Manga Spotlight: Assassination Classroom

Assassination Classroom is a 21 volume manga series written by Yusei Matsui. The series was published in North America by VIZ Media.

Assassination Classroom
Written by: Yusei Matsui
Publisher: Shueisha Inc.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Dates: December 2, 2014-April 3, 2018

A powerful alien octopus creature destroys 70% of the moon and claims that within a year, he will destroy Earth. However, he offers a chance for mankind to avoid this fate. He declares that he wants to be the teacher for Class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, and the Japanese government offers the class a 10 billion yen reward to the student who can kill the teacher before the year is up. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as it sounds, since the alien can move at Mach 20. Also, as part of the agreement, the teacher is unable to harm the students in any way. The students end up giving their new teacher the name of “Koro-sensei.”

Class 3-E is known for containing the students with the lowest grades, and the members of the class are shunned from the rest of the school. As part of being shunned from the rest of the school, their classroom is located in an old rundown building that’s nowhere near the actual school building itself. Among the students, the main focus is placed on Nagisa Shiota. He’s the one who is observing their teacher and taking notes on anything he notices.

But Koro-sensei isn’t the terrifying monster that he appears to be at first. As he works with his students, it becomes clear that he actually cares about trying to help them succeed in the classroom. As the series progresses, the students start developing a relationship with Koro-sensei; however, this development doesn’t stop them from trying to assassinate their teacher.

Two new staff members join the class over the course of the series. First is Karasuma from the Ministry of Defense becoming Class 3-E’s new P.E. teacher. Irina Jelavic is a female assassin sent to try to take down Koro-sensei, and she ultimately becomes the class’ part-time foreign language teacher.

Assassination Classroom also shows how much the students in Class 3-E are snubbed by their higher-ranking peers. But through Koro-sensei’s guidance and encouragement, his students start gaining more confidence and ultimately start taking on Class 3-A for various reasons.

But truths about Koro-sensei are revealed over the course of the series, and these revelations force the students to start rethinking their feelings for their teacher and for their mission to assassinate him. Not only does the story progress, but many of the students also go through some incredible maturation as people as well. By the end, Assassination Classroom becomes a very emotional series. Even though I knew how the story would end since I had already seen the anime, I was still tearing up at certain points in the climax. It shows just how well-written this series is.

Even though I had already seen the anime, I was pleased to discover that the manga included some stories that ended up being skipped over in the anime adaptation. While some of these stories did provide additional character development for some of the characters who weren’t focused on as much in the anime, I understood why these stories had to be cut. When the animation studio only has so many episodes to tell the story of the whole manga, some stories had to be sacrificed in order to tell the entirety of the overarching story. As someone who was familiar with the anime, I found that these manga exclusive stories added a little something and gave me additional bonus stories to get to know some of the characters better.

Assassination Classroom is a fantastic manga series, and I would highly recommend it. My only disappointment is that the final volume of the series had to be padded out with side stories that were published in Weekly Shonen Jump, as well as a one shot by Yusei Matsui that isn’t related to Assassination Classroom, since there were only two chapters left that hadn’t already been put into a book format. The Assassination Classroom side stories were OK, and the one shot was just kind of “meh.” But I would definitely recommend the main Assassination Classroom series to manga readers who appreciate stories with humor that evolve into something more serious as the series progresses.

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