“We are killers. And our target? Our teacher. That is our Assassination Classroom.” The opening words by Nagisa Siota opens up one of the most ridiculous concepts that are VERY well done in anime or manga. An octopus-like superorganism that has the ability to disintegrate 70% of the moon threatens to do the same to the Earth… but not before taking over as a teacher for the class of 3-E, otherwise known as the End Class. As this review is going to be for Assassination Classroom Volume 5, there are spoilers ahead!
In volume 5, 3-E is in the middle of the Kunugigaoka Junior High School sports exhibition games. The girls had lost their basketball tournament, so they go to see if the boys’ baseball team is faring any better. The volume shows that Korosensei’s (the octopus superorganism) plan to bunt the baseball to get runs is working well. They are up 3-0 with the opposing baseball club having yet to bat. The principal of the school, one of those “I am all that is right in the world, what I am doing is the correct thing to do for the success of the school and my students” type of guy, steps in to help the baseball club (just as Korosensei is helping 3-E via a disguise). He instructs the students of the club to interfere with the batting by getting up close. So, 3-E takes advantage of the fact that the umpire is on their side and maneuvers it so that, after the club has shifted innings, they can do the same thing to them.
At this point in the volume, the tension is played up really well. The principal, with the power of his words alone, turns the hardest hitter in the baseball club into a near-murderous striker. Of course, courtesy of all of the assassin training 3-E has gone through, they can get DANGEROUSLY close to the bat (which could kill them, mind you), and still dodge the swing AND cause the striker to miss the ball, winning them the game. It is, quite simply, a well-orchestrated example of how, even in the real world, you can integrate ANYTHING you’ve learned into new situations and adapt to them. Talk about a lesson at the hands of a manga! Of course, this is a manga volume, so the above isn’t the only arc in volume 5!
Karasuma, the human assisting with assassin training, is a part of the Ministry of Defense in Japan. One of his former comrades, Akira Takaoka, is assigned to 3-E to replace him as the MoD believes him to not be working fast enough. Takaoka earns the respect and adoration of the class quickly via sweets and pastries, but it isn’t long before he reveals his strict training regimen. Karasuma, unfortunately, can do nothing about it. That is, until Takaoka reveals that despite his fatherly demeanor… he is closer to an abusive parent. Striking the kids for the slightest infraction, all with a smile on his face, Takaoka believes that “the perfect ratio is 10% carrot and 90% stick” for being a good instructor. Karasuma also finds a picture that shows just how far Takaoka is able and willing to go (picture-ex-machina!). Karasuma decides to step in at this point, so Takaoka offers him a deal. If one of the students can strike or stop the knife just before striking him, he will leave. Nagisa, the weakest (physically) student in the class is chosen for this task… and by being disarmingly innocent and hiding his attack pattern, Nagisa takes down Takaoka (who is almost four times his size) in a single action. Takaoka does NOT respond kindly to this, and when he tries to go back on his word, the principal steps in and fires him.
Now, this section arc is very important for two reasons. First, it reveals that Nagisa has a natural talent for assassination… of humans. Karasuma has a little moral dilemma about encouraging this talent, given the class IS that of third year middle schoolers. Second, it also reveals that Karasuma truly cares about the kids as well, because he treats them properly as professionals. As for how this arc was handled, it was handled VERY well. Well, except for the picture-ex-machina, because what psychopath would take a picture PROVING his psychosis? I mean, sure, we need a reason to hate the guy besides the fact that he beats the class… but we didn’t need that. The plot would have gone exactly the same without it. But besides that, it was done really nicely. Karasuma had some great character development as that of the caring cold-man, you know… Cold on the outside, just a teddy bear on the inside. That kind of guy. It also allowed the reveal of Nagisa’s true talent, besides information gathering. The characters actually GREW during these arcs, rather than going through them with the same skill that they had before. It was a satisfying end.
Now, if you want more of the Assassination Classroom, the anime has done a good job adapting the manga. I can speak from experience. Very little was cut from the manga to be put into the anime, and it adds just the right amount of seriousness to the oddball humor and ridiculous concept. Of course, while it is hard to tell who the real main character is in the manga, be it Korosensei or Nagisa… Well, all that really matters is that this is their Assassination Classroom, and they have FUN. And so should you.
Publisher: VIZ Media
Translation: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
Release Date: August 4, 2015
Disclaimer: A copy of Assassination Classroom Volume 5 was provided to BentoByte by the publisher for the purpose of review.Tweet