I finally got around to finishing the first season of Assassination Classroom with a couple buddies of mine over the weekend. It was actually something that we watched over the course of a couple months, so it’s been a long journey. Watching anime with friends always provides a more entertaining experience, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who has the opportunity, especially with something like Ass Class. As usual, I will stay away from spoilers, but with a show like this you don’t really need to worry about that anyway.
Earth is in serious peril. Not only has 70% of the moon been blown away, but the one responsible has promised that the world will meet the same fate within the year (We will just ignore the fact that the moon’s destruction would already mean pretty bad things for Earth…). The culprit has given an ultimatum. He wants to be the teacher for a specific class of Japanese high school delinquents. The government has gotten involved, and promised a reward of ¥10 billion to the person who takes down the menace, but this will not be an easy task. This destroyer of worlds goes by the name Koro-sensei, and his ability to move at mach 20, and use various other super powers are going to make this quite the challenge for class 3-E.
On paper, Assassination Classroom sets the stage for an action packed shounin epic, with a cast of heroes who will have the fate of the world in their hands. One look at Koro-sensei however and immediately you are left scratching your head. The idea that a creature so utterly absurd looking could pose a serious danger to the world is tough to come to terms with. It doesn’t take long to reach an understanding of what kind of show this really is though. Assassination Classroom has a lot more in common with Great Teacher Onizuka than it does with Dragon Ball Z. While it’s apparent that his abilities have seemingly no bounds, Koro-sensei wastes no time in showing us that he’s more interested in the education of his students than Earth’s destruction. Class 3-E is a heavily discriminated against collection of academic outcasts at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, and he seems quite intent to change that.
While there are obviously some overarching plot points, this show is very episodic in nature. The silliness that ensues from whatever plan the students are putting in place to kill their teacher always lead to some level of failure, and an opportunity for Koro-sensei to serve them some moral lesson. Each episode we are introduced to a new student who provides a new threat to the teacher, and each time he remains ten steps ahead with a lesson about how they can not only be a better assassin, but a better person as well. Strangely enough, despite his threats of world destruction, Koro-sensei always feels more like the hero than a villain. His motives for this contradictory behavior remain a mystery throughout the series, but it quickly becomes impossible to believe that we have the whole story.
I was a bit disappointed with the lack of progression that the story had across its 22 episode run time. Putting my bias against episodic shows aside, with that kind of time investment I do expect some kind of return. After all is said and done, we are left back where we started with nothing but a handful of loose ends and a moral compass to guide our characters. Speaking of characters, that’s where my main problem comes in. This show has a ton of characters, and invests far too much time into introducing them. Episode after episode we are given a story about another one of the students in class 3-E, with only a couple of them being worth even a second thought. While the time spent on the largely forgettable student body wasn’t exactly wasted since it was typically humorous, and provided us with some new insight into how deep Koro-sensei’s skill set really is; I still felt like it would have been better spent with one of our notables.
The de facto lead and point of view throughout the story is Nagisa (Enter Admiral Ackbar stage left). Nagisa is calm, unobtrusive and observant, which was the perfect temperament for a lead in this show considering the surrounding chaos that was always taking place. The real star student would have to be Karma however. As the lovable bad boy, Karma has zero respect for anyone, and thinks the world of himself. He’s arrogant, but in a good way, as he backs it up through manipulation and wit. If I had to name the student who I thought was most dangerous to Koro-sensei, he would be it. He may not be the best with a firearm or blade, but he can hatch a plan better than anyone, all while providing us with a bunch of good laughs.
While we are on the subject of characters, I should air my grievances about Professor Bitch. You read it right, and while the nickname was quite hilarious at first, it ran dry before too long. Here we have a busty blonde who is introduced as one of the most dangerous assassins in the world, who’s called in to help eliminate Koro-sensei. She earns her namesake immediately upon arrival, acting like well… a bitch. Within an episode however, Koro-sensei quickly makes a fool of her, and she proceeds to fill the role of dumb blonde for the rest of the show. I guess this character was introduced to fill in for a lack of fan service, which is fine i suppose, but it bothered me that we were meant to believe that she was some tremendously gifted assassin. She does nothing but act like a bumbling idiot, serving as the butt of all jokes. While she tries to claim that it’s an act to catch people off guard, she never really displays the competence that her reputation suggests. There was opportunity here for a solid femme fatale, and it was disappointingly squandered in favor of a few cheap laughs.
To touch back on the fact that I found a majority of the students in class 3-E forgettable; part of that may have been due to how generic their character designs were. While a couple interesting characters are introduced later, which I will not spoil, most of the class was difficult to tell apart. I don’t have the best memory in the world, but I found myself asking far too often who a particular character was, and why I should care about what’s happening with them. Other than that, I actually quite liked the aesthetic of Assassination Classroom. The colors were crisp and bright, which did a good job of supporting the unexpectedly upbeat tone of the show. The animation didn’t jump out at me, but seemed to remain solid throughout, which is important since Koro-sensei spends a majority of his time dodging attacks, and darting around whatever particular scene he’s in.
The ending theme, Hello Shooting Star by “Moumoon”, was the highlight of the soundtrack and will definitely be a song that I revisit for a while. The opening, Seishun Satsubatsuron, was actually done by a handful of the Japanese voice actors from the show under the moniker “3-nen E-gumi Utatan”. the song didn’t really do it for me, and to be honest, I was typically too distracted by the ridiculous dancing to pay attention anyway. I did appreciate the fact that they changed the opening as the episodes rolled on and new characters we introduced. There are few things I hate more than being spoiled by an opening.
In the end, I got pretty much exactly what I expected out of the first season of Assassination Classroom. My expectations were nothing grandiose, and the show pretty much ran in line with that. I am pretty disappointed in the lack of resolution, and fear that this show may try to go on forever, which is not my cup of tea. Season two is currently airing, but I won’t be going out of my way to continue with this series. It was a fairly enjoyable journey while it lasted, but it’s not one that I’m unhappy to see come to an end.
TL;DR: Assassination Classroom accomplished what it set out to achieve. It’s an episodic show, about a great teacher inspiring a group of misfits to be the best they can be. There was very little progression in the overall plot over 22 episodes. A majority of the cast is filled with forgettable characters, with Koro-sensei and Karma stealing the show. Character designs were generic, but the bright colors and crisp style made it pleasant on the eyes. Unremarkable soundtrack, except for an excellent ending sequence.
Recommended audience: This show contains violence, mild profanity, and occasional suggestive themes. Koro-sensei has an affinity for pornography, and actually turns a particular color when aroused, though there is no overt nudity shown to the viewer. The show never strays too far into adult territory, but I wouldn’t recommend it for young children.
Assassination Classroom Season 1 survives with: 2.5/5 HP