Like many former students, there was once a time when I wished I could throttle my annoying teachers who tormented me with excessive homework and less than glowing report cards. Japanese artist Yusei Matsui must have harboured similar desires during his youth, as his smash hit manga series Assassination Classroom revolves around the underachieving students of Class E who spend their lesson time trying to inflict harm upon their eccentric educator. The series has been running in Japan since July 2012 and is now available to buy in the UK courtesy of Viz Media (the publisher of One Piece, not to be confused with the magazine starring Johnny Fartpants and Buster Gonad.)
The recent destruction of the moon ominously signals that the end of the world is nigh. Earth is doomed to suffer the same fate, as its cheesy satellite, unless the creature responsible for lambasting the Luna surface is vanquished. Shame then that humanity’s military is powerless against said planetary destroyer – their defence of the globe proving to be as ineffective as the backline of Gibraltar’s national football team. The seemingly invulnerable organism announces that March is the deadline for Earth’s obliteration… until then it shall pass the time by working in Japan as a high school teacher. I fear for the safety of the female teens attending the institution because Koro-sensei (aka unkillable teacher) is an octopi like monster, boasting more tentacles than an episode of animated porn.
Armed with a stockpile of arms, supplied by the army, Koro-sensei’s students do their level best to defeat their mentor before the calendar reaches March. If saving the world isn’t motivation enough, there’s also a ten billion yen reward for anyone who can slay professor octopus. Committing murder is no easy task though because Koro-sensei is a nimble bugger who can reach speeds of Mach 20, in addition to having Wolverine level restorative powers that regenerate damaged body parts. He’s also a surprisingly good instructor! Over the course of this first volume Koro-sensei helps a student improve their baseball pitch and he also aids a chemistry whizz in preparing deadly poisons. That’s probably a bad idea given that the intended consumer of the concoctions is Koro-sensei himself.
It should go without saying that Assassination Classroom’s plot doesn’t withstand any logical scrutiny, but it matters not because the book’s tone is clearly comedic. Once the ludicrous premise is established the story hits the ground running, barely giving the reader a pause in which to ponder how adolescents could succeed were soldiers have failed or why a tentacle creature would want to educate pupils that are fated to perish come what March. The attempts to exterminate Koro-sensei range from elaborate booby traps to shootings during class registration. In a way the action reminds me a little of Trigun, as both mangas feature a target (with a large bounty on their head) who evades harm in the daftest ways imaginable.
My rating for volume one of Assassination Classroom is four stars. The manga gets a thumbs up from me, although I cannot give it full marks because apart from Koro-sensei the book is severely lacking in memorable characters. From the student ranks, Karma Akabane is the only person who has made an impact on the story. Akabane was formerly suspended for assaulting a teacher and is brought back into the fold, by those in charge, in the hopes that history will repeat itself. Aside from Akabane, Nagisa Shiota could become a big player further down the line, as he seems to be jotting down Koro-sensei’s potential weaknesses in a notebook. I’m hoping that the supporting cast get fleshed out more in future volumes because it doesn’t say much for the human race when a beaming mollusc outshines you in the charisma department.