Assassination Classroom Review

This is review number four hundred and thirty eight. This anime is part of the Winter 2015 lineup and it’s called Ansatsu Kyoshitsu or Assassination Classroom. It’s a twenty two episode anime about a bunch of students trying to kill their teacher. It’s a really fun show. Let’s read on.

Story

The anime follows the Class E of Kunigigaoka Junior High as they are tasked with an important mission. An alien creature just blew a big chunk of the moon and he plans to do the same to Earth. This alien is now their teacher and they are now tasked to kill him. They’ll get a reward, of course, but they also don’t get to die. They have the entire school year to achieve the task, but it’s certainly easier said than done.

Taking the Pants Off

I always wanted to review a lot of Shounen Jump titles, but they’re often a big commitment to follow. The episodes usually span multiple seasons with fifty or so episodes, so it’s really hard to binge them. You’ll also eventually feel the burn out as well, so I don’t really pick one up unless I really have to. I do know these anime are amazing though. Get the Jump stamp and you can expect an engaging experience ahead of you. I think the only bad Shounen Jump anime I’ve seen is Black Cat, and that’s so obscure that no one really knows about it. I do, and I remember. But for solid Shounen Jump titles like One Piece or Hitman Reborn, I’ve always wanted to see what the hype is about. I often never get the chance though, because it takes a lot of investment to tackle these stories. I have the same curiosity for Assassination Classroom, a recent Jump hit. It featured a weird yellow character and it has a class of assassins. I really wanted to see what the hell the show is about. Well, I finally got a chance to see the show. I temporarily ignored the 12-13 episode shows of Winter 2015 and put it ahead of my list. Finally, a Shounen Jump anime review, and simply put, this one is incredible.

A Perfect First Episode

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I’d like to start here on the first episode. Usually, this is where most shows would establish their premise, set up the story and introduce the main characters. Assassination Classroom did all that, and it was truly a satisfying first taste of the series. It’s really hard to explain, but the episode structure was just too good. Props to Yusei Matsui, because he obviously gave us a strong first chapter of the manga. It’s a really strong first impression. We open with massive confusion seeing a class shoot their teacher with pellet guns and the teacher with tentacles are avoiding them with ease while taking attendance. It’s insane. It then transitions to a shot of a crescent moon, a flashback establishing the general premise of the anime and the tentacle teacher continuing to teach his class. We then follow an assassination attempt by one of his students, urged by a bunch of bullies in the class, which enraged our teacher. It seems, despite having intent to destroy the world, he still cares very deeply about his students. We then get a flashback of a black monster holding a dying person in its arms, and the person making one last request to the monster. In one episode, the general idea of the anime is beautifully established and I just find it so damn perfect. A lot of anime uses the first episode to trigger the events of the story urging you to keep watching until the general premise is established in the third episode or so. It’s a normal pattern in anime. This show basically gave us all the best parts in its first tasting.

I’m gushing over something stupid. I know that. I mean, it’s a decent first episode at best, but I look back to all the anime that follows the main character’s life and then another character is introduced that changes it entirely. This anime did go for a surprise approach. Yeah, it still surprised and confused but it clearly had a good story to tell. It’s a story so great it needed just one episode to establish it. I love strong writing like this. Only incredibly talented people can do something like this, and Yusei managed to spin a story with the simplest of ideas. A lot of anime relies on a lot of gimmick to make a story great, but Assassination Classroom never felt convoluted. I am a teacher that will destroy the world, and my students must stop me. I move at incredibly top speed though. No, I don’t have a special technique or a magical artifact to make me go fast. I simply am, and I urge my students to basically kill a being faster than them. It’s a really good premise, and I think the neat bow to tie it all together is that flashback of the dying person basically establishing the motivation and setting up the lone conclusion of this story. It’s so gawd damn amazing, and I say that because the first episode ends while giving me a smile on my face. It’s so rare for an anime to do that to me, and yet this show got me. Even if you don’t watch the rest of the series, I truly urge you to try the first episode.

