Wednesday, July 4, 2018

Assassination Classroom: Second Season (2016)

Assassination Classroom:  Second Season is, as the title suggest, the second, and final, season based upon the manga.  The premise of the whole series is that Koro-sensei is some sort of artificial lifeform who displayed his immense power by destroying part of the moon and vowing toe destroy the Earth in one year's time.  The only thing is that he has taken up a teaching position at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, teaching the "End Class" of Class 3E where you go to die a painful academic death, constantly being put down and shamed.

As a result of their unique situation, the students of Class 3E learns martial arts and the ways of assassination to try and end Koro-sensei's life by the deadline.  This second season of 25 episodes starts straight after the ending of the first season, at the school vacation resort.  The earlier episodes are a bit of a lighthearted and easygoing fun after the more serious and brutal finale of the first season.  It just shows the various different and extremely wacky assassination attempts by the students.  Each episode focuses more on a specific student, helping to flesh out their character and build upon the first season a lot more.

Due to the high number of students, there are still a few where you know their more defining personality traits, but nothing much else.  The series swaps between the threats presented by other assassins targeting Koro-sensei and the school bullying from the upper classes.  It manages to strike a nice balance and we get more of the same type of conflict between Class A and Class E where it is intense and you aren't sure whether Class E will prevail or not.  The stakes are high but you have a nagging doubt at the back of your mind that surely this time, Class E might lose their winning streak.

Asano from Class A is becoming extremely capable and a huge threat.  Furthermore, the Principal is taking things more personally than ever before in getting Class A to defeat Class E in everything from the school festivals to exams.  There are plenty of typical school scenarios such as festivals, morale stories and even a school play.  It continues to use the analogy of taking exams as a battle against fighting monsters.  The harder the question, the more monstrous the opponent.  This is a great analogy and works extremely well.

On the other side, this season seems to have less assassination attempts by the class on Koro-sensei than the first.  Rather, the class is more reactive than proactive this time around with constant assassins from the outside targeting Koro-sensei instead . This allows Koro-sensei's abilities to continually evolve due to the complicated assassination attempts.  This never feels cheap since we always knew that he was absurdly powerful and hiding a lot of secrets.  As ethics and moral are thrown out the window by outside assassins, the class is often involved within their assassination attempts and usually at a disadvantage.  These moments allow Koro-sensei to shine with his duty as a teacher but also includes a ton of intense moments and close combat fight scenes where you aren't 100% sure of the outcome beforehand.

The humour is on point from the get go with Koro-sensei as charming as ever.  There are constant jokes about Nagisa's gender that does not get old.  That being said, it turns out that he had a more involved backstory than expected and gives a deeper more tragic meaning to his specific circumstances.  The highlight would still have to be Karma, who retains his badassness and his outward arrogant lax attitude takes the cake, making him extremely charming to the viewers (not so much his opponents).  There is a twist in the middle of the season that comes out of the blue and you would not have expected it since there were no signs at all.  It feels a bit forced/cheap initially but as with everything in this series, it redeems itself pretty good.

As the deadline looms closer, the stakes are higher than ever before, especially when you find out about the truth.  Your suspicions about Koro-sensei will be confirmed as true once he lets loose and tells us his background and how the assassination deadline came to be.  However, the saddest part is the conflicting emotions within the students.  On the one hand, they need to succeed in their assassination, on the other, they do not want Koro-sensei to die since he had helped them so much and they have been through so much together.  The second half of the season does throw your expectations out the window since up until now, the class had never done anything too drastic or crazy.  This changes when the class now does something as high profile as hijacking a secret research experiment and actually pulling it off at that.  When they first suggested it, you thought that they are pulling your leg.

As the series winds down in the last few episodes, a sense of loss will come as you come to terms that no matter what the outcome is, the class will be split as they graduate from Junior High and onto wherever they need for their chosen careers.  The ending is filled with plenty of emotions:  sadness, frustration, jealously, anger, heartwarming, heartbreaking and plenty more.  The journey and lessons that both Koro-sensei and the students have learned in the past year, growing so much, is really well done and meaningful.  It closes out all of the plot points neatly and more importantly, satisfyingly.

As the climax arrives, on paper, it feels as if they are padding the episode out.  However, due to the deep character development and interactions, the scenes are meaningful.  You end up in the grey area between not wanting to watch it because you don't want to see the ending that it seems to be going towards, and wanting to see the series off to its resolution.  Overall, Assassination Class:  Second Season ends with a fine epilogue in that it is a happy ending, which is what you wanted.  After nearly 50 episodes, if you didn't at least feel something (with tears in your eyes being more likely), then you're probably in the rare minority.  Assassination Classroom is a fantastic anime with a charming story, spot on humour, and charismatic characters.


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