(Jenny, take my hand / 'Cause we are more than friends / I will follow you until the end...)

...

Given that my first exposure to the Danganronpa franchise was through Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc, Ishimondo (Kiyotaka Ishimaru x Mondo Oowada) was my first selected choice of brain poison, and still remains one of my biggest comfort ships to this day!


KIYOTAKA ISHIMARU

Kiyotaka Ishimaru, nicknamed 'Taka', is the Ultimate Moral Compass (otherwise localized as the Super High-School Level Public Morals Committee Member).

Taka is righteous, loud, and values order and rules. He takes his role as a student incredibly seriously, and he is very polite. He thinks that effort is very important, and holds bitterness to those for whom things come easily or naturally. Despite this, he cares about his classmates, and oftentimes takes the leadership roles, despite suffering from low self esteem and crying very easily if shocked or touched. Despite what this may bring to mind, though, Taka is a very masculine and 'manly' character. He's extremely buff, values bonds between men highly, and he doesn't back down from challenges. His status as a manly person tends to be lost on Western audiences due to his tendency to cry, and it being more based off of traditional Japanese understandings of what manliness is.

During Taka's early life, his grandfather was once the Prime Minister of Japan, which is a title that Taka says he gained through a natural genius. However, there was an unnamed scandal forcing him to step down, and which also led to his business collapsing, and the Ishimaru family being mistrusted and in huge debts. This led Taka's family to end up (in his words) "below middle-class". This also led to his resentment towards natural talent and the label of 'genius'. He swore to restore honor to his family by gaining success as a politician through hard work rather than natural talent; sacrificing hobbies and most social interactions for studying and good grades. It has been said by the creators that Taka's backstory involving being bullied by his peers was going to be discussed in-game, but it was considered "too dark". ... For DANGANRONPA, the story about how bad Taka was victimized by bullies was too dark. Yeesh.

Aside from his grandfather, we are aware that Taka does have a father; Takaaki Ishimaru, who is a very tired-looking policeman. He is canonically the closest person to Taka before he comes to Hope's Peak, which is why he was used as a murder motive for him.

Kiyotaka is a very autistic-coded character! He struggles with socializing, voice control, and reading the room. He is also very blunt, and values routine and is stated to wear the same set of clothes over and over. Taka is also generally considered to be queercoded; both from a Western perspective (due to his eagerness to bond with men in the nude, which, yes, is a real canon thing that's brought up multiple times) and from a Japanese cultural perspective (with Japanese media queercoding their male characters by making them manly, in stark contrast with the West's tendency to make them feminine, and making them obsessed with or highly valuing male bonds or friendships).


MONDO OOWADA

Mondo Oowada is the Ultimate Biker Gang Leader (otherwise localized as the Super High School-Level Biker), and the leader of the infamous biking gang, The Crazy Diamonds.

Mondo behaves like the stereotypical delinquent; foul-mouthed and often coming across as rude and scary. He's easy to provoke and doesn't hesitate to resort to violence. He's easy to aggravate. However, you quickly begin to learn charming facts about him that go against his persona if you watch his Free Time Events. For one, he subconsciously raises his voice when nervous, which tends to scare off the girls he wants to ask out (showing that he's shy around newer people, and is unsure of how to relax in calmer situations). Mondo also has a soft spot for dogs, and had a Maltese named Chuck who died when he was young. When talking about this, Mondo becomes very emotional and has to leave before he starts to tear up. He's also insecure over his future, but ultimately decides that, once high school is done, he would choose to become a carpenter to 'start making things instead of breaking them', showing a desire to reform and make a difference without aggression or violence. But all of this information is only made available once you become close to him, and get him to let down his barriers and delinquent persona.

