2017 Summer of Anime – Assassination Classroom

5 Assassination Classroom

Classassination time!… There’s a reason I don’t get to name things.

The 3-E class of Kunugigaoka Junior High is known not so lovingly as the “End Class.”  At the otherwise prestigious school, the students of 3-E are the ne’er-do-wells, hoodlums, and underachievers separated from the rest of the academy and placed on an adjacent mountain so that the main campus students can look down at and ridicule them.  Getting placed in 3-E is the most severe punishment at Kunugigaoka, but actually, the students there are having a great time now.  That’s because they’re being taught by the smiling, powerful yellow octopus-like being they’ve named Koro-sensei who destroyed 70% of the Moon.  He’s not just teaching them academic courses and life lessons, though.  He’s teaching them to be assassins because he will do to the Earth in one year’s time exactly what he did to the Moon unless someone can kill him.  The Japanese government and assassins from around the world have tried, but Koro-sensei believes he can train these kids to be the ones to kill him.  And that would make him the proudest teacher in the world.

Back in the long ago time of 2016, I read and wrote about the first volume of the Assassination Classroom manga right here.  The positives I talk about there hold true for the anime.  I genuinely love that Koro-sensei is aiming to make these kids as great as they possibly can be even while training them to kill him, and it’s that heart that makes this weird premise work.  Had this been just a straight up gag series or some edgy high school crap, it wouldn’t have gone too well.  It’s lighthearted while also allowing the characters to grow and learn in a semi-hostile environment.  It also gets pretty real at times, but that’s mostly in the second season.  I just wanna talk about the first season right now.

I do appreciate that levity I mentioned earlier, and it’s an absolute delight that each of the 26 students are legitimate individuals even if most have to blend into the background.  Those two things do lead to the first season feeling a little aimless, though.  Obviously, there is a goal in this series that drives the plot–kill Koro-sensei by March or he will destroy the world.  That’s ever-present, but it just seemed like the first season didn’t want to go anywhere until the last few episodes.  The general affability of Koro-sensei and his desire to help each of his students one-on-one make season one drag a smidgen.  It’s cute, but it doesn’t do too much.

I also think season one suffers by not having a clear main character student for a long time.  Sure, Nagisa Shiota is the main POV character, but he’s not really the main character for a good bit.  Maybe it does work best by having Koro-sensei be the main main character, but I would’ve liked Nagisa to be more active in the beginning.  When he does start stepping into that lead protagonist spot is when Assassination Classroom really gets going.

Those negatives out of the way, I did enjoy season one quite a bit on its own, and I’d probably give it an 8 out of 10.  The teachers (Karasuma and Professor Bitch are wonderful) and the students combine for an entertaining cast in weird, neat world.

6 Assassination Classroom Second Season

Cute, right?  They could kill us all.

Season two comprises the final 25 episodes of the show’s 47-episode run, and it is positively great.  Like, it’s really dang good.  Had season two been more of the same, I guess I would’ve been okay with it, but also let down.  Thankfully, the second season explores more of the darker elements in the series and really sees some of the characters go through the wringer.

Again, when Nagisa becomes more of a lead character, Assassination Classroom just shifts into a different beast.  At first, his effeminate look was a great gag, and his friends amused themselves by picking on him about it.  Finding out exactly why he looks the way he does, acts the way he does, and sees the world the way he does is one of the realest and most abrupt scenes I’ve seen in any anime.  My mouth actually dropped open.

Another time that happened to me?  Learning Koro-sensei’s past.  Yes, it hits all the feels, but watching him make the decision to become…him is a genuinely tender moment and just resonates so much with the character, his actions, and the themes of the story.  Like, even though the premise of the whole series is a bunch of students trying their darnedest to kill their teacher, it does a fantastic job of showing what students mean to their teachers and vice-versa.  And not just from Koro-sensei either.  Karasuma, Professor Bitch (her name’s Irina, but I do love her teacher name), a character who shall not be named, and even Principal Asano–one of the main antagonists–are so driven to educate the boys and girls in their classes that the students understand their efforts and often respond in kind.

The second season also benefits from having better antagonists.  Or more active antagonists, at least.  Sure, season one had that one crazy dude, Principal Asano, and class 3-A, but they didn’t feel like they really stepped into their roles aside from the first one.  The principal does become a big one in season two, and I wish I could talk about the others, but that would be some huge spoilers.  I try not to do that to you, dear reader.  Because doing that to you would be a d*ck move.

I know I’ve done nothing but gush about season two, but I just can’t give it a perfect score.  Despite it making me shed an actual tear.  It’s definitely a 9.  Might even be a 9.5.

The math probably doesn’t work (I have an English degree–I don’t math), but I’m giving the entire run of Assassination Classroom a 9 out of 10.  Some aimlessness and lack of legitimate conflict at the beginning are outshone by its immense heart and damn good characters.

March Manga 2016 – Nice Piece of Assassination

Surprise!  March Manga post from outta nowhere!  Yeah, I didn’t even know I was gonna write this.  I just so happened to buy some manga last month, and I finished ’em up yesterday.  The timing seemed too perfect.  So, I took it as a sign and decided to revive March Manga.  I hope I don’t wind up reading manga only once a year because I used to read manga all the time.  Really.  The vast majority of my money used to go to manga, but somewhere along the line, I just stopped following my favorite Japanese comics.  Someday I’ll get back to all the series I’ve abandoned.  Someday….

