What They Say:
Forget about homework and pop quizzes. The students of Class 3E have a far more important assignment: kill their teacher before the end of the year! A tentacled sensei that moves at Mach 20 is out to conquer the classroom after destroying seventy percent of the moon. In addition to reading, writing, and arithmetic, the murderous monster behind the lectern will teach his students everything he knows about the assassination game. Should some eager beaver prove to be a quick study in killing, he or she will save Earth from extinction and collect a hefty reward. But they d better take some serious notes while class is in session because their slaughtering sensei has eight deadly tentacles just waiting to wreak havoc on humanity!
The audio has a 5.1 release in English and a 2.0 in Japanese – I watched half of it in English and Japanese to compare – and with the Japanese release I did have to raise the volume a little from my default settings, however, there were no other issues regarding sound quality, echoing, synching with subtitles, etc. The show has a real unique theme combining comedy, action and that panic over the time that Koro-sensei blows up the Earth so everything with the music, voice acting and sound effects all perfectly coming through on the Blu-Ray – a quality dub and a fantastic Japanese track makes this a treat to enjoy in either language.
Video wise, colours were fine and flashy, and no issues in terms of video to audio on a 16:9 – 1.78:1 aspect ratio though set NTSC style with top/bottom wide screen, no problems video wise with subtitles synching, no video freezing or any slack animation when pausing the show and the colours do come out very vividly and look rather good on a Blu-Ray set up – no problems found so overall very strong.
There was no packaging for this test release.
2 discs which have the same menu on them, basically Koro-sensei’s face melting into various types of weapons on a yellow background, whilst on the bottom left is an easily navigational menu of Play All, Episodes, Set Up and Extras. Like most Blu-Rays, it has a popup menu which you can select in-show if you wish to change things (useful if like me, you wish to switch from English to Japanese and vice versa), easily selectable and fast acting (though you can’t select extras from the popup menu) – very easy to navigate and serves its purpose for the show.
There are quite a few extras on this release – if you purchase the special edition you will get with your set a filler box (for the upcoming part 2), art cards and a replica of the Kunugigaoka Academy Student Handbook & Student Diary.
On the discs themselves, we have a few commentaries for the dub – on episode 1 we have the co-directors Joel McDonald and Apphia Yu, and the let’s be honest, star of the show in Sonny Strait as Koro-sensei. In previous reviews, have mentioned a new thing that the Funimation dubs have been doing in the US, and this is another one in being a broadcast dub – as in they dub it to their channel/website as close as to when it got released in Japan. Considering how popular this franchise is, the influence of Apphia who speaks Japanese makes a lot of the jokes and dialogue much easier to broadcast considering the fans expectation and with friends in Japan she knew in advance about stuff so a secret weapon for Funi was on hand – this was useful as they speak about the Japanese style puns and trying to convert them into English, and how the characters names are loosely base on Japanese history. Of course, there are a lot of fun moments as well as they have to mention some of the actors’ reaction to Koro-sensei and just how weird he is, but this was quite a surprising intake of knowledge for this series just in the first episode.
The next commentary gives us more of the goofy stuff, which isn’t surprising considering Monica Rial (Kaede) is involved, along with another favourite of mine Leah Clark (Yukiko) and Clifford Chapin (Sugino) – it is no secret I am a big fan of Rial’s work, not just as a voice actress but as a person and she always makes things more amusing during commentary – case in point, immediately mentioning that at cons she wanted to arrange the entire dub cast to do the opening dance. ^^ It is a more light-hearted commentary though they do comment about how the series transitions from light to dark quite well and mention their history in work (Monica being a veteran of theatre coming into dub work and has since done commercials) – Clifford being fairly new on the block seems to listen to the two more veteran Vas and offer his own take and advice for budding Vas and getting the roles so despite everything does have some good information out of it as well.
We also get a sit down interview with some of the cast, straight out of a classroom as Sonny Strait plays the teacher, whilst listening in are Austin Tindle (Akabane), Martha Harms (Irina) and Apphia Yu returning (also the voice of Nakamura) – it is seeing the actors in the flesh intermixed with clips from the show and actually talks semi-seriously about what Koro-sensei is, and what he is actually trying to do as a teacher – what is his goal, are the kids actually going to be able to kill him (both physically considering Koro-sensei’s skill, or mentally as the kids get closer to him?) – they joke about potential ways to assassinate him, but also how the kids learn throughout (mentioning their favourite moments) making it a nice view on what the cast think about the lead character.
