What They Say:
It’s time for the second term, and the assassination classroom is ready for a semester filled with intense training, studying, and a new way to kill their teacher. But things aren’t all that they seem and this new semester is proving to hold more secrets than answers. And the biggest question they have to face: do they save the world or save the world’s greatest teacher?
Reviewing the DVD version (unfortunately the Blu-Ray test disc kept freezing as up to this point have reviewed the Blu-Ray) which was set up in Stereo 2.0 in both Japanese and English instead of a 5.1 release is still an acceptable quality but a bit of tinkering of the volume was needed to make it of an acceptable quality, though there weren’t any issues in terms of the sound being out on sync with the subtitles or the video. A good dub combined with no issues with the subtitles synching also helped out a lot as this is good in both languages, as both are quite fun to listen to and have been since season 1.
The video is of a good quality, with no noticeable issues with lag or video in poor resolution during viewing – I didn’t notice any real dip in quality watching the DVD release compared to the Blu-Ray release in the past – it was very colourful, bright and in your face and with a show like AC which changes its tones in colours (and mood) a lot from goofy and bright to dark and deadly it works really well as there are no delays with timing with subtitles with animation in either language or slowdown with normal rates or via pausing where the animation can become fuzzy. (Very good considering the switch in colours and styles)
There was no packing for this test release.
The menu is quite basic – both discs have a yellow background with the image of Koro-sensei on the right and the menu options of Play All, Set Up and Episodes. Easily accessible from the main menu and from the show itself via the menu button, no issues – just not as psychedelic as the Blu-Ray ones…
There are no extras on this release.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Assassination Classroom has been one of the true gems of the recent Shounen Jump-like series. Not a full long runner (48 episodes and two short OVAs) it still features a lot of classic battle moments with a lot of characters which helps with the fact that the show has a definite deadline in when to kill Koro-sensei. However, up until this point, the focus is trying to get there with hints about Koro-sensei’s background here and there as the students genuinely like him but still know they have to kill him.
This is where the moral dilemma gets umped way high. We learn about Koro-sensei’s past, one of the students being much more in-depth than you would have ever thought and an ending which is…tearjerking. Yep, I cried at the second to last episode and you will soon see why…
The first episode literally throws us in with a curveball. Nagisa and Kaede are cleaning a shed and reminiscing over the past year as Koro-sensei comes to give a hand. Then literally out of nowhere, Kaede’s has TENTACLES SPAWN THROUGH HER NECK….
So it turns out Kaede is actually the younger sister of the previous class teacher Aguri Yukimara, who was killed by Koro-sensei during his transformation – she had stolen some tentacle serum, arranged to join class 3-E and bided her time despite incredible pain from it to attack him. She out and out full on tries to kill him but Koro-sensei knows the tentacles will kill her if she uses them recklessly and hearing her inner voice to be saved, Nagisa manages to distract her by KISSING HER (Irina looking proud :P) whilst Koro-sensei manages to remove the tentacles. It’s here when Shiro appears with the Reaper returned, and he reveals himself to be Yanagisawa, the scientist who tortured and turned Koro-sensei to what he is. This is where we finally see Koro-sensei’s past and hoo boy…
Koro-sensei was the original Grim Reaper, a master assassin but when he took in an apprentice, that apprentice (the 2nd Reaper) betrayed him and Yanagisawa began to experiment on him. Here, he meets Aguri and despite his nature he does befriend her and become a confidante whilst the experiments go on – it is here though that Yanagisawa discovers the tentacle formula can cause explosions (which of course led to the destruction of the moon which started the whole mess), with the Reaper learning this, he uses his new powers to escape from the facility, however, Aguri tries to stop him becoming the monster he thinks he is, and he accidentally kills her (though was via a trap rather than anything he did). Her death devastates him and honours her wish of taking over class 3-E, wishing to come up with a form that seems weak – hence the goofy looks of Koro-sensei. This brings up the dilemma…now the kids are conflicted whether to kill him…or somehow want to save him. Initially, it seems like Nagisa and others are all for saving him…but Nakamura points out that their bond with Koro-sensei is BECAUSE they’ve been trying to kill him – this leads into conflict between the two main boys, Nagisa and Karma.
The two get into a fight which is stopped when Koro-sensei suggests a paintball match between those who want to kill him and those who want to save him. It is split mostly in the middle where a lot of the students get to showcase their skills but ultimately comes down to Nagisa vs. Karma which ends up in a duel – here we actually see the history of the two as they were acquaintances that were afraid of each other (Nagisa scared of Karma for his perfection and brutality, Karma scared of Nagisa for his unintentional stealth) – Karma seems to have won but Nagisa comes back with his clap stun technique and eventually choke him – Karma could have won if he grabbed the nearby knife but accepts if he had done that no-one would have been happy with the result. This does two things – 1) the live team wins and 2) Karma and Nagisa finally bridge that nervous gap and are pretty much now best friends.
