NOTE: We received a review copy of Assassination Classroom, Season One, Part One from FUNimation
At some point in your educational career I’m sure you’ve had the following thought: I hate this teacher. Maybe they called you out all the time, maybe the content was really challenging…or maybe they destroyed 70% of the moon and promised to destroy the Earth next.
Assassination Classroom follows class 3-E, a misfit group of students who have been relegated as rejects, as they attempt to take out the superhuman creature known as “Koro-Sensei” (a play on the Japanese phrase “Korosenai”, meaning “Cannot be Killed”). Featuring powerful tentacles and capable of traveling at a top speed of Mach 20, he has proven too powerful for the government to dispose of. That’s where his precious students come in. As it turns out, he has requested to teach a class in the year that remains before he destroys the world, and so the Japanese government has armed the students with special weapons and given them the task of destroying him. What could possibly be worth the hassle of taking on a fantastically-powered monster? As it turns out: $100 million. This staggering bounty motivates the class to become top-notch assassins as they attempt to take out their teacher, while also appreciating his excellent work as an educator and mentor.
The Box Set
The box features episodes 1-11 on Blu-Ray and DVD respectively, for a total of 4 discs. It’s got your standard extras such as cast interviews and commentaries on a few episodes, but the bonus of Episode 0 was probably my favorite. This short reveals the initial meeting between Karasuma and Koro-Sensei, as told by the tentacled troublemaker. The cover art for the set is great as well.
The MSRP is $65, but you can find it for around $45-50 with little effort. It’s really hard for me to complain about the cost of anime sets these days,
We’ve previously covered the recent volumes of manga in some detail, and so I had some expectation in terms of storyline, but I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the execution. The animation stands out in particular: the sharp black outlines around the characters makes them look like elaborately designed paper cutouts, with intricate landscapes and backgrounds to complement them.
When it comes to the characters, it could be easy for them to blend together in terms of character design, but Assassination Classroom does a great job of setting them apart visually. In addition, while there isn’t enough time to spotlight all of the students individually, the series does an excellent job lending some personality to each of them during their co-operative attempts to destroy Koro-sensei.
The story of Assassination Classroom is episodic for the majority of this first half, with new students (and teachers) being introduced constantly. While the overarching goal is to destroy Koro-Sensei, the series focuses extensively on his relationships with the students as they battle not just an octopus-like creature threatening global destruction, but also the emotional and physical bullies found at their school. As a result of this two-pronged battle, the narrative can sometimes lag as it feels like the characters and plot is pulled in opposing directions. Overall, it makes some good progress, especially in the latter arcs as we learn more about Koro-sensei’s weaknesses.
The action scenes lean a lot towards speed, which makes sense considering its Koro-Sensei’s trademark power. The various students respective specialties are well showcased in these scenes, such as Nagisa’s knife-wielding abilities or the artificial intelligence known as “Ritsu”, that sports a terrifying arsenal.
Another standout feature of the series was the voice acting. Koro-Sensei’s performance in both Japanese (Jun Fukuyama) and English (Sonny Strait) is fantastic. The easily flustered teacher vacillates between light-hearted comedy and monstrously serious on numerous occasions, and the vocal acrobatics of both voice actors reflects this exceptionally well. Another good choice in the dub was not expecting the Russian-sounding Irina Jelavic to have a corresponding accent. By focusing more on her personality as a short-tempered seductress, Martha Harms brings the character to life with particular skill. On the flip-side, Nagisa’s personality takes a bit of a turn in translation, as he comes off a bit more sarcastic in English than in Japanese; a move that I feel takes away from the original spirit of the character. Still, the voice acting overall is very well-done, and certainly not a reason to take away from the overall enjoyment or value of the series.
There’s a good chance you already caught Assassination Classroom when it aired last year, but if you haven’t had a chance yet, or if you’re looking for another series to add to your collection, I would certainly put this show on your list. With memorable characters, striking animation and quality voice-acting, Assassination Classroom is an entertaining and well-crafted show. Take aim and enjoy!
You can purchase Assassination Classroom Season One, Part One here.