What is your greatest wish? A simple enough question in theory, but we all know that theory is often the plaything of a little concept known as reality. Still, it’s nice to wonder. Were there no restrictions tying you down, no repercussions from external sources, what is it you would ask for? Would it be wealth? Power? Fame? Or none of these? Are your heart’s desire simpler? Perhaps more complex? Selfish? Selfless? Impossible? Impractical? Questions, questions, questions, nothing but questions and we’re still in the realm of the hypothetical. but what if we weren’t? What if you were given the chance to answer your heart’s unhindered call? Would your answer change? Would it stay the same? However, despite all of these nagging issues that tap tap tap upon your soul, one question yet remains; What would you do to have your wish fulfilled?
Have you ever had that one classmate? You know the one. The one who just kinda rubs you the wrong way, who you would be quite happy to not see again. It doesn’t have to be in a sinister way mind you, just a “I don’t want to see you around anymore” kind of way. Well imagine if everyone felt that way about one particular student and, in fact, it was in a particularly sinister way. If this hypothetical has sparked your curiosity, then allow em to welcome you to Class Black, your designated zone for murder, mayhem and mathematics. To cut a fairly short premise shorter, this prestigious class is home to Haru Ichinose and twelve other lovely ladies. However, this dozen all share one extra curricular activity that Miss Ichinose does not; assassinating Miss Ichinose. Yes, driven by the promise of having their greatest wish fulfilled, these killers all leap at the chance to slaughter one innocent high school girl. Seems simple enough, bloody, but simple enough. The proverbial spanner in the works however appears in the form of Tokaku Azuma. Formerly of the assassination twelve, Tokaku instead opts to throw away her chance at the grand prize in order to protect Haru. Cue conflict.
With the pieces self aligned on the school chessboard, the series progresses into a fight of the week format. As per the rules of this dangerous little school, each killer must deliver unto Haru a letter of intent, the caviat being that if they fail to end her within 48 hours, they’re outta the school. No take backs, no retries, game over. Naturally this adds a pep to their deadly step as they race to win their prize in two measly days. However, due to the format of the series, the two days is a pretty useless factor. Each and every attempt lives and dies by their fight sequence. They could have four weeks to perfect their plan, but being floored by Tokaku just ends it all. Time also generally skips right to the good part which, whilst leaving the audience with the most exciting segments, really neuters any sense of impending doom. I mean it’s an assassination classroom, play up the mind games a little. Sure some of the girls try, but when their plan amounts to a poolside game or hitting Haru really hard with a really big hammer, I kinda wonder about their planning abilities. This in itself wouldn’t be a problem, except they only lean on inexperience with one character, whilst the rest are treated as highly skilled assassins in their own right. How then do I believe that a master poisoner saw only to poison one object in Haru’s life, an object that wasn’t her might I add. Shoot her with a dart, vent a gas through her room, do something unexpected, do something cool, don’t just hopes she grabs that one thing you poisoned because you thought it’d be poetic, because you didn’t make a backup plan. Also, if you have the time to sneak your letter of intent into her bag, do something more. I don’t wanna help villainy win or anything, but it is certainly hard to fear and enemy when you don’t feel as if they’re giving it their all. Whatever they desire in the world is at stake, don’t half ass it.
Yet despite all of the killings, failed killings and yet to fail killings, this series is about Haru and Tokaku being friends…or being in love…or both. I don’t know, it’s pretty ambiguous. Regardless, from the get go, the innocent bundle of self imposed positivity that is Haru begins to warm the assumed ice cold heart of Tokaku, our protagonist. Having decided to protect her for reasons unknown to even herself, Tokaku slowly learns that maybe the world doesn’t suck so much, especially if you kinda, you know, ignore the gaggle of assassins nipping at your heels. Or just smile really hard. However, herein lies my problem with this series. Despite it’s premise being one that constantly draws the audience into a world of darkness and murder, the message it is trying to convey pulls everyone back to the eternal optimism found in series aimed at a younger demographic. The result of this emotional tug of war is a series firmly planted in the middle of everything. Now while this might sound like the best vantage point to see both sides, it instead damages both sides of this series’ appeal. For every happy moment a tragedy occurs to pull you down, for every tragedy a sweet moment pushes you back up. While this may sound like a thrilling emotional rollercoaster that tests your mettle, it is not. Rather, it is more akin to a ball in a cup. The ball goes up, the ball comes down, sometimes it hits the mark, yet without fail falls out once more and, at the end of the day, that guiding hand behind it all just unceremoniously puts the ball in the cup and the whole thing back on the shelf. Why? Because some things have a limited use and, despite how much fun you can have relying solely on you, are destined to be replaced. Souns a tad melodramatic I know, but it is an apt description nonetheless. Despite the flaws of a series, I can generally accept them if they are handled with conviction. Though fans may cry in outrage when their favourite character dies, I appreciate the moment far more if they do not miraculously return. It ruins the drama of it all, along with whatever message they were trying to express. Such conviction is lacking in this series, leaving on a note that falls flat to my ears.
So riddle me this and riddle me that, what can be taken, but not given back? Ultimately, the answer to that is what sustains this series. Of course, given the aforementioned ending, much of its impact is lost in order to tie a pretty pink bow on everything and leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling in the cockles of your heart. Ignore the murder, the mayhem, the all around horror of a series where a high school girl is willing to kill in the coldest of blood, if you believe hard enough, everything will work out. You know what? You don’t even have to believe hard, just be near someone who does. Do you have to learn a lesson that shakes the foundation of you world? Not really, just being humbled by a single defeat is enough…I think. What I’m getting at here is that, despite all that happens within the series, the only real development is Tokaku getting a friend…which isn’t a lot. As I’ve said before and will say once more, for all the potential present within this series, it remains untapped in order to keep an oddly middling status quo. It’s life by the way…the answer to the riddle is life.
Only a Madman asks questions they do not want answered