Kaede Akamatsu is a character from the Danganronpa V3: Killing Harmony video game.
A girl who started playing piano at a young age, and eventually began winning so many recitals that she was crowned the Ultimate Pianist. She's cheerful, outgoing, and motivated, and directs these traits toward escaping Monokuma and his murderous game.
She is labeled as the culprit of Chapter 1, having modified Shuichi's trap to catch the mastermind by adding a death trap to it. After she is executed for the murder of Rantarou Amami, Shuichi becomes the protagonist from Chapter 2 onward. Near the end of the game, it's revealed that her death trap was actually a failure and that in reality she was framed by the mastermind - Tsumugi Shirogane - as Rantaro'us murderer, due to Monokuma's Time Limit motive failing to produce a murder victim.
In the XP4 fics, Kaede is brought back to life. Kaede now works as an idol at the Brainless Studios.
Kaede has shoulder-length blonde hair and a prominent ahoge. She wears silver music note hairpins and has warm purple eyes.
She wears her high school uniform, which consists of a long-sleeved white shirt completed with a pink ribbed-hem sweater vest adorned with her previous schools insignia and an orange tie. She wears a dark, warm purple skirt patterened with black music staves and lining each of them. The song on her skirt creates an actual melody, but it doesn't seem to be any relevant tune. Dark purple knee socks are adorned with her previous schools insignia on the top of them, and beige shoes with dark brown laces and soles.
Kaede also carries around a white backpack, that has a gold clasp.
In the Prologue, Kaede wears a dark blue sailor uniform with a short matching blue skirt, a red tie, black knee socks and black penny loafers. The pins in her hair are regular, silver straight ones.
Kaede is an optimistic hard worker. As a leader type with a firm character, she has a strong will and doesn't hesitate to take action, her notable character trait being her strong sense of belief in herself and others. Her main motivation for playing the piano is to see others smiling.
Kaede has a kind personality that makes her think about others before herself. Because of this, she is unable to immediately suspect people, as demonstrated in the demo by her going as far as faking an alibi out of her trust for Makoto, with no rational basis for his innocence. She is willing to lie for good reasons, but appears uncomfortable while doing so and is quite bad at lying. Like the other protagonists before her, she has a very sensitive nature and listens to other people's troubles. However, as seen during her Free Time Events with other students, she seems to encourage other people to get better even more actively than some other protagonists do, and she isn't afraid to be bold about it and point out their flaws. It appears that she is rather quickly well-liked by the other students.
However, being a pianoholic from a young age, she has a peculiar trait of including music talk into her conversations. She even strongly avoids certain activities such as cooking and certain sports because she fears her fingers might get hurt, affecting her ability to play. After talking to Tsumugi during her Free Time Events, Kaede was quite shocked and disturbed after realizing how heavily her life and identity is centered around piano and how she doesn't really have anything else, and she became desperate to find new hobbies.
Kaede can also be a bit oblivious and silly at times. During K1-B0's Free Time Events, she unintentionally asks questions in a somewhat insensitive manner by making assumptions about his robotic nature. She also pokes Tsumugi's cheek and K1-B0's emergency button without permission, showing that she is quite childish and impulsive. Furthermore, she has a habit of making rather sexual comments towards other girls, such as repeatedly calling Tenko cute, describing Tsumugi's sexy aura and her body, threatening to lift up Tsumugi's skirt and let everyone see her panties in order to make her to talkーShuichi even points out to her that she sounds like a creepy old man. However, ironically, she seems completely oblivious when other girls talk about liking girls. During Tenko and Himiko's Free Time Events, she completely fails to understand that they refer to homosexuality when talking about "playing for the other team" and being attracted to another girl. She is also quite sensitive to vulgarity, as shown in Miu's Free Time Events. While brave and determined, she is shown to be more fearful around certain situations, such as disliking horror movies because they make her scared in the bonus mode.
