Reviews for Idol of Despair
Martin III chapter 4 . 1/20/2023
So, I'm very impressed with how well you handle Junko's voice. She is convincingly, inexplicitly restless and scattered, jumping from one diversion to another and from one persona to another in an endless struggle to avoid boredom. Your description of the monitoring room sets a terrific atmosphere, and makes me realize what an appropriate setting a room full of TV screens is for Junko, the relentless channel surfer whose interest is only captured for a few seconds by any occurrence or mood. First class characterization.

The plot development is a little slow outside of the novelization stuff, but having Sayaka's secret now mixed in with the others is an interesting consequence that I must admit hadn't occurred to me. Could this lead to a second murder attempt by the same student? All eyes will be on Sayaka now, so I don't think she would risk it, but that might depend on what her secret is. Hopefully you won't put off Makoto's confrontation with Sayaka for too long, as that could have an impact on the situation, too.

The list of line-by-line problems with the prose gets ever smaller:
1."of it's confinement from mental cage it" should be "of its confinement from the mental cage it"
2."Makoto put some eggs and toast in his plate." That's an odd breakfast selection for a Japanese school.
3."After all, how will you run from a would be murderer if you're all puckered out?" That should be "all tuckered out". Being all puckered out would only be of concern if you wanted to smooch the murderer. :)
4."in an angst-filled tone." It might be a good buzzword for reviews, but "angst-filled" is too vague for fiction narrative, and way too strong for this context. For that matter, any adverbial phrase is unnecessary in this context; "Makoto said back to the bear." would be fine on its own.

I haven't viewed any of Chihiro's free events, so I don't know if the conversation between him and Makoto is taken from the source material, but if not, my compliments on a corny yet heartfelt character interaction that fits very well with the game and this story. It's always good to build some connection between the characters.

I like Makoto's vulnerability in how he still wants to connect with Sayaka, and is embarrassed at the thought of the others seeing that. It's sympathetic and has me looking forward to seeing how things turn out between them in future chapters.
Martin III chapter 3 . 12/9/2022
I see fewer prose issues in this chapter. However, with this being the class trial there's a lot of dialogue going back and forth, so with the continued use of quotes for both spoken words and thoughts and the continued inconsistencies with the characters' names, I often had to pause to figure out who was speaking or even whether or not someone was speaking at all.

This is, by the by, despite the fact that the dialogue is, if anything, more true to the characters than it was in the first two chapters. Mondo and Toko in particular were both phenomenally done.

So, the new mystery turns out to be severely underdeveloped. Byakuya and Kyoko pull the whole story of Leon and Hina meeting in the hallway, Leon bringing her along to the meeting with Sayaka (for what reason, we're never told), Leon taking the knife and trying to kill Sayaka (right in front of a witness!), Hina stepping in front of the knife, and Sayaka knocking out Leon (yet not killing him as planned?) completely out of thin air. You need to both lay a trail of evidence to support a mystery's solution and avoid logic holes like the ones I note in parentheses, not only to be fair to the readers, but to prevent the solution from feeling completely arbitrary. Based on the evidence and testimony at hand, a much more logical explanation is that Hina attacked Sayaka, Sayaka fled her room, Leon showed up for the meeting to find Hina there, killed her in self-defense, and waited four to five hours before waking everyone in hopes of obscuring the time of death.

There are also logic holes with Leon's cleanup. Firstly: "What incentive would someone have to go into the bathroom after killing somebody? To clean themselves up." That's an incredibly weak reason for breaking into the bathroom, given that the killer had ample alternatives: the public bathrooms and the one in his own quarters. Also, blood does not "embed itself" into plastic. Try bleeding onto a water bottle and leaving it overnight yourself; I guarantee it will wash right off without even using soap.

This chapter's shorter collection of line-by-line problems:
1."The note was addressed to Kuwata at 1 AM." The note, which you quoted just six paragraphs earlier, said "12:00 AM".
2."the sorrow covering his heart felt like a hammer." This simile makes no sense. Hammers are not known for covering things, and in fact it would be very difficult to cover anything with a hammer.
3."he stepped in front to block her." Unless Makoto is presenting a completely different version of events from Byakuya and Kyoko, this should be "she stepped in front to block him."
4."and hit him with the head with the golden Katana," Obvious typos.
5."throw these away in the infirmary. But the infirmary was" They were thrown in the incinerator, not the infirmary.
6."Freak accident" doesn't mean what you think it does.

