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“I believe in you, so you should definitely believe in yourself!”
—Kaede Akamatsu to Shuichi Saihara
Kaede Akamatsu (赤松 楓) is a student in the Ultimate Academy for Gifted Juveniles and a participant of the Killing School Semester featured in Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony. Her title is the Ultimate Pianist (超高校級の「ピアニスト」 lit. Super High School Level Pianist).
Why She's An Optimistic Pianist
- She has a very straight forward and leader-like personality, as she's the first one to take the leadership position during the Killing Game in order to protect the other students.
- She has a great character design. It's simple, but cute and pretty.
- Similar to Ibuki Mioda from Goodbye Despair, her hearing is super developed to the point where she can distinguish between multiple people talking simultaneously, allowing her to hear all students talking during the Mass Panic Debates.
- She's one of the nicest characters in not only V3, but possibly the entire Danganronpa series. While she's more than capable of making scathing remarks should someone insult or annoy her (e.g. Miu), she's remarkably patient with some of the more difficult characters in the cast and was the one to try, and later succeed, at unite the other students in the midst of the Killing Game.
- Despite only being alive for the first chapter, in that short timespan, her actions managed to have a huge impact on the story and other characters. Including...
- Her plan to expose and hopefully kill the mastermind, officially started the killing game (which was the only downside of her actions).
- She inspired and convinced Shuichi Saihara to start believing in himself, leading Shuichi to take on the leadership role for the other students as Kaede's successor after her death and attempting to get over his fear of uncovering ugly truths.
- Unintentionally (and posthumously) providing the damning piece of evidence that ends up exposing Tsumugi as not only the mastermind, but the one responsible for both Rantaro and Kaede’s deaths.
- Successfully uniting the group into pursuing their common goal of ending the killing game, resulting into drastically different characters like Kaito Momota being much more involved in the game in their own way.
- As nice as she is, she isn't without her flaws, which also happen to be very believable. Along with her perceived bossiness, her determination to save everyone and end the Killing Game eventually leads to her setting up a trap to kill the mastermind. Unfortunately, this leads to her failing and dying herself.
- Not only did she end up dying earlier than most of the other characters, but she did for a crime she didn't even commit. As in reality, Tsumugi Shirogane, the mastermind, killed Rantaro Amami and let Kaede take the fall for it. Leaving Kaede to end up dying believing that she was indeed the culprit, increasing the hate towards Tsumugi big time.
- Due to her not surviving beyond the first chapter, she doesn't receive much of a backstory to explain why she was the person she was during the game (in fact, she receives the least amount of backstory exploration of any character in the game) nor does she go through any development. This makes her the most underdeveloped of the Danganronpa protagonists as likable as she is.
- The romance between her and Shuichi can feel forced and rushed.
- Kaede is known as a 'false protagonist' or a 'decoy protagonist', which are terms used in media to describe a character who is depicted as a protagonist only to be killed immediately, or somewhere early on in the story.
- She is the first protagonist in the primary game that has a skill for a talent, along with being the first female protagonist in the primary line of the Danganronpa series.
- During the trailer, Kaede introduces herself as the game's "protagonist" (主人公 shujinkō), and is shown participating in a Class Trial.
- Kaede's English voice actress, Erika Harlacher, also voices Kyoko Kirigiri in Danganronpa games.
- In a poll hosted by MyNavi, fans voted Kaede the 3rd most popular Danganronpa V3 student out of 16.
- The Japanese gaming magazine Dengeki from April 27, 2017 to May 22, 2017 held two popularity polls, one that was voted electronically and the other via post cards. Kaede was voted the 4th most popular student in the electronic poll, and most popular through post cards.