They learn via Ritsu that there is potential information on the International Space Station that could save Koro-sensei so Nagisa and Karma are chosen to sneak on board thanks to the class and Ritsu’s help and manage to threaten/blackmail/comically smile to the astronauts and get the information where Okuda (one of my favourite of the lesser used classmates) figures out with a particular drug the chance of Koro-sensei exploding is less than 1%. Despite this, the assassination attempts still continue as that is their bond, and a few fun scenes happen (the Valentine’s Day episode where it is clear Kaede is now in love with Nagisa as we see a few people give out chocolates in their own special way, and it also appears Irina and Karasama may have now started a relationship…)…
However, the story hits the final arc soon enough as the government begins their own plans to assassinate Koro-sensei and fire a barrier which is an anti-sensei barrier whilst firing a laser to destroy him. He manages to avoid it but knows that in a week it will be able to fire again and is now trapped – worse, the government fabricates that the children were brainwashed by Koro-sensei and make him look like the bad guy…needless to say 3-E isn’t happy and look to save him (also because rightly that the assassination is their duty) – because the mountains are their turf they manage to knock out the police around the area and are ready to celebrate with Koro-sensei as been a year since he arrived but the party poopers Yanagisawa and the Reaper appear and the Reaper has been powered up via tentacles to even greater degrees than Koro-sensei to the point of no reason – as Koro laments that he never gave him approval which most likely caused his betrayal…
Yanagisawa realizes his students are his weakness so he injects himself as well and attacks them – which leads to the one moment Koro-sensei reacts incredibly violently. Kaede still has some training from the tentacles and tries to attack the Reaper, but is fatally stabbed. With Yanagisawa not caring (easily the most unlikeable character in the series) Koro-sensei is ENRAGED and manages to kill both of them (though it appears he actually was keeping all his emotions in and just displayed his true power) and manages to save Kaede but because he truly went all out, he is too tired to do anything else. This is finally the opportunity as the kids can hold him down and Nagisa volunteers they now have no choice but to kill him otherwise the government will.
However, these moments are incredibly tense as Nagisa clearly doesn’t want to, combined with Koro-sensei giving roll call one last time, you see every student either crying or holding back their emotions and gives his words as a teacher – with Nagisa being calmed down by Koro-sensei (you should assassinate me with a smile on your face) Nagisa finally brings down the blade into his heart as Koro-sensei vaporises into the sky…and cue everyone crying. I mean everyone (even Karma)…yours truly was not exempt either as if I did the top 10 tearjerkers again from a few years ago, this would be top 5 now – not quite Clannad but very close…
It concluded as Koro-sensei spent all night doing graduation albums and guidebooks for the kids, allowing them to graduate, even some wrap up (Nagisa’s parents seem to have got back together), even the Big Five help them escape when the paparazzi try to interview them about Koro-sensei. They also get the reward memory but they only use what they deemed necessary – the big one being purchasing the old campus where 3-E was – and we see a small epilogue with what the kids are doing as they return to the campus for an anniversary bar Nagisa…who as we see from a few things realised his calling was to be a teacher…and the delinquent students he deals with better not mess with him…
Well, the first thing I will have to mention is yeah, the ending got me big time. The hope of Koro-sensei living vs. the argument of the assassination being their bond (one of the students even explicitly mentions that just because they want to kill him doesn’t mean they don’t like Koro-sensei, pretty much echoing everyone in the class) hits you hard when you realise it doesn’t mean a thing because the government is just going to nuke him. This means that the kids no matter their thoughts or hope have to kill him both for a) defying the government and b) finishing their bond. The tears of most of the students (even ones you wouldn’t expect like Karma) are echoed through me as I can’t remember a Shounen Jump show ever doing this with me – Naruto The Last maybe in happiness but in purely pain, Assassination Classroom is the only one I can remember – there have been other deaths but I think that just showcases the rare character that is Koro-sensei.
In most similar shows you’d think he’d be the annoying overpowered person that everyone has to level up to beat him, and yes, the kids do have to do that to try and beat him. The key difference though is the fact that no matter what and this is quite important as it is slowly brought up throughout the series, he is going to die. Even with the chance they could have saved him, the government made sure that wasn’t going to happen – so the choice was either his students do it as their exams, or an anti-climax. Koro-sensei’s bond with his students was the key here as his genuine nature and kindness, combined with his likeability and near impossible feats of speed and strength (which get the full explanation in the flashback which show his original mindset of being cool but calculating, into one that is harmless and goofy but not without the badass nature) and his utter rage when Kaede nearly gets killed (granted, there was a little bit of a deus ex machina in how she lived but I can forgive it as it isn’t out of the range of Koro-sensei to do that) shows his own bond with his students is unbreakable, and when you learn WHY he is so dedicated to them even in this short year, he somehow becomes even more likeable. I’d dare to say he may be the most likable protagonist in SJ history….FIGHT ME ON THIS.
