Assassination Classroom... for sure one of the stranger shows to be airing this season, although it definitely doesn't take the cake. Of course, I tend to not watch the most crazy ones, so this is about as wild as it gets for me. AssClass is the story of an octopus-like creature who can move at Mach 20 speeds and is planning to destroy the world, with a catch: he wants to teach the students in class 3-E at a prestigious prep school, giving them the opportunity to kill him before he can pull off his plan. As ridiculous as this sounds, it actually makes more sense in a way and less sense in another if you actually take the time to watch it.
I assumed that AssClass would take the 'assassination attempt of the week' route of storytelling, and for the most part, I was correct. However, it has so far managed to introduce a new and clever way to attempt an assassination each episode, and has had a fun time doing it. Koro-Sensei (the octopus-like teacher) himself is an interestingly engaging character, who always manages to outsmart the students but seemingly isn't set up as the villain. The villain appears as of right now to really be the principal of the school the students kind of go to. And I do mean kind of, because the students in AssClass are considered the failures of prep school and every member of Class 3-E is schooled in a crappy old building far away from the main campus, while being subject to intense mockery from both regular students and teachers alike.
In fact, Koro-Sensei is probably the best thing that could happen to them, as his classroom is both engaging and a nurturing learning environment for the students. Aside from the fact that they attempt to kill him every five minutes. That is perhaps the biggest strength of AssClass: its ability to be thoughtful while exercising comedic effect in the face of a moderately depressing situation. I have genuine affection for Koro-Sensei because of the various ways the writers use the character: he is funny, dedicated, caring, and a prankster whenever the story needs him to be. Somehow I am able to identify the most with the octopus character, and it scares me a bit.
This is likely aided, however, by its contrast to the show's greatest weakness: the students themselves. When looked at as a group, Class 3-E is an engaging part of the story for their overall growth and behavior towards situations they are presented with. The problem appears when you look at them individually: in a class of 20+ students, I maybe know the names of two or three of them. Most of their characters get a brief part in the limelight in individual episodes, over the course of which they attempt to creatively assassinate Koro-Sensei and then are taught a valuable life lesson by him. While each episode is enjoyable in this fashion, I am strongly reminded of my days watching Pokemon. In the end, none of the students really get much development. However, I would not call this too major of a flaw, for the simple reason that I didn't really expect the writers to be able to properly characterize so many students in a mere six episodes. In fact, if they had, I would have been shocked. AssClass really works best in a Pokemon-esque environment relative to any other feasible plot direction.
Overall, I am moderately impressed thus far with the entertainment I get from AssClass. It manages to be both humorous and thoughtful, while somehow getting me to associate with some weird octopus man. While it falls into understandable pitfalls with character depth, I would recommend it to anyone that feels they can move past the premise. To be honest though, I really don't know how well they will pull off the full two-cours the show is supposed to run for. Fingers crossed.
Assassination Classroom is currently available for free and legal streaming on FUNimation, with a new episode every Friday.
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