Part 1: Super High-school Level Update #1
The game's soundtrack was composed by Masafumi Takada, best known for his collaborations with Suda51. Not every track is a winner, but there's enough good stuff that it's a shame not to hear it. I will link to the relevant track whenever the game's BGM changes. It's also worth mentioning the background music does have its fair amount of dramatic music stops, which I don't include in this LP.
This is the difficulty selection screen. We have two types of difficulty levels to select: the logic difficulty level and the action difficulty level. Each one comes in Friendly, Lenient and Malicious levels. A lower logic difficulty filters out some choices when it comes to figure out the mysteries. A higher action difficulty makes things faster and throw more obstacles at you. I will be playing with both at Malicious.
The Space Journey (Youtube via Polsy)
That huge school building was built on a prime plot of real estate in the very center of the city, as if it was the center of the world itself.
"Hope's Peak Private Academy"
Kibougamine Gakuen ( 希望ヶ峰学園 ) - literally Hope's Peak Academy. The Japanese name contains the archaic possessive "ga" (that's the small character in the middle) that nowadays is mostly found in the names of places and institutions.
It is a super-exclusive academy, officially recognized by the government, aspiring to gather and cultivate high school students excelling in their respective academic fields.
General opinion is that graduating this school leads to certain success in life.
This is not as true as it once was, but being a graduate from certain universities in Japan almost guarantees a successful career either as a public official or at one of Japan's mega corporations, regardless of one's actual academic record. Tokyo University is the most famous example of this reverence for where someone studied instead of their actual skills.
It is a school with several hundred years of history, legendary for sending its top students into leading roles in every professional field time after time.
Its stated goal is to raise this nation's "hope" that will bear the country's future on their shoulders. Accordingly, some people call this remarkable place the "Academy of Hope".
To be accepted as a student, there are two qualifications:
"You must be currently enrolled at a high school"
"You must super-excel at your field of expertise"
Pretty much everything related to Hope's Peak Academy gets the prefix "chou-" (超〜), which means "super-", "extra-", "ultra-", etc. I try to translate it consistently as "super-". Much like in English, it sounds ridiculous most of the time in the original language as well.
The school doesn't advertise for new students. To be accepted one must be scouted and invited by the school itself.
And so, looking at the front gate of that super-amazing academy...
Let me begin with an orthodox introduction. My name is Makoto Naegi.
Makoto Naegi ( 苗木誠 ). Makoto means "sincerity" and "honesty" as well as "truth", befitting his role as a semi-detective later. Naegi means a sapling.
Makoto is voiced by Megumi Ogata, who acted in many animated shows and video games. Many westerners, even those who aren't into anime, will know her as the voice of Shinji Ikari, the protagonist of the ever-expanding Evangelion franchise. Talk about a role for life.
My appearance, as you can see, is just your regular average high school student.
Inside, I'm just the same...
My personality, my skills, my school record... There is absolutely nothing special about them.
I don't have any special hobbies, any mutant powers, nor am I good at sports...
If you ask about my favorite pop stars, my favorite manga, my favorite music or my favorite movies,
They're always the things that come out top in popularity rankings. It's the same for most other things as well.
I'm a person who runs away at the mention of "the king's road". An average person among average people.
That's me. Even this orthodox introduction reflects this, doesn't it?
Well, if I'm forced to give one redeeming trait, I guess I'd say I'm a little more optimistic than most people.
There's a reason such a normal kid currently stands in front of an abnormal school like Hope's Peak Academy.
"I really ended up at an amazing place. Is this something I can really handle?"
As expected, I was overwhelmed by Hope's Peak Academy extraordinary presence.
There's a good reason I'm having such a reaction. To help you understand better, let me explain about yesterday evening's school entrance preparation.
The students chosen by Hope's Peak Academy truly are super-top in their respective fields, and there's so much speculation about them that someone created a special thread on a certain Internet bulletin board.
The bulletin board is not named in the game, but it is clearly 2ch, which everyone reading this probably knows something about.
As part of my preparation, I took a peek at that thread. Information about the new students was laid out there. Each and every one of them a "super high-school level" student leaping far above the average.
For example, the girl admitted into Hope's Peak Academy as a "Super High-school Level Idol" is the leader of a nationally adored idol group -- a famous high school girl.