But seriously, the Kaede sub-plot is one of those ones where you actually look for hints through-out the series (I own the manga so there’s a section with the reveal where the mangaka actually shows the hints in a side section which make sense but you’d never think it the first time you read) of how she became tentacle infused, and Nagisa being the catalyst for her (there is a strong hint that Kaede might be pregnant with Nagisa’s baby in the end though she also admits he kind of does his own thing so not 100% official) – Nagisa also becomes the catalyst for Karma as the two have had an odd friendship throughout the series but after the paintball fight it becomes a true friendship. In fact, the paintball fight was really intense as all the students get involved and some do get their moments when you realise ‘oh yeah, they could do that’ (Kanzaki with her online gaming managing to sneak behind defences and kill their sniper, Hara with her trap making skills, and Nakamura being a pseudo-leader where Terasaka actually calls her out saying she is more of a straight arrow than anyone else…there is even a strong hint she liked Nagisa but kind of passing by considering Kaede’s feelings…actually quite sweet) – the key is still Nagisa vs. Karma and how it concludes is perfectly in their character and indeed their development. It sets up the ‘save Koro-sensei’ space trip which gives them and the viewers hope Koro-sensei won’t die, before the big bads unfortunately ruin it…
I guess that is one of the few minor issues I have is that the villains are very generic – the fake Reaper that Karasuma defeated before returns with a few …alterations and whilst his motivation is clear (he wanted Koro-sensei to acknowledge him, something Koro-sensei regrets in this form) he is basically just a monster and just attacks him whilst the real villain, Yanagisawa is basically portrayed from start to finish as horrendously unlikeable (it was all his fault that Koro-sensei was as he is, combined with his treatment to Aguri and his laughing when Kaede is apparently killed, you really want to punch his smug face) that even Koro-sensei who always holds back at a killing blow is angry beyond relief to send him to his doom. It feels like the government needing to Koro-sensei was a tad rushed (though was always hinted it could happen) which forced the kids into making the decision to get the bounty for themselves, albeit in a ‘did not have a choice’ way. The secondary issue is that because it gets so close to the end, a lot of characters are cast away. Of course with the huge class of kids this has always been the case, but I’m referring more to Irina and Karasuma – whilst they are now pretty much a couple that is all they really get in involvement bar Irina teaching Nagisas’ kiss technique – which is a shame as both of them were big parts of the Reaper arc and yet that seems to be their main thing – they had just as much part in taking of the kids as Koro-sensei did, and yet they are relegated to being thanks by Koro-sensei just before he dies. It felt a bit off which was a shame as both of them had good development throughout the series too…
That said, Assassination Classroom concludes perfectly and after rehydrating myself, the final episode is fantastic with a lot of callbacks, hints to the future and the kids spending the money intelligently and without remorse. Nagisa in particular is a very likable kid as his background and story is advanced further thanks to his relationship with both Karma and Kaede, and his assassination skills are actually what lead him to wanting to follow in Koro-sensei’s footsteps and be a teacher. There is smart storytelling here and the hints are always there even in minor things for every character in the show which leads to the ‘where are they now’ conclusion – it is very smart and subtle and you realize ‘oh yeah, I remember that’ when that or the paintball battle happens. AC is a smart show, very enjoyable, likable leads and a satisfying albeit sad into happy conclusion.
Now I need to find a Koro-sensei cosplay…
Assassination Classroom might just be the best pure Shounen Jump series I’ve seen (sorry One Punch Man) – despite it’s much shorter length it manages to get development for every character no matter how small, the lead characters are fantastic to the end (albeit some are thrown a little by the wayside by the end) and the conclusion is both tearful in its conclusion and happy in its rebirth. Koro-sensei is so likable and when you learn his history you are on the edge whether he should be killed or saved, which leads to the arc when you go ‘dammit’ but also realise this is how it should be. Pleasantly surprised is an understatement, this is one of my favourite shows in quite a while. Definitely recommended for anyone, as it would also be a great starter anime for new fans too.
Content Grade: A
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: N/A
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A
Released By: Funimation via Anime Limited
Release Date: April 2nd, 2018
Running Time: 300 minutes
Video Encoding: PAL
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
PlayStation 4, Sony Bravia 32 Inc EX4 Television, Aiwa 2 Way Twin Duct Bass Reflex Speaker System.