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 with the added horror and shock that some of the moments in the last bit of the series (Nagisa, am looking at you…), so the fact everything comes together all perfectly makes this a great release – combined with 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 packing for this test release, however for the Blu-ray release there will be limited edition packaging.
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.
Two discs with different sorts of extras on both – disc 1 has the commentaries, starting with one for episode 14 featuring Lindsay Siddell (Nagisa) and Sonny Strait (Koro-sensei) – a fun thing that is mentioned in quite a few commentaries is the fact that the actors rarely actually meet each other and this is the first time these two have met despite being the two leads – which leads to basically a getting to know you section about the two…before they realize with about 5 minutes to go they’ve barely talked about the show! However it is a lot of fun (how long they’ve been involved, Lindsay being one of the youngest there at 24 and started when she was 17 whilst Sonny started 17 years ago, Lindsay not from an acting background, Sonny’s comic book and teaching work) with little bits of the show as they realize (though Lindsay says this is her favourite show she has worked on) – a lot of fun though informative in a different way…
Commentary 2 is on episode 17 featuring Martha Halms (Jelavic) and Chris Ryan (Karasuma) – again, similar to the first with the added flavor of being Chris’ first commentary as well as the first time they’ve met, it’s fun seeing Martha almost lead it along compared to how amusing the relationship is with their characters in the show, and you learn about their theatre/radio backgrounds and how they both came into their role with their experience with children (Chris being a father whilst Martha is a teacher) – lots of fun little info though again not so heavy on the show (though they do amuse with the fact they both have shooting experience with air guns – stay away from these two real life assassins…)
The second disc has mostly traditional extras – we have the Clean opening (2 versions) and ending, the previews of the next episodes which seem to be more often than not now in the extras rather than in the hsow, the US Trailers and trailers for a lot of shows (Blood Blockade Battlefront, World Break: Aria of Curse for a Holy Swordsman, The Heroic Legend of Arsland, Project Itoh: Harmony, Garo The Animation, The Rolling Girls, Daamygar-D and Fairy Tail).
The one unique extras is the top 10 moment’s sections where we see live action shots of 6 of the English Vas (Apphiya Yu – Nakamura, Sonny Strait – Kuro-sensei, Micah Solusod – Asano Jr, Chris Ryan – Karasuma, Lindsay Siddell – Nagisa, Monica Rial – Kaede) and explaining the crews top 10 moments of the show. Won’t spoil them all and what their favourite is, but they range from the serious (Nagisa getting snapped out of doing something he’ll regret by Terasaka) to the goofy (Kharma putting wasabi and mustard up one of the assassins noses) so it is a nice mix and match and just how much the show is enjoyable both on the silly and serious side.
I loved the first half of Assassination Classroom – a real fresh burst of air in the Shonen Jump style series with a very fun and interesting lead with a unique plot combined with a huge cast of characters (which by the end of this half most of them have at least one moment showing their quirk(s)) – there is definitely something more to this series with why Koro-sensei wants to teach these kids and why he is training them to try and kill him, and whilst the answer still isn’t the clearest, the fact it screams sequel means it can be forgiven because they manage to combine comedy, action and even some drama into this half of the series.
A lot of the first half is mostly episodic, but still have relevance in the grand scheme of things, whether it is Koro-sensei dealing with the beliefs of Principal Asano, or dealing with a bully teacher which becomes a big deal later on, or character development in the most surprising of places. First off, we have a baseball episode with the four main classes in a tournament whilst Class E get to play the school baseball team as a sort of entertainment for everyone losing, that the ultimate losers get destroyed – and despite a talented player like Sugino on the team, it does feel hopeless. However, when you have Koro-sensei around, nothing is impossible and some real interesting training allows the boys to actually get a leg up when they play. Of course, this brings Asano into play that refuses to let go of his ideals, and almost hypnotises the school’s players to beating Class E. However, through trickery, intelligence and training, Koro-sensei wins this one (as he says, it is 1-1 in the clash of the titans).
We also get a hint why Nagisa is the most focused of the kids as Karasama seems to detect an assassin’s aura from him – which leads into the new character Takaoka, a former college of Karasama’s in the MoD to take over as P.E teacher. At first, he seems giving and friendly, like a dad compared to the quieter and sterner Karasama, but it definitely isn’t all he seems – it is revealed he is a ruthless advisor, actually punching a couple of the kids when they seem to disobey, leading to a bet that if one of the kids are able to land a hit on him, he will leave – however they have to use a real knife, which scares the kids in actually hurting a real human. However noticing Nagisa’s aura earlier, Karasama asks Nagisa to be the one despite the others being surprised. Nagisa manages to calmly win with his element of surprise and it seems like he is gone…or is he?
