This is less of a review, and more of an explanation to why Assassination Classroom and I did not get along during the Winter and Spring seasons–we danced a dance of surprise and disappoint, we did. Please don’t take personal offense, fans, I’ll try to share my conflicted feelings as nicely as possible. 😉
For those unaware, Assassination Classroom is an incredibly popular comedy/action/shounen manga that only recently got its 22 episode anime adaption (with a sequel coming next year.)
It follows an alien who destroys the moon and then promises to destroy Earth if he is not killed in one year. However, for some unknown reason, he agrees to allow E-class, a group of struggling middle grade misfit students, to make any assassination attempt on his life that they can attempt… while being their very responsible and caring teacher. The kids call him Koro Sensei.
That’s one crazy and ridiculous synopsis, no? Frankly, this is a very fun premise with lots of potential..if it had been allowed to be.
The episodes could have been dedicated to students each week, where we learn a new student’s back story and motivation, and how having Koro Sensei as a good teacher, or becoming an assassin, effects their particular view of life. We could have gotten a wacky comedy that understood its ridiculous premise and poked fun at itself with unabashed over the top humor. And I’ll give credit where credit is due, because every once and awhile, we did get some amazing episodes!
But mostly….mostly it just didn’t work. Now, I’m a little hesitate writing this up as I always dislike landing on the unpopular side of things, but I figure an honest post from me would be more interesting than a semi-polished-fake-smiling-review that I could write. So bare with me. 😉
Lets hit the pros first, because there are several things I did enjoy–enough to keep me coming back each week.
A. Most importantly, because this is not common knowledge: the OST for this anime is PHENOMENAL. You will never hear a more diverse sounding OST than Assassination Classroom’s. Sadly, the show really under uses its music, so I didn’t even appreciate it during the show! However, it deserves all your love, so go listen to my favorite tracks here for a taste!
B. Of the few children we got to meet intimately from the classroom, Karma was the stand-out character. He did get a full episode, which really displayed how lethal and dark he was. He was a worthy opponent for Korro Sensei as both a student and assassin–and unlike most of the characters, Karma got some development by the end.
Karma kept me coming back and he became one of my favorite characters of the spring season!
C. Koro Sensei was a fun character! He had a goofy fun voice, his face would change colors, and he had eccentric behaviors which were entertaining to watch. He also seemed like a really great guy…so I’m not really sure why he’s so set on destroying Earth in a year. As their teacher, he was honestly their biggest cheerleader and taught them how to stand up for themselves, which I liked a lot.
D. There were some fantastic episodes. This has to do with C., in that my favorite episodes were often the ones were Koro Sensei was helping E-Class stand up for themselves against the rest of the school who saw them as losers. These episodes were often very entertaining and had a high level of satisfaction. The other good episodes were the rare ones that actually focused on one of the students–like Karma or the introduction to the AI student.
These episodes were the ones that teased and drew me back each week, hoping to see more. But that’s about all the pros I can come up with!
Now on to things that just didn’t work. I’ll try to write these as even-tempered as I can (I did get most of my seething out to Sensei already–thanks for listening to my exasperated fumes and swears for six months. XD)
A. Assassination Classroom’s biggest crime was taking itself too seriously. The story’s premise is ridiculous and the show should have reveled in its outlandish-ness: Instead, we got a lot of legitimizing dialogue from characters trying to stress how serious everything was and a narrative that took itself WAY. TOO. SERIOUSLY.
This killed a potentially great comedy action show for me. Looks-like-a-girl-for-no-reason Nagisa didn’t help by saying dramatically and deeply “We’re an assassination classroom, assigned to kill our sensei” every other episode. That got really tiring really fast because I get it. We all get it. Can we have some real fun now? No? Darn.
B. The word “classroom” is literally in the title, but outside of a couple of kids, we really didn’t get to know most of the characters! Instead the show focused on bringing outside assassins into the classroom to take a swing at killing Koro Sensei, leaving the kids with not enough time for development. This was such a sad waste of potential–I wish the show had capitalized on its large cast and focused on a different child each (or every other) episode… but that just didn’t happen.
The result is that I was with a lot of semi-familiar faces each week but left completely un-invested mentally or emotionally with them as characters. I couldn’t cheer them on and I couldn’t feel devastated when their assassination plots were foiled. I only felt annoyed.
C. The main problem is that, ultimately, the story can’t go anywhere because of its premise. The point is to kill Koro Sensei–if they kill him, the show is over…therefore as an audience we now know that every attempt will fail, no matter how well thought out and executed each one is. This made it hard to become invested in the training and assassination attempts. No matter how impossible it seemed, Koro Sensei would always survive.
Of course, this wouldn’t be so bad if I was actually getting invested in the characters and how they were affected by Koro Sensei’s excellent tutelage and “what would we do if we actually did kill him?” ideas but nope…the show just didn’t want to do good character development.
D. I get it, Assassination Classroom is a shounen, not a seinen, I can’t expect the world from it right? Hmmmmmmmmm, well, here’s the thing: This was a fun show that was sometimes really funny and it delivered a fantastic episode every once and awhile. I know it had great potential because we got peeks at it! So it’s very frustrating when you see a potential for greatness but you only receive a majority of average episodes.
Assassination Classroom REALLY DID have amazing potential–that’s why I kept coming back, hoping it would pull its act together and deliver the greatness that I saw it do every few episodes. But that never happened, which really frustrated me. And frankly, I don’t have much hope for the sequel to be any better unless it can go for an actual ending.
I wanted to like Assassination Classroom so bad. So bad. I wanted to like the characters more than I did. I wanted to know more about Koro Sensei but his back story was only touched on once. I wanted the show to stop “legitimizing” itself and just have fun. I wanted the show to be the best I knew it could be.
But our six month dance was mostly frustration, tripping over dress hems and toe-stepping, before getting left cold in the center of the dance floor by ridiculous filler episodes and a tonally messy finale. Color me flushed, disappointed, and peeved…at the mildest.
Star Rating: 3.5/5 | Rewatchability: Low | Definition: Assassinated Itself