Kill Me Baby

So the anime features two parts. The first part, and the most important part, is the assassination of the tentacle teacher. With his insane speed, the military of the world couldn’t touch him but he did agree to let the students of class E to do their best to off him. A lot of the episodes in the first half really just focus on the characters that try to kill the teacher. We focus on the different students of class E and the many different people that try to join in on the killing fun. After all, class E gets a neat 10 billion yen if they can actually kill the teacher. It’s a pretty sweet deal for everybody. They get bragging rights and a lot of money, but only IF they can actually kill the bastard. They certainly tried, and different episodes feature a lot of different approaches to the same goal. The first episode would be my favorite attempt, since it featured a suicide bombing by the best character in the show. You’ll also get psychological torture, professional hitmen, poison and a cast of colorful people trying to bring down the unkillable teacher. It gets ridiculous at some points, and the teacher would only just brag about his top speed or encourage the people to try their best again. That’s the funny thing about this tentacle teacher though, he is very kind and very supportive. In its purest form, this monster that threatens to destroy the world is actually a really passionate teacher as well. While the show hits hard with its comedic aspects, it also touches on a really soft side for me.

Teaching

The second episode is a good example of how Korosensei teaches his students. In this episode, the baseball player of the cast throws a ball so slow that the teacher mocks it, but then he goes out of his way to help the student improve on his throwing skills. I know its super exaggerated, but this is basically how teaching works. It’ll only really be effective if you truly give a damn about your students, and Korosensei would go above and beyond for his. It’s kinda heartwarming that this tentacle monster chose the worst performing class in the school to share his love for teaching. Class E is also known as the End Class, because this houses the worst performing students in the school. They don’t even get to attend regular school class, because they’re designated in an old broken down campus. With a bunch of students that knows they can’t amount to anything, it’s really satisfying to see Korosensei crack their shell and help them improve as students. In fact, their motivation to kill their teacher actually goes hand in hand with their willingness to become better students. Korosensei is such an effective presence in their life that a lot does change in the span of twenty two episodes. Class E does become a true assassination classroom as we progress through the show.

But, man, seeing Korosensei care for his students really does struck a chord with me. I became a teacher because of an anime. I watched GTO as it was airing in Animax, and I always wanted to be someone that could’ve helped my troubled self while growing up. I see a lot of that soft side of GTO in this anime. It’s actually not just the tentacle monster that gives us passion in his teaching, but all the teacher of Class E becomes effective teachers as well. The show really explores what it is to be a teacher, and it really gets to me. It matters to me a lot because I recently transitioned from a school that cares little about their students to a school that goes out of its way for its students. I realized now, with the power of hindsight, that my own passion for teaching would’ve died if I stayed another year in the other school. Now, Korosensei is pretty incredible because he isn’t just passionate. He is also a down to earth person that the students can relate to. He is their friend. He is their cheerleader. He is their support, while also being the target of their assassination. Korosensei is also something else. Something that annoys me to no end.

Mary Sue

He is a perfect character. Yeah, he is unkillable and others are also impressed by his existence. That’s basically how a Mary Sue works. The story is always in their favor, everyone likes them, they can resurrect the dead and I’m basically having flashbacks of Mahouka as I watch the anime. Is Koresensei being a Mary Sue a bad thing though? The answer is no. In fact, he’s the most effective kind of a Mary Sue. These kinds of characters can never be the main character. The story cannot revolve around them alone, because a Mary Sue is always a foil character. They should always be someone to compare the rest of the cast, and their superiority should always serve as a bad thing instead of the almighty presence they should have. Mary Sue characters serve as a support to improve the main character. This was done amazingly in this anime. Korosensei is used as support to elevate the rest of the cast. Seeing him achieve success effortlessly makes us want to cheer for Class E, who is breaking their backs while reaching a crushing defeat. This is the most effective way to use a Mary Sue character, and I’m glad there are still people that understand the existence of such characters. I read the One Punch Man manga, and I think he’s becoming a foil character as well despite his perfectness. This is mainly because everyone is cheering Garo on. I am just really glad perfect characters are still being used properly in stories. I’ll give Mahouka a pass if I can get more great anime like Assassination Classroom to counterbalance their bullsh*t.

