Assassination Classroom Season 1 – Anime Review
Synopsis: Forget about homework and pop quizzes. Class 3E has a far more important assignment: kill their teacher before the end of the year! (Official Funimation Synopsis)
Review (Warning: Minor Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Assassination Classroom runs off such an interesting and unique premise that’s so absurd you simply can’t help but be intrigued. The concept had a long standing issue with the American market. The manga was neglected for localization by Shonen Jump for several years due to its loose use of guns in a school setting, despite the fact that they’re not even using real guns. When the anime got announced, Funimation took the ‘risk’ of bringing this series over for U.S. consumption. The one thing that can be noted about Assassination Classroom is that its premise is engagingly funny, offering up a most absurd story.
Linny: A class full of misfit and bullied kids tasked with assassinating their new teacher who not only appears inhuman but possesses insane abilities makes for quite the attention grabber. This premise allows the show to create and get away with some ridiculous scenarios and personalities due to its very absurd nature. Nothing is off limits: such as a strange yellow blob taking role call while the students shower a volley of BB bullets at him. And while Koro-sensei, our nonhuman teacher is initially introduced as demonstrating traits that mark him as a danger to mankind, he spends a fair amount of the show also being a socially awkward dork, a pervert, and above all, a caring educator making for yet another over the top and out there mix of a personality.
Tom: The show is indeed peppered with fun, entertaining characters; Koro-sensei, our bizarre alien/monster yellow octopus smiley-face teacher, easily taking the top spot among the cast. Other notable members include the ever stalwart Karasuma, the government assassin assigned as an additional teacher to the school to help teach the children assassination techniques and aid them in their attempts to bring about Koro-sensei’s end. There’s also Irina Jelavic, the Serbian assassin hired to seduce and kill Koro-sensei. And let’s not forget Karma Akabane, a fan favorite student who’s too full of himself for his own good, but possesses many deadly skills to back it all up. There’s some hilarious one off storylines surrounding these characters and more peppered throughout the show. And while the animation never reaches stellar heights, it’s solid enough that you won’t complain about poor visuals.
Linny: Assassination Classroom balances its comedy and action well, never letting either overpower the other for most of its run. The comedic parts help to balance out the darker elements of the main storyline and make it more approachable for a wider audience. Speaking of this mix of dark and goofy, one of the complaints some viewers voiced during the show’s airing was regarding its opening credits. Both the songs used for the show’s OP tried to capture the mix by using super perky and chirpy visuals with song lyrics all about assassination. The end result are songs that don’t quite amaze maybe in part due to the perky visuals definitely making the credits feel out of sync with the music and in some ways, with the show itself.
Tom: Despite some great laughs, there’s quite a few episodes that feel ultimately uninteresting. Several times throughout the series I questioned why we were continuing to tune in every week. The stories sometimes felt boring or bland. But every time I felt like it was time to part ways with the show we’d then come across the next episode and my feelings would change, those episodes saving the show from the drop pile. That said, reaching the end of the show lead to disappointment as we never even came close to receiving answers to some of the central questions: Why does Koro-Sensei want to destroy the world? Why did he insist on teaching these students? Etc. Etc. It wasn’t too surprising, seeing as the manga was still ongoing, but it was disheartening to feel like, after twenty-two episodes, we’d made zero progress on the show’s central mysteries. It’s less of a big deal than when we first watched as Season 2 now exists, and does offer up the stories’ conclusion, but even so, there’s so few central mysteries deepened or answered that it feels like no progress is made.
Linny: Besides the lack of progress towards a resolution in season 1, there’s also the fact that even after 22 episodes, we never really get much background or personal stories about a lot of the student characters. This runs the risk of making it easy to be apathetic to their fate and well being unless you’re the kind of viewer who can take to a character simply for being a young child (a teenager in this particular case). This means that there’s little to no sense of urgency or worry when their lives were in danger and might even make the episode more boring than usual. Also, the show kept throwing in random new characters ever so often, including some villains who felt forced and annoying rather than threatening. In fact, I might even go so far as to say that some aspects of this show worked better in the manga and became downsides in anime form due to poor execution.
Tom: More over Assassination Classroom works on a concept that generally doesn’t stretch out that well over a long period of time. While it does go the way of one off events/stories, helping to pad out the length of things, that doesn’t resolve this feeling of wanting to get to the ending. We know Koro-Sensei says he’s going to destroy the world in one year, but by the end of the anime we’re half way there. This isn’t a show begging for multiple arcs, its only got one, stopping Koro-sensei from destroying the world and you can only stretch out one story arc for so long before you’re forced to jump the shark.
Linny: Sadly, I have to agree with Tom. The show’s concept is rather one track and doesn’t really have much to offer you once you tire of its main and only selling point. All the hype surrounding it turned into a double edged sword, both boosting it’s popularity and viewers expectations. To be fair, the show is very entertaining and is definitely above average with its content but sadly, it also never manages to live up to its own hype. Add a rather disappointing and badly executed finale, and the show ended on a low note for us.
Tom: The finale left us on a particularly sour note. The final episode hinges on a climatic moment that uses a rather “childish” technique as an assassination move. As presented, for anyone who hasn’t read the manga, it’s done very poorly, leaving viewers potentially confused or let down by such a lame conclusion. The manga actually fleshes this moment out, adding a hefty mass of explanation to why such a childish technique would even work on our central villain of the finale. I wouldn’t say it even works all that well in the manga, but it doesn’t leave as nasty an after taste because the manga worked tirelessly to explain itself. The anime doesn’t. The anime simply assumes you’re willing to accept such an outrageous turn of events and, I think, even with this show, they’re asking for a bit too much.
Linny: Assassination Classroom is a show with a fair share of highs and lows so while it’s something I could still recommend, the subpar ending and the slower episodes made me disinterested in a second season. I would still recommend this show to anyone interested in its bizarre premise with a fair warning about its somewhat slow pacing and it’s disappointing and poorly executed finale in the first season. Since the second season does finally provide answers and it is now possible to binge through both, our issues of unresolved endings might no longer really apply. So, if you’re looking for a show that encapsulates how anime is one of the few forms of entertainment that can take the absurd and really run with it, and are interested at the sound of a class of misfits having to take down their super-powered and strange teacher, by all means dive right in.
Tom: For all the hype surrounding Assassination Classroom I can’t help but feel it never came close to fulfilling those lofty praises. I was continually let down, never feeling like it properly built upon the outrageousness of its premise. There are times when the story is told exceedingly well, and that quality shouldn’t be ignored. But all in all I won’t be touching Season 2, my interest in the answers to the show’s biggest mysteries having faded across the duration of this uneventful journey.