Monday, 5 September 2016

Assassination Classroom, Volume 1 by Yusei Matsui Review


Assassination Classroom has an absolutely batshit premise: a talking tentacle monster with a smiley face who can move at Mach 20 destroys most of the moon and will do the same to Earth in a year unless humanity somehow stops him. Oh and the monster - called Koro Sensei after a pun on the Japanese word “koro-senai” meaning “can’t be killed” - wants nothing more than to be a high school teacher! 

All of which is fine by me - silliness, unique setups, and imagination aren’t my problem with this comic; my problem is the way every manga series tries to obnoxiously stretch out its length as much as possible, which Assassination Classroom does. I’m not really as concerned with seeing students trying to incompetently murder Teach or see him actually teach them and mould them into better students as I am with finding out who this monster is, where it came from and why it’s doing what it’s doing. 

But that would mean no lengthy run, fewer opportunities to turn it into an anime, etc. so you’re stuck with a comic that’s happy to drearily tread water for as long as possible. I guess that’s the same reasoning behind why the military doesn’t just bomb the whole area the monster is in with as many ball bearings as possible (ball bearings are the monster’s weakness for some reason that we’re not told). 

You might be thinking “hmm, tentacles and manga… that sounds like a Japanese cliche - does it go there?” and the answer is yes it does but in a softcore way. It’s not even halfway through the book that the monster starts feeling up one of his male students (he’s underage too which is fucked up) and, given the last page, it looks like the same shit is gonna be happening to a busty schoolgirl in the next book. That’s fine if that’s your fetish but it really doesn’t need to be included here. 

So after the initial premise is revealed, it’s repetition all the way through: students try to murder monster, fail, monster turns out to be a good teacher and improve students’ grades, then do it all over again until it’s over. It’s not interesting enough for me. Also I think it’s trying to be funny but it really isn’t - it’s absurd and over the top but there aren’t really any jokes here. 

Assassination Classroom is all premise and no story. All I kept asking of the author throughout was where is the chase and how can we cut to it but I think we won’t get there for a long time yet so that’s me done with the series. It could’ve made a decent standalone book but unfortunately the manga business model put an end to that possibility.

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