Success Is a Ladder

While majority of the anime is about Korosensei helping his students and the class trying to assassinate him in return, there is another story to this anime. This revolves around Kunigigaoka and Class E itself. The other part of this show is about the principal of the school wanting to keep Class E as the worthless students that they are. His method is one of fear. If you f*ck up with your studies then we’ll put you in Class E among the rest of the failures of the school. With that being the primary motivator, the students will try harder while also feeling superior looking down on Class E. The second part of the story is mainly about the principal ensuring the status quo remains the same. Class E must be a class of failure in order for his school to run smoothly. Of course, with Korosensei being an effective teacher, it doesn’t take long for Class E to actually improve. It’s now a clash of style against two educators with two different outlooks on life. One believes all the little babies can fly off their nest while the other believes some of them while splatter all over the pavement. The funny thing is that both approaches do actually work. It sucks to acknowledge it, but the principal’s method is a very common one, albeit a tad exaggerated. Some teachers do put students on a pedestal and others are look down upon. Favoritism is common in most classes, and a lot of teachers really have a select group of students they don’t bother with. While the things in Assassination Classroom are over the top, the real world is actually a lot more brutal. I literally once joined a conversation of teachers sharing their experiences with their dumbest kids. I faked a phone call before I got a turn, since I literally work with troubled students, and I just don’t want to be part of that sh*t. Anyways, this part of the anime is actually really enjoyable. It had a lot more structure than the main story, and the clash of ideals is fun to watch. Again, both method does work but you just can’t help cheer on the one that doesn’t sh*t on the students.

Class E

I love how this anime handles character introduction. It doesn’t introduce each character, but most of them do get their own screen time. The notable ones are given an episode dedicated to them, and they do impact the story later down the line. Some are just truly background character though. To this day, I still don’t know the green haired girl next to Nagisa. Her role isn’t really defined but you do feel her presence from time to time. Some characters are introduced like a typical shounen anime though, they’d have another character explaining their importance and you get an idea of how menacing they truly are. There are a lot of characters introduced in this anime, and they never really clutter the show. It doesn’t suffer from having too many characters in it. In fact, it kinda thrives in the chaos. I particularly love this show though, because characters also improve as the story progresses. Their internal conflict is established, Koreosensei helps them through it, and they’d have a moment of brilliance to show off their progress. It’s pretty insane given how complex the setup is. Not to mention that other students from the rest of the school is also introduced as they have a role in the story down the line. Character work is certainly something Yusei have mastered. He could introduce thirty more characters and juggle the massive cast with ease.

Kishi, Uezu and Lerche

Oh sh*t, it’s the duo of Seiji Kishi and Makoto Uezu. They are also the creative minds that handled Yuuki Yuuna is a Hero, and that show is really amazing. In fact, Kishi has never directed a bad anime. It’s rare to see a consistent director like him, and I wish a lot more people can appreciate his work. Sadly, he doesn’t really have a definitive style that’ll instantly link back to him but his directing is really tight and professional. Instead of injecting his own style, he uses his talents to let the source sing its own beauty. Kishi is a flexible director and truly a man of top notch talent. Uezu is right beside him as well. The guy series composed a lot of works throughout his career, and he used that experience to adapt the manga to a tee. It’s a faithful adaptation and he managed to capture Yusei’s comedic charm wonderfully. If it wasn’t for Lerche making this anime look like Danganronpa, then I’d easily pick up on the Nuero Tantei Megami elements of this anime. Yusei is a monster in his own right having two classic Shounen Jump titles now in his bibliography. If he can use his talents to create a classic video game and maybe produce an empire with his next work then he’d easily tie with Akira Toriyama.

