Anime Review: Assassination Classroom (Season One)

Welcome. I’ll present a brief review of the first season of Assassination Classroom. Overall, I like the show, but it’s not among my top favorites. In fact, it doesn’t even make it into my top 30. First let me go over the visuals, audio, story elements, and quality of characters. Then, under personal enjoyment, I will go over my thoughts about the issues in this series as well as the aspects that were most entertaining and delightful. Let’s RANT!

Art: 8/10

The visuals in Assassination Classroom are memorable, with vibrant colors, interesting anime eyes, one-of-a-kind character design, and smooth animation. It just looks unique and inviting. Before Assassination Classroom, the only studio Lerche anime I had seen was Danganronpa. There are some similarities in the art, but Assassination Classroom holds mostly true to the style seen in the manga. I wasn’t too impressed with the variety and power of face expressions in this series. The emotional parts ride more on the music and voice-acting than the visuals. I am fond of this style overall, and the colors used really help keep you engaged. It’s excellent.

Sound: 8/10

The audio for Assassination Classroom is as wonderful as the visuals or more so. I pay a lot of attention to sound compared to art and animation, so this is an important category. The seiyuu cast are all laudable with their performances. The two biggest names you’ll see here are Nobuhiko Okamoto (voice of Karma) and Jun Fukuyama (voice of Koro-sensei). In particular, Fukuyama’s performance was astounding, perfectly capturing the character of Koro-sensei. He’s a talented seiyuu who is known for being able to raise and lower the pitch and softness of his voice according to the character.

The soundtrack is fun and has variable music styles. There are silly pieces with lots of trumpets for scenes of humorous classroom chaos. There is a mysterious and thoughtful-sounding piece that is very distinctive as well. The opening songs are a lot of fun to listen to, since they’re sung by the same seiyuu who voice the students. I love the ending theme even more than the openings, however. It’s a peaceful and beautiful song called “Hello, shooting-star” by Moumoon. Both the music and the voice-acting in Assassination Classroom are worthy of praise.

Characters: 8/10

Characters are another entry in the “excellent” category. In general, they are interesting or amusing, and well-written. Concepts, development, and presentation of the characters are great all around. My main complaint is that, at least in the first season, many of them are one-dimensional. Karma is the crazy one, Nagisa is the quiet one, Terasaka is the delinquent, Okuda is the nerd, and Isogai is the charming young man type. Those are just a few examples. However, considering how many characters there are, the show does a pretty good job. Plus, the moments used to deliver deeper aspects about the characters are always on-point.

Last of all, these characters are hard to forget. There’s no other anime character quite like Koro-sensei, whether in design or in personality. He is what makes the show. Karma is a fan-favorite and I find him intriguing since he is a good example of a teenager with moderate Antisocial Personality Disorder (sociopathy). Nagisa is my personal favorite, and is balanced well between audience surrogate and his own distinct character.

Story: 8/10

Half of the moon was destroyed suddenly and in an instant. A strange creature with superhuman abilities claims he did this. He states that he will destroy the Earth in one year. Every organization out there is now trying to kill this being, and the Japanese government has offered a ten billion yen reward for killing him. What is this monster up to in the meantime? He’s teaching, of course. The poorest-performing students in a certain prestigious private school are tasked with killing their new teacher, whom they call Koro-sensei. Everyone has their own scheme for the assassination. Koro-sensei never hurts any of them. His amazing teaching style begins to take the students to great places academically, physically, and as assassins.

One of the great things about Assassination Classroom is its unusual mixing of light and dark story elements. There’s a lot of goofy humor and the atmosphere and art style almost make it seem like a young children’s story. Koro-sensei is always light-hearted and comical in the beginning. On the other hand, the story concept is dark (killing a teacher and becoming assassins) and there are several troubling psychological factors such as Nagisa’s attempt to sacrifice his life and Karma’s sociopathic behaviors.

Though he is teaching them to kill, Koro-sensei is also bringing cheer, motivation, and good education into the lives of his students. Audiences must judge for themselves what kind of person Koro-sensei really is, and whether he is an ally or enemy to humans. This odd combination of silliness and seriousness is most of what makes up the “weirdness” factor in Assassination Classroom. Despite its generally PG-ish content, the show gives off a vibe of something unsettling under the surface.

Most of the makings of a great story can be found in Assassination Classroom. It’s fresh and original. It can be funny depending on your preferred type of humor. The story is always engaging, so that you keep wanting to watch it even if you don’t like some aspects of it. Emotional scenes and themes, a good amount of action, and elements of mystery are all there. The many unanswered questions makes most people want to watch season 2 as soon as possible. There are plenty of school anime tropes, but that’s just one con in the face of so many pros. The story in Assassination Classroom is great, all things considered.

Personal Enjoyment: 7/10

First let’s look at some things that brought down my enjoyment level. There’s one main issue in particular: the show’s treatment of Irina Jelavich. She is a dazzling and capable assassin who specializes in using seduction to fool male targets and kill them. Irina is in some ways immature and silly, but that’s amusing. To me, this has the making of a terrific, bad-ass, cute, and funny character. But the students and the show’s attitude forced it all in a negative direction.

All throughout the show, Irina is treated as someone morally worse than other assassins due to her seduction skills, flirtatious personality, and free style of dressing. They call her “Bitch-sensei.” In some areas of the world, “bitch” is not as bad a word as others. In Japan, it is exclusively used as a very derogatory way of slut-shaming. In Japan, teachers are treated with much more respect that in my country, so the fact that even these Japanese students address her as “Miss Bitch” reflects the extremely sex-negative culture of traditional Japan. Sometimes, Irina irritable and petty, but this is due to the lack of respect she receives. In general, Irina is treated as annoying for no real reason that I can find.

This mistreatment of possibly the most impressive character nearly ruined the show for me on the first watch. Even now, it irks me a great degree. Still, no show is truly perfect, and in Assassination Classroom, there’s more enjoyment to be found than disappointment. The humor isn’t my preferred style, but it had me smiling and chuckling on occasion. I like the diversity of characters and the nature of assassination which basically levels the playing field for people of various physical abilities and other kinds of skills. The anime’s focus on positive teaching techniques and the importance of education is a major positive as well.

The characters and their stories were interesting and entertaining. Koro-sensei with his kind, goofy, but mysterious personality is somehow intriguing. Then there’s Nagisa. Since he is my favorite character, I’ve got to say a little something about him. His appearance and mannerisms can be considered more feminine than masculine by traditional standards. But Nagisa is clearly a male, and isn’t too bothered with how others perceive him. In this way, the character defies the norms associated with sex and gender. I enjoy characters like this immensely.

Nagisa’s fighting style and natural wits in combat are amazing to me. I think my style would be similar if I had training. That is, disarming because of apparent weakness or cuteness, but able to strike viciously at the right time exactly because of that. I practically cheered when Nagisa was able to subdue the abusive guest teacher. On a final note, Nagisa’s struggle at the end over killing or not felt real and powerful. The epic result is very revealing about Nagisa’s future and about Koro-sensei’s true desires for his students.

Final Score: 7.8 Out Of 10.0

Averaging out the scores for each of the five sections I rated gives us the overall score. (This is subject to editing depending on how my view changes with each re-watch.) Assassination Classroom’s first season was definitely a good watch and a fun anime. It also leads well into the next season, which I think is even better. I’ll write a review of season 2 some other time. Anyways, thank you so much for reading. Sayonara until next time!


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