There’s no rest for class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High School as the antics of teenage life continue to snowball out of control. Painstakingly balancing their studies, assassination attempts, and personal development, these kids fight to break free of their status as the dregs of their school. Thanks to the teachings of a stoic government official, an immature world-class assassin, and, of course, a deadly octopus, the class has greatly improved in all of these aspects. However, this Assassination Classroom, as it were, has a long way to go before the students are able to save the world from certain destruction as well as graduate with a respectable report card.
Continuing on from Iron Chap’s review of the first half of the season, Assassination Classroom maintains its status as an outrageous series brimming with feel-good moments. There’s no doubt in my mind that this show is often a little too silly, but with a remarkably full cast of characters and a colourful art style, it’s easy to look past any shortcomings. Moving into the second half, Assassination Classroom employs a similar formula to its episodes as with before. However, once everyone has had a chance to mature, the show moves to a point where they’re given an opportunity to apply what they’ve learnt.
Assassination Classroom shines in its ability to utilise every single character. Everyone is given their own moment in the spotlight, and with a regular cast of around thirty, it’s surprising how well this is managed. Considering how easily other shows introduce a huge cast only for the majority of them to be forgotten, what Assassination Classroom has accomplished is remarkable. Showing off each character’s individual aptitudes, both in schooling and assassination, is no easy feat. Even so, the distribution of screen time is still skewed in favour of certain characters, but that’s to be expected. To contradict myself slightly, there are times where the massive number of characters seems more of a gimmick than anything else, and it’s easy to overlook those who haven’t been singled out as mains. In saying that, I can’t recall a show with so many side characters achieve what Assassination Classroom has.
Although the goal of eventually killing Koro-sensei is ever present, it’s astonishing how little the plot is directed at this specific mission. The story does a good job of revolving everything that the characters do around their assassination attempts, but at the same time the incredibly important duty of killing their teacher is often forgotten in the face of more “pressing” matters. Thankfully, an increasing sense of peril occurs during the last five episodes, with an exiting lead up two episodes before that. These final episodes are definitely the highlight of the show, where all that has been established is put into practice, on several occasions. Unfortunately, the light-hearted atmosphere causes much of what happens to seem inconsequential at points where large-scale assassination attempts aren’t in motion. At the same time, these almost filler-like parts lead the truly exciting moments to be more impactful.
In conjunction with the happy-go-lucky style of the show, the comedy is a mixed bag of childish and adult-oriented. A heavy emphasis is placed on sexual humour, from Koro-sensei’s affinity for a wide variety of pornography to the flirtatious mannerisms of the class’ aptly named English teacher Bitch-sensei. The ridiculously corrupt school system of Kunugigaoka is also a source of comedy throughout the show. Even the school’s mascot’s utter hate for the E-Class produced some shocking and hilarious remarks. Assassination Classroom doesn’t shy away from the reuse of jokes either, one such being the ambiguity of a character’s gender, though they do this in a way that isn’t obnoxious. There are plenty of dumb jokes, but just as many are brilliantly set-up to be unexpectedly clever.
When you’re a confirmed porn addict bribery is no guarantee against a scandal.
I don’t usually go in-depth about the voice acting in anime, but Assassination Classroom is a case where I would urge in giving both options a try. In a show where comedy is king, I’m partial to the Japanese voice acting. There’s something much more appealing about the intonation of Japanese actors that better suits the wacky style of the show. In English, the tough, angry tones produced by some of the male characters were hard to take seriously, sounding more like a child using a gravelly voice to appear intimidating. Additionally, the way in which one of the main characters, Nagisa, approaches assassination appears to be quite different between the two languages. In Japanese he exudes a level of calmness that’s almost scary, while the English actor portrays him as cocky, throwing away the systematic nonchalant attitude that originally defined him. As the show goes on the voices become more bearable, or perhaps the actors become more comfortable with their characters. Whatever the case, whichever dub is chosen is personal preference, making it hard to justify one over the other.
While my words so far are not indicative of this, once everything is said and done much of Assassination Classroom is quite forgettable. That’s not to say that it doesn’t have value, as there are so many great features which make it up. The sheer amount of characters almost guarantees that you’ll find a favourite, and the comedy is genuinely well done. However, the only thing stopping Assassination Classroom from becoming a generic school-based slice of life comedy is the premise of a class of degenerate students tasked with killing their teacher. It’s hard to find fault with a show of this calibre, but if there’s fault to be found then there it is. Despite this, I rate Assassination Classroom quite highly for its successful use of juxtaposition in regards to the subject matter in order to create a witty comedy full of an insane amount of casual assassination attempts.
A review copy was provided by Madman Entertainment to the author for the purpose of this review.