose around her neck. Despite the situation looking like a suicide, Ibuki was actually strangled to death by Mikan . To further thwart the smooth investigation, the room temperature was changed, making it difficult to estimate a time of death. Not that it really mattered since Mikan was performing the autopsy anyway.
Falsifying the scene on the security camera was a great move! It nearly derailed the trial several times. Additionally, the smashed camera parts were a nice touch because it would almost make it seem like it really was filmed in the same room, when in reality, it was produced in the conference room. Hajime reacted exactly as Mikan had planned, and it was because of this prediction that she was able to carry out the second murder in this case!
6. Hiyoko Saionji (Killed by Mikan Tsumiki) [Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair]
Hiyoko, lacking the experience necessary to fix her kimono without looking, takes Sonia Nevermind’s advice and walks over to the nearby music venue so that she can use the full-length mirror stored there. Upon arrival, she witnesses Mikan preparing to murder Ibuki. Obviously, this would prove to be a major problem for Mikan and her master plan of murder, so Mikan fatally slits Hiyoko’s throat. Hiyoko corpse was then duct taped to a pillar inside of the music venue and additionally, the pillar was wrapped in wallpaper. After Ibuki’s dead body is initially discovered by Hajime, he runs to tell the other students about Ibuki’s death. For a small window of time, the music venue is left unwatched, and that is when Mikan removed the wallpaper, revealing Hiyoko’s dead body.
Hiyoko’s arrival at the music venue was certainly unexpected but Mikan quickly improvised and integrated Hiyoko’s dead body into the scene. The way that Hiyoko’s body was revealed later than Ibuki’s body added to the mystery and it was admittedly well orchestrated, so it ended up seeming like an intentional trick to mess with the investigation. After all, twice the dead bodies mean twice the workload!
5. Ryoma Hoshi (Killed by Kurimi Tojo) [Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony]
The culprit, Kurimi Tojo, visited Ryoma in his lab late one night. She went there to confront him about his motive video and upon learning that there was no one special in his life, she knocked him out. Grabbing a pair of handcuffs from the prison-style bathroom, Kurimi cuffed Ryoma and drown him in a sink full of water. Avoiding the forbidden pool area, Kurimi used an inner tube and a rope bridge to transport the dead body and herself across the distance between windows. Standing on the windowsill of the gym, she tossed Ryoma’s dead body into a water tank filled with piranhas. The body was actually separated from the jaws of the deadly fish by a panel of glass that she had previously installed into the water tank. All that was left to do was wait until Himiko performed her magic trick.
The trial for this case became one of the longest sessions in the game, and with good reason! We’ve got to hand it to Kirumi- with the exception of the torn fabric from her black glove she covered her tracks rather excellently. She didn’t even need to bring anything with her to kill Ryoma except for her weapon. The handcuffs were from Ryoma’s own lab, so was the steel cable, and the rope was easily procured from Himiko’s stage area in the gym. At the risk of sounding like a character straight out of Scooby-Doo, she would’ve gotten away with it if it weren’t for those damn kids!
4. Angie Yonaga (Killed by Korekiyo Shinguji) [Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony]
Walking around the halls of the facility, Angie unfortunately stumbled across Korekiyo in the midst of rigging a loose floorboard so that he could kill someone (which later turned out to be Tenko). Essentially caught with his pants down, Korekiyo prevented Angie from speaking about his actions the only way he could; by swinging the loose floorboard right into Angie’s head. This only knocked her unconscious, which was perfect for Korekiyo’s improvised plan. To prevent her head wound from creating a mess of blood, Korekiyo temporarily patched it up with duct tape. From there, he hauled her body into her lab and finished what he had started by inserting a katana into the back of her neck, instantly killing her. Since there was no key to her lab, he cleverly hung the wax effigies of the deceased from the ceiling and impaled Kaede’s figure with the katana. Winding the rope up clockwise, he dashed out the door and shut it just in time for the unraveling mechanism to shut and successfully lock the door behind him. This action created a locked-room mystery.
