ByShannon McShortall, writer at Creators.co
I have been reading comics since before I could read. When I learned how to read, they became significantly better.
Shannon McShortall

Assassination Classroom is an anime that started earlier this year and ran for 22 episodes, concluding its first season a few weeks ago with a fitting finale. A 10/10 series that has definite re-watch value. Honestly, I definitely recommend that if you haven’t seen it (and most people haven't), you should check it out. It’s great for beginners and longtime anime fans alike, and here’s why:

Plot

The plot is so strangely unique and that is one of its major selling points. Basically, after a large chunk of the moon is destroyed, a classroom of shunned students are shocked when they are assigned a new teacher: a strange yellow tentacled being, but what is even more shocking is that he promises to destroy the rest of the moon unless he can be assassinated within the year, and he wants the students to do so. This obviously hasn’t been done before and that is what makes it so great. If anything, the idea of children becoming killers is the closest this show comes to being anything else that has been done before, as done previously in Battle Royale and later on in The Hunger Games. It’s a must-watch given its creativity. Also, it draws the audience in within the start of every episode and a week-by-week haul didn’t feel like it dragged. When an episode cut off at a tense spot, the next episode reignited that tension without it diminishing. This is because each episode leaves enough tantalising teasers and plot threads dangling for the viewer to consider over the next week. There is no need to binge-watch this show to get full enjoyment out of it, but if you decide to watch and the other episodes are just there waiting for you, you’ll probably binge-watch it anyway.

Characters

Given the fact that the show features a few teachers and a whole classroom of students as main characters, one would expect that the characters would either hardly be featured or characters would become too much like each other. This happens to the best of shows. Live action comedies like Community suffer from lack of using certain characters in a main cast of only about 7, which is relatively small in comparison to Assassination Classroom. Don’t get me wrong. I love Community, but Shirley (and Pierce, for behind-the-scenes reasons) was hardly ever around. Meanwhile, another comedy anime by the name of The Daily Lives of High School Boys suffered from the fact that almost every character could be interchangeable and practically nothing distinguished one character from another. The characters in Assassination Classroom all have a purpose and a specific skill they bring to the group. In the first few episodes, the audience can basically figure out which of these characters will be playing a main role and which will be assigned to secondary-to-tertiary characters. Although, everyone does get enough time in the light. There are barely any background characters. The show utilises the characters in a way I haven’t seen before. By the end of Season 1, we know almost every student’s special skill and probably at least one quirk or trait about them. The main characters get a lot of development as we see their downfalls and their successes, with each and every one having some bearing on their actions in the future.

Villains

Without spoiling anything, while the villains have little to no presence for a large chunk of the series, they are still great. They cover the general range of anime villains. There are strange villains, powerful villains, creepy villains, manipulative villains, villains at the peak of human strength, intelligent villains and insane villains. Given their lack of screentime, they aren’t very memorable, but a lot have been set up to have larger roles in Season 2. While they don’t stand out particularly from other anime villains, this doesn’t make them bad. This puts them in a VERY GOOD category. They say a good story relies on good villains, but to have this show be so good and not really have a need for villains is an accomplishment and you shouldn’t be worried by the lack of villainous activity in the show. One villain does stand out in the last few episodes though, given their master plan and the stakes involved.

Music

Musically, this show hits on all cylinders, delivering sad music before delivering heavy epic music and then jumping to heist music and even a techno beat. It stands out among anime, which have always been very good with differing and excellent music. The music makes the viewer feels the intended emotion and work as themes for the characters. I’m actually listening to the soundtrack as I write this.

Action

The action isn’t as top-notch as a good few animes I have seen, but it’s still pretty good. The only problem with writing about the action is that the action is actually helped greatly by the writing, which I will discuss later. Otherwise, the action that does come along is pretty good, but it’s not like it is needed, given the more comedic tone of the show. The action would stand out among live-action shows, but in the anime world, it’s part of a group. A good group, but for seasoned anime fans, it’s nothing special.

Messages

As it is with animes, Assassination Classroom is filled with philosophical messages and morales. With an overlying message of exceeding society’s expectations and being the bigger person, the show makes the viewer feel good about themselves and it’s really a great show to watch when the viewer is feeling down.

Writing

Again, with previous points, this show is very much like other anime. Its writing is brilliant and the dialogue is always sparkling with character and feeling. As with the ‘Messages’ section, there is deep philosophical meaning in the dialogue. It doesn’t stand out among other anime as being vastly different in writing strength, but it IS within the top 10 anime in terms of writing/dialogue (and in my personal Top 5). It doesn’t rely too much on its Japanese setting in its dialogue and as such, the show is easily accessible outside of Japan.

Tone

It'll make sense when you watch it. Trust me...
It'll make sense when you watch it. Trust me...

Tone is the greatest part about this show. Tonally, this show is a feel-good comedy which doubles as an action-drama. The drama is tense at points and always delivers great character and the action is superb, but where the show really shines is in its feel-good comedy area. Now, if you started watching anime with something like Berserk or more commonly, with something like Attack on Titan, then this show will be a big jump for you, even though it does have a good few dramatic and serious moments. That doesn’t have to be a bad thing though. The tone, while different, is more in line with a lot of the more mainstream “better” anime. Don’t go into it expecting something like Attack on Titan. This is vastly different, but a seasoned anime fan can jump between these two vastly different tones, especially given how good both shows are. It is a great starting point as well as a good show for those who have been into anime for a while. Its tone isn’t too dark and adult, making it fairly accessible to most ages. Tonally, it is a lot of fun and that is what makes it a must-watch.

Humour

As with the tone, the humour is one of the standout points about the show. It’s very funny. I normally find it very difficult to laugh when I’m by myself at something, but this show had some laugh-out-loud moments for me. It’s very amusing, but doesn’t turn its characters into the butts of jokes all the time. Every character has a specific role and humour comes into that. If they start to become the punchline, they proceed to reintroduce to their skills and role in the ensemble.

Design

The characters all have significant designs and no one character can ever be mistaken for another, even though there is such a massive cast of students, some of which don’t have that big a role. Koro Sensei’s design in particular stands out because of its fun but somewhat menacing emotionless look. The art style is of a high quality and the animation is smooth. I was suggested to put ‘lighting’ in a separate category, but given my relative lack of understanding of lighting in comparison to the rest of the categories, I have included it here. The lighting was always top-notch and the shadowing and lighting of characters rivalled Death Note in professionalism.

Final Thoughts

Assassination Classroom is a great anime. It appeals to anime viewers new and old and tonally, its a fun show that appeals to all ages. The characters are well written and developed and the plot is fun and unique. Given the fact that it has only just begun, it’s a great short place to start off watching anime. I definitely recommend this show for beginners to anime, given how it gives an idea of what to expect and look forward to in anime and is good enough to warrant a further look into anime, without throwing the viewer headfirst into a Japanese world they don’t understand. Being a seasoned anime watcher and having started with One Piece and Pokemon back on Toasted TV when I was 9, this show still appeals to me as something new and different, while still being so much fun. So I definitely recommend you check it out on Animelab!

If you have watched it, please try and stray away from putting spoilers in the comments, given the nature of the article and the intended audience. But also, do tell me whether you enjoyed it or not and why.

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