- Genre : Action, Sci Fi, comedy
- Episodes: 22 + OVA
- Studio: Lerche
Any good teacher knows that what a remedial student really needs to succeed is the proper motivation. And what better motivation could there be then saving the world! Granted, to do so those students are going to have to assassinate a near invulnerable genetically engineered artificial monster capable of destroying most of the moon and decimating the world’s strongest militaries by himself but you know, they are never going to accomplish anything if you don’t challenge them a bit. And sure, it may get a little awkward since this particular monster jut happens to be the best teacher they’ve ever had. Oh well, you know what they say, you can’t make an omelette without breaking a few eggs. So this semester, the maligned and put upon class 3E of Kunugigaoka Junior High School is humanity’s last hope and they are about to remind us why it’s unwise to underestimate a properly motivated kid!
I debated for a while whether I should wait to complete the series before reviewing it. I’m not taking a break between seasons so there was no real need to split it up. However, I finished FMA: Brotherhood a while ago and I’ve been seriously struggling to put together a review. There’s just too much material packed in there and my thoughts keep wandering all over the place. As I already have 3 times the usual amount of notes for season 1 of Assassination Classroom, I decided to play it safe and put down some impressions right away.
For those of you who watched it all in one go and can’t quite remember where one season ends and the other begins, class 3E just completed their fancy summer studies trip at the exclusive island resort.
Despite what this post may make it seem like, this is a very silly show. Absurdist to the core and that can be seen in every aspect of the production. Assassination Classroom has a very distinctive look. The designs are blunt but completely individualized. No two characters look remotely alike which makes the introduction of even minor players interesting. Of course KuroSensei is instantly recognizable by anyone even dimly aware of this series for his happy face meets giant octopus design.
But as wonderful as the designs are, it’s really the drawing techniques that gives Assassination Classroom its unique appearance. Characters are outlined in particularly bold lines and colored using a significantly expanded and more saturated palette than the backgrounds. The effect is that characters really pop, slightly reminiscent of an obvious green screen. Think: Archer.
I quite like the music throughout the show and adore the voice acting. The actors put on a just hammy enough inflection to keep that silly vibe going through the dialogue as well and have palpable chemistry with each other.
However, just because something happens to be silly, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have some important things to say.
There have been a number of anime dedicated to the impact a teacher can have on their students. Interviews with Monster Girls, Sayonara Zebulon Sensei, Great Teacher Onizuka, all come to mind for instance. But Assassination Classroom offers a completely unique experience that really can’t be compared to these titles. For one, it adds in touches of Sci Fi mixed into what is predominantly an action comedy with a well defined arc, rather than the more usual slice of life format. The humor is very surreal and doesn’t shy away from some rather brutal violence. And the pacing is brisk and sustained, covering a lot of ground and an impressive cast of characters in season 1.
To me though, the biggest difference is that, despite his ever looming presence, this isn’t the story of KuroSensei at all. It’s the kids’. The narrative is from the students’ perspective, most notably Nagisa’s, and it’s they’re adventures, hopes and failures that are portrayed. Like any good teacher, Assassination Classroom knows that the kids matter most, and gives them the chance to shine and make their own mistakes along the way.
There are a few very obvious commentaries about the unreasonable pressure put on children to succeed in certain societies. Also about institutional discrimination and the near impossibility to claw yourself out of a hole when the system is rigged against you. I’ve discussed before the standardized degradation The students of class 3e are forced to endure. But it’s possibly the dispassionate and pragmatic nature of this discrimination that’s most harrowing. Nobody particularly hates these children. No one even insists that they are fundamentally flawed in any way. They are unsuited for standardized testing but most of them are quite obviously intelligent and a few tend to do very well in subjects they specialize in. They really aren’t being punished exactly, they’re being sacrificing, and everyone seems to agree that that’s as it should be. Even the students themselves. You simply need to know your place in life…
In a series populated by ruthless killers, shadow gouvernment agencies and a literal tentacle monster, this calm display of bigotry is by far the most frightening thing.
Oh my, I went on quite the moralizing tangent there. Some of you may have been misled into thinking this was a depressing preachy series constantly hammering into us that people are jerks, as if we needed a reminder. Nothing can be further from the truth. In fact this is a fast paced usually very funny show that celebrates the human spirit’s ability to strive through adversity and come together in times of need. It may show a light on some of our most regretful tendencies but the message is hopeful and delivered with humor.
One odd thing I’ve noticed is that the 3E students seem to be far more attractive than the school average. I’m not sure what it means but it was a fun little oddity.
See now this got messy anyways… Oh well at least I have one more chance to give Assassination Classroom the review it deserves with season 2.
When I mentioned having started this series, people kept asking me if I cried which scares me a little. Despite how lofty and depressing I made this series sound in the review (once again,it is not depressing at all. It’s an action packed joyride) i can’t really imagine it getting sad. I’m not sure how to feel about that really… Let’s all find out together. On we go to season 2!
The answers may not lie at the bottom of the bottle but you should at least check
Suggested drink: Teacher’s Pet
- Every time KuroSensei changes colour – take a sip
- Every time KuroSensei casually travels to another country – take a sip
- Every time anyone says tentacles– take a sip
- Every time Nagisa takes notes – take some as well
- Every time we see the main campus – boo
- Every time KuroSensei is being childish – take a sip
- Every time Karama manages to be creepy and cool at the same time – be impressed
- Every time KuroSensei is in human cosplay – take a large sip
- Every time we see the class 3E sign – raise your glass
- Every time we see the principal – get ready
- Every time KuroSensei molts – take a sip