Idols are Japan's version of teenage female pop idols. They are usually a part of large idol groups with a designated leader. Unlike most of their western counterparts, idols are expected to maintain a squeaky-clean public appearance that's almost non-human. An idol who gets caught doing something unseemly such as dating will often be thrown out of the entertainment world and have to manage public shame for a while (at least until the next scandal occurs). See AKB48 and Morning Musume for the prototypical idol groups, and the case of Ai Kago for a fallen idol.
The guy admitted as a "Super High-school Level Baseball Player" is the ace and 4th batter of the country's champion high-school team. An exceptional talent even professional teams took notice of.
The girl admitted as a "Super High-school Level Fashion Girl" is a popular model who appeared on the covers of many magazines, overflowing with charisma and capturing the hearts of high school girls everywhere.
This girl is a Super High-school Level Gyaru (ギャル). The word comes from English "gal", but means an entire subculture of fashion-oriented teenage girls in Japan. Their trademark is heavy makeup and accessorizing (often to a level that hurts the eyes). There are many sub-types of the Gyaru - check wikipedia for some details. Japanese society, as a whole, doesn't really care what you do or how you dress in your free time but is very conservative when it comes to looks and behavior at school and on the job. Some Gyaru are just like that - basically teens who like to dress up on weekends. Others, like the "black-face" ganguro girls whose appearance can't be removed as easily, make their subculture a much more extreme type of teenage rebellion, often at the cost of expulsion from school and rejection by their families.
Topping even that, the guy accepted in the position of a "Super High-school Level Gang Leader" is the head of Japan's largest motorcycle gang, feared and respected by punks across the entire country.
In addition, there was a "Super High-school Level Wrestler", a "Super High-school Level Heir", a "Super High-school Level Swimmer", a "Super High-school Level Doujin Writer"
"Super High-school Level Hacker", "Super High-school Level Gambler", "Super High-school Level Hall Monitor", "Super High-school Level Fortune teller", and so on.
Nothing but spectacular people who make me fully realize my own shortcomings.
I'm like a sheep that strayed into a lion's den.
...but there is also something that puzzles me.
No matter how much I search, there is no information about some kids on the list.
One of those is me, of course. An unexceptional kid with no skills.
But what about the others who don't come up in searches?
Are they also people like me, with no merits to show off?
Thinking that, I managed to gather some courage. A pitiful personality, if I may say so myself.
But leaving that behind, I the question you're asking yourself is...
Why was a normal high school student like me chosen to be among such magnificent "super high-school level" members.
The reason for that is explained in the acceptance letter that arrived from Hope's Peak Academy.
"This year, we decided to accept one student chosen by lottery from among each and every one of the country's regular high school students."
"As a result, we invite you to attend our school as a person possessing "Super High-school Level Good Luck"."
In other words, they made it very clear the only reason I can attend this school is simple luck.
Honestly, I should have just rejected the offer.
But after hearing that graduating the school leads to success in life, there was no way I could do that.
But, when all is said and done, as I stood there in front of the actual school I couldn't help fearing I made a terrible mistake after all.
But I guess I can't just continue standing here like a statue...
As I whispered those words to myself, I took a look at the acceptance letter I held in my hand.
"New students are to gather at the entrance hall 8am"
There is still some time to pass until then
Should I just go in?
Yeah. Let's go!!
With a bit of melodramatic determination you wouldn't think is needed when stepping into a school building for the first time, I walked toward the entrance hall.
So this is the entrance hall. There's still no one here...
I looked up at the magnificent wall clock that hang on the wall. The time was 7:10am.
The gathering is at 8. Still 50 minutes left.
It makes sense no one is here yet
I was so nervous I ended up coming here way too early...
There was still plenty of time until the gathering time. Waiting in the hall isn't a very exciting thing to do...
Maybe I should go ahead and explore the school for a while... It will help in easing my nerves.
I'm a student of this school, after all. There shouldn't be a problem, right?
I'll just pass the time wandering around.
With that thought in my head, I took my first step into the depths of Hope's Peak Academy.
It was a moment charged with the feeling of hope that accompanies a new school life...
...or at least, it should have been.
The moment I took that first step, my vision started to blur. It was as if the world turned into jelly, swirling around.
Round and round and round and round, slowly fading out...
And the next moment...
That's when it started.
An end to my ordinary life.
At that moment, I should have realized.
It wasn't "Super High-school Level Good Luck" that brought me to Hope's Peak Academy...
It was "Super High-school Level Bad Luck"
PROLOGUE: WELCOME TO DESPAIR ACADEMY