This is part of a series of re-posts of older reviews on 100 Word Anime. The original review came out in July 2016 and can be found here.
This post definitely needed some updating given it had some awful formatting with the images, a writing style that didn’t flow in the slightest, and mostly I was just never happy with it. Time for an update.
Assassination Classroom is one of those odd anime that has a heavy comedy focus and yet for whatever reason I still ended up really enjoying it. Season 1 isn’t without it’s issues as the basic formula of focus on a student with a problem, have something really weird happen usually during an attempt to assassinate the teacher, and then have the teacher sit down and help the student learn something ends up getting a little bit repetitive. That said, there’s a vibrant energy and enthusiasm here that kind of takes this basic model and makes it engaging. Very much in the way that the first two seasons of My Hero Academia use the basic shonen model but inject so much hype and enthusiasm into it that it just ends up being great fun.
If you don’t know what the series is about, it is a very basic premise. The students of class E are the lowest in their school and essentially banished to an off-campus building for their lessons as an example to the rest of the students. Enter the new teacher who has decided not to give up on these students who have all but given up on themselves. Only, the new teacher is a yellow octopus looking thing who is also responsible for blowing up the moon. That and the government have also offered the students a lot of money if they succeed at killing him. With the teacher having promised not to hurt the students and the students out for blood, zaniness kind of ensures.
And it works. It works so incredibly well. The plot never becomes overly complicated. We learn more about the teacher and why the moon blew up and why he needs to be assassinated, but there are no random twists or cluttering up of the core plot. The students need to assassinate the essentially unkillable teacher. It never feels the need to bite off more than it can chew and keep the premise and plot really that simple.
The second season looks more at the motivation and reasons and gives us the necessary back story for this plot to make sense, but by then we are ready for it and even though the pace slows down a bit during this part, it ultimately feel very rewarding. Okay, I will admit the going into space sequence for some of the students was a little bit of a reach, but this plot was always larger than life in how it approached things so while it might seem ridiculous, it just kind of fits with the rest of the story at that point.
Where it manages to make this shine though is in the characters. Yes, the cast is huge with the entirety of class E at various points getting a focus, but the core cast are incredibly strong and enjoyable (I’m not going to say actually likeable because some of them are not supposed to be liked). They also grow in real and believable ways through the two seasons in response to what they have experienced. It makes watching what might feel like a fairly repetitive series of events actually feel purposeful as each time the students learn more about themselves and get closer to success.
Also, Assassination Classroom has Karma who is one of my all time favourite characters. If I could change anything about this series it would be more Karma (and yes I know that would stuff up their pacing and the characterisation of the other class members but I would deal with that for more Karma). I’m totally standing by this even two years on from my original review. More Karma. He makes everything better.
It also just transitions from laugh out loud humour to incredible action sequences to decent dramatic tension and it does it fairly effortlessly (or at least it looks that way). What might have ended up a bit of a mess of opposing ideas and tones ends up integrating into a whole that is just a unique and fun experience.
This show gave me some of the best laughs I’ve ever had (which given I’m not normally into comedy is surprising and yet even on rewatches this show still makes me laugh out loud). Ritsu showering the class with flowers, Professor Bitch’s first attempt at killing Kuro Sensei and then getting dressed in a sports uniform, Nagisa getting dressed up like a girl to be the girl’s protection (even though they didn’t need it and even he knows that it was entirely pointless), the pudding assassination attempt, and toward the end the Valentine confessions. Plus there are some great one-liners between the students or teachers that just make you laugh.
Okay, the show also reduced me to tears at the end but that’s another story.
Oh, and I almost forgot Nagisa’s notebook of Kuro Sensei’s flaws. Some of these weak points are hilarious and seeing these weaknesses being exploited during the students’ assassination attempts is hilarious.
However, it isn’t just making you laugh. When the characters get injured I found myself leaning forward and waiting for them to get back up. When Kuro Sensei was preaching I wanted to whack him one. When they nearly succeeded at the assassination at the end of season 1 I was just as devastated as they were that they failed. And when the second last episode aired I was completely blown away. Very few anime hit me like that.
That isn’t to say the series isn’t without it’s flaws. The number of characters means that only a few are developed and that is a little disappointing. The first season falls into a bit of a teacher helps student of the week pattern, however this is kind of needed for us to develop an understanding of the class, but it is a little repetitive until they move on to planning their assassination. The government allowing this set up to occur is questionable but we can suspend disbelief on that one. And the weapons don’t hurt people? Seriously. Anything can hurt someone if you hit them hard enough with it.
However, ultimately what set this anime as one of my all time favourites is that it didn’t blink at the end. The plot is resolved in the way it needs to be and while it might be heart breaking and slow and incredibly melodramatic it is exactly what this show needed to finish off with. I give it a million points for commitment to concept with that ending (and right there is great evidence that I should not use numerical scoring systems).
And I completely missed the fact that the music is fantastic. The OP’s for Assassination Classroom set the tone perfectly getting you fired up for the episode. They also really help in the early episodes with learning the students’ names. Definitely not to be skipped.
If you haven’t watched Assassination Classroom, I fully recommend giving it a try. It might not work for you, but it is certainly a bit whacky, a bit different, and at least you know it does definitely end.
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