Manga review: Assassination Classroom is brilliant

If you’re a fan of anime and/or manga, you would probably have to thank Weekly Shōnen Jump for publishing about half of your favorite series. Some of the classic series that have been published in the 48-year old Japanese manga magazine include Fist of the North Star, Dragon Ball, JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, YuYu Hakusho, Rurouni Kenshin, Yu-Gi-Oh!, One Piece, Hunter x Hunter, Naruto, Bleach and Death Note.

But, have you checked out one of the magazine’s most recent and popular series, Assassination Classroom? The manga, which launched in 2012 in Weekly Shōnen Jump, has become very popular in Japan and spawned an anime series in 2015. Even though the series is reaching its conclusion soon, I thought I would take some time to talk about this series and why it is so entertaining.

Written by Yūsei Matsui, who previously wrote Neuro: Supernatural Detective (also for Shōnen Jump), the story of Assassination Classroom describes how one day, a mysterious creature destroys seventy percent of earth’s moon, leaving it in a permanent crescent shape. This creature is a yellow, smiley-faced, octopus-like creature (he’s not an alien, he gets really offended if you call him that) who then decides that after such a horrendous act, he’s going to teach a class at Kunugigaoka Junior High School’s Class 3-E.

The rejects and problem students of Class E are then given the task of assassinating the creature, whom the students have named ‘Korosensei’ (which is a pun on the Japanese word for ‘unkillable’) because a.) Korosensei will destroy the Earth at the end of the school year if he isn’t killed and b.) Whoever gets the kill on Korosensei will be awarded 10 billion yen. But how do you kill a creature that can move Mach 20? Why does Korosensei want to destroy the Earth?

Despite the title and premise of the series, Assassination Classroom is not as dark and depressing and violent as you might think. In fact, the series is notably optimistic and humorous for a series about junior high school students trying to kill their teacher.

Korosensei is not a mean, condescending figure to his students, but is actually a kind and nurturing teacher in both the student’s schoolwork and their attempts at assassinating him. He gives them important life lessons and words of encouragement to make sure they become good, strong, independent people and he is ready and willing to risk his life to keep his students safe.

He is also a goofy, comedic character; easily becoming flustered and emotional in certain situations. Thus, in spite of being their target to kill, the students of Class E really like and respect Korosensei. Without these traits, Korosensei would be a significantly less interesting and endearing character. But it’s thanks to them that he is a main part of the series’ appeal.

That is not to say Assassination Classroom is all sunshine and rainbows. As stated previously, the students of Class E are the students of Kunugigaoka High that are placed there due to poor grades or behavior, and are often ridiculed and bullied by the other students of the school. Most of the story arcs, when they’re not about the students trying to assassinate Korosensei, are about the students trying to compete against Kunugigaoka High’s other students; usually the top-tier Class A.

There is also the school’s oppressive principal, one of the series’ main antagonists, who is determined to keep Class E as the losers and rejects of the school. Even on the ‘assassination’ side, there are people who pose a serious threat to both Korosensei and Class E, always making sure that there is some dramatic moments to make you want to see the characters get out okay. As for those ‘life lessons’ mentioned earlier, they are pulled off in a very potent way and anyone of any age can take value in them. It’s this blend of comedy and drama that makes Assassination Classroom such a great series to experience.

For anyone who is a fan of anime and/or manga I implore you to give this series a chance. Despite the announcement that it has less than 5 chapters of the manga remaining to be published in Japan, I cannot recommend this series enough for those who love a funny and well-written series.

You can buy the manga in English both online and in bookstores where manga is sold. Or you can watch the anime dubbed or subbed online from Funimation.

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