Danganronpa Motives Ranked

It turns out my Danganronpa and Ace Attorney lists are the ones that get the most clicks (and the most ad revenue, by extension), so that means it would make sense to do some more lists on them. No complaints from me! I love this series to bits, so any excuse to write about them is a welcome excuse as far as I’m concerned.

I made a list about how obvious the culprits ended up being a little while ago, but I didn’t really delve into their motives – so why not make an entirely separate list?

I’ll be ranking the motives on a mixture of why the culprit actually committed the deed in the end and what Monokuma actually set up in the first place (as sometimes they’re slightly different). It’s also worth mentioning that there’ll be a few ethical dilemmas here, and it goes without saying that I do no condone any of these murders … although I respect some more than others.

Also, SPOILERS … but you could probably guess that.

You can check out some of my related blog posts below, including other Danganronpa and Ace Attorney rankings:

Stupid

All of these motives were ridiculously undercooked or unrealistic, and I can’t help but feel that the writers could have done so much better.

14 – Mikan Tsumiki’s Lust for Despair (2-3)

With easily the laziest motive in the series, Mikan got done really dirty by the writers during Case 3 of “Goodbye Despair”.

Monokuma suddenly decides that there is a “despair disease” floating around, and once the murders happen it gets cured instantly. It’s just a lazy excuse to get Mikan, an otherwise timid and harmless character, in a position to commit murder, as she would otherwise have no motive to do it if not for the “my forced alter ego is crazy!” approach.

13 – Korekiyo Shinguji’s Insanity (3-3)

Korekiyo had a similarly “crazy alter ego” approach to Mikan, and they both even killed their second victims on accident / out of necessity as well.

It think it works better (barely) with Korekiyo, as he’s just naturally bonkers with no redeeming factors anyway. Part of me wishes I could rank him higher purely for how unsettling his psychotic behaviour was, but at the same time it was hardly an in-depth motive for murder in a detective game like this.

I also have to rank this one down for not utilising the “Transfer Student” motive from Monokuma – it was a huge missed opportunity not to explore it further, and instead the motive for this chapter just ended up being a red herring.

12 – Celestia Ludenberg’s Greed (1-3)

Oh look … it’s Case 3 again. Part of the reason Danganronpa fans despise the Case 3’s so much are their lacklustre culprits, and the fact that all three of them have laughably bad motives.

I have to give Celestia a little bit of respect for just outright admitting she did it for the money, but a castle with a horde of manservants? Seriously? It’s ridiculous, even by Danganronpa standards, and it broke my immersion when it was brought up.

Passable

These motives made some sort of sense (as far as reasons to kill go), but I still don’t forgive them for doing it. Maybe the reason was justifiable in their minds, but for me it still counted as cold-blooded murder.

11 – Leon Kuwata’s Self-Defence (1-1)

Leon is a bit of a tricky one to rank, as the motive for his crime actually has nothing to do with him – it was Sayaka that panicked and tried to act on Monokuma’s motive video, which is as cold-blooded a murder as you can get.

It ended up being a case of self-defence, but even so Leon has no excuses. He could have quite easily walked away from the whole thing after Sayaka locked herself in the bathroom, but his primal rage to defend himself meant he ended up killing someone for a flimsy reason.

10 – Kirumi Tojo’s Sense of Duty (3-2)

I’m always baffled whenever someone brings up the merits of Case 2 of V3, and Kirumi in particular, as I just found that whole culprit / motive reveal to be absolutely ridiculous.

She used to be Prime Minister? Sure, that’s a totally normal plot point for the writers to include. She just so happened to get her own motive video? Yeah right, that’s contrived as heck.

There are certainly arguments in her favour though – Ryoma had nothing to live for and he basically gave himself up to her, and the fact she was trying to go back to “saving the country” meant there was a selfless aspect to her deed. Still the whole thing was too contrived and ridiculous for me to take it seriously.

9 – Mondo Owada’s Rage (1-2)

Chapter 2 of Trigger Happy Havoc includes one of the most mundane motives in the series – the embarrassing secrets. The series has gone on to do much more interesting motives over the years, so it’s almost jarring in retrospect to see such a low effort motive for a case.

Mondo’s embarrassing secret was hardly worth killing over, and Chihiro’s gender swap was something they were going to reveal in good time anyway, but admittedly the combination of the two was fairly clever.

Having Mondo be fearful of his masculinity, while Chihiro learns to finally embrace it, meant that when Mondo killed in the heat of the moment it made more sense than it would have done otherwise. Not a great reason to kill, and I would never condone it, but at least the writers made it understandable.

8 – Peko Pekoyama’s Loyalty (2-2)

Peko is one of the hardest ones to rank, as the motive really isn’t her own. It was Fuyuhiko that was directly affected by the events of Monokuma’s motive – “Twilight Syndrome Murder Case” – so he would, theoretically, have much more of a reason to kill.

Since Peko was acting in her master’s best interest, and since serving Fuyuhiko was all she’d ever known, I can understand why she’d intervene and kill Mahiru herself – there’s even an argument to be made that she was saving Fuyuhiko in the process, as the killer would inevitably get executed anyway (or his conscious would be clearer without the blood on his hands).

