WARNING: Spoilers Below!
Assassination Classroom continues to deliver thrilling action sequences and alien-antics, though this latest volume was the first time I felt myself growing a bit wary of the standard story formula. The volume kicks off with Nagisa’s climactic conflict with Takaoka. Despite a thrashing from Takaoka, the mild-mannered and studious Nagisa surprises everyone with his 2nd victory over the sadistic teacher, really driving home the “nice kid who is actually a serial killer” motif. I really like Nagisa as a character – sure the archetype has been played out before, but all of these teasers regarding his potential and abilities gets me psyched for when he finally goes all-out on an opponent (an encounter I’m sure we’ll see sooner rather than later)
Following the battle, there is another (failed) attempt on Koro-Sensei’s life while he is in his most protective form, prompting further questions of whether or not he can actually be killed. It was humorous to see the attempt, but I feel like it was a bit of a throwaway to fill a few pages before he finally returned to his normal form. I mean, it’s good they’re actively pursuing the assassination of Koro-sensei, which is essentially the central conflict of the story, but the students’ other attempts have been more entertaining and thought out, so this particular attempt just seemed to stand out like a sore thumb to me.
Now that the drama is over (for now), time for Koro-sensei to do his best to play matchmaker! His students have been so focused on assassination techniques that they have little time for anything else, including romance. Hoping to spark the flames of passion, he pairs the kids up and sends them to explore the nearby caves, showing up and scaring them senseless in the hopes that the girls will cling to the guys and something romantic(?) will happen. It was funny seeing Koro-sensei’s various pairings: who he thinks would do well together and the lengths he goes to in order to get the students to react. Ultimately, he’s found out. Even though the students dispel his hopes, together they discover a new target for matchmaking: Mr. Karasuma and Irina!
The tight-laced Karasuma may arguably be the most skilled assassin in the world, but he’s absolutely clueless when it comes to women. Meanwhile, Irina is very familiar with relationships and flirting…making the odd couple’s date scene all the more interesting. After some fashion help from the students, Irina shows up dressed to impress, but rather than confess her feelings, she shares the very personal story of her first kill instead.
While the scene between Irina and Karasuma is brief, I appreciate the steps they’re taking in advancing the relationship. If left to Karasuma, however, it might take another 30 or 40 volumes before he realizes that she likes him.
Following the shenanigans and romance, we get our first glimpse at a new and powerful enemy: The God of Death.
This introduction formally begins the next arc of Assassination Classroom. With the ease that he dispatched Lovro, the God of Death makes a chilling entrance to the series. I’m excited to see how this new villain brings the students to a new level, and perhaps gives Koro-sensei a run for his money.
The final two chapters highlight Kotaro Takebayashi, the most academically accomplished of Class 3-E, he announces his intention to leave the class and join the prestigious Class A. Coming from a wealthy family, the draw of Koro-sensei’s reward isn’t enough to justify being treated like a loser for the rest of his life, so Takebayashi strikes a deal with Principal Asano to renounce Class 3-E by making a speech in front of the entire class. After seemingly abandoning his former classmates, Koro-sensei digs a bit deeper and challenges Takebayashi to “kill” the chains that are holding him back. After Takebayashi realizes that Class A isn’t all it’s cracked up to be (namely, they are behind on subject matter compared to 3-E and the teacher is ineffective), Takebayashi is told to make yet another speech further deriding and insulting the class of “rejects”. This time, however, Takebayashi refuses and instead praises Koro-sensei and the lessons he learned in 3-E, demolishing Principal Asano’s crystal award statue and being demoted to class 3-E yet again.
I really enjoyed the final two chapters – it was probably one of the stronger arcs of the volume. So often the manga focuses on characters physical abilities and assassination techniques, so the focus on academics and the demands of family was a welcome change, and well-executed (pun intended).
Overall, Assassination Classroom continues to entertain, but I hope that with the arrival of the new enemy there will be more action. Definitely looking for more from the God of Death, Karasuma/Irina and the continued development of class 3-E. Volume 10 arrives on June 7th, and we’ll definitely make sure to review it once it arrives!