Saturday, July 23, 2016

'Assassination Classroom' Is the Ultimate Teacher Anime

When Assassination Classroom debuted last year, my review of it concluded with the words, “I’m definitely along for the long ride.”  I had no idea that it would only have two seasons (I thought the manga was still ongoing).  But that just might as well, since the fast pacing was one of the reasons I got to love this anime.

I also loved its strange, fresh premise – which was what initially intrigued me about it.  When I read a synopsis that states it’s about this class in which the students are being trained and challenged by their weird teacher to kill him, I just got to see it.  And when I did, I immediately find it an extremely great watch.

Centering on the bizarre, ironic teacher-students dynamic between Koro Sensei and Class 3-E, the anime has an endearing story to tell.  The former is sincere in his desire to be a great teacher, to bring the best out of his students, and see them succeed.  However, his methods are beyond unconventional: he threatens to destroy the world at the end of the school year, and the only option to stop this from happening is if the students will be able to kill him before that.  With this goal forcibly given to the students, he proceeds to teach them the art of assassination, which principles he then uses to help them learn their school lessons.  Thus, not only do these students begin improving academically, but also gradually transform into genuine, highly-skilled assassins.  Meanwhile, Class 3-E – who are deemed “losers” by others – get to respect and love this teacher who chooses to see their potentials and does his best to develop them.  And the only way they can honor and repay him?  By succeeding in assassinating him. (It’s truly a quite peculiar setup, even for an anime, and it’s probably impossible to fully make sense out of it without giving major spoilers.)
Season one was tons of fun.  Assassination Classroom: Second Season – later changed to Assasination Classroom: FINAL Season in episode 15 – was also fun, but it also has more drama.  As the series progressed, it grew emotionally heavier.  The last two episodes (especially the heartbreaking penultimate episode) hit me with so much feels, that my eyes couldn’t help welling up big time.

Going deeper its quirkiness and comedic tone, Assassination Classroom is genuinely touching, especially to those that derive delight in guiding others to learning.  Teaching is hard.  But every teacher wishes he or she will be able to impact his or her students for the better.  And Koro Sensei is a personification of what every teacher ideally wants to be.
He will do everything – everything – for his students.  He builds a relationship with them, not only as a class, but also in a personal level (Yes, the story probably had more focus on Nagisa – who turned out being the class’ best assassin – but I really don’t think Koro Sensei has favorites).  Every student is different, thus he takes time to thoroughly know them individually so that he can develop a unique teaching strategy to meet each one’s respective learning needs.  He guides them to excel individually in their respective strengths, but he nonetheless stresses more emphatically that their unity and friendship are much more important than their personal victories.  He cleverly turns every opportunity – even the grave challenges they face – as a learning experience for the students.  He not only helped them succeed in getting good grades, he also instilled in them character and life skills.

Provided that Koro Sensei has super powers (and a fictional character to boot), that he is able to accomplish great feats of tutelage which are otherwise unrealistic to a normal teacher, it doesn’t discount his teacher’s heart.  Considering this in terms of proportion – the teacher’s capabilities to the teacher’s efforts – Koro Sensei is definitely admirable regardless.  He dedicates most, if not all, of his being to his students.  They are paramount to him.  He’s even ready to give his life for them.  Though the manifestation of such capability-to-effort ratio in a teacher is also possible in real life, it’s something rarely seen.
That’s why, for me, Assassination Classroom is the ultimate teacher anime (and if I ever rewrite by best fictional teachers list, Koro Sensei will take the top spot).  As an anime in general, it’s already quite delightful.  But going taking it further as a study of what it takes to be a teacher, it becomes much richer and more rewarding.

Many education professors would recommend – even require – their students to watch the Indian film Every Child Is Special (originally Taare Zameen Par; titled Like Stars on Earth internationally) to give them insights and inspiration on how to be a good teacher.  But if I ever I get the chance to do the recommending to serve that same purpose, I will go with Assassination Classroom

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