What do you get when the main focus of your anime is a giant smiley-faced tentacle creature bent on world destruction and improving personal hygiene? Bored, mostly. Assassination Classroom is a cute series that will probably win over young boys in droves, but as far as comedy goes it falls flatter than its androgynous main character.
Because of [reasons], a walking emoji from space has destroyed 70% of the moon (which has no catastrophic effects on earth) and has designated himself the instructor of a class at a prestigious prep-school in Japan. He chooses to teach the Class E misfits, who are promised a ten billion yen reward (i.e. ~$84M USD) by the Ministry of Defense if they can kill him.
Having issued the assassination challenge himself, alien death blob Koro Sensei avoids various lackluster knife throws and jabs with his mach 20 speed while teaching the children wholesome values like believing in themselves and having backup plans and only implying tentacle sex once or twice. The students are punished for failing to kill him by being fed expertly cooked meals, groomed, and given massages. Koro might be a genius at behaviorism.
While the pilot episode gives the promise of adventure and features high speed chases with fighter jets, students opening fire with assault rifles, and even an attempted suicide bombing, the series quickly tapers off into a feel-good show about the power of a good teacher to turn problematic students around. At least, we’re told they’re problematic students, but they actually show up to class and work, so apparently Japan has a whole different standard for what constitutes giving zero shits about school.
The principal is out to sabotage Class E to retain their status of failure and ridicule for the morale of the rest of the school in some kind of insane Nazi-esque scapegoating logic, so it’s up to Koro to help his students understand that they’re good enough to love themselves or some such nonsense. The assassination attempts on Koro Sensei quickly taper off in both frequency and creativity as the focus of the series shifts from a sense of urgency about his impending destruction of the world to something more wholesome.
Halfway through the series, we still have no idea why Koro is waiting to destroy the world, why he wants to be a teacher, or why the studio thought it was a good choice to nickname the female teacher Professor Bitch in a children’s show. This is a series with a gimmick that was only mildly interesting to start with, but which it abandons quickly in favor of being nothing special at all. There are a thousand other “meeting this central character turned my life around” animations that do the same thing better.
Most of the series takes place in or around the same classroom. The characters are underdeveloped to a fault despite their sheer numbers and each having his or her own stats posted in the intro. It seems as though the writers wanted to set themselves up to have characters to work with four seasons from now, but opted for a painfully crawling slow-play when it came to giving those characters any substance.
The animation itself is nothing special, sporting the standard mass-produced two-tone flare of most animes on the market. The series is fun, but only a bit. It’s funny, but not very. It’s got catchy music, but not terribly so. It’s Average Classroom by any measure and not worth going out of your way to watch.
Tentative Rating. 5.5
Title: Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoshitsu)
Original Source: Manga
Source Writer: Yusei Matsui
Source Publisher: Shueisha
Director: Seiji Kishi
Writer: Makoto Uezu
Music: Naoki Sato
Run Start: 01/2015
Review Date: 03/2015
Episodes Reviewed: 01-06