We also get an episode focusing on the student Terasaka which was interesting. Terasaka was one of the bullies in the 1st episode who got Nagisa to put the special bullets in a grenade and detonate in front of Koro-sensei and is pretty much been stand offish or comic relief for most of the series since. Here, we discover his issues – basically being bigger and more intimidating than most kids, he has been coasting through life and intimidating people. However here, this doesn’t work as everyone is focused on avoiding class 3-E, and when sent down he again thought he could coast through. However with everyone there having a purpose to try and kill Koro-sensei, he takes his rage out and actually gets paid by Shiro and Itona to set up them to kill Koro-sensei. However, what they didn’t tell him was they were endangering all his classmates as well, which he didn’t want and through it, realises that he wants to be part of the team and listen to others, and with help from Karma, they do that and leading into Terasaka being a much more likeable character who definitely gets more moments of awesome throughout the series.
This leads to the focus of most of the series – the end of term final exams. Koro-sensei was foiled in his attempts to get Class E on top thanks to Asano so this time, no jokes as he gives the class a treat – if a student can get the highest mark on the test ahead of the big 5 of class A (including Asano’s son), they can shoot one of his tentacles for free in a class assassination attempt, which slows him down. With this, the classes clash with a bet made that one class can ask the other class and do what they want (Asano Jr is suspicious of his father and one of his ideas is to make Class E tell the truth about anything, including rumors of a suspicious octopus-like being?) – however it actually gets foiled as in English (Nakamura), Science (Okuda) and Social Sciences (Isogai) they actually do top (though a little thing is Karma actually does surprisingly poorly as he never really studied thinking his usual genius would be enough and finishes around 10th-14th, which Koro-sensei spurs him on and it does affect him in the later arc) means three tentacles…but thanks to a loophole that Terasaka figures out, 4 of them also top another subject (Home Ec) and 7 tentacles will be shot…and using their wish, they get the field trip in Okinawa that Class A usually get – annoying both Asanos for different reasons which is certain going to play in the sequel…
So the plans are to do this assassination attempt in Okinawa as from the Terasaka episode, they figure out that Koro-sensei has a major weakness to water – after a fun episode embarrassing Koro-sensei’s weakness to porn, and Nagisa learning a technique from veteran assassin Lovro (Jelavic’s teacher) they make their move. 7 tentacles down, embarrassing him with a video, trapping him in a cage of water with jet packs, their two best snipers disguising their clothes on art projects made by the resident artist, it is truly a fantastic assassination attempt…which is just off by very slight and Koro-sensei revealing his absolute last resort in defence, which is invincible…but makes him unable to move and reform for a couple of days. It did feel like a copout but knowing there is still half the year to go, they now know his absolute limit, and this will certainly come into play I’m sure.
However, the big thing of this arc isn’t the failed assassination attempt, it is in fact that a number of the students suddenly seem to get ill. A phone call confirms that this isn’t random, someone has managed to poison a majority of the students, and wishes to bring Koro-sensei using the two smallest students there to hand him over. This should clue you in who it is if you think about it but there is enough suspense that it is still intriguing – the remaining students however instead decide to try and confront them, help from Koro-sensei, Karasama, Jelavic and Ritsu all come into play as they scale a mountain where they know the villain is in a hotel of top guys and sleaze balls.
This is where pretty much everyone gets to shine in some form as you learn some of the students you don’t know much about get a moment or two to showcase their skills. Whether it is the lovely gymnast Okano knocking out a yakuza member, the fun Yada who is skilled with seduction and bringing out fake yakuza badges to get the girls through an area (making even big boob hating Kaede like her ^^), Fuwa who uses her skills with shonen jump manga to work out who did the poisoning, Hayami and Chiba, who failed to kill Koro-sensei as snipers prove their worth in taking out the last assassin, Sugaya with his art skills in creating a dummy to stop an assassin, etc – little things like this make the characters just enough in your memory despite the rather large cast. Of course, the main characters get the bigger moments – Jelavic who sadly hasn’t been a big part of this arc, manages to waltz into a room distracting the guards by pretending to be drunk but also being amazingly skilled at piano, Karasama who gets poisoned by one of the assassins but is still able to take out the guy, Karma who after realising he was getting too cocky manages to outperform one of the assassins with the powerful grip, Nagisa who looks way too convincing as a girl to distract one of the yakuza kids (even helping him out to see life differently) and Terasaka actually being affected by the poison but holding as best as he can (and giving Nagisa the tazer he bought off Shiro’s money)…it all sets up the final boss.