But, let’s take a look at all the volumes I read during March–six.  I read six volumes.  Don’t be disappointed because I already have that covered.

Assassination Classroom vol. 1

2016 Assassination Classroom

Hey, you.  Yeah, you!  Guess which ones are the main characters.

This is an odd duck.  Granted, that fits a great deal of manga out there, but Assassination Classroom is weird.  Okay, the set-up is 70% of the Moon has been destroyed by some sort of creature, and he has vowed he will do the same to the Earth in one year’s time unless someone can kill him.  Enter Class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High.  Why them?  Well, Koro Sensei (the creature who effed up the moon) is giving the Earth a year because he wants to be their homeroom teacher.  So, not only does he teach them everyday subjects, but he also educates them in the ways of assassination in the hopes that one of them will be able to kill him.  The Japanese government agrees and offers ten billion yen to the person who can take down Koro Sensei.  Easier said than done since he can move at Mach 20, regenerate, and do all sorts of other strange things.  In case you couldn’t tell, he’s the smiling yellow tentacled thing in the picture.  Like I said, this is a weird series.

But it’s charming.  Yusei Matsui has done a good job of giving this series more heart than I expected.  The book is at its best and funniest when Koro Sensei teaches certain students one-on-one because he genuinely cares about them.  As strange as it sounds, this invulnerable thing that destroyed most of the Moon is really teaching these kids.

The students have been given these special BBs–among other weapons–that only hurt Koro Sensei.  When the pitcher in the class attaches them to a baseball to try to kill Koro Sensei, he actually travels to America to watch a baseball game so that he can help the kid with his pitching form.  One girl who loves chemistry is openly trying to poison him, so Koro Sensei helps her out with her concoctions.  A sociopath returns to the class and constantly tries to kill him, so Koro Sensei keeps giving the guy chances while also humbling him so as to keep him from disrupting class with his assassination attempts.  And the only time he’s actually angry in volume one is when a group of students come up with the plan of using Nagisa Shiota–the quietest kid in class and possibly the main character–as a sort of suicide bomber.  Koro Sensei thought the plan was great, but he was furious that the others didn’t even care about Nagisa.  He was so mad, in fact, that he instantly went to the homes of every student and brought back their nameplates to let them know he could get to their families if he ever wanted.

With all that said, this is definitely a volume one.  It pretty much just establishes the tone of the series and shows that Koro Sensei is willing to go a few extra miles to help out his students.  So, not much in the way of plot progression happens, and I can only assume there will be such a thing in a series that’s given itself a deadline.  It’s an amusing book, and I knocked it out pretty quickly.

One Piece vols. 67-71

2016 One Piece Punk Hazard

Those’re some hazardous punks.

I am positively ashamed it took me a year before I picked up the next five volumes of One Piece.  Seriously, I haven’t touched this series since last year’s March Manga.  I feel like I need to go apologize to Eiichiro Oda or something.

But yeah, these five volumes cover the Straw Hats’ next adventure in the New World–Punk Hazard–along with a bit more.  After leaving Fishman Island, the crew seem to be on their way to the most dangerous island they can find–something which Vice Admiral Smoker is counting on–but they intercept a distress call coming from the hidden island of Punk Hazard.  I assume it is so named because the famous Dr. Vegapunk used to do his experiments there, and I guess they could be hazardous.  Since Luffy is Luffy, he decides to answer the call because it sounds fun.  Of course, shenanigans ensue.

The Punk Hazard arc has a strange feel to it.  Even though it’s the second arc in the New World, it’s really just a prologue for the Dressrossa arc.  So again, the main villain never seemed all that threatening.  Sure, he’s a bastard who can kill most of the characters with poison, but I never imagined the Straw Hats losing.  You look at this guy and know he can’t take Luffy.  So, Caesar Clown is once again a weak main villain in the New World.  But, like I said, this is a prologue.

The true scope of the New World saga starts to show itself here.  Trafalgar Law is one of the Eleven Supernovas (a group of extremely notorious rookie pirates–a group which Luffy also belongs too) and a Warlord of the Sea (a legalized pirate, essentially), and he shows up on Punk Hazard helping out Caesar Clown.  Well, it’s just a cover as he really wants to take down the Clown since he works for Don Quixote Doflamingo (another Warlord), which will eventually lead to him defeating one of the Four Emperors (ridiculously powerful pirates who lead armies in their own right), Kaido.  In order to have any chance of accomplishing this, Law offers Luffy an alliance, and the Straw Hat captain accepts.  So, the main characters are now finally going after one of the big guns.  Maaaaan, I can’t wait.

Volume 71 is actually the first volume of the Dressrossa arc, and I’m already liking where it’s going.  I mean, it has a tournament.  Tournaments are cool.  It also promises to have an actual, legitimate threat with Doflamingo as the main villain.  I am really looking forward to that fight.

I also love that Oda continues to throw in imaginative things that you’d think would have no place in these stories.  Punk Hazard is the battle against Caesar Clown and the giant poisonous gas creature he created, but the Straw Hats also save a bunch of children he was experimenting on, ally with a pirate he turned into a croc-taur, deal with some of their own switching bodies thanks to Law, and help out a samurai they find in a bunch of pieces.  You can’t predict this stuff.  And Dressrossa has already introduced sentient toys and what are essentially Lilliputians!  My hat’s off to Oda.

So yeah, that’s it for March Manga…which I wasn’t even planning on doing anyway, so this is also technically a lot for March Manga.  But, let’s hope that I can now get back to the Book of Sawce (I probably won’t).