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Assassination Classroom The Movies Blu-ray Review

9 min read

First, it was a manga and then an anime. And then it burst into the live-action realm telling largely the same story.

What They Say:
Assassination Classroom comes to life in this two-part live-action movie series. Join the students of Class 3-E as they learn to become proper assassins and try to kill their teacher!

At Kunugigaoka Junior High, Class 3-E is the lowest of the low. With abysmal test scores and no future prospects, they’ve been given up on and are hidden away from the main campus at the top of a deserted mountain. But when a tentacled creature with a thirst for destruction becomes their new teacher, they’ve got a brand-new assignment to get them inspired about school: take him out!

Though they’ve got killing on the brain, they’ll quickly learn there’s more to Koro Sensei than just a will to kill. They’ll discover come finals time, they’ll have to solve the ultimate problem—do they save the world or the world’s greatest teacher?

The Review:
The audio presentation for this two-part film release brings us the original Japanese language track in 5.1 only using the Dolby TrueHD lossless codec. It can be kind of hit or miss as to whether Funimation will dub a live-action film but with two films here it didn’t make the cut. The audio for it is pretty good overall as there are some good expansive scenes of action throughout that lets it stand out nicely with a bit of impact with the weapons and score. The bulk of the bigger scenes are in the second film but the first has some fun moments as well so that each gets to show off nicely. The bass level has some solid representation and it’s well-balanced by the dialogue that’s kept a bit more in the normal range without a lot of yelling for the most part. It’s a good mix that may not be hugely striking but it serves the material well and is problem free as we had no dropouts or distortions during regular playback.

Originally released in 2015 and 2016, the two films are presented in their original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 in 1080p using the AVC codec. Each film gets its own disc release for both DVD and Blu-ray, allowing for plenty of room as there’s little else on each. The high definition release definitely looks strong here as the film-like feeling is spot on with all the outdoor scenes and the interior material is well shot so that it captures the tone and design of the sets well. The bulk of the cast is kept to simple school uniforms or other drab material so there’s not a lot of standout in general but that lets Koro-sensei draw the most attention with the yellow design. The CG animation for him is pretty good throughout and it’s fun picking the scenes with the physical props and those that are pure CG in some cases. The pure CG stuff, in general, stands out a lot and doesn’t quite blend but you can kind of allow for that in the context of the show itself.

The packaging for this release brings us a slightly thicker than standard Blu-ray case that holds the four discs of the two formats while also including an o-card with it. The o-card and cover are the same but the color quality is definitely better thanks to the cardstock of the o-card, especially the blues but also skintones. The look of the cover is fun as it has a very Japanese feeling in a way with the placement, the color design for it, and just some of the blending that goes into it as well as the very colorful logo. It’s almost a jarring cover design in some ways but it works for the show. The back cover uses more pieces from the promotional materials along the top in a strip that’s comically laid out but gives you an idea of the characters themselves. The bottom is made up of a chalkboard that holds a few shots from the show and all the usual details with the summary of the premise, the technical grid, and a near-impossible to read production credits breakdown. No show related inserts are included with the release but the reverse side has some Koro-sensei visual material.

The only extras included are a couple of trailers.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
The Assassination Classroom property is one of those rare projects where I think it really does all come together well. With the full run of manga by Yusei Matsui having been produced and given a four-cour anime adaptation that covered it through the finale, there was a lot to like there. Taking it to the next level with a live-action film was something that I was really wary of when announced, partially because I hadn’t seen the anime at that point and because I’m just wary on Japanese live-action in general, but in taking in the films here I think they managed to capture the right tone for it. For fans of the original, there’s a lot to like in seeing it come to life but you have to go into it with the understanding of just how little can be covered when it comes to favorite characters, their stories, and some of the bonding and interaction aspects. The two films come in under four hours total and that’s not even what a single cour would cover in terms of time.

