First released in 2010, Danganronpa is a decidedly weird franchise, mixing dark themes with bright, cheerful art. In the core games, players are trapped at Hope’s Peak Academy, which is supposedly a school for elite secondary students. However, shortly into Danganronpa, people start killing each other at the behest of a talking bear named Monokuma. The blood of those dead characters, though, isn’t red — it’s pink.
With the exception of an anime called Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope’s Peak High School in which it’s inexplicably red, all of the blood in the franchise is pink. The longest standing answer as to just why blood in Danganronpa is pink came from series producer Yoshinori Terasawa in 2014. He explained that there were two reasons for the choice. The first was that it would help keep the game’s content rating low. This is a fairly popular strategy across different mediums, as a lower content rating means more potential buyers. Terasawa also said pink blood helped “lessen the grotesque feel of the game,” giving it more impact in the process.
Images from Distrust, an early version of the game that was scrapped because of how gruesome it was, show red blood, seemingly collaborating Terasawa’s statement. In an interview associated with that project from 2015, series creator Kazutaka Kodaka also noted his team didn’t continue with Distrust because it was too gruesome, which could have affected potential sales. As such, pink blood wasn’t added until after Kodaka and his team scrapped Distrust.
However, in an interview with Kodaka for the tenth anniversary of the franchise, the subject of pink blood in Danganronpa came up, and he said, “We didn’t change the color of the blood to make it less brutal. It was to be ‘psycho pop.’ The imagery of red blood was kind of meh. We tried several different colors. Even blue! But it just looked like paint, so we settled on pink.”
While on the surface these two answers might seemingly be at odds, it’s clear that Kodaka doesn’t regard the choice to use pink blood as having been related to the content rating. Instead, the change from red to pink blood was incidental, as he and his team were trying to bring out the psycho pop elements of the game more. Kodaka found the pink appealing and so used it in the game. Conversely, Terasawa sees the choice as directly related to Danganronpa‘s content rating, as it would have affected the game’s potential market.
Overall, the choice to use pink blood in Danganronpa seems to have happened for creative reasons rather than because of self-censorship, at least in the eyes of the project’s creator. And the choice was a good one. Danganronpa‘s pink blood and psycho pop aesthetics have helped solidified it as a cult series, as they’re both so memorable.
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