After the bombshell that was last volume, it’s time for some more as we dive into the backstory of the series’ biggest character: Koro-Sensei. Is it good?
Writer/Artist: Yusei Matsui
Translated/Adapted by: Tetsuichiro Miyaki, Bryant Turnage
Lettering by: Stephen Dutro
Publisher: Viz Media
It’s time for the truth and to finally reveal what is really going on. The truth about who was and is Koro-Sensei, how he came to be, his reasons for his actions, and the tragedy that killed Kaede’s sister. No more jokes, no more lies or dodging, just the cold, honest truth.
If last volume flipped the table on several things that we knew, this volume is here to provide context not just for what just happened in the story, but the entirety of the series. This outing is roughly 80% flashback in the form of Koro-Sensei’s origin and the buildup for how things got the way they are. The last portion is about setting the stage for where the series will go from here. We get surprises and even new perspectives on different moments or elements we’ve seen. It’s hard to talk about the story given the gravity of everything that had been revealed, but let’s dive in and avoid as many spoilers as we can so we can discuss what makes this book so good.
From the top, the plot and reveals within are intriguing and make sense given on what is presented and shown to us. While the science on how Koro-Sensei is most likely a load of crap, it does make for some interesting science fiction and covers many of the questions that have been raised. No moment is really left unexplained (at least, no moment that’s important), the reasons and motives work and are believable given the characters, and the book answers some questions you may not have even been thinking about. Overall, without revealing anything, the story makes sense given the logic and material presented to us.
The three big characters in this volume are Yanagisawa, Aguri Yukimura, and Koro-Sensei. Yanagisawa makes for a good villain and one to end the series on given his backstory, how he connects back to Koro-Sensei himself, and how personal things are. However, he’s bit of a cliché at this point, feeling like a lot of the other villains we’ve had in the series so far. He’s extremely arrogant, vindictive, and full of himself like you wouldn’t believe, but that’s like the majority of the manga’s villains. As such, he doesn’t feel as special or as important as he should. Aguri is different; the vital key piece that helps redeem Koro and sets him on the path for what he became. She has a wonderful personality and attitude–she’s very friendly, open, treats everyone equally, absolutely loves her job as a teacher, and has this charm and loving nature that’s quite infectious. The execution of her character and her relationship with Koro really works well and you end up really buying into why Koro ended up changing in the end.
Then of course, there’s the big tentacled man himself: Koro-Sensei. The fact that it was revealed he was the former God of Death assassin in the last volume helps explains a lot of things about his personality and knowledge, bolstered by what we see and learn here. It shows us why he knows so much about assassination, is good at dodging any and all attempts at being killed, and even his classroom philosophy. Then we get to see Aguri’s influence on him, molding and changing him even more into the recognizable character we all know and love(?). That buildup and growth of character really works and it all culminates in a moment that we knew would be coming, but still felt incredibly powerful regardless. The volume does a terrific job at laying out his whole story, his reason for the creation of the assassination classroom, and why he is so adamant about having the class kill him. While I feel there is a logic hole in his reasoning in some way, you do really see his train of thought here and how it made sense over the course of the series. This volume gave the character the right amount of growth and depth he needed and how he’ll spend his final days will be interesting to read.
The writing maintains its rock solid quality, though with slight cracks in it this time out. Besides the three I mentioned, most of the characters don’t really get to do or say much at all. Now, that’s easily understandable given the focus for this collection of chapters, and we do get to close out Kaede’s storyline, but it is just a tad disappointing since the class feels pretty well defined at this point (thankfully, the next volume will be focusing all in on that). The pacing and storytelling are perfectly fine, with no issues in the story’s flow and there are no awkward transitions. The dialogue is nice and helps to build the character relationships in the flashbacks, with the best involving Aguri and Koro. However, the inner narration is overdone as hell. Pages are crammed with text trying to explain every little detail when the art or causal dialogue scenes do more than enough. There’s way too much tell instead of show here and sometimes, it gets confusing on who’s actually narrating–Koro, Nagisa, or the writer himself. It takes more away from the quality of the story than helps.
The quality of the artwork is also very good. Things such as layout work and how the story flows from panel to panel have no problems. The character designs feel alright, though at this point, I will say some of the characters look like mish-mashes of previous characters we’ve seen or are very reminiscent of others. Still, the actual depiction of Koro, from his human to his iconic form, is great in how it’s shown and paced throughout several chapters. Plus, the execution of several key, heavy moments are very effective, making any real shortcomings not as big of a deal. The only real downside is, yet again, the back-cover art spoils something.
Assassination Classroom Vol. 16 is a great follow-up to what was an already fantastic outing for the series. The flashbacks were amazing, outside of being a tad too wordy for their own good, and with how things ended, what is coming next is sure to be even more exciting than what we already got. Things are truly never going to be the same again and perhaps, in the end, so may the class and their relationships with one another. Here’s to the future and what comes next.