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Assassination Classroom Volume One – Review

Assassination-Classroom-Volume-One-Cover-Image-01Yeah, I’ll admit it; I sometimes miss my high school days. I do, I do. I hate saying so though, especially because my Mother would always lecture me on the importance of enjoying my experience there while I could.

It’s funny, she never spoke to me about anything regarding academic excellence. She always pushed me further into the things that I loved but never forced me to do anything I didn’t have even a shred of enjoyment doing. Maybe that’s why I decided early on that I was going to be a comedian, or that I was going to be a writer, or that I was going to be a graphic novelist.

I was never given the spiel about being a doctor or a lawyer because, to her, what is important isn’t money or status but happiness. Amazingly, there were only a few teachers in my time that ever preached the same way of thinking; that doing something you love is ultimately more rewarding than being at the top of your class or on the very last step of the social ladder.

If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have taken a chance with this site. I wouldn’t have taken a chance with anything creative. I wouldn’t be here right now writing about Anime, Manga and Video Games. I wouldn’t be here right now writing about “Assassination Classroom”.

Kill the Teacher, save the Planet!

Ever caught yourself screaming, I could just kill that teacher? What would it take to justify such antisocial behavior and weeks of detention? Especially if he’s the best teacher you’ve ever had? Giving you an F on a quiz? Mispronouncing your name during roll call…again? How about blowing up the moon and threatening to do the same to Mother Earth – unless you take him out first?! Plus a reward of a cool 100 million from the Ministry of Defense! Okay, now that you’re committed… How are you going to pull this off? What does your pathetic class of misfits have at their disposal to combat Teach’s alien technology, bizarre powers and… tentacles?! – Madman Entertainment

It’s actually amazing how much reading through “Assassination Classroom” reminded me of my school days. No, my teachers weren’t octopus-like aliens we were tasked with killing but there are a lot of similarities between Koro-Sensei and some of the educators of my past. Basic outlines of the Manga’s story don’t do it justice at all. Not because it’s overly complex and hard to understand but because a simple explanation cannot express just how human a big yellow extra-terrestrial can be and just how real a relationship between a good class and a good teacher really is. Volume one does a fantastic job at perfectly outlining the intentions of Koro-Sensei without even getting close to verbalising it. What starts off as a seemingly dark tale of world-destruction and fear eventually turns into a story about growing, learning and ultimately loving.

My good friend and co-founder here on SnapThirty, Luke Halliday, once explained “Assassination Classroom” in a way that has stuck in my head for quite some time and only now after reading the first volume can I properly understand exactly what it is that he meant. “It’s oddly heart-warming”. A simple sentence, not even made up of a handful of words but no truer statement could be attached to this Manga. There’s a fantastic relationship that develops between Koro-Sensei and the class of E-3 who, at this point in time, almost work in unison as one big character rather than thirty or so individual characters. In any other situation this would be such a huge liability but somehow Yusei Matsui makes it work. As the volume goes on the audience is introduced to singular students who seem to become the voice of the classroom. What’s fantastic is that, every couple of chapters, we’re introduced to a new student who steps into the spotlight for just enough time to be acquainted with and then steps out to be replaced by another student. So long as this introductory technique keeps up I think “Assassination Classroom” will have fantastic pacing and be able to, eventually, introduce us all to each and every student of E-3.

Yusei Matsui knows his way around writing comedy. I was forced into actually laughing out loud during certain parts of the Manga and even when I wasn’t brought to that point I was at least chuckling and appreciating a well-timed pun, despite how much I hate them. Matsui blends real emotion in well with goofy humour in a way I had yet to have seen in a Manga. One panel shows Koro-Sensei strangling a student and the next shows him consoling that same student. There’s real comedy in “Assassination Classroom” but there’s also some real emotion that will be sure to have you smiling by the final page. Koro-Sensei is the perfect representation for those people in our lives, mainly the more impactful teachers, that truly want the best from their students. That never put the well-being of their students at anything under top priority. That only want to see their students flourish but not at the cost of their stable mental state. There’s one problem though…the repetition is excruciating. I’m sure many people can overlook this and, now that I ponder it a little more, I realise it’s not too huge of a deal BUT it seems as though every single chapter the story of the series gets explained in one way or another. This is understandable for something that comes out weekly but when compiled into a volume format becomes so very annoying.