Mondo grew up with his older brother, Daiya Oowada, who raised him to be strong. Despite, in the English translation, Mondo mentioning his mother, this was not in the original text, with the implication being that, for one reason or another, Mondo and Daiya were on their own. He's described as like a starry-eyed kid brother, and he became dedicated to biking when he was young due to being inspired by him. They became known as The Diamond Brothers (with the pun obviously being that 'Daiya' and 'Mondo' together sounds like 'Diamond'), and became well-known across Japan. Despite this, Mondo lived in Daiya's shadow, becoming the second leader after Daiya. When it came time for Daiya to hand leadership over to his younger brother, Mondo challenged him to a race at his retirement party to prove he was worthy to take the helm after the other gang members refused to trust him. However, during the race, Mondo became reckless and went into oncoming traffic. Daiya pushed Mondo and his motorcycle aside in place of his own to protect him, and ultimately died in Mondo's arms from the crash that resulted. It was Daiya's final wish that Mondo continue to lead the Crazy Diamonds, and to not blame himself for his death. His first wish was granted, with Mondo not telling the gang members that he caused his brother's death and instead saying Daiya was the reckless one, knowing that, if they, or anyone, knew the truth, they would never trust him as a leader. However, his second wish was ultimately left unfulfilled, with it being revealed that Mondo thinks of himself as a murderer, and an intense complex with being seen as weak stemming from the incident, as well as from his gang members looking down on him in the past due to his status as the little brother of Daiya.

I believe that Mondo is a character that is coded to have BPD, which you can read my analysis on right here. Also notable about Mondo's character is that, of all of the blackened characters in the Danganronpa series, Mondo Oowada is the only character who did not intend to kill his victim.


CANON

As I'm sure you can guess from reading about their individual characters; with Taka being the Ultimate Moral Compass and Mondo being a gang leader and delinquent; Mondo and Taka didn't get along at first. They formed a rivalry, which escalated to the two having a stamina competition by spending a period of time overnight in a high-temperature sauna. But, the very next morning, Mondo and Taka had their arms slung around each other, laughing, as they became seemingly inseparable. They declared themselves 'soul brothers', and began to call each other 'kyoudai' in the Japanese version, which is more or less one-to-one translated in the English version, with the term 'bro'.

In the manga, we get to see what happened between Taka and Mondo in the sauna. While they were at first bickering like before, this slowly shifted to a sincere conversation; with Mondo telling Taka about his gang, his brother (leaving out the true circumstances of his death, as that is a secret that only Mondo knows at this point), and his dog, and Taka telling him about his grandfather. They discovered that they were very similar, with both of them putting intense pressure on themselves to be the man that others wanted or needed them to be, and both possessing a need to prove that they are strong, and are able to fix things, to others. They quickly begin to bond over their similarities, which makes Taka tell Mondo that he is a good person, which makes Mondo blush. Taka ended up technically being the one losing the contest; almost passing out, with Mondo helping him out of the room. He admitted that he thinks that Taka is strong, and the two come to the conclusion that they are so similar that they're like brothers (thus, 'kyoudai' and 'bros'). They then decide to take a shower together. And no, that is not a joke.

During Mondo's trial, when you begin to accuse Mondo, it is Taka who you have to fight against. When Mondo was found guilty, Taka was also the only person who didn't vote him guilty, instead voting for himself; showing that either he would literally rather him and everyone else die than admit Mondo killed someone, or was in such a state of mental anguish that he was unable to think it through. Taka breaks down, yelling and bawling and demanding Mondo tell him why he killed Chihiro, clearly extremely devastated to lose him. It's notable that this level of emotion is extremely abnormal for Danganronpa trials, especially for the first game in particular.

In the stage play (and yes, Danganronpa has a stage play), the rules are different; if you vote wrong, you also get executed, no matter what. Taka still chose to vote himself, knowing that he would die, and thus choosing to die side-by-side with Mondo. Their last words are to each other, where Mondo says to him, "I'm sorry, kyoudai,” and Taka replies back, "It's okay, kyoudai."

Back to the games; during the third chapter, Taka is seen as having the most intense reaction of anyone in that game to any death; becoming quiet and almost sickly, a hollow version of his previous self. When he speaks to Alter Ego; a computer program left behind by Chihiro; the program changes its appearance and attitude to match that of Mondo's to cheer him up. Through this, Taka went through a self-proclaimed "transformation", where his and Mondo's spirits became one. He starts to address himself as Kiyondo, which is a combination of both his and Mondo's names. Whether his and Mondo's spirits have literally fused, or if this is a coping mechanism that Taka has developed, is unclear.

Kiyondo has his own set of eyebrow-raising moments in the manga. First of all, Taka and Mondo's spirits fusing is represented as them being together in a void, naked, which is. Hm. Kiyondo also says that he wants Hifumi to make him a body pillow of Mondo, and, when thinking about Mondo, he imagines him blushing and with anime sparkles around him. He is also explicitly stated to be in a "love triangle" with Hifumi and Alter Ego, with Alter Ego, around him, taking on the form and personality of Mondo.