Unsurprisingly, it is an old friend in Takaoka who is pretty much snapped after his loss with Nagisa, and forces him into a rematch. The big thing is that he blows up the antidote to save them which causes Nagisa to snap and wanting to kill him, fortunately Terasaka and Koro-sensei snap him out of it, and using the trick Lovro gave him they manage to beat him, and fortunately thanks to the morals of the three earlier assassins they beat, things seem to work out better than expected, and it sets up ready for the second half, reminding the viewer they still have to kill Koro-sensei in 6 months otherwise the Earth is going to blow up…
I really love this series. It is one of the best shonen jump style series I’ve watched in a long time. The way it subtly brings a large cast of characters together and they all seem to get one precise moment in the sun (things like the photographer Okajima luring Koro-sensei with porn, Mimura creating the movie to embarrass Koro-sensei, Hinano with her love of bug collecting, etc) but you still know which characters are going to make the biggest impact. The scene with Nagisa’s snapping at Takaoka with his blue eyes going almost serpent like is legit terrifying as this sweet kid just seems to be naturally good at assassination yet is the nicest young man in the class – even worse as it is exactly what Takaoka wants and despite only in 3 episodes technically is the first true out there villain and test that the kids need to stop, and they perform perfectly well.
Combined with Koro-sensei now showing all his tricks, it sets up nicely for the 2nd season (am aware there is one) and the fact that there is still a lot to talk about. The only real weakness I will say is that a lot of the background which was hinted about in the 1st half isn’t really elaborated on. Like why does Koro-sensei teach these kids? Does he actually want to be killed and if so why does he still want to survive? It isn’t explained but the show makes up with the action and development of the primary cast.
Karasama for example is shown to be a very cool guy but not as open to the kids as they would like – the Takaoka episodes show the difference between the two and that he is caring in his own way. It also appears that Jelavic has a crush on him and hints are played between the two but again, this could be played out more in future episodes. Koro-sensei himself is his usual self, helping the kids in both school and assassination, but also plenty of comic moments (the porn bit was hilarious and the fact he becomes pretty much useless in his final form leads to a few choice ideas from Karma) – it is even mentioned during the baseball episodes that Asano and Koro-sensei have similar skill sets in teaching, but the attitude they use for them is completely different, making them perfect foils off each other. The fact that Asano Jr suspects something and Asano Sir is taunting him with his failures suggests they will be major antagonists in the 2nd season.
As for the kids, there are some key moments – Karma realising his genius can only get him so far without actual training accepts his humble pie and dishes it out with his battle against Grip, with Terasaka jumped to being one of my favourites with knowing he tried to be a bully, and when it failed he was pouty, but once his classmates were in danger he shows he never wanted to kill them and now is a much more likeable character – his moment when he snaps Nagisa out of his killing mindset with the fact he was also infected with the poison but hid it well to make sure he could help out how he could speaks volumes for his character. Granted, a lot of people were still in the background (Shiro and Iona are only in one episode, Ritsu seems to only be used for certain situations, Kaede was barely in it despite seemingly being the most on-air female character of the kids) but as mentioned, everyone seemed to have a minor moment to showcase what they are like, and in terms of shows with loads and loads of characters, Assassination Classroom seems to fare better in establishing them than most shows with similar sizes.
I think in terms of plot I preferred the first half, but only just as this is still a very fun series and one I can highly recommend – having a good dub combined with the excellent Japanese adds bonus points to the release, and hopefully with enough interest the second half will be licenced as there is so much that needs to be explained, and a series as fun and smart as this, I need more.
Assassination Classroom Part 2 continues from Part 1 with the zany antics of Koro-sensei, but reminding that they still have to kill him so the kids go all out, showcasing what they have learned and hitting the final arc with all their skills to stop a real baddy. Whilst there is a lot of fun, the focus on Nagisa shows that it is isn’t fun and games and what they have learned is here for keeps, and with a lot of potential question and antagonists hinted at, there is a ton to look forward to. Slightly weaker due to no real advance on the main plot, but behind the baseball games, bug collecting and test taking, there is plenty to get you hooked on the octopus-man.
Episode 14 and 17 commentaries, Cleaning Opening and Ending (2 versions of the opening), Previews of Next Episodes, US Trailers, Trailers for future shows, Top 10 Moments of Assassination Classroom
Content Grade: B+
Audio Grade: A-
Video Grade: A
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B+
Extras Grade: B+
Released By: Anime Limited
Release Date: September 26th, 2016
Running Time: 275 minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen
Playstation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.