Winter 2015 saw the debut of the anticipated Assassination Classroom which took on an absurd premise and ended up doing wonders within the span of 22 episodes, proving itself to undoubtedly be one of Lerche’s finest anime.
The premise tells the story of a super sonic octopus who has taken up the duty of teaching a class, all while threatening to blow up earth if he isn’t killed by the time they graduate middle school.
But Assassination Classroom isn’t just about a bunch of middle schoolers trying to kill their super fast octopus teacher. It gives us much more than a simple comedy anime. Assassination Classroom is about a teacher attempting to make his students the very best Kunugigaoka Junior High has ever seen and the problems in accompanying this mission. Koro-sensei takes this class of misfits, this bunch of outcasts and brings out their latent abilities to make them achieve things no one ever thought they ever would; all without any care for his own life.
The school’s messed up system does not allow the less talented to grow. Those who are dumb are ostracized so that the smart don’t get “inspiration” from them to dumb down. These rejected students are treated as a lesson for everyone at the school so that they don’t slack off. In this situation, with the odds stacked against him, Koro-sensei takes on the dumbest class and becomes the best teacher they ever had. He makes them smart enough to rival the top students of the school. Students from this E (for End) Class end up bagging top spots in their exams, which no one ever saw coming. He challenges the school’s system, fights it, and even produces positive results.
Koro-sensei takes on Principal Asano in a battle to determine whose approach towards students is the best. Both educators’ methods are put to the test and the differences in their approaches surface as the episodes pass. Koro-sensei focuses on every individual and takes them all together, leaving no one behind. Asano emphasizes on survival of the fittest which ultimately switches focus towards those with better skills, leaving out the relatively unskilled ones.
Throughout the first half or so, the show develops a strong bond between sensei and students and in the later parts, puts these to the test. Episode 21, for example, challenges the trust these students have in their teacher, as they blindly follow all orders coming from him, well aware of the fact that Koro-sensei knows what he’s doing.
There are episodes dedicated to octopus-sensei helping out his students. They show the strengthening of the bonds between Koro-sensei and one of his students. Episode nine is the perfect example of this. Despite fully knowing that Ritsu (a machine) has the best chance to kill him, Koro-sensei still gives her some upgrades. These upgrades better her chances of getting the job done. The upgrades not only help her, but they also make the classroom environment friendlier as Ritsu starts getting along with her classmates, which in turn further Koro-sensei’s teachings of promoting teamwork among his students.
Koro-sensei going all out in helping his students in their revisions for the exams is also a good example of his work. He gives each student enough time so that they can score good in the exams. He focuses on their weaknesses and helps them overcome these while giving them some tips and tricks to make things easier for them. And when he fails to get his students to achieve the desired results, as seen in the midterm exams, he blames himself for it and considers it his defeat, which goes to show his determination to make his students achieve more than what was expected from them.
Koro-sensei’s help focuses on his students’ strengths and weaknesses. His helping out makes them more dangerous to his own life. His students now have better chances at succeeding at their assassination mission than ever before, all thanks to Koro-sensei himself. He isn’t caring about himself; he is doing what’s best for his students. From time to time, he even gives his students some great deals, such as having a tentacle blown off for each top score in the exams. Blowing off a tentacle reduces his speed putting him more at risk of getting killed; yet he makes this deal so that his students get some more motivation to score number one in the exams.
Through all this, Assassination Classroom has developed Koro-sensei into one of the best teacher characters out there. He’s a lovable octopus, a caring sensei, one with a good sense of humour, and occasionally he’s totally badass. Koro-sensei isn’t a selfish guy. If he wanted, he could do whatever he wanted to the students, but he weighed their futures over his own life and did for them what the school’s system wouldn’t. For him, all students deserve attention. You can’t ignore any student just because you think they’re not smart enough. With the proper approach, anyone can do wonders. And he proves this by producing results with his own, disadvantaged students.
The students themselves also undergo considerable development. Terasaka, for instance, starts off as a hot-headed guy who needs someone to knock some sense into him from time to time. In episode 14 his anger is exploited by Itona and Shiro and he ends up putting the whole class in danger, which proves to be a turning point for him. In the final episode, he becomes the one to knock some sense into someone, as he brings the usually calm and observant Nagisa back to his senses when he loses his cool.
Another example is Karma. When he first debuted, he was toying with Koro-sensei, having fun with the octopus. He never took any challenge seriously. In their first exams, he suffered a big setback: he failed to reach the top ten. As a result, he thought he was dragging all those who had expectations from him down. This was his turning point as he was more serious than he’d ever been during the next challenge.
Assassination Classroom, while developing a student-teacher relationship, also develops a strong bond of friendship between the students themselves as the kids learn to trust each other more and more, all thanks to Koro-sensei’s teachings. They learn to work as a team instead of going solo and doing whatever they like however they like. The last assassination attempt is the perfect example of this. The students follow a perfectly made out plan. Everyone play their role perfectly to force Koro-sensei into his last resort.
During the school trip, when Yukiko and Kayano get kidnapped, Nagisa and friends work together to track down the kidnappers using Koro-sensei’s guidebook as reference. They handle the situation almost completely on their own, with Koro-sensei coming late to the party to knock down some of the kidnappers.
Another thing Assassination Classroom does well is humor with a hint of absurdity. It successfully manages to transition between its humorous and serious moments. Not all anime succeed at this, but Assassination Classroom does so flawlessly, with neither ruining the other. The humor is all perfectly placed and brilliantly executed. Whenever it tries to be funny, it succeeds, except for a couple of scenes. But, as a whole, Assassination Classroom is brilliant with its jokes.
Assassination Classroom, while doing a good job at being funny, never shies away from going full serious and intense, and it is these moments where the bonds built are put to the test. The final arc has a primarily serious tone which creates a sense of danger the students must overcome. This danger puts the students’ bonds with their sensei to the test. Takaoka’s first appearance also has some intensity to show how the students handle themselves when things gets tough.
And all this is shown through Lerche’s visual prowess. The visuals are consistently great. The character designs are solid, the backgrounds are beautiful, everything looks splendid. The soundtrack is also very good and doesn’t seem out of place at any point, which just adds to the overall experience Assassination Classroom provides.
The story of Assassination Classroom isn’t over yet as there is still a lot left to be told. We still haven’t found out anything about Kayano Kaede, despite her being front and center in almost everything. There is still much to learn about Itona and his links with Koro-sensei. And most of all, we still haven’t learned anything about Koro-sensei, his identity, his past or his reasons for specifically choosing this class. We can guess his reasons for becoming a teacher, but things won’t be clear unless we hear from the octopus himself. They have given hints about his identity during this season, like the mentioning of him being a human once upon a time and his links with Itona who is supposedly an experiment, all to give us a vague idea about who this octopus man is. All of this is explained perfectly in its sequel which aired a year later.
In conclusion, Assassination Classroom stood out from the rest of the anime airing alongside it through its brilliant comedy, beautiful character development and much more. It is an exciting journey which leaves the viewer wanting more.
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