It was still a brutal murder, though, so points docked for that (as well as the fact that Mahiru didn’t deserve it at all, the link she had with the murder in the videogame was strenuous at best).

I Can Forgive It

Now we’ve gotten to the point where I can sympathise with the culprits a lot, and if I was in their shoes I would seriously be considering acting upon the motive as well.

7 – Gonta Gokuharu’s Accidental Mercy Killing (3-4)

Gonta’s crime is surprisingly one of the most morally complex of the lot – on the one hand it was all an accident, and on the other he committed one of the worst crimes of all.

Starting with the accident side of things – I can sympathise with Gonta a lot, as he really had no idea what was going on in the simulation. If I was ranking culprits on my sympathy alone, he would probably top the entire list.

Unfortunately, there’s a darker side to his crime. The official motive of Chapter 4 was the keycard to the outside world, which Kokichi stole for himself, and it revealed that the world was destroyed. Kokichi relayed that information to Gonta, who killed Miu to stop her from uncovering the same despairing truth. That’s a mercy killing in my books – personally, I don’t think that’s a fair motive for a crime at all.

I’m more leaning towards manslaughter rather than murder though, and if anything it was 99% Kokichi’s fault anyway.

6 – Gundham Tanaka’s Sacrifice … Maybe (2-4)

While it’s up for debate whether Gundham really did kill Nekomaru to save the others from starvation, I’m going to assume that he actually did do it to save his friends.

Nekomaru had already consented to a duel to the death, but it’s still murder at the end of the day. Since I’m not entirely sure whether Gundham’s intentions were noble or not, I’ll place him near the middle of my list as it could go either way.

5 – Teruteru Hanamura’s Failed Heroism (2-1)

This will definitely be the most subjective one on the whole list, but I don’t think Teruteru necessarily did anything wrong.

Nagito had openly admitted that he was going to kill someone, so the fact that Teruteru tried to eliminate this deranged sociopath means I almost consider it an act of heroism. Could he have simply talked Nagito out of it, or warned the others? Probably not, as time was running out. Add to the fact that he really wanted to leave to check if his sick mama was okay, and I can sympathise with him a lot.

That being said, he would have gladly thrown the other classmates under the bus in order to leave the island, so there’s always going to be an aspect of selfishness to his crime – and he couldn’t make the top tier with an attitude like that.

You Have My Respect

I have nothing but respect for the reason these four culprits decided to commit murder, as they were acting completely selflessly in the nightmarish scenario they were forced into.

4 – Sakura Ogami’s Defiance (1-4)

It comes as quite a shock in Chapter 4 of the original game when it’s revealed that Monokuma had been using Sakura as a puppet, and you knew that something terrible was going to happen once the rest of the survivors found out.

Fair play to Sakura, she realised this too and tried to minimise the damage as much as possible. By killing herself, she ended up defying Monokuma to the end, and saving all of her friends in the process.

Sakura’s decision is made even sweeter when you realise that nobody else dies after she makes the ultimate sacrifice, so she did truly create the perfect scenario from the hand she was dealt.

3 – Kaede Akamatsu’s Selfless Plan (3-1)

Even though Kaede ended up killing (or not, as Chapter 6 revealed) an innocent man, it was a complete accident, and her intentions were pure.

She was gunning straight for the mastermind, and her plan was almost fool-proof. Even though Monokuma offered the “First Blood Perk” to leave for free, she didn’t take it because she valued her friends too much.

I also have to give Kaede a little extra credit for the time restraints imposed upon her – if she didn’t act out quickly, everyone would have died, so she effectively sacrificed herself by aiming for the mastermind and then ignoring Monokuma’s offer to leave.

2 – Kaito Momota / Kokichi Oma’s Deception (3-5)

It’s one thing to try to kill the mastermind and end the killing game, but to break it entirely?!? Now that takes some nerves of steel.

Kokichi gets his moment to shine in Chapter 5 of V3, proving that he really did have a kind heart after all, and sacrificed himself to Kaito so that his genius plan could be fulfilled.

Since Kokichi was already dying, I don’t hold Kaito responsible for his eventual death, and their intentions were always to save everyone by sacrificing themselves. Kaito did still technically murder Kokichi though, so he’ll have to settle for second place.

1 – Nagito Komaeda’s Final Stand (2-5)

It took me a while to completely figure out just what the heck was going on in Nagito’s mind when he came up with this twisted plan, but after cracking the code (and finishing Goodbye Despair, finding the whole truth in the process) I realized just how insanely clever this plan and motive was.

Some of the high-ranking motives on this list have come from an act of selflessness where the person sacrifices themselves to beat the game, but Nagito was using the game to kill the most threatening group of people in the world.

Once you understand that he was trying to kill the remnants of despair and save the innocent traitor, it becomes the most ingenious plan ever. It’s a shame it didn’t work in the end, and it turned out the cast wasn’t still as evil as they were before the simulation – but Nagito had no way of knowing that (and yes, I realize that Chiaki was the real culprit, but this wasn’t her plan at all).

So, in summary: he killed himself and no one else while doing the deed, he tried to save the only innocent person on the island, and in the process tried to kill the five most dangerous people on planet earth. That’s a noble act in my book, and he deserves first place as a result.

Aaand that’s my list. You can check out some of my latest blog posts below:

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