And so we reach the fifteenth volume of Assassination Classroom where the story continues heating up more and more. Is it good?
Assassination Classroom Vol. 15 (Viz Media)
Written and Drawn by: Yusei Matsui
Translated and Adapted by: Tetsuichiro Miyaki and Bryant Turnage
Lettering by: Stephen Dutro
Principal Gakuho Asano’s plans for assassinating Koro-Sensei have backfired and his life is looking like it’ll draw to a close early; in these final moments, we get a look at his backstory and what ultimately got him to this point. Meanwhile, a storm is about to hit the classroom and an unexpected force reveals itself, something that no one ever saw coming. After this volume (and there’s no hyperbole at all when I say this): nothing will ever be the same again.
In my review of the last volume of Assassination Classroom, I made mention at the end of it that I was looking forward to the future because I could tell big things were coming. Things have indeed changed and going forward, will be very different. We’ll be looking at old characters in a new light now, questioning their actions in previous storylines, and of course — won’t exactly know what happens next. Assassination Classroom Vol. 15 is literally a gamechanger and to even discuss this volume, we’ll have to delve into some big spoilers.
Even before the massive reveals, we have some leftovers dealing with the school related aspects. We learn about Asano and his past, while also dealing with one last activity Class E must take part in before the entire school. The backstory with Asano is illuminating and interesting, showing how he became the person he is today and how his teaching style radically changed. It puts the character a new light for and I do like the fact that the manga doesn’t seem to forgive him for all of his actions either.
And then there’s the rest of the book, so let’s get to the spoiler talk!
The school portion covers the first third of the book, while the rest covers the big surprise: one of the students has been lying the entire time about who they are and what their goals were. It turns out that Kaede Kayano, who is almost essentially the female lead next to Nagisa, is really someone else… and someone who has injected themselves with the same tentacles powers that Itona and Koro-Sensei had/have. All of this is one hell of a shocking swerve, since you never see it coming at all. There are hints about it, some incredibly diabolical in how hidden and innocuous they were, but unless you were spoiled on it… or saw the back cover of the manga volume (seriously Viz, why put such a GIGANTIC spoiler clear as day on the back cover?), you would never have guessed it. And to the series’ credit, the reveal and explanation for it doesn’t seem half-assed and it makes you look at Kaede in a whole new light. It suddenly makes sense why she, despite being such a frequently appearing female character, barely ever did much to stand out and it also quickly covers any potential plot holes that may arise from this reveal. Yusei Matsui pulled off a great twist and proceeded to make an incredibly strong and powerful six-chapter arc out of it.
Then there are the other reveals that will be covered in the upcoming volumes, involving the origin of Koro-Sensei and what got him to where he is. We learn that Class E had a previous teacher before Koro, who was Kaede’s sister and the reason why she went to the extremes she did. We learn that the mysterious man in the cloak that was in charge of Itona has a personal connection to Koro (alluded to but never confirmed until now). Then there was the fact that before turning into the tentacle monster, Koro was the Grim Reaper, the world’s greatest assassin. These reveals open up major questions, all of which are raised at the very end of the book and end on a completely nasty tease of a cliffhanger for next time. These reveals do put previous scenes into context, like the mysterious man looking over the current Grim Reaper at the end of that arc, and answers some other questions, like why Koro-Sensei knows so much about assassination in the first place. What we got is definitely interesting so far, but how these events play out and how Matsui will execute them is up in the air. Either way, all of these surprises make for easily the most memorable volume of the series to date.
Lastly, let’s discuss the artwork, because it really shines here, even a bit more than usual. The layouts are wonderfully crafted with a lot of thought put into them regarding the use of angles and space. The visualizations that pop up to represent death or an attack are incredibly striking and work well alongside the layouts, like the shot of Asano standing before a grenade in pitch blackness as a skull looms slowly towards him in the background. The characters’ emotions and body language are captured exceptionally well and some of the full or double-page spreads are absolutely amazing, such as when Kaede reveals her true self for the first time. Words don’t do the artwork justice here, so I really recommend checking out the art to see for yourself.
Is It Good?
Assassination Classroom Vol. 15 flips the table over, throws everything for a loop and sets the stage for an intense and shocking roller-coaster ride from here on out. The story, the reveals, the characterization, and the artwork all come together to form the strongest, most memorable manga volumes of the year for those who haven’t been spoiled yet. If you are a fan of the series, there’s simply no turning back after this.