Assassination Classroom Season 1 and 2 Series Review: Every Experience Can Teach Us Something

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 foundĀ 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.

Review:

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.

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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.

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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.

Karma

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.

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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.

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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).

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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.


Thanks for reading.

Karandi James

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ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM ORIGINAL SOUNTRACK

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Clannad and Clannad After Story Series Review

Overview:

It seems really unlikely that you don’t already know what Clannad is about but just in case, the story mostly follows Tomoya who runs into Nagisa on her way to school talking to herself. Seems she is a bit worried because she’s had to repeat a year due to ill health and she’s worried she won’t know anyone. Tomoya isn’t exactly the most reliable assistant given his own personal traumas but the two of them are going to try to make it.

Review:

This is going to be fairly short because my overall feeling with Clannad is that while it was fun to watch not much of it sticks afterward. Almost instantly my memory becomes hazy. I know there are plenty of female characters that Tomoya helps along the way during the first season, but other than Nagisa and Fuuka none of them really left any kind of impression (other than the genius who can kill people with the sound of her violin – okay they don’t die but they look like they wish they could die).

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After Story has a far more lasting impression but that is because the story focusses on what happens after they are done with school and is pretty much about Tomoya and Nagisa’s relationship which then leads to Tomoya building a relationship with his child and finally facing his own issues with his father. It is a far more focussed story and while the other characters all make appearances, it is clear who owns the story and it has far more emotional strength as a result. Still, After Story only works because of the ground work Clannad did in the first place so it isn’t as though we don’t learn about these characters as they go about fixing everything.

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I often wonder why male anime protagonists feel that they have to help every sad anime girl that they encounter but clearly it is a necessity as is the girl then following said guy around like they have no existence outside of said guy and guys other rescued girls. Even when it is clear the guy is with or going to end up with one of the other girls. Just keep hanging around and maybe you’ll get your screen time.

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Tomoya’s one male friend fares a little better because at least you remember him, even if it is only because he gets beaten up almost every time he appears. It is a running gag, and like many of the comedy moments in the series, one I wasn’t so fond of. And yet, for all that they literally use this character as a punching bag, Sunohara’s existence is kind of essential to the series and his few actually dramatic moments work well.

The story does take a fairly serious look at a range of high school and life issues. Some of these are quite moving and relatable and others are recognisable even if you don’t have any personal experience. This focus on real drama kind of lifts this show from just being another generic high school harem thing.

Basically if you like slow high school stories that have a lot of drama but are peppered with the usual kind of comedy moments and scenarios than Clannad is quality viewing. While watching it, the show draws you in with its visuals and music, and while none of the other things really stuck with me, while watching I didn’t have any criticisms other than the fact that it felt like I’d seen pretty much all of this before. After Story made me cry but it was working really hard to achieve that so full credit for them succeeding at their goals.

As for me, I liked this well enough while watching but not enough that I’d go for another round any time soon. Definitely a case of having experienced it, enjoyed it, and now moving on.


Thanks for reading.

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Thanks,

Karandi James.

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Assassination Classroom Series Review

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.

Overview:

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.

Review:

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?

Three reasons:

  1. 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.
  2. Characters that really grabbed my interest and managed to maintain it throughout both seasons.
  3. 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.

Assassination Classroom Episode 40

Reivew:

Kuro-Sensei, shut up.

That’s really it. This was the perfect match off between Karma and Nagisa and everything was beautifully conveyed through their actions and thoughts. We did not need to be continuously dragged from the tension by Kuro’s cheap narration. While I have thought this previously, it has never annoyed me as much as it did this episode. I really just wanted to embrace the conflict and the characters and felt like there was that annoying kid in the cinema who just wouldn’t be quiet.

Otherwise, great episode and good resolution to the kill or not kill debate.

Assassination Classroom is available on AnimeLab.

Assassination Classroom Episode 39

Overview:

The students in E Class have a new teacher; one who is threatening to destroy the world. That is, unless they can assassinate him before graduation.

Review:

These last two episodes have been amazing. It really feels like the story is coming together, information is revealed that was long over-due and it feels like the home stretch is fast approaching. More importantly, Karma is back. He’s been there the whole time but during season 2 his true personality has been completely downplayed and his role minor at best. Karma and Nagisa coming into opposition brings Karma back into full sarcastic and slightly sadistic style and makes for some great viewing.

Assassination Classroom is available from Anime Lab.