Back in 2015, when I was browsing through anime to watch, I stumbled upon this peculiar title. The annotation piqued my interest and I decided to give it a try, not expecting anything special. Little I knew back then that I discovered a show I would today consider the best title of the last 3 years. This review serves for both seasons of the show.
We are introduced to a middle school with a twisted education policy of discrimination against a small portion of worst-performing students in order to cultivate the potential of the rest through fear. From this point on, we withess the struggle of the ostracized class 3-E, which strives to earn their rightful place in society by assassinating their teacher, an octopus-like invincible monster threatening to destroy the Earth. During their one year long fight, the students grow in both intellect and physical abilities. By overcoming many tough trials with help of their remarkable teacher, they transform from demoralized misfits to outstanding and proud human beings.
As the name of the series suggests, the main theme for the show is an assassination. For his own personal reasons, Koro-sensei decides that he will expose himself to a danger of being killed, and demands that he is allowed to teach the class 3-E at prestigeous middle school in compensation. With the 10 billion bounty on his head, he makes an effort to teach the misfit students the values, which they should hold in high regard, to force each of the students to overcome their personal weaknesses and for every student to realize that they can cultivate their own potential and use it for the greater good. To motivate them, he offers his generous bounty to anyone who manages to kill him during the year they spend together. As the story progresses, the students become skilled and formidable. They learn to use their own strengths to bring down many enemies, including the elite students who looked down on them, various bad guys who threatened to destroy the environment the students began to love and to take down the whole messed up education system. They also begin to view their awkward teacher as something else than just an assassination target and, gradually, a deep bond between them starts to form. After they spend the whole year together and the fated day draws near, the students have to face the most difficult problem they ever encountered. To kill Koro-sensei or to save him.
When you ask me what I treasure the most in a good anime, I can answer with no hesitation: the characters. In this regard, Assassination Classroom does an excellent job. We are presented with a large roster of characters, including 28 students, their 3 teachers, one fear-instilling school director, several bad guys and many others. Every single character is unique in its own way, which makes the interaction between students and their acquaintances an enjoyable experience. My most favourite characters were Koro-sensei - the best octopus teacher in the universe, Bitch-sensei - lovely and seductive assassin teacher with a child-like personality, Kayano - timid girl with her own surprising secrets, and finally Nagisa - the trap (*cough*), I mean the innocent looking kid with a knack for assassination.
Probably the most outstanding aspect of the show is the way it captivates the spectator with its atmosphere. It starts in a fairly comedic manner and becomes more serious later on. As the story progresses, we share happines, laughs, fears, depressions and tears with the students, which slowly prepares us for the climax, which comes in the form of an emotional nuclear bomb. Since this is a no-spoiler review, let me just state, that the conclusion to this story was outstanding. I can say that the way this show ended fitted so perfectly into the overal mood of the series that it raised the overal rating of the show at least one level up.
Concerning audiovisual side of the series, I was very satisfied. The visuals worked great to enhance the atmosphere (centipedes, skeleton-flashes, Nagisa's eyes etc.) and the music also fitted in. I was kind of dissapointed with the first three openings though. But the fourth opening was great, as well as all the endings.
Let me share some negatives as well, to make this review more objective. One of the things that don't allow me to rate the show 10/10 is the pacing of the second season. In the first season, we witnessed the formation of bonds between students and their teacher. In a series of various events, the students underwent huge transformations and placed their trust in their teachers. There also was a big focus on the studying itself, which took the strange forms of assassination analogies. On the other hand, the second season seemed to lose that special unifying element. We witnessed many events as the students encountered one mighty foe after another and in all this mess, the elements of the ingenious Koro-sensei's education kind of dissipated. In the end, the overall gradation of the story kind of suffered, since I felt like I was at the end of the story from like the half of the second season. I was also kind of disappointed that some characters which seemed interesting, didn't get as much screen time as they deserved. I am talking about young Asano-kun or Shinigami 2.0. But that's only to be expected since the number of episodes was limited. I also have my own issues with the intelligence of professional soldiers and assassins who get defeated by a group of kids with no real experience, but I am not such a butthurt to nitpick on every single detail. From now on it gets a little spoiler-ish so feel free to skip to the last paragraph if you haven't finished the show yet. My last remark is about the crazy last fight. What I liked about the show was that Koro-sensei was the only supernatural element in the whole show and moreover, he acted more like human than anyone else in the series. When they brought super strong sci-fi weapons and monsters into the last fight, I felt like it was kind of out of place.
To conclude this review, let me say a few final words. In the dark times of anime production with endless tides of primitive ecchi titles, cheap duplicates of succesful mainstream shows and series without soul the titles that used to come out before possessed, it is always a pleasant surprise to discover a gem such as Assassination Classroom. Brimming with emotion, the show comes with many thoughts for us to process. Maybe I can also grow as a human being? Is it right to judge people solely by their reputation? Can porn really save the world? While I still savor the various emotions this wonderful show blessed me with, I have but one thing to say to anyone who made it to this point through the long review: Go and watch Assassination Classroom yourself, you won't regret it.