Assassination Classroom has been through a lot since the last review: A live action movie, an anime with two full seasons, and the series actually came to a close in Japan back in Spring. With that in mind, let’s check in on where the series is at in America.
Assassination Classroom Vol. 12-13 (Viz Media)
Written and drawn by: Yusei Matsui
Translated by: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
Lettering by: Stephen Dutro
While the students are loving their new gym/combat attire for P.E. and assassination practice, trouble is coming their way very quickly. A vicious assassin known as the Grim Reaper has been killing other assassins across the globe and is coming to town with his eyes on a big prize: Koro-Sensei. If the students and their other teachers, including professional hitwoman Irina Jelavich, happen to get in its way or play into its master plan, they are in for a world of trouble.
I’ve combined these two volumes together for a single review since together they cover the events of the Grim Reaper arc (outside of some foreshadowing in previous volumes) and a bit of the fallout from it. Besides the arc on the island, this is easily one of the best storylines and two volumes the series has had to date. There were tons of character development for both Ms. Vitch and Tadaomi Karasuma, the other teacher of the class, the action and story itself was very intense and thrilling, and the conclusion was great. The fallout with the students talking with Koro-Sensei about what they want to do in life and finally developing Nagisa Shiota was wonderful too, giving insight into some and showing how far everyone else has come.
That especially stinks since Hunter X Hunter rarely ever appears in that magazine anymore.
The story itself was very enjoyable and provided, perhaps, the strongest challenge that students have ever faced up until this point. In the past, they were able to figure out and defeat most of their opponents through clever skills, tricks, and strategies here and there. They played the right student at the right time and usually got out ok. This time, the villain was more than formidable, providing a hellish challenge where almost nothing they did could stop him. It works as an interesting follow up to the mini-arc that came in the last volume where they were getting too full of themselves, showing that even if they do get humbled and use their skills wisely, things aren’t always guaranteed to end how they want it to. It makes you wonder how this arc will affect them in the future.
Of all the characters, Irina, Karasuma, and Nagisa ended up getting the most development over the course of these two volumes. We saw a different side of Irina, enjoying being a teacher and living a completely normal life, but also believing she doesn’t deserve as an assassin and is afraid of losing her edge. It really gave her character and a bit more complexity and humanity, instead of just being the butt of jokes. Karasuma’s didn’t exactly grow, but he was given more focus and allowed to really show his skills. We only caught a glimpse of them every now and then in past volumes, but these two volumes really show just how much of a weapon he can be if given the chance.
Then there’s Nagisa himself. Throughout the series, he’s been shown to have an incredible knack for assassination and faking innocence. He has almost no presence (he often blends in the background around other more interesting characters) and doesn’t do a whole lot outside of just observing the situation. However, his reflexes and abilities are off the chart, which he notices as well and thinks maybe that would be the line of work he should go with. It’s a surprising move and goal, but once you see his home life and meet his mother, his lack of presence, and his desire for a more “interesting” line of work, it really gives a new angle to look at for him. He’s come along way and the remaining volumes should be an interesting journey for him.
The power of spring technology!
The writing on the series remained solid and enjoyable as ever. The humor was on point with plenty of chuckle worthy bits throughout. The manga balanced the serious moments with the silliness fairly well, and the Grim Reaper was a very intimidating and threatening figure for the characters to be up against throughout. There was only one minor point that was disappointing: Koro-Sensei didn’t get a whole lot of focus these two volumes, outside of one fantastic bit with Nagisa’s mother. He was what the Grim Reaper was after, but Koro ultimately fell into the background most of the time here.
Then there is the artwork, which looks good as always. The characters are drawn very well and over the past few volumes, are starting to stand out more and be distinguishable from the others. At first, the designs for every student weren’t exactly memorable and distinct, but since they’ve been fleshed out, that’s changed. Everyone is recognizable and their designs really fit their personality well. Koro-Sensei is memorable as always and Matsui has done a great job with getting the timing of the jokes from him and everyone down just right. The layouts are rather solid, contributing to the timing of the humor. The only weakness is that the action can feel a tad stiff at a few points as it goes back and forth between everyone.
Assassination Classroom Vols. 12-13 are absolutely fantastic and highly enjoyable. The story arc they focused on was incredibly engaging to read and get wrapped up in, along with the fallout that comes after and the development we get with several of the characters. The writing and artwork were very strong here, outside of a few minor points, making the storyline even more of a blast to read. Without a doubt, this is one of the best storylines the series has had up to this point and I’m excited to see where it goes from here.