I had a thought yesterday while listening to oshioki themes. You know how at the end of the first Dangan Ronpa, Junko survives all but one of the executions that have killed everyone else? Like she just deflects all the baseballs, enjoys the dizzying motocycle ride, stays zen through the witch trial flames, and treats the digger like a personal massager. In fact, the only execution that actually does her in is Detention, where she’s smashed into a pancake that I still don’t understand how SHSL Zetsubou is harvesting usable organs from.
I can’t believe I missed this before, but: 出る杭・釘は打たれる。The post/nail that sticks up gets hammered down.
Junko’s alleged talent is being a gyaru, which is a subculture that exists to stick it to society and the concept of the kind, gentle, weak, deferential Yamato Nadeshiko stereotype. Her alter ego meant to represent everything she is not is named Otonashi Ryouko, a play off of “otonashii” which means docile, obedient, and quiet. Junko’s real talent is analysis, which you’d think would let her easily meld into the crowd and avoid unwanted attention, but instead she uses this to go against the current at every possible opportunity. She uses her cunning to take over a highly influential school and lead a coup using her army of zealots. She basically creates an entire religion centered around herself.
Enoshima Junko is the most 目立つ motherfucker in this universe. I suppose you could argue that everyone at Kibougamine is a little bit of a post/nail that’s sticking up, since they’re so much better than the average person (the beginning of the first game even says that Kibougamine itself is at the heart of Tokyo, as if it knows how important and great it is).
Now, there’s more than one reading of “the nail/post that sticks up gets hammered down”: the first is pretty obviously just to not set yourself apart from everyone else or society will mash you back to where it wants you to be; the second is that to stand out you need great courage, because it exposes you to criticism and hatred from the jealous, mediocre masses. Both things are demonstrated in the games. There’s lots of jealousy going on of the kids scouted for Kibougamine proper from the prep school and general populace. Junko, for all of her work and machinations, still gets literally hammered at the end of the first game.
…except that’s not the end of her. She appears in SDR2, and halfway through DR:AE (which I haven’t finished yet admittedly) Naegi says that it’s as if Junko’s influence has grown since she died–it’s almost like she planned it to go this way. Which brings me to a not-widely cited version of the proverb: 出る杭は打たれるが、出すぎた杭は打たれない。 The post that sticks up will be hammered, but the post that sticks up too much will not.
This one is a bit more complex: stick out slightly, or in a not meaningful way, and your influence is fleeting and ultimately crushed again under the wave of the mediocre status quo. Rise even further above that, however, and you make history. Enoshima Junko’s will is so strong that it survives being directly hammered.
And people ask me why she’s my favorite DR character.