Okay, I am reviewing the whole of Assassination Classroom here given I never did do a season 1 review and the story just continues across the 2 seasons anyway.
The moon has been blown up but that doesn’t really worry the students in E Class as they are the lowest of the low and it doesn’t really have anything to do with them. Until they meet their new teacher who not only claims to be responsible but threatens to blow up the earth unless they can kill him by the end of the year. With the support of the government these kids are about to become assassins.
My week to week thoughts on season 2 can be found here.
For those who’ve been following along, you should know that Assassination Classroom is one of my favourite anime. I was cautious about declaring that outright while the series was unfinished because I was really worried that the writers were going to wimp out at the end. Now that it is finished I am looking back at this series with some very fond memories.
Why did I love Assassination Classroom?
- A plot that had clear direction from episode 1 and didn’t feel the need to get too convoluted. It just focussed on what it had to do.
- Characters that really grabbed my interest and managed to maintain it throughout both seasons.
- This series managed to mix comedy and drama in a way that felt right. A single episode could have you laughing yourself silly and the next minute just a fraction away from tears.
To further elaborate:
The plot of Assassination Classroom kind of sounds like something you would kick around at a planning meeting and then kick into the rejected pile. Group of students have to assassinate their teacher? Why? Um… he’s going to destroy the earth. Why? Uh… I’ll get back to you. Despite that, it somehow manages to ground this plot line by focussing entirely on the impact that this has on the students involved rather than the logic behind this. That doesn’t mean there aren’t reasons – the second season gives Kuro Sensei his chance to show us his back story and the underlying reasons for what is happening – but the thing is we wouldn’t have cared about this back in season 1. He was just a quirky blobby teacher thing, a target for failed assassination attempts. It isn’t until you have laughed and cried your way through the first season that you really start to see him as an individual.
And that’s what I love about the plot. It is simple but the pacing of reveals is perfect and all of the events complement the next event so it builds up nicely. With the exception of the trip to space, everything seemed to serve a necessary purpose for either developing the story or the characters.
There are a lot of characters. A whole class of them, plus the teacher and the government representative and the female assassin and the scientists and the principal and the students from A Class and when you think about it, it was inevitable that not all of these characters would end up being rich and dynamic human beings. The show still makes a good go of drawing you into E Class and learning about those students and it gives enough of a coating to other characters that most of them don’t feel cardboardy by the second season (A Class students would be the exception as they remain more or less completely flat).
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).
Finally, this show gave me some of the best laughs I’ve had in awhile. 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.
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.
Still, this is a great series to watch and a great deal of fun. I’m looking forward to a rewatch in a few months and hopefully it will hold up under a more critical viewing. If not, I might have to revise my review. But for now, if you haven’t watched Assassination Classroom, check it out.
Assassination Classroom is available on AnimeLab.