Essentially, these two films adapt the original work pretty well by all accounts and going by the anime adaptation I’ve seen that’s supposed to be very faithful they captured the majority of why it works even within a compressed time period. The premise is simple of a creature known only as Koro-sensei appearing after the moon is gutted and revealing that he’ll destroy the earth in a year unless a specially chosen class of loser junior high kids in Japan can assassinate him. There’s a range of rules setup about it and the kids aren’t exactly sure what to make of it but it spends that year with everyone getting to really come together and bond as Koro-sensei in all his strangeness and attitudes is working to educate them to truly survive in the world. A world, mind you, that may not exist. But there are lessons within lessons even in this compressed form. I think that they really did a solid job in adapting the story into this form with some changes that may or may not annoy purists but you could move through all three incarnations that exist and know exactly what it is and see all the same things and gradients on other familiar aspects.

Directed by Eiichiro Hasumi, who was involved in the Umizaru project previously with that film trilogy, handles juggling the various elements here well. There are a lot of characters from the original story and most of them get paid lip service when you get down to it. I almost wish the AI character had been dropped as that one was a bit out of place even in a property like this but they managed to make that work better than I expected. While a lot of the cast gets name call outs here and there, the bulk of it is focused on a few characters. While Itona and Kayano get bigger moments generated by the storylines that unfold, at its core it’s about Nagisa and Karma in contrast with Koro-sensei. He’s trying to teach them the most since both of them have such distinct approaches in trying to kill him – approaches that work best when they work together.

For me, I thought Ryousuke Yamada as Nagisa captured the character he portrayed the best since there’s a kind of innocence and acceptance of situations that he has to play to while also showing that he can grow and hold his own as well, to take his place in the world. That innocence or naivete isn’t always easy to capture, particularly in a project like this, but he manages to be damn charming and plays well against most of the cast in general but especially with Karma and Koro-sensei. Masaki Suda handles playing Karma pretty well since he’s the rough and tumble type and is able to give him a serious edge without it coming across comically. You can get that in animation to a degree and an outsized personality will work but in live-action it has to be a bit more layered. Suda does this and it helps when balanced against Yamada as Nagisa.

What I think really helps with this film series compared to the source and anime adaptations is that it is a lot more limited. Yes, you don’t get to know the expansive cast or anything and there’s a lot of nuance lost to it because of that – both in storyline and in character. But the pacing here as it moves along is a lot more engaging because it keeps its eye on the ball. It moves events forward, works through the craziness with some fun montage sequences, and delivers something that still captures the heart and soul of it. It’s simple focused through far fewer characters in order to achieve it. But that also allows Koro to stand out more as he’s not constantly teaching lessons like in the other forms and engages more over the course of it. So when we do get his actual backstory there’s a greater connection to him because of it.

When it comes to Koro-sensei himself, they do mostly get the character as we’ve seen in the other mediums so I think most fans will be pleased with it, especially the humor and just happy-go-lucky aspect of it – both in performance and in the design. There’s a good sense of fun in how they handle his design with a mix of pure CG scenes and a combination approach in others with some practical effects but both ways work well. There is that layered feeling that sometimes stands out a bit more as opposed to being “there” when it comes to the pure CG sequences but these are often when Koro-sensei is at his most outlandish so it makes sense that it would come across that way. I generally liked the special effects work done here for him and combined with the busy approach to the assassination attempts it all comes together well.
In Summary:
With the live-action film releases, I think we’re now at the stage where everything has come out. And I’m feeling that this is a good thing as I’m just about in a “I’m done” phase with it. The adaptations did a great job of adhering to the source material but as you go along in it you end up getting a little repetitive because it is sticking to the source so well. These films work a different approach in terms of pacing and compression in order to fit into the theatrical model and I think it does it really well, definitely better than the compilation anime film that had horrid pacing in order to tie together so many events. Funimation’s release brings the fun and silly films to life well with a good looking transfer and package but it lacks a dub, which could have been crazy fun, and it’s light on the extras. I actually would have loved a commentary track from the dub actors talking about seeing their character brought to life like this and the differences in how they’re presented. Regardless, this is a good capping stone for the franchise and I think fans of the other forms will definitely get a kick out of this.

Japanese Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Trailers

Content Grade: B
Audio Grade: B+
Video Grade: B+
Packaging Grade: B
Menu Grade: B
Extras Grade: N/A

Released By: Funimation
Release Date: August 7th, 2018
MSRP: $49.98
Running Time: 228 Minutes
Video Encoding: 1080p AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Widescreen

Review Equipment:
Sony KDL70R550A 70″ LED 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.

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