Wednesday, June 27, 2018

Assassination Classroom (2015)

Assassination Classroom is based on the manga series with a first season comprising of 22 episodes.  The first episode starts off showing off the moon which is mostly destroyed with the remains in the shape of a crescent.  We are introduced to the being that so easily destroyed it... being a yellow octopus-like thing.  The octopus thing states that he will destroy the Earth in one year's time but makes a deal with the Japanese government to teach Class 3E at Kunugigaoka Junior High School for that period.  The class names him Koro-sensei.

Due to the class's situation of seeing Koro-sensei everyday, they are in the prime position of assassinating him before he destroys the Earth.  To sweeten the deal, the government is offering 10 million yen to anyone who succeeds.  To make this a kid-friendly show, we are told that the government has provided the students with various weapons that can only hurt Koro-sensei and are harmless to humans (such as rubbery knives and pellets as bullets).  The in-universe explanation is that Koro-sensei cannot be hurt by conventional weapons.  However, Koro-sensei is extremely intelligent and clever enough to see assassination attempts from ways off and avoid any sort of attack with his extreme speed reaching mach 20.

The twist here is that Koro-sensei is actually a great teacher and you start to see that he cares for his students and understands them well.  Going so far as to help them improve upon their grades.  This is because while Kunugigaoka Junior High is a prestigious school, Class 3E is the dregs of the dregs, being placed there means that there is no hope for you.  Class 3E is basically used as a catalyst and motivation for the rest of the school to not end up like them.  Class 3E is taught at a satellite campus, all alone in an old building.

Class 3E is often bullied and looked down upon with the Principal encouraging this type of behaviour.  It is infuriating when you see this happen.  Class 3E does get their comeuppance from time to time but it is not enough.  However, through this, you see the bond becomes stronger between the students and Koro-sensei.  This leads to the suspicion on when the time comes, will the students actually be able to really assassinate him?  The constant clash of Class 3E against the rest of the school and trying to prove that they are better than what everyone else thinks of them is a spectacle.

During the clashes between the Class and the rest of the school, the best part is that you aren't even sure of whether they will win this time or not, but you sure hope that they will.  As expected, there is a huge cast of characters being all the students in the class plus Koro-sensei.  It takes a while until you start to recognize the characters and their personalities.  The series does a good job at familiarizing the viewer with most of the characters.  There are various standouts such as Karma, the "main" character Nagisa, and of course, Koro-sensei.

Koro-sensei gets stronger as the series progresses, with abilities such as making multiple copies of himself to personally tutor each student individually at the same time, to jumping to another country in the span of a few minutes to buy some local delicacy.  He's even shown at one point to spend only a few seconds to revamp the overgrown land in front of the building into a proper running track and soccer field.  Despite all this, Koro-sensei's past is shrouded in mystery.  All we are revealed at first is that he is the result of some sort of secret government experiment.

There are small hints scattered here and there throughout the episodes on what exactly happened to Koro-sensei and his reasons for destroying the Earth and teaching Class 3E.  As the government cannot rely solely on the students to kill Koro-sensei, various other professional assassins arrive to try to assassinate the target.  Some will end up staying on as "teachers", while others are curbstomped and never to be seen again.  The first few episodes start off slow and you wonder how the premise will manage to keep the series going since it seemed like it will start to become a "assassin of the week" type of format.

The baseball episode midway through the season shows off the culmination of the class's efforts.  From the unfair disadvantage the team had against the overwhelmingly powerful baseball team, they use strategy to try and win.  More importantly, it shows off the hidden contest between the teaching methods of Koro-sensei and the Principal of the school (who wishes to continue to push down Class 3E as the lowest of the scum).  The game is filled with tension and the result of the baseball game swings both ways multiple times.  This ends up being one of the best episodes in the series and if the anime hadn't sold you before that point, this episode will.

The second half of the season doesn't let up and concludes into a tense and satisfying ending.  The stakes are high and Nagisa, along with the rest of the characters, truly shows off their potential as assassins, displaying all of what they have learned.  Overall, Assassination Classroom is a fantastic anime that ends up being a perfect blend of drama and comedy.  All of the cast are charming and the events that the class goes through are fun and tense.  You can't help but cheer on for Class 3E as they slowly overcome their situation and their struggles.


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