Also, we have episode 0 which is the prologue to Assassination Classroom as we see Karasama meeting Koro for the first time in an epic battle and skill…and then reveals was a fake story. I didn’t actually see it coming until just at the end when the two hug and I thought ‘that isn’t what Karasama would do’….cut to real time and Koro-sensei is caught out. Like a lot of times through the viewing of the show, I was definitely laughing out loud.
Lastly, we have more generic extras – we get previews for the episodes actually as extras and not in the show (where there are eye catches) and trailers for Black Butler: Book of Murder, Tokyo Ghoul, Rage of Bahamut: Genesis, The Boy & The Beast, Psycho-Pass, Yona Of The Dawn and Ghost In The Shell: The New Movie.
Assassination Classroom is a series that had a huge buzz – being a popular manga from Shonen Jump and a quick broadcast release in the US, it is generating a lot of popularity on both sides of the world.
And of course, I haven’t seen it despite many friends recommending it to me. I always subconsciously try to avoid well known or popular series for a bit to see if there is any backlash – a lot of the popular Shonen Jump series (Bleach, Naruto, etc) have succumbed to this. However, Assassination Classroom doesn’t appear to have suffered the same fate – hence why going into this as a review I was more optimistic than normal.
Optimism which is DEFINITELY rewarded. This is only the first half of the series and definitely some unanswered questions (which are hinted) but in terms of just a pure anime to enjoy and watch, with fun but intelligent characters and an actual good questioning from the characters and the viewers of a dilemma? It is one of the best in recent years, if not THE best of the well-known series.
AC starts off with a bang…literally. A mysterious creature has destroyed 70% of the moon and has announced in one year he will do the same to planet Earth. So, of course, he needs to be destroyed right? Trouble is…he seems to have a near indestructible skin, moves at mach 20 speeds and his octopus-like tentacles do more damage than anything in your most recent hentai viewing. So a strange deal is made with this creature – he will become the teacher of Kunugigaoka Junior High School Class 3-E, the so-called ‘loser’ class of this elite school, and be trained with actual weapons that can harm the creature to try and assassinate him, whilst he actually tries to teach them – also offering anyone that can kill him a reward of 10 million yen. Immediately questions are asked – why this class? Why did the creature agree? These questions are slowly unraveled throughout but for now, class 3-E is dealt with a giant yellow tentacle creature with an always smiling face which can change colors on his mood and the horrors he brings upon them when they try to kill him…
…oh, wait, sorry my bad. Turns out the creature, known now as Koro-sensei, is actually welcoming on their attempts to kill him, and yet is actually a pretty damn good teacher – trying to help this apparent group of misfits, and their attempts to assassinate him as a way of being someone at last in life. This is immediately apparent in the main child protagonist of the class, Nagisa, a very feminine young boy who is persuaded to actually sacrifice himself in a sneak assassination via a hidden grenade by some of the others. Unfortunately for them, Koro-sensei is able to survive and is very angry…because they wanted to harm one of their own. This is where this is the dilemma, Koro has to be killed otherwise the world will blow up, yet he is so good as a teacher and so likable, that the students all want to learn from him whilst trying to kill him. Hell, he actually gives them advice on their techniques!
Koro-sensei is surprisingly kind and listenable – helping a student with his baseball skills in the second episode and showing what other strengths they are capable of, whilst other people outside the case also try to get their shot of killing him. The most noticeable is a member of the Minister of Defence, Karasuma – who pretty much like Koro, is surprisingly likable with his class as he realizes the rest of the school looks down on these kids, and in his own way, begins to help them out with their techniques. Another one is the transfer student Akabane, who at first is the most likely candidate to kill Koro-sensei at first, yet Koro is able to handle him and even stop his more sadistic nature and they become rather chummy as well (this is good especially considering we learn why he becomes this way and his distrust of teachers). Yes, the idea of the class both being his friends and trying to kill him is the moral of what this is going to be – as they get closer, their skills get better but once they are able to kill him, CAN they do it?
