Assassination Classroom, Vol. 5

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

One of the things that makes this such an interesting manga is the tension between the standard cliched ‘teacher takes a class filled with losers abandoned by teachers and makes them care about learning and themselves’ cliche and the actual plotline that they are trying to kill their teacher to save the world by learning assassination. Koro-sensei is too straightforward and strange to really swell on this, and Irina is not at a point yet where she really particularly cares (she’s still mostly here for breast jokes and to get humiliated). But Karasuma is normal enough, even if he is a tactical military guy trained in dozens of methods of killing a person, to be aware of what they’re actually doing to these children. And to be disturbed when one of them shows signs of being really really GOOD at killing.