Sight and Sound

Yusei’s character design is a lot bulkier and his faces are more boxed shaped. They look more masculine in his manga, but the details are pretty much the same. Yusei has an amazing command of action in his work though. He effectively uses his panels to tell a story with its ebb and flow. He can create tension by simply drawing one image in a massive panel, and it’s so brilliant. Anyways, character design is pretty amazing. I particularly love Nagisa’s design, because he’s the best kind of trap in the show. Studio Lerche employed their thick outline and flat style to this anime though. This exact style made Danganronpa a unique anime, and I guess they want to draw parallels with both shows. They also used the same color palette for this anime, and I think it’s a nice aesthetic for this show. It still captured Yusei’s intent, so there’s really nothing jarring with the choice of palette. I do love the anime for bringing Korosensei to life. The manga only had action lines to illustrate his speed, but that glorious thing is front and center in this anime.

Animation is outstanding. Character movement is smooth and I particularly love their stances. Students holding a gun, preparing to shoot one, holding a knife in an attack stance and simply gripping a knife are all wonderfully drawn. This is a detail that Yusei emphasized in his work as well even putting a lot of detail in the guns the students use. Of course, facial reactions are also on point and they often tell the story in an effective manner. The best thing about the animation is Korosensei though moving at top speed and creating images of himself. His facial reaction that tells his emotions are nicely presented and the bigger than life personality he has is really captured in all its glory in the animation. I’d also give props to his voice actor. Jun Fukuyama really brought a ton of personality to Korosensei. While he is already a bubbly weirdo in the original source, it’s Jun’s voice that really elevated the character. His flexible style can make Koro endearing, annoying and laughable often in one single scene.

The anime has two OP. The first one is. This is sung by some of the students of Class E and it’s just a really fun song. It talks about their youth spent trying to kill their teacher, and the lyrics is just enjoyable as hell. The different voice actors also give a lot of energy and soul into the song. I particularly love the chorus, since I often hum it along while I listen. It’s even crazier paired with the ED sequence. It features Class E jumping along to the chorus, and their names and faces flashing before and after it. It’s so cute, since Korosensei is also in the background going crazy at Mach 20. The second ED is. I usually skip talking about the songs in my review, but the ones in Assassination Classroom are just that fun to listen to. This also features a bunch of the students, and it’s still the same song about trying to kill their teacher. This one is different though, because it’s a more positive song acknowledging their growth and showing their promise to kill their teacher. The first song talks about their uncertainty to kill, and this one talks about their determination to off him. I hate the ED sequence though. It’s a recycled version of the first OP, but it’s like a weird print art. I’m not a fan, even though it’s just a remix of the first OP.

The anime’s ED is “Hello Shooting Star” by moumoon. I love this song. It’s very nostalgic in a weird sense, but it’s also very sad. I consider this song a spoiler, because I kinda know this one will play while we watch Korosensei die. The singer’s voice is amazing though, and I love her use of English. It’s not forced, and I often end up singing along to her hypnotic voice. The ED reminds me of Danganronpa. What the hell is up with Lerche and classrooms? I do love the chalk animation and how it depicts the normal days at Class E. It also ends with the camera pulling away to show us Korosensei and I find that pretty cute.

Overall Score

9/10 “It’s a solid comedy with a lot of heart, violence, passion and tentacles in it.”

This is an amazing anime. I don’t even think I need to review. It’s definitely a show worth watching. With its tight comedy, effective storytelling and engaging cast, there is a lot to love in this show. If you enjoy solid Shounen Jump titles, then you need to try this one. I highly recommend it.

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One thought on “Assassination Classroom Review

  1. Pingback: June’s Blogsphere Highlights #2 (2019) | BiblioNyan

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