 

Yusei Matsui is a brilliant illustrator that has a real good grasp on detailed panels. Unfortunately there’s a lot to be desired during none action scenes which occupy about ninety percent of the volume. I dislike criticising art like this because I know, without a shadow of a doubt, I’m nowhere near as good as the creator of the item I’m reading but it can’t help but be noticed that, a lot of the time, panels are boring and the characters within them looked rushed and sometimes unfinished. I’ll compare “Assassination Classroom” to another new Shonen Jump series ‘World Trigger”. Daisuke Ashihara (“World Trigger”) seems to put as much work into standard dialogue scenes as he does into critical action scenes…this cannot be said about Yusei Matsui and “Assassination Classroom”. When Koro-Sensei is dashing around the room, avoiding bullets and pampering his students, panels look absolutely incredible! When the characters are simply talking it’s as if Matsui considers these panels to be less important than the ones previously detailed and it only ever works to put a dampen on the whole experience of the volume.

For the most part, though, Matsui has a fantastic eye for panel design but not so much for all over flow. The composition of critical panels are always exciting: There’s a great deal going on but nothing feels cluttered and there’s also a great deal of depth that give a “realness” to what you’re seeing which says a lot seeing as what you’re usually shown is a bunch of kids trying to kill an alien teacher. as for flow; I noticed time and time again that a whole scene would change mid page which, as avid Manga readers would know, is quite a huge faux pas. Usually, in Manga, when there’s a scene change or something similar to that it usually takes place between pages. This helps the book attain a natural flow. While I wouldn’t go as far to say “Assassination Classroom” had no flow, I will say that there were certain panels that simply should not have been where they were.

 

Having seen most of the Anime adaptation that is currently airing as part of the latest season, I was very much aware of all the events that took place in the first volume before I had even begun reading the Manga. This can be seen as something that would diminish the enjoyment one would have while reading the Manga. For “Assassination Classroom” and I…it was not. Despite knowing what was to come next it was still just as enjoyable reading as it was watching. This is not only the sign of a good Anime or Manga but the sign of a good series in general. The story is perfect: It blends such light-hearted story elements together in such a seamless way that you’ll forget you’re reading about an alien that “supposedly” destroyed seventy percent of the Moon with a single attack.

Despite what I see as a lack of effort in certain illustrative aspects of the volume, it was very much enjoyable from the first page to the last. This is a huge Manga that has captivated the hearts and minds of people all around the world and I can say with certainty that it isn’t just because of luck. There’s something very special at the core of ‘Assassination Classroom” that no amount of words can properly detail. This is one for you to experience yourself and definitely one that you should proudly display on your bookshelf.

Purchase volume one of “Assassination Classroom” here on the official Madman Entertainment online store.

Grade: B+

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7 comments on “Assassination Classroom Volume One – Review

  1. Completely agree with your take on the art. Not my favorite, but then again, some major manga players aren’t totally awesome either (i.e. Attack on Titan). I don’t think my manga team covered the art, but we talked about real Japanese school versus Assassination Classroom at Anime3000: http://anime3000.com/assassination-classroom-manga-corner/

    • Frank Inglese

      Thankfully the story drives “AC” all the way home :)

      • I don’t know. I’m not a big fan of AC’s story telling. It’s so predictable, especially the characters. Then again, the target audience is very clear. Definitely not for me.

      • Frank Inglese

        Of course, it can’t be for everyone. If it was, it’d be history’s greatest Manga :D

      • haha, true that!

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