Sayaka's breakdown at the end was pretty well done; I don't know if it was realistic, but it was definitely heartfelt. It even gives this fic someplace to go now that the relevant trial has come to a disappointing conclusion. While there's no reason to expect the remaining cases to play out any differently (apart from the Sakura trial being resolved more quickly in the absence of Hina's tampering), the relationship between the characters has changed, and I don't expect Makoto to give up on Sayaka. Sayaka's death in the source material certainly wasn't pretty, but it was a much neater resolution to her betrayal of Makoto. Now Makoto has no choice but to confront that issue.
Martin III chapter 2 . 12/6/2022
After finishing Trigger Happy Havoc I got an idea for a story exploring what would happen if Sakaya's plot succeeded. The premise seemed like a pretty obvious idea, so I figured that before I got started I should check if anyone had done it before. Sure enough, here this fic is. You take the idea in a different enough direction that I'm not worried about redundancy, but I also noticed that Danganronpa fan fiction has no readership to speak of, so I decided it made more sense to read this fic than spend my time writing something that no one but me would read.

Enough about me, let's talk about this fic. First off, we have Sayaka considering the fact that everyone else will be executed if she graduates, and saying she's known Makoto since middle school. It's not clear if you misremembered events from the game or these are deliberate AU variations, but either way these are problems. If you misremembered, Monokuma actually didn't tell the students they would be executed if someone graduates until after the first murder, and Sayaka and Makoto didn't meet before Hope's Peak; in middle school they just admired each other from afar. If these are AU variations, they're too inconsequential and unrelated; often it's best with AU to stick with just one major variation. And in either case, these variations make Sayaka less sympathetic than she was in the game while having no apparent effect on the plot.

The dialogue is very in character so far, with little reliance on catchphrases and plenty of grasp of tone, characteristic phrasing, and underlying personality. This gives a comforting sense of familiarity that allows the AU elements to stand out more.

Your usage of the characters' names is very muddled, as if you played through the game in Japanese and couldn't keep straight which name is the character's given name, which is their family name, and which name each character calls them by. In the English localization everyone addresses each other by their given name, so you can do that and keep things less confusing for both yourself and your readers.

So Hina is dead this time. I'm intrigued as to what that might mean; ordinarily I would assume Sayaka just picked a different victim and struggle to suppress a yawn, but you still mention the note addressed to Leon, not Hina. Hina shouldn't have been able to hear what was going on due to the soundproofed walls, so what was she doing in Makoto's room in the first place? That's a good mystery hook right there.

I like how you have Sayaka falling apart in the aftermath of the murder. It fits with her vulnerable, dependent personality and is the expected reaction for almost any normal person who has done what she did. Makoto, on the other hand, seems uncharacteristically paranoid, not even considering the possibility that an innocent person might not want to talk about a murder taking place in their bedroom. One of those scenarios where the investigator is so ready to assume the worst that I wind up sympathizing more with the culprit, which I suppose may have been your intent. It's an engaging confrontation between them, at any rate.

Sakaya's plan isn't making sense. Why didn't she switch back the nameplates after the murder? That defeats the whole purpose of switching rooms with Makoto. Same goes for her failure to ask Makoto not to tell anyone they switched rooms. And why did she clean up in one of the public bathrooms instead of the one right there in Makoto's room? The only conceivable explanation for any of this is that she wants everyone to figure out what happened, and I can't see how that could be to her advantage.

Some line-by-line problems with the prose:
1) "Her family, her friends, and world famous bandmates had all stripped away from her ..." You either forgot the word "been", or forgot to say what it was that they stripped away from her.
2) "The idol's fans ..." What idol is Sayaka talking about, and why would this idol's fans know where she is?
3) "Just like i've always been..", "she begun thinking out loud.", "the holt of the knife", "Investigate as you will. but attempt to" Obvious typos.
4) Thoughts should not be enclosed by quotation marks.
5) Tsundere doesn't mean what you think it does.
6) "got dressed, and put her clothes on." What do you mean by "got dressed" if you don't mean putting one's clothes on?
7) "Time had passed, and it had become mere moments until the nightly announcement." This is a bizarrely laborious way of saying "It was almost 10 p.m."
8) "She had mumbled that..." I can't make sense of this sentence. The part before the comma, the part between the comma and "Maizono", and the part following "down" all have no apparent relationship to each other.
9) Why would Makoto put an indecisive "Uhm..." in a written note?
10) "and you'll both stop asking idiotic questions" Makoto was the only one asking questions. In fact, Makoto was the only other person there, period.
11) "seemingly bloody" This is oddly vague. What makes it seem bloody, and what makes Makoto think it is not actually bloody?
12) "Naegi's search for the janitor led him to the cafeteria, where, predictably, Hifumi Yamada sat," Again, much too vague. What method was Makoto using to search for the janitor? How did that method lead him to the cafeteria? And why is it predictable that Hifumi would be sitting in the cafeteria?
13) "Naegi thanked whatever gods may be for the conversation finally to be over," Huh? The conversation, if it can even be called that, was about 60 seconds long. It sounds like you deleted one of Hifumi's fanfiction lectures and forgot to take this line out along with it.

So, plenty of shaky prose and odd plot points here, some of which may or may not make more sense once the mystery is unraveled, but also enough variation on the facts for this to feel like a fresh case. I'm going to stick with this at least long enough to find out what happened.