Assassination Classroom is an action anime released in 2015 by Lerche.
This production company is famous for School-Live, a show where students are fighting in a zombie apocalypse while still trying to be students, and Danganronpa, a show where students are desperately trying to kill one another.
Seeing a pattern here?
Lasting for two full seasons, with 53 episodes total, Assassination Classroom covers not only what it means to be an assassin, but also a model student, all wrapped in a premise that borderlines the absurd.
What do I mean by that? Well, ladies, gentlemen and others, today on Glass Reflection we are going to be looking at the story of E-Class’s journey out of failure, as well as the yellow octopus who makes it all happen:
Let’s jam! Welcome to Kunugigaoka Junior High, a school with a very interesting history and tradition. Following the doctrine of the school’s principal, under-performing or otherwise delinquent students are sent up a nearby mountain to the school’s old campus as a punishment of sorts. Isolated from the rest of the school, these delinquents face a trial-by-fire where they are expected to either shape up or come to terms with their lot in life.
Enter Koro-Sensei. This is where things get weird. A mysterious octopus-looking alien being, Koro-Sensei, claims responsibility for the recent destruction of Earth’s moon. He also informs the world that in a year’s time he plans to do the same to Earth. Their only hope is to assassinate him before this happens. But unfortunately for them, he is a super-powered cheat code of a being, able to travel at Mach 20.
Thankfully though, he also laid the condition that during the Earth’s final year he plans to take up the mantle of teacher to the aforementioned dead-end class of delinquents with the goal of nurturing them not only into better students, but also better people.
The students are now tasked twofold: graduate from junior high in one year, and also kill the octopus before Earth is destroyed.
You might have realised that this sounds kind of absurd. Why would an alien both want to destroy Earth, and also decide to teach some random class of junior high kids? an act which would be nullified at the end of the year regardless, unless they successfully kill him.
The crux of the whole show is actually trying to unravel the premise into something that makes a lick of sense. But in the end, the premise is almost brilliant in how it achieves Koro-Sensei’s actual goal of nurturing the students.
These kids all have problems that got them to where they are, and honestly the biggest obstacle for any of them to improve would just be getting the motivation to do it.
Hell, I sometimes have a hard time motivating myself in the morning just to get out of bed,so I understand. But the end of the world is a hell of a motivator. At the same time though, the show likes to put a lot of emphasis on its comedy.
It uses the absurdity of the situation to make light of things, from the backstories of the students, to introducing a super advanced AI as a virtual student, to having a language teacher called Bit*h-Sensei due to her developed looks and snarky attitude.
But the comedy is not the show’s strong suit, which might confuse you if you look at it too briefly.
you could view the harsh contrast between the show’s attempt at comedy and its more dramatic attempts at teaching the students life lessons as a negative. You might be tempted to think that the show is unfocused and doesn’t know if it wants to be a comedy or an action drama. But I look at it slightly differently.
The comedy of the show is more like a mask, a front, or more like the armor of the show.
It’s something put into place to cover and protect the more serious heart of the narrative. It helps that not much of the comedy lands like it’s supposed to, which only adds to the nature of the front.
As “LOL, random!” or obvious as some of the jokes tend to get, the increased levity is an overall boon to the series as it attempts to build these characters into greater versions of themselves. Well, as best as it can anyway.
One of the slight downsides to this is that the cast is rather large. It’s a full classroom with almost thirty students, not accounting for the three teachers, groups of students from other classes, and the myriad antagonists over the course of the show.
It’s not an easy task to try and develop this many characters effectively. This leads to the majority of the students having only a few notes to them, while a decent amount of development is instead spent on the big three, or the RGB characters if we go by their hair colors:
Karma, Kaede, and Nagisa.
Outside of the RGB crew, the most we get is about half an episode’s worth of development per student.
It’s enough to individually showcase who most of the students are and the quick minor adjustments that Koro-Sensei can make to massively improve either their lives or their outlook for the future. Some of these work very well with little effort.
Isogai, the class president with a poor financial background, landed himself in E-Class after being caught working part-time outside of school to support his family. Others, like the aforementioned AI Ritsu, gets almost instantly back-burnered after her introduction unless the class needs a MacGuffin hacking method to advance the plot, and even then she’s susceptible to being hacked herself and becoming absolutely useless.
While the large cast of characters is nice for the variety, and while the show does try its best to keep most of them from being one note, there’s only so much it can do, even with 50+ episodes. But while the spotlight on any one student outside of the main cast is few and far between, there are plenty of times when the teamwork of the group as a whole makes up for it. Of course, this doesn’t mean that the stories of the main cast suffer as well, quite the opposite in fact.
Karma, an intelligent but underachieving mastermind, gets a worldview swap into actually giving a damn about people other than himself, with a reasonable arc to facilitate that to boot.
Nagisa, on the other hand, is almost the complete opposite. He cares very little for himself to the point of making a kamikaze strike against Koro-Sensei as one of his first assassination attempts. The duality of these two characters and how they slowly journey to a more productive middle ground is the key to their individual arcs and is cultivated by Koro-sensei’s unique methods.
Koro-Sensei himself is the enigma of the series. His personality is primarily portrayed by a smile very rarely leaves his face, and his mannerisms are shown as varying tentacle movements. You don’t really know why he is doing what he is doing or for what purpose, but very rarely are we ever made to believe that he doesn’t have his students’ best interests at heart, despite their almost constant attempts on his life.
Credit for my enjoyment of his character though must come down to both of his actors. While I at no point doubted the ability of Jun Fukuyama to pull off the bizarre idiosyncrasies of Koro-Sensei, I have to fully admit that the English performance by Sonny Strait caught me off guard.
Honestly, the English dub for the series in general is probably one of Funimation’s best from the past several years, in part because how easy it could have been to screw up such an off-the-wall character like Koro-Sensei. But in full honesty, they nailed it.
Now, the title of this series contains two words: assassination and classroom. While the former is how it started, the latter is how it ended.
Though the assassination aspect of the series never fades, it doesn’t end up in the forefront as often as one might expect. Largely, I found the series to be a modern version of one of my favourite classic anime, Great Teacher Onizuka.
It’s a series about a less-than-average teacher, finding great success in obscure methods to teach not only his students, but also the audience, some very important lessons that they can take with them beyond the end of the series.
Assassination Classroom is very similar. It’s not just a show on how we could learn to teach kids – in fact, I would wholly suggest we do NOT do this to kids because that could get dangerous real fast – but rather the show ends up having some very entertaining things to say on how we can teach ourselves for the better, whether we are students or not.
It’s not the easiest show to recommend at its start, but if you’ve seen it all the way through, I hope you’d agree with me that it was totally worth watching. Assassination Classroom just has this level of fun to it that’s hard to describe. It’s art style is sharp and colorful, so even being about trying to kill some alien squid creature, it also feels like it’s like everything I wish school actually was like. Not only did I enjoy watching this series about a bunch of underdogs learning to accept themselves and build their personalities for the better, but I feel like to a point I learned a thing or two about myself as well. And for that, Koro-sensei, I thank you.
So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I rate Assassination Classroom in its entirety as Certified Frosty, a rating for only the best of the best or those shows too important to ignore. It’s really a fantastic series that I really had a hard time trying to write about. It’s just one of those levels of…. it’s very easy to rant about things you don’t like, its harder to find things that you do like and be able to explain them in a way that people can understand.
It’s really just a fantastic series and I hope that you’ll check it out after watching this review.