With the reveal that Kiyondo was actually the first victim of the double-victim case in Chapter 3, this means Mondo and Taka died back-to-back during the killing game.

Mondo calls Taka a 'panic prince' on one of the magazine scans, and Mondo was the only one who remembered to celebrate Taka's birthday, which Taka is happy about, which we know thanks to the characters' birthday Tweets. The next year, the whole class celebrated it, and he thanked Mondo, implying that he was the one to set it up. They have misc interactions in the spinoffs; one of which being them getting into an argument literally because they care too much about each other. You can also see Mondo getting Taka a yakisoba before watching his speech, and pausing to ramble about how great Taka is to Fuyuhiko. You also get to see Mondo tell Taka that he wants to become a carpenter, which touches Taka to the point of tears. In this event, Mondo promises Taka that he will build them a home to live in together (which becomes even more meaningful when you remember that Taka is from a lower-class family). Indeed, a PR person for Danganronpa confirmed that, if they had lived through the killing game, they would have ended up living together, and were in love, but were too 'dopey' to realize it.


HEADCANON

Due to his coding, I obviously am of the opinion that Taka is gay. I also headcanon him as trans. No canon evidence; just the vibes. I headcanon Mondo as a bi guy because of him talking about liking girls in canon, and also his relationship with Taka existing in general. He's cisgender, but I think that Chihiro would help him experiment a little bit with gender, and would help him learn to have a healthier relationship to his masculinity.

Also due to his coding, I headcanon Taka as autistic! He was diagnosed at a very young age. I headcanon Mondo with BPD and PTSD (of which I think he's coded to have both), as well as ADHD (which is me projecting). I also think that Mondo also suffers from occasional psychosis when he's having a breakdown (both a symptom of his BPD and his PTSD), and has auditory and, more rarely, visual hallucinations, but he doesn't tell anyone this out of fear of sounding 'crazy', and is in denial about having them in general. He isn't diagnosed with any of those things as-of canon, and would probably get diagnosed only after a long while, in the nondespair AU.

I think that Taka has a lot of internalized queerphobia (due to his traditional values), and Mondo has a lot of internalized ableism (thinking that things like PTSD and ADHD are signs of weakness, and that having BPD would make him a bad person, ect). Meanwhile, Mondo is totally cool with liking dudes (which only came after a lot of character development, as he realized he liked boys very young), and Taka is very much alright with being autistic and is knowledgable on general psychiatric knowledge. Together, they could form one (1) functional human being with no internalized bigotry. (Or... They could form Kiyondo. That, too.)

Like everyone else, I prefer to think of them in a nondespair AU because canon Hurts but the canon information that we get about them in the nondespair AU is SO sweet and I love them. Of course, my headcanon nondespair AU includes Mondo building their house and them taking forever to realize that their feelings for each other are romantic, because they're idiots. But they're some of my favorite idiots.


PERSONAL THOUGHTS

Whenever I see these two, I feel like the 'neuron activation' monkey image. I have no idea what it is, but these two just have that X factor that makes me go fucking insane. It's about how their designs and characters were literally made for each other and to be parallels to each other. It's about the 'right person, wrong time' trope. It's about how, if you look at their characters on paper, you would assume they would be rivals, but they actually spend the majority of their time in canon being extremely close best friends. It's about how touchy and inseperable they are. It's about how quickly they were able to become so close, because they're fucking SOULMATES. It's about how it's CANON that they were in love with each other, but just didn't have the fucking time that they needed to realize it, because they met in a killing game, during the last days of their lives. They found love in one of the most awful, despair-filled places and situations one could be in.

Do you see that shit? Do you see that gay poetic stuff I just wrote? Yo, Socrates, it's fucking DANGANRONPA. THAT'S what these two do to my brain chemistry. They make me feel insane and foam at the mouth. I hate them. I love them. I'm going to hydraulically compress them. God.


GALLERY

Anyway, I'm Bede, and this is Wonderwall.

But for serious, I had to pick my absolute favorites here, because these two are literally, canonically inseperable, and are together in almost every instance of them appearing in any Danganronpa media. Open the images in a new tab to get an up-close look!


back to home
play_arrow pause
Jenny
Studio Killers