Assassination Classroom – Anime Review

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Genre: Action, Comedy, Shounen, School, Supernatural

Episodes: S1 – 22; S2 – 25

Production Studio: Lerche

 

Introduction

Tentacles, a wide smile, beady eyes, a rounded head, the color yellow. Indeed, these distinguishing features, belonging to one of the most iconic mascots in anime – Korosensei, were what most instantly brought my attention to the series itself. Yet it was also this goofy design that made me doubt the nature of the series’ content and put off watching it for quite a while.

Prior to watching the anime, I knew nothing about it except that it involved a yellow octopus-like creature and that the anime was somehow receiving a lot of great reception from the community. My curiosity to understand what the hype was all about finally got the better of me and made me decide to watch it. Before I knew it, one season led to the next, and oh boy, was I in for a ride full of laughter, tears, education and emotion.

 

Storyline Premise

Have you ever felt like killing a teacher? Well, chances are, yes, at some point in your life (probably because the teacher was a moron). As the title of the anime implies, not only are the students from Class 3-E of Kunugigaoka High School allowed to assassinate their teacher, they are tasked to do so by the Japanese government with a hefty reward of 10 billion yen (or 100 million USD) offered to anybody who succeeds in doing so. Not bad, huh?

I originally thought that the series was all about killing this yellow octopus teacher and all the ways to go about it. Turns out it focuses more on the theme of properly educating the young generation. As the series progresses, Korosensei turns out to be the best teacher 3-E has ever had as he nurtures his students while encouraging them to assassinate him in a “healthy” way. The learning/killing interactions between 3-E and Korosensei are certainly comical if not outright hilarious. Yet Assassination Classroom does a wonderful job getting powerful messages across. Almost every episode leaves viewers with an invaluable life lesson and warm fuzzy feeling inside.

What is interesting about this series is the fact that Class 3-E is deemed as the lowest class in their year, and hence looked down upon by the remainder of the school as the misfits who are destined to fail in school and in life. With a class of unmotivated students like this, it is interesting to look back at the end of the series and see how much they have developed and the large impact Korosensei had on them.

Throughout the series Korosensei reveals a compassionate side and we can feel how much he truly cares for each and every student in his class. This comes across as a little bittersweet for me, as it makes me truly wish that I too could have the privilege of having such a caring and awesome teacher. I can proudly say that he is one of my the best teachers to have ever existed!

Sure, the classroom experience brings back many nostalgic high school memories. The midterm and final examinations are definitely one of the series’ highlights, though the metaphors used may be a little exaggerated at times. The emotional aspect of the anime is also very well executed. I can attest to this one: Towards the end of season 2 I had become so emotionally invested into the story and characters that I needed to hide in my bedroom to watch the last 4 or so episodes to prevent my parents from seeing my snivelly mess over some “random Japanese cartoon”.

The story itself is never boring and is humorous throughout. While there are a few *ahem* drastic plot twists towards the end, most questions are eventually explained by the end of season 2. While not all too serious and philosophical yet suitably complex in its own unique way, it is a good anime to enjoy with friends or when you need a little pick-me-up.

 

Art and Animation

To be frank, I admit that I was not all over the art at first glance. The thick outlines, flashy and colorful themes – with what I like to call colored-hair syndrome – are what I tend to avoid in anime. As the series progressed, though, the art eventually grew on me. In fact, I found myself appreciating its unique, non-generic style. Although this anime probably isn’t the best for you if you’re looking for bishoujos and bishounens, there are definitely some rather good looking characters to satisfy your visual needs.

Kudos to Studio LERCHE for doing a great job handling the animation! The art was consistent throughout and they tackled both lighthearted and darker moods in the same art style relatively well.

Sound and Music

I thought that the soundtrack was pretty okay, like it wasn’t terrible but it wasn’t particularly memorable to me either. That being said, I really liked the opening and ending themes, in particular the openings of season 2 – “Question” and “Bye Bye Yesterday”. The openings are really catchy and are sung by members of Class 3-E themselves, with the voices of the main trio – Nagisa, Karma and Kayano – notably standing out. The endings are sweet and lullaby-like.

As far as voice acting goes, you can’t really go wrong with an all-star cast with renowned seiyuus. I’ll be honest and say that this cast of VAs was actually one of the factors that convinced me to watch Assassination Classroom. Fukuyama Jun, who has voiced characters such as Lelouch Lamperouge (Code Geass) and Grell Sutcliff (Kuroshitsuji) in the past, does a superb job as Korosensei. Really, who can forget that cheeky nurufufufu snigger? I’ll also take this opportunity to commend Okamoto Nobuhiko for giving such a sexy drawling voice to Akabane Karma, my favourite delinquent boy. Anyway, long story short, the series has quality voice actors that match the personalities of their characters and this brings a lot of of life into the series.

 

Characterization

One thing which did worry me initially was how the anime was going to deal with such a large cast of characters. You know how some anime like Naruto have fully-fleshed main characters but leave many of the side characters weak and underdeveloped to the point you have to question the worth of their existence? Fortunately, Assassination Classroom makes the effort to familiarize viewers with each character and their quirks. Needless to say it is the main trio who gets the most screentime and development overall, but by the end of the series I can say that I know each character relatively well to recognize them individually as living, breathing characters, and not just puppets to fill the gap (though I may not necessarily remember their names).

The series actually takes the time to develop its characters and give them more depth through their own unique backstories, making them likable and relatable. Other than our very own Korosensei, we have 3-E students such as Shiota Nagisa, our mild MC, and Karma, the smart, hot-blooded redhead youth, who is my personal favorite. There are the other teachers (or rather, some of them hired assassins, if you will) such as the capable Karasuma sensei and the clumsy “Bitch” sensei, which I personally found really annoying at first but turns out to be a pretty entertaining character. Moreover, we also have other characters outside of 3-E such as the principal, a truly terrifying and badass (well in my opinion anyway) man, and Asano Gakushuu, a prodigy who dominates exams.

Speaking of exams, one mild issue I have with the anime is the way they depict the first class students as mostly swotty kids bent on studying and getting good grades, looking down on the underdogs from 3-E. I feel that this is just a stereotypical image of first class students and not an accurate representation of what they should be like in reality. This may simply be justified by the nature of the education system set up in Kunugigaoka High, though.

 

Conclusion

In the end, Assassination Classroom is a series that I can look back fondly upon and say with confidence that it is a good anime. It is definitely one of the better series I’ve seen in recent times, and I’d highly encourage anyone looking for an entertaining, action-packed series to give it a go. Although I understand that the premise may not be for everybody with its comedic nature and whatnot, but if you do end up liking it, you’re most likely going to be in for a heartwarming and educational journey.

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