I’m switching gears and focusing on some murderous middle schoolers and their odd octopus teacher. That’s right, it’s Assassination Classroom. Season Two is out and is as intense as the new opening theme song. The students of E Class are done playing around when it comes to trying to kill their teacher. The first half of season two provides viewers with everything they could want in a good anime: action, romance, a message of perseverance…and a giant pudding.
The first half of season two focuses on three things: assassination attempts, training, and character development. The students of E-Class know that play time is over. The deadline for killing their teacher is rapidly approaching, and they need to buckle down and apply what they’ve learned to the task at hand. On top of that, they also need to focus on doing well enough to leave E Class. If they don’t, they’re risking a future of prestigious schooling and job offers.
Although the students take their task seriously, their assassination attempts are whacky. From creating a giant pudding with a bomb center, to designing a remote-controlled tank and facing down weasels, the students are trying to strike Koro Sensei where it counts: his heart. Even though Koro Sensei plans to destroy the world, he cares for his students and wants to see them succeed. He goes as far as meeting with each of the students individually to help them figure out a career path that’s best for them. As to if the students will exploit this weakness, only their ticking time will tell.
With an increase in assassination attempts comes an increase in training. Playing Cops and Robbers combined with parkor leaves the class feeling sweaty but stronger. On top of training to be assassins, the students of E Class are striving to place in the top 50 during their exams. Doing so would ensure their departure from E Class and back into the fold of the main campus. Standing in the way of their success is the principal, who uses his own metaphorical tentacles to manipulate the student body and keep E Class in their place.
While having a fairly solid plot, Assassination Classroom has an interesting way of using background scenes to frame messages in episodes. We see a couple playing and restarting a video game in an episode where Nagisa is struggling to find a way to gain an identity separate from the one his mom has crafted for him. It turns out his mom is quite the narcissist and is less than happy with what she perceives as his rebellion. While it becomes obvious once you figure out what’s happening, it’s more effort than some anime put into their episodes.
Speaking of other anime, Assassination Classroom pays homage to a very specific one. During the school festival episode, the students of E Class running a restaurant to draw attention to the different skill sets of the students. When a bully cries tears of joy after eating ramen, a student mentions that they wanted to include more tasting reaction shots but couldn’t due to another anime out there. This is obviously a reference to Food Wars.
Season 2 does an interesting job of focusing on class unity. This forces background characters into the foreground. When Student Council President Gakushu Asano discovers E-Class representative Yuma Isogai working, he threatens to report him for expulsion unless E Class can beat A Class at the sports festival pole-vaulting event. The entirety of E Class unites to defend their fellow classmate’s secret. Besides that, the show makes different once-discussed characters “experts” on different topics, and gives everyone spy code names (Semi-Senioritis and Dating Sim Emo Character speak to me on a personal level). This forces the viewer to take roll call on the entire class, not just the main characters.
Antagonists such as Shiro and Principal Asano make appearances again to provide trouble for Koro Sensei and the E-Class. We are also introduced to a new villain, an assassin known as The Reaper. He is willing to go to any lengths to ensure he kills Koro Sensei and his reveal is probably the most intense thing that has happened in the show thus far.
Several characters also go through major tribulations to figure out what is important to them and to add some ethos to their overall character. Karma, Itona, and Nagisa each face a problem which causes them to be introspective and figure out what’s important to them and what they want out of life. In addition to that, we even get a backstory on Principal Asano and learn why he’s as cold and emotionally detached as he is. This provides a nice additional layer of depth to the show as it humanizes the characters.
The show loses some points with their “character development” of Professor Bitch. Unlike her body, her character development and revelation falls flat. Furthermore, it reads as a cliché and stereotypes her as an extremely superficial and vain character. This is completely different from how she’s been presented all along. Overall, I was a little disappointed with the episodes in which it takes place and hope she’s redeemed in the second half of the season.
Season two is just as well illustrated and orchestrated as season one. Assassination Classroom is definitely one of the more prettier anime out on the market right now. Intense opening song “Question” is filled with heavy guitar riffs and gets the viewer amped up for the episode. The calming ending song “Waning moon”, relies on a mellow tune filled with piano keys, which helps offset the adrenaline rush. During episodes, piano music is used to build the emotion in intimate scenes, while generic guitar riffs happen during exciting scenes. My only wish was that they used more variation of instruments to add more depth to the scenes.
Fans of Fairy Tail, Tokyo Ghoul, One Piece, Psycho Pass, and the Dragon Ball series should recognize a couple of familiar voices. Sonny Strait, Lindsay Seidel, Chris Ryan, and Austin Tindle are returning voices for this season and kill it.
This has re-watch value, but only as something I would throw on if I wanted some background noise. It’s entertaining and funny enough, but there’s nothing really that memorable that happens. You won’t be creating a string theory web after watching the first half of the season. There are scenes that were unexpected and shocking, but nothing that left me talking about it after the episode was over.
This packaging wins because it’s double-sided. I can choose if I want it to have pretty shapes. If I decide I want to see characters from the show, all I must do is reverse it. It loses points because I can’t see both simultaneously.
Just as Koro Sensei has weaknesses, this release proves that not all discs are created equally. Although both the Blu-ray and standard DVDs come with bonus features, the Blu-ray discs contain more.
Blu-ray disc one opens with a preview for Ghost in the Shell 2 Innocence. Extras on disc one include commentary for episodes three and five.
Blu-ray disc 2 opens with a preview for the complete series of Wolf’s Rain on its first Blu-ray release. Extras include Many Faces of Koro Sensei, narrated by Sonny Strait, the English voice actor of Koro Sensei. In the segment, Sonny details what Koro Sensei’s different faces mean and shows interviews in which different fans were asked about their favorite Koro Sensei face. As for this reviewer, it’s his grey stoic face.
Blu-ray Disc 2 also has the episode previews for this half of the season, along with trailers for Dangan Ronpa, Unbreakable Machine Doll, Death Parade, Nobunagun, Scrapped Princess, Attack on Titan: the complete first season
For those that don’t have a Blu-ray player, Standard Disc 2 holds all the bonus features. It includes all the trailers and previews listed above, except for the Ghost in the Shell 2 and Wolf’s Rain trailer. It also has the textless versions of the opening and closing songs listed above. The standard discs also have a different menu screen than their Blu-ray relatives.
Overall, season two is off to a solid start. As we eagerly wait for part two to come out on DVD we are left wondering: will the students of E Class will kill Koro Sensei before their deadline? Or are they dead lying about their skills? Only time will tell.
Anxious to find out how the season ends? The full season is available for streaming on Funimation.