While a kind and friendly person, Kaede is shown to have a quite firm, sometimes even rather easily angered personality as well, as she tends to lash at others when they annoy her enough. When Shuichi panics after they first met, she yelled at him to shut up in order to calm him down but also appeared quite annoyed by his nervousness, and later slapped Shuichi upside his head when he wasn't responsive for a short amount of time. She tries to be patient with Miu, but occasionally snaps back at her whenever she gets fed up with her insults, once even angrily telling Miu she has "nasty cow udders" after Miu repeatedly called Kaede's breasts tiny. During the investigation, she tells Himiko to be quiet and shut up multiple times, having no patience for her nonsensical and unnecessary talk about magic during such serious situation. She is also rather firm with Kokichi, bluntly telling him when she dislikes his behavior and what she thinks about him, such as believing he just wants attention and or is delusional, to which Kokichi responds by stating that Kaede really seems to know how to stand her ground. At one point, she scares off Monokid by yelling at him to shut up. She is also rather firm about illegal actions, scolding Kaito for cheating and Miu for wanting to use drugs to get high.
Indeed, Kaede's tendency to push forward with her own personal justice is her biggest flaw. She refuses to give up when it would be the sensible thing to do and when pushing forward would only make things worse. She also never doubts what she thinks is right and accepts it blindly. At one point she convinced the group to try escape via Monokuma's trap and got called out by Kokichi because of it. This pushy and bossy attitude causes her to become a bit unpopular among some students, though she does appear to feel very bad for it and genuinely just didn't seem to realize how her actions had affected the others at the time. She is also willing to lie during the Class Trials, though only to strengthen the group's unity as Kokichi put it and she feels uncomfortable doing so. When pushed to her limits, Kaede would go as far as attempting to murder the mastermind in order to save her friends from the mass execution in Chapter 1. She always has good intentions and is motivated by her dreams and wish to befriend the other students and get them out of the school. However, Kanda has pointed out that she is unsure whether or not to call Kaede a good person, stating that she doesn't have ulterior motives because she doesn't think she's wrong, and she ends up going a bit crazy when her sense of what is right turns out to be mistaken.
Later, it is revealed that Kaede's memories had been altered to make her act like a person with a completely opposite personality. In reality, Kaede was a person who hated people, having difficulties with trusting others and openly stating with a disturbingly bright smile that she had no faith in humanity. Though, it should be noted that it is left unclear whether or not this is true and it could have been a lie made by Tsumugi, as pointed out by Shuichi.
Kaede's talent as the Ultimate Pianist is a fabrication made by Team Danganronpa. Due to that fact, it is unclear whether Kaede is a talented pianist in the past.
Being the Ultimate Pianist, she is very skilled in playing the piano since her young age. She gained the title after winning a contest. Her biggest motivation to play the piano is to make her audience smile, and always remember her motivation during her piano concert so she can hold her nervousness.
Kaede has enhanced hearing, similar to Ibuki Mioda from the Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair that allows her to hear more than three different people's argument during the Panic Debate.
- 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.
- Due to the unreliable nature of Danganronpa V3 and the students' backstories, it's not certain if Kaede's twins sister exists. It is also possibly a reference to Kaede's Japanese voice actress: Sayaka Kanda, who played Junko and Mukuro in the Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc and Danganronpa 2: Goodbye Despair stage play adaptions.
- Kaede was first revealed as part of the Danganronpa V3 trailer first shown at Tokyo Game Show 2016, along with the avatars of the rest of the game's cast which up until that point were only shown as silhouettes. While all other characters were only revealed by appearance, Kaede's character name, as well as her Japanese voice actress, Sayaka Kanda, were revealed during the trailer, and it is actually presented by herself.
- 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" (shujinkō), and is shown participating in a Class Trial.
- According to the English localization's character heights, Kaede (5'8") is taller than Shuichi (5'7"), which is why some players assumed that a one scene with the two had incorrect art. However, in the Japanese version, Kaede is shorter than Shuichi.
- Kaede's Japanese voice actress, Sayaka Kanda, has already contributed to Danganronpa franchise as a whole both as a singer (as part of the group TRUSTRICK), singing the opening to Danganronpa 3: The End of Hope's Peak High School - Future Arc alongside Maon Kurosaki as well as its ending, and as a stage actress - playing Junko Enoshima (and Mukuro Ikusaba) in the Danganronpa stage plays.
- Kanda is also married to Mondo Owada's stage actor for Danganronpa: Kibō no Gakuen to Zetsubō no Kōkōsei THE STAGE 2016, Mitsu Murata.
- 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.
- Japanese gaming magazine Dengeki from April 27th, 2017 to May 22nd, 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.