Saturday, October 24, 2015

In 'Assassination Classroom', Education and Assassination Go Hand in Hand

What if you have to kill the best teacher you’ve ever had before the school year ends or he’ll destroy the world?

That’s basically what Assassination Classroom is all about.

One day, a huge chunk of the moon is obliterated, making it a permanent crescent shape.  A mysterious octopus-like creature claims credit for the deed, and threatens that within a year, he will also destroy the world.  However, he gives the world leaders a chance to prevent this from happening, he asks that he be made the homeroom teacher of class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High School.  As their teacher, he promises not to hurt anyone, to act accordingly, and to teach the students not only the usual school subjects, but on the ways of assassination as well.  Furthermore, he will also give them the opportunity to attempt assassinating him as much as they can throughout the school year.  Seeing that it’s impossible to kill him by conventional means, the world governments take him on his offer.  And, thus, an unusual school year ensues.

I immediately found this anime series fresh and fascinating right in its first minutes.  At first look, Assassination Classroom being a lot of fun is seemingly guaranteed by its unique and quirky premise – and it’s indeed so.

Koro Sensei – the name that his students have given the creature, a pun of the Japanese words korosenai (unkillable) and sensei (teacher) – is a fascinatingly complex and enigmatic character.  Though he has weaknesses (which the character Nagisa is listing down), he is highly intelligent and durable.  Conventional human weapons don’t work on him, so he issued to his students special rubber knives and pellet airguns that aren’t lethal to humans but can damage his body.  His strange biology gives him several abilities, notable of which is his super-speed which allows him to move at a max speed of Mach 20.  And  though he appears goofy most of the time, it’s implied that he can become the monster that he is if he needs to be.  But above all, he is a sincere and caring teacher to his students.  In fact, if I had seen this anime sooner, he would have been part of my “top ten” list of fictional mentors/teachers.  He’s truly effective in bringing the best out of his students.

Kunugigaoka Junior High School has the reputation of having elite, high-achieving students.  However, those who don’t meet its high standards on academics and discipline are sent to Class 3-E (“E” derogatorily stands for “End Class”) whose classroom is located in a shabby, isolated school building, a mountain away from the main campus.  But under the dedicated tutelage of Koro Sensei – as he painstakingly guides each individual student depending on his particular strengths and personality – the Class 3-E students become competent in both academics and assassination.  The narrative impressively does well in juggling the character arcs of these students; it’s easy to get invested in all of them.

Koro Sensei and Class 3-E have an incredibly peculiar relationship.  Koro Sensei delights in their triumphs – even if that includes getting assassinated by them – and does everything in his power to build them up and protect them.  He genuinely cares for Class 3-E.  And yet, for mysterious reasons, he is firm in his threat that he will destroy the world once their school year ends.  Meanwhile, the Class 3-E students esteem and appreciate their teacher very much, and recognize his impact on their lives, but they are also fervent of assassinating him.  It’s a strange dynamic that Koro Sensei and Class 3-E won’t have any other way.  Thus, this makes Assassination Classroom a distinctive and very enjoyable teacher-and-his-students story.

Assassination Classroom had a wonderful debut season this 2015.  It has proven to be a fast-faced, hilarious, and extremely entertaining must-watch anime.  Moreover, despite its wackiness, it surprisingly has thoughtful insights and morals to tell as well, which I find somewhat inspiring as a teacher myself.

I love everything about Assassination Classroom, and I’m definitely along for the long ride.

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