More outsiders try to become teachers to kill Koro, like the gorgeous Irina Jelavic, a professional assassin from Serbia but don’t give a damn about the kids (leading thanks to how hard her surname is to say in Japan, she is known as Bitch-sensei ^^) leading to a failed kill attempt and her shock of how Koro-sensei bonds with his students – she slowly begins to learn and remains at the school, whilst the school goes on their way with learning and assassination attempts (my favourite being the shy girl Okuda who hasn’t got a sneaky bone in her body, actually just asks Koro-sensei to drink her poisons! Hilariously, he accepts and teaches her the poison to kill him…but was a trick to make him stronger! Whilst funny, it does teach her not to be so naïve, hence why Koro-sensei is still a great teacher). However, with the three cool teachers they have now, the rest of the student body and teachers who always made fun of them are not eyeing them with envy and this is where we first see that Nagisa might be a lot colder and deadly than first impressions…something which the head principal, who sees Class E as nothing but trash, to put them in their place…
The headmaster, Asano, had an educational system where students can rise and fall – and Class E is basically there so others can feel superior and work better off. Koro realizes that because of the bounty that they can slack off, it shows his skill as a teacher (with a little threatening) to bring their skills to much better than they expected. Unfortunately, Asano cheats them out (though Akabane does get into the top 50) yet Koro-sensei now wants to turn things for the kids’ right round.
There are typical school moments as well, like the school trip in Kyoto, which of course doubles as a new environment for assassination attempts, including bringing other assassins over to try and go for the reward (one of them Red Eye is hilarious in his failures and then bonds with Koro-sensei when he realises he knew he was there the whole time) – there is an episode where two of the girls are kidnapped Yukiko and Kaede – Kaede will mention seems to be Nagisas’ best friend whilst Yukiko is a high-class girl but was over pressured to do well and snuck out to be a gamer, lowering her grades to E level. They are saved by Koro-sensei, who later enjoys sneaking around their inn listening to gossip, but there is a brief moment that suggests that Koro-sensei is, in fact, a human or at least was, which means there is definitely more to this story of him blowing up the world in a year. With Koro-sensei living up to his name as being unkillable, it is time to bring the big guns…
The last couple of episodes suggest that the amp will be upped – first we have a super computer who is programmed to try and kill Koro-sensei, but she goes a bit overboard during classes annoying her classmates, so Koro-sensei actually reprograms her and she becomes more human, even getting a name from her class of Ritsu. When this is learned, her programmers want to rearrange it however Ritsu actually hides her new personality from her masters before it is deleted and still remains friends with her classmates. Next, we have a visit from Irina’s former master Lovro appears and says she is weak, which Koro-sensei then makes the two try and ‘kill’ Karasuma – an episode which gives both Irina and Karasuma some character development and even some chemistry together, whilst Koro-sensei takes Nagisa, Akabane and Ritsu to Hawaii to watch a premiere of a movie they want to see, whilst still learning and seeing what things are like from Koro-sensei’s POV, something which may be in their mindset if they do want to kill him, and the final episode introduces another transfer student, this time a human named Itona, or so we thought as he claims to be Koro-sensei’s younger brother – and the claims appear to be true as he has the same tentacles as Koro-sensei in his hair and knows his weaknesses, however, Koro-sensei turns it back on him as he would have the same weaknesses. There is a hint of mystery here as Koro-sensei does seem to recognize him but doesn’t add more to it – it actually gives the kids wants to learn more assassination techniques from Karasuma whilst still liking their weird teacher…oxymoronic or makes sense?
Well, a bit of both. This series basically is setting up the obvious dilemma these kids are going to have – whether to kill their teacher to get wealth and recognition in a society that has designated them loser, or actually defy that because their teacher (and subsequent other teachers) is the only person who has seen what worth they have, and is doing everything to bring out their true potential even at the cost of his own life, literally in this case.