Talk about being in the wrong place at the wrong time! If Angie had stayed in her locked lab, she wouldn’t have fallen victim to Korekiyo and his murderous plans. Alas, her discovery of him preparing the conditions for the séance murder urged him to make an impromptu preemptive kill. As unplanned as it was, the murder actually ended up being impressively performed. The upside-down hanging of the wax effigies was an especially nice touch because it threw some of the investigators for a loop due to its occult-like nature. Additionally, it functioned as a locking mechanism for the door, which created the locked-room mystery.
3. Hifumi Yamada (Killed by Celestia Ludenburg) [Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc]
Needing an extra set of helping hands, Celestia went to Hifumi and persuaded him to help her commit the murder. When Hifumi agreed, they set their plan into motion, murdering Kiyotaka and falsifying evidence that would pin the blame on Hiro. Hifumi did the heavy lifting, transporting the bodies around to create further confusion, while Celestia used her acting skills to fabricate a story behind the incident. Later, the pair reconvened in secret, where an unsuspecting Hifumi was bludgeoned to death by Celestia. With Hifumi out of the way, Celestia was now the only person alive who had all the details of the murders, not to mention an alibi; after all, dead men tell no tales.
The way the bodies were switched around and moved from room to room in order to create maximum confusion was the work of a true mastermind! Only with diligence and precision timing (plus an accomplice) would such a maneuver be possible to pull off, but Celestia did it; not to mention, she enacted a murderous subplot of her own. Planning within plans is no small feat, and taking the unconventional initiative to work with a partner made this murder really stand out from the rest.
2. Tenko Chabashira (Killed by Korekiyo Shinguji) [Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony]
Undeterred by Angie’s interruption, Korekiyo continued his plan just as before, quickly adapting it as needed. The original plan -to kill someone in the middle of a phony séance- could still be performed. Korekiyo took Gonta, Tenko, Shuichi, and Himiko into an empty room where he drew an intricate circle in purified salt. During the séance, it was pitch black, but Korekiyo managed to use the salt circle as a guide until he was next to a certain floorboard. He stomped on it hard, it acted as a seesaw, causing Tenko’s side of the board to raise up just high enough so that the back of her neck would hit the blade of the hidden sickle.
Unfortunately for Tenko, she became part two of Korekiyo’s delusional murder scheme. After she selflessly volunteered to take Himiko’s place under the cage, her fate was sealed. Unbeknownst to her, Korekiyo would kill her using the same modus operandi found at the crime scene of the late Angie Yonaga, who was, ironically, the very person that they were trying to contact in the séance!
1. Nagito Komaeda (Chiaki Nanami) [Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair]
Using an extremely complex and exceedingly clever scheme, Nagito was able to fabricate a crime scene which implied that he had been tortured and then murdered by one of the remaining students left in the killing game. Furthermore, he was able to rig the situation so that the identity of the killer would be impossible to deduce because he cunningly introduced something that not even an Ultimate Detective would be able to solve for- completely random chance. The integration of an unknowable variable was a stroke of absolute genius.
In terms of sanity, Nagito may be a few cards short of a full deck; but despite his seemingly endless platitudes about the Ultimate Students, he is actually quite brilliant. Basically, he can and will use any available resources with vicious efficiency; hence, the set-up for his death! Nagito may be the Ultimate Lucky Student, but he really relied on his mental capability for this case. His planning eventually forced the surviving students into a Catch 22 situation: if they arrived at the wrong culprit, they would be executed; if they got the accusation correct, they would still lose one student. Thus, why this case was Nagito’s magnum opus and deserved to take the number one spot!
Though most of the aforementioned murders were carefully thought out (and in most cases, nearly flawlessly executed) the fact remains that not one killer was successful in getting away with their evil deed. With the right investigatory procedures and objective thought process, the answers to even the most convoluted murder mysteries can become clear. Which character’s death did you see coming? Which murder stumped you the most? Comment down below, we’d love to hear from you. As always, thank you for reading!