- 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
41 thoughts on “The Valuable Lessons of Assassination Classroom”
Ahh this show. It was so successful with all those students stories blended together without seeming forced. It is always worrying to see a large cast but they did a great job making sure each character can shine but also not forgetting the others.
True! I have a big weakness for large cast narratives
I feel like this list is one to really get plastered by. 🤣
Great writeup! It is a unique experience like you said, both for viewers and for the characters in the series.
I really hope no one ever actually does these games for more than one episode…
Oh…mom. You’ll cry soon enough when you watch season 2.
And is that a trademark I see at the bottom? Wh-
Wh…trademark?? I’m a little lost here Ply
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Stuff like this is suddenly on the bottom of your posts…
really??? I don’t see it. and I didn’t write it. mebbe there’s a copyright notice option on this theme. I should find it.
Is it bad that I’m jealous of an oppressive system like Kunigigaoka’s? As an American, it’s almost impossible for me to imagine a school that emphasizes success over comfort. Who values what comes easily to them? It’s through conflict that the students find courage and confidence in themselves…
And that seems like a scary thought to me!
there may be a bit of grass is always greener…
Yeah. I guess I get a little pissy whenever I think about how western culture has come to frame life. Do what’s easy, do what’s comfortable, do what comes naturally to you, be yourself.
While the plus side is that we are more accepting of others flaws, the clear downside is that we rarely seek to change our own flaws. It’s depressing as hell to watch your closest friend hold herself back because she doesn’t feel ‘smart enough’. She never studied, and yet she thought that her B average was because she was inherently unable to do the work. And do you know the attitude of my high school then?
“Oh, that’s just who you are. We all have our flaws.”
And she wants to be a doctor…
I know it’s not my place to say, but overcoming certain obstacles can give people the confidence to really succeed at life. If you are never challenged during adolescence, you’re just setting yourself up for failure later in life. (Midlife crisis?)
Think it really depends on which schools you go to. Back where I live at least, there are a lot of schools all with varying degrees of difficulty that caters towards a certain type of student. Also having this type of school also comes with its own problems. Just look at the suicide rates over in Japan and Korea…
The rates aren’t released….We suspect they may be higher than average but we don’t have raw data as far as I know. Especially not for school aged children.
Then again a lot of Eastern European countries had super strict schools during the block years and suicide rates were very low. People weren’t particularly happy or anything, there was a lot of substance abuse instead.
Ah man, I loved floating through Calc Honors in 11th grade with an A-, where I never studied. It’s not that I was smart, but that the teacher used homework and classwork to make up the bulk of his grading. Tests were such a small portion, that I never actually bothered to memorize anything. Comfort > success there.
East Asian schooling seems to emphasize success over comfort, which gives a greater chance for upward social mobility. Selfishly speaking, such a system would really help someone like me out. (Single parent house, a sibling, and my mom works retail to support us both)
But yeah, it’s a complicated tradeoff. As much as some may want to totally discount rigorous systems, it’s interesting to think about the positives, how challenge and unfair expectations can motivate people to excel. Is there a way to create a perfect system in which people are individually pushed, yet supported to be the best that they can be? I sure wish there was. Nuance is something that’s hard to get right. When people’s lives are involved, experimentation is just too risky.
I just like thinking about this kinda stuff.
Well the exact same environment created someone like you who clearly seeks challenge and isn’t afraid of obstacles so it’s not all bad.
I get what you mean. I don’t know much about raising children but I have tried a lot of systems and I personally prefer more structured goal oriented ones but I have seen a lot of people suffer in that type of system as well.
I know some people that need a lot of support and hand holding.Mind you that could be because they have always been coddled. The European system is a decent middle ground I guess. I’m really far from my field of expertise here.
Exact same environment…
Maybe the key is in the difference between me and my friend. The lives of students are generally divided between family, social and school life. (With a lot of overlap between school and social)
While our general school/social spheres were similar, our family lives were almost opposite. My family always told me that I had to make something of myself, while her family told her not to ruin who she already was. (She told me she was going to have an arranged marraige when she became old enough)
Maybe I’ve overstating the ability of school to shape the lives of individuals. If there was a one size fits all answer to making people happy, I don’t think people would try so hard to make stories.
A very nice write up about it and about the issues it touches on even while being very fun and energetic. I can’t wait to see your thoughts on season 2.
Oh I will tell you for sure!
Love this anime. You do an excellent job capturing the spirit of the series. 🙂
Thanks you – I had a rough time with it
Really? Well, it’s excellent! (wait, I already said that…) It’s very well done! 😉
So your on to season 2 now, I want to say more but I don’t want to spoil this for you. Loved your writing for this piece you really captured the essence of Assassination Classroom as a whole.
really? I was super insecure about this one. Maybe cause I had too many feels…
Feelings can alway’s get in the way when writing a review but what is writing a review without the emotions and opinions of the reviewer.
Of course I have heard about this series, I even saw a trailer for it on one of my recent dvds that I purchased. But it never really appealed to me. Trust you to make me change my mind for that and add it to my to watch list. Sigh…somehow I knew this would happen. You are just too good of a writer and way too convincing lol.
I am of course meaning this in the nicest way possible and as a big compliment 😊 Great post!
This is one you may like Raist… There’s a live action movie for a redux version…
I promise I will check this one out, as I wasn’t kidding your post really makes me want to watch this. I did not know there was a live action film as well, but I’ll first watch the anime 😊 Thanks for letting me know! 😀
Saw the live action film. Please just stick with the anime/manga. Minus a few good moments, it was pretty hammy and CGI Koro-sensei was hard to look at
I’ll probably watch the live action film after I get around to seeing the anime, but mainly out of curiosity 😊 The track record for most anime based live action films is not really good, with a few exceptions like the Rurouni Kenshin trilogy for example 😊
I saw the live action it was o.k. in my opinion. It diesn’t measure up to the anime at all but it’s not awful like some.
I think Season 2 is overall a bit better than Season 1, but you do need the context of the first season to fully appreciate it. This anime is one of the few anime my siblings and I actually sat down and watched together until the very end.
Koro-sensei is legit the BEST teacher in anime, and it will only become more apparent on the second season.
Fair warning though, the weakest part (and actually kinda made the show lose a point for me) of the series are the villains. Otherwise, I think it’s stellar all around!
I disagree but I detailed that in s2. (about the best teacher bit – I also preferred s2 while still thinking s1 was great!)
I feel like the world is trying to get me to watch this show. Our OWLS group have written so many great things about it.
Fine, it’s going on my to be watched list. Jeez.
I know right – there’s a post every month it seems
God I adore this show, so glad to see you liked it so much too! I often (and maybe wrongly–who knows) compare this show to the live action US comedy/drama series ‘Scrubs’ in that it offsets it goofy sense of humour with hard-hitting life lessons and does so in such an earnest way that it contrasts brilliantly with the silliness.
As for crying–I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much at an anime as I did the end of this series. But then again, I wasn’t expecting it so maybe having all these people tell you it’s sad will make you expect it too much and thus it won’t have the same impact… only time will tell I suppose!
I actually finished the series a while ago. I think my s2 review is much better but it has made its way into my heart for sure
This series is great at teaching life lessons.
I thought so too