This series is wonderful. It is one of those rare gems of a series that appears to make no sense (why does an all powerful creature give a deadline to blow up the world and want a classroom of kids to try and kill him before this time – and why does he want to teach this particular class?) yet little hints here and there suggest there is more to everything. The one weak spot I will mention now aside from where does the plot go is the fact the class has so many characters and it reminds me a little of Negima in that regard, in that no-one is going to be developed as well as some other characters (this is even poked fun of in show when a character who hasn’t spoke yet makes a perverted comment and one of the other classmates goes ‘this is your first line and THAT is what you have to say?) – depends on the length of the series as I know there is a 2nd season currently in Japan so there will be more after the 2nd half of this season is released, so maybe more of the kids will get their moment, but at the moment it is Nagisa and Akabane who have the only major development, with bits thrown to Kaede, Manami, Yukiko and Sugino.
The main thing though is that the teacher characters are so good it actually detracts from the fact there are 30+ students in this class. And none, of course, are more prominent than Koro-sensei, a.k.a. one of the greatest characters I’ve witnessed in the last couple of years. It is just hard to describe him – an alien creature whose head can change colors depending on his move, with multiple tentacles that has a lust for snacks and porn mags yet also happens to move at mach 20, body near impenetrable and also is an amazing teacher. As mentioned, it is clear there is more to him in terms of his reasons for managing the class and what he truly is, why he is doing this, etc – am sure this will be brought up in due course, and the fact the whole assassination plot is happening screams of he WANTS the kids to kill him, yet we don’t know why or if that is the case, why is he not letting them? This is most likely because of his teaching methods, and wants the kids to become the best they can be, and whilst a strange route via assassination, it definitely seems to be working. He is a perfect foil to Asano, the biased principal whose school system basically made Class E the whipping boys of the school, and this is even more obvious when the higher classes suddenly see them as threats (especially with a cool teacher like Karasama and a gorgeous one like Irina in their midst) and can’t handle it, and the moment a Class E student gets scary on them, they whine and cry, but the other way round? Totally ignored. This is why the core three teachers with Koro-sensei at the head is needed – they give the kids purpose and gives the viewers a plot, intelligent writing and quite a lot of good comedy as well with his quirky looks and even more quirky personality.
The kids that do get their moment aren’t as focused in comparison but the lessons they learn will I’m certain make them more involved. There are moments like seeing the world through Koro-sensei’s eyes when flying to Hawaii, or learning how to rescue their classmates in Kyoto, but everyone will be more relevant am certain. For the time being, Nagisa and Akabane are the two with the most focus – I really liked both their introductions, with Nagisa a very girly looking boy being far more dangerous than you’d expect and learning worth, whilst Akabane is a dangerous young man who needs his trust in teachers to be rebuilt, which he would never have expected with someone like Koro-sensei who remember HE IS ACTIVELY TRYING TO KILL yet his psychotic type ways have been calming down and it definitely is hinted that the cause was other higher teachers in the school so…
The show is a strange one in terms that it is very episode of the day – almost either a new character introduced or new ways to try and kill Koro-sensei or new lessons learned, so in terms of plot development, it is very basic. However, I can’t hide how much I enjoy this show – there is a potential villain, potential morals being questioned as if the kids can or would be able to kill Koro-sensei, the other teachers helping them out also get development (Irina – bitch-sensei – learns to actually teach with her knowledge as an assassin using people skills, whilst Karasuma is more on the physical side yet had a mountain of knowledge as well), it is a fun show, the animation is well done – it has a good English dub, the action flows through superbly, and all the small hints about Koro-sensei definitely feels like it is going to lead to a big picture.
And I seriously can’t wait.
Assassination Classroom is one of those Shonen Jump style series which can be recommended to people who either don’t like anime or want to know what anime is about. It is silly, ridiculous…yet also intelligent, fun and has some wonderful characters. Koro-sensei basically IS anime in a tentacle teacher form and combined with his motives and potential history, this can only get better once the deadline to his blowing up the Earth gets closer and whilst a bit episodic at the moment, it doesn’t hide what a wonderful character he is, and how these kids are slowly developing and you want to see more of them. Highly recommended.
2 Dub Commentaries
Sit Down Interview With The Cast
Assassination Classroom: Episode 0
Content Grade: A-
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: May 30th, 2016
Running Time: 275 minutes
Video Encoding: NTSC
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 – 1.78:1
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.