Assassination Classroom, Vol. 2

By Yusei Matsui. Released in Japan by Shueisha, serialization ongoing in the magazine Weekly Shonen Jump. Released in North America by Viz.

In this second volume, there’s a bit less focus on the actual assassination attempts as Matsui starts to try to expand the cast and show us more of the horrible world they live in. We meet the principal of the school, who exudes pure cynicism and hatred from every pore, and it’s quite apparent that he will not allow Class 3-E to succeed. Scapegoats who learn to better themselves have no value to him, and so he changes the rules to ensure that they are hated and despised. What it’s doing to the kids themselves doesn’t seem to matter to him – I think if they all killed themselves the day after graduation he wouldn’t spare it a second thought – but in my mind, it’s the values he’s placing in the A-D classes that’s far more chilling.

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Of course, this is meant to contrast with Koro-sensei, who may be an alien out to kill us all but is also determined to give these kids self-confidence to be the best they can be, and takes it personally when all his hard work goes wasted during the midterms. This is nicely contrasted with all the moments where Koro-sensei is simply an eccentric idiot – the reasn that we don’t get to bored or irritated with him is that he has so many flaws and bad habits in among his invulnerability – flaws that are dutifully being written down by our narrative voice Nagisa (calling him the protagonist of this series seems oddly wrong), and flaws that are abused, seemingly, by the new teacher and assassin introduced here, Irina Jelavich.

A brief aside. For those who hoped that with the forced addition of ‘Koro-sensei’ we’d see honorifics in this series, sorry, Jump editorial practice will only allow it if it leads to an untranslatable pun. Thus ‘Bitch-neesan’ becoming ‘Bitch-sensei’ is not going to happen, and instead we see ‘Ms. Bitch’ becoming ‘Ms. Vitch’, which also neatly allows Viz to soften things up a bit. Bitch or Vitch, though, Irina certainly makes a horrible first impression, on both the cast and the readers. She’s an omniglot and talented assassin, but it’s clear that she only knows how to assassinate through seduction, and when it comes to actually keeping her cover as a teacher she’s useless. That said, she does seem to be easing up a bit, particularly when she sees how Class 3-E are treated by the rest of the school. I could have done without the tentacle rape joke, though given what Koro-sensei looks like I suppose it was inevitable.

We see the students here as well, but so far they seem to be more of a cast herd rather than having deeply drawn personalities. Nagisa is the strongest, being the keen observer (though he’s weak for busty women, like most teens – and indeed like Koro-sensei). Kaede hasn’t really said much at all (though I did love the ‘my brain is up here’ sign she held up, a wonderful translation choice, as I think the original just had her complaining about Irina’s large breasts). And Karma may be the smartest in the class, but he made far less of an impression here. The end of the volume promises that may change soon, though, and I’m hoping that this is the sort f series where everyone gets some attention paid to them. Though ‘a lot of them are only bit players so I try not to make them too unique’ doesn’t bode well.

Overall, this is still an addictive series, even if I feel it has some issues with character. Irina is an amusing addition to the cast, and I hope we will eventually get jokes about her that don’t involve her being a femme fatale who’s really just a ditz. More to the point, the stakes are raised with the introduction of the principal, as now we really see what Koro-sensei and the class are up against. Go get this.

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Comments

  1. It’s…so long….


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