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Assassination Classroom: Graduation (Live Action) – Review

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For whom the school bell tolls

Throughout the years of trials, tribulations and trigonometry, there is one day that students an look upon with equal parts excitement and fear; graduation. That miraculous day when the school books close for the final time and metaphorical life chapters pen their final period. The fear of what lies ahead, the sadness of leaving behind what was known, it can be pretty intense if one possesses that level of care and emotional development. That being said, fiction is a wanting creature and, this time around, decided that none of that was enough and decided to wrap the fate of the world into this educational finale. Brace yourself humanity, the Assassination Classroom has one final test to pass…and boy do they have to pass.

Take your seats and enjoy/hate the obligatory school bell that chimes in the morning, because it’s time for one final lesson in the classroom that tells children to shoot their teacher until they die. Right now is a pretty good time for a disclaimer that nobody should do that in the real world, as teachers are seldom hyper fast beings whose very existence threatens the world as we know it. And no, failing you in History is not a threat to existence. Regardless, as a Part Two in a two part series, this film encompasses the end of our tale and features the benefit of not having to devote time to introducing the cast…not that it necessarily did that in Part One anyway. Extrapolating from this, thee film decides to spin a tale with even less school than the aforementioned first part and, before you ask, does not really balance this with more assassination. To be honest, the two word that make up the title of this film are regarded less than they were before and even that wasn’t to the full extent of its source material. Instead, we find ourselves with a film that places all of its narrative effort into revealing the truth behind Korosensei’s existence and the story behind his choice to become a teacher. So, you know what, forget what I said before, this film does have a bunch of origin story in it…and if that thematic and narrative flip-floppery is not foreshadowing my thorough opinion of this film, then I don’t know what is.

With this knowledge in mind, why don’t we begin with the origins of Korosensei. In addition to being the most thought out portion of this film, it also serves as the honest beginning of the story, with all that came before completely inconsequential. Were those previous sequences in the source? Yes, which I will talk about later. But given the layout of this story and the pacing necessary for a film, they serve no purpose at all. You could honestly skip ahead the forty or so minutes until Korosensei regales the class with his past and be on par with those who sat from title to credits. Now, I’m no film buff, but when a solid chunk of your product can be realistically ignored, there’s something wrong with your layout. Perhaps an inherent lack of impact or consequence? But I digress, as the honest linchpin of the film, the flashback is handled surprisingly truthful to the source material this film often attempts to emulate. Given a proper amount of time to unfold and grow, Korosensei is given more heart than any of the interchangeable students he teaches. For the sake of specificity, we learn that Korosensei was once and infamous assassin dubbed Reaper, which is not really that surprising considering that he has been teaching children a bevy of assassination techniques for roughly a year now. Captured by an honest to goodness evil scientist (albeit toned down to a simple emotionally abusive toolbag scientist), Korosensei is experimented on until his human body is rendered capable of producing the tentacles we all know and tolerate the CGI versions of. Of course no story would be complete without a middle school teacher who moonlights as a lab assistant in an underground, most likely illegal scientific facility, which leads to the introduction of Ms Agari Yukimura, previous teacher of Class 3-E. Cue shocked gasps. Now, as one might expect, disbelief must be pretty well suspended to enjoy this film (if the tentacle teacher wasn’t sign enough), otherwise you may check out of the love story which blooms all too expectantly. Trapped in a cage, the cold Korosensei (whose true name is not known, even by himself) is forced to listen to the sweet, impossibly naive Agari. Yada yada yada, she melts his chilled killer heart, revealing to him the beauty that lies in teaching people to better themselves, as opposed to ending those who are already corrupted. Ain’t that a whole bundle of sweetness? Kinda, yeah. As tropey as it is, this whole sequence is pretty nice and provides some characterisation that this film sorely needed. I will admit that the emotionally baseless scenes that surround this may be what gives it a sense of interest and beauty, but you honestly take what you can get in situations like these. Find the silver lined needle in the haystack or somesuch metaphorically pleasant lesson.

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One final lesson…

Now, to add a little positivity to these proceedings, I will say that the film does a wonderful job of recreating moments form the original story, a fact continued over from Part One of this film series…film duo? More than this however, I was actually impressed by the rewrites made for the film adaptation which lent a helping hand to compacting and entire manga series into a film timeline. Unfortunately this helping hand wasn’t enough for this to be entirely successful, but the attempt was nice all the same. My prime example comes from the films nigh irrelevant introductory scenes, namely the school festival. In addition to running a stand, as one does, Class 3-E finds themselves unwitting accomplices to a deadly sniper known as Red Eye, whose sights are set on Korosensei. No surprise there. To add fuel to this fire, three of the class are kidnapper by a gang of high school punks who tie them up and try to take photographs of them…which is really unsettling. Like, way more than the film shows. First of all, you’re in high school guys, stay the hell away from middle school, that’s weird as hell. Second, the girls show no negative emotions after this event is dealt with. Of course, the film did not have time to deal with the complex response that would arise from kidnapping but, since that is the case, why even waste time putting it in? I know that it was in the original, but it had more meaning then. Though it still didn’t truly damage the kidnapee, it did give a chance for us to learn about her. The film version is pointless, other than for some comedy. Spoiler: Korosensei cuts the “photographers” hair and puts coke bottle glasses on them…hilarious. Oh, Karma and (I think) Terasaka also tried to fight them off and rescue the girls, but they got beat up…not that that matters either. Sensing a pattern here?

One final word of praise also goes out to the music of this film. Though noticeably spread apart, there is a particular cue which is very much in line with the vibe of the series. Though my auditory skills are far from amazing, listen out for what I believe to be some type of horn and maybe a xylophone, because it sounds cool. If you hear what I mean and it is not what I say, then I apologise…but you catch my drift.

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Boys will be boys…and also assassins

As it stands, Assassination Classroom (Live Action) Part Two is on par with its thematic brother; Part One. As is so often the case with manga/anime adaptations, compressing a long running story into the running time of a film results in a product which is either sparse or bloated and Assassination Classroom leans towards both. By including so many scenes from the original, the films attempt to add a credibility to themselves as an adaptation, however the lack of available running time means that they lack the heart of the original and serve as simple fan service for those who have previously enjoyed the series. For those who have not, I can only imagine that they serve as sporadic segments that baffle and distract in the hopes of eliciting laughter. Even the more dramatic moments of the film seem to have been enacted with spectacle in mind, rather than narrative development. Though the decision to combine two series villains into a single entity was a smart decision that saved time and allowed the film to avoid a few plot detours, it still amounts to little as the supposed climax of their encounter with  Korosensei and Class 3-E is over as soon as it begins. I legitimately believed that Korosensei’s final lines to said villain were the beginning of a fight sequence or a lecture, but instead they were the end of one. Just an immediate end, lacking in half of the build up expected from such a scene. It was honestly jarring and more than a little unfulfilling and that is the last thing you want to feel in a film centralised around a teacher who endeavours to uplift everyone they meet. Thus I once again repeat my belief from Assassination Classroom Part One; if you want to witness this story in a complete and more emotionally impactful form, pick up the manga or anime. If instead you want a highlight real that tells the story without the details or heart, check out this film and its precursor. You’ll still learn something from the experience, but it probably won’t be a lesson you’ll remember for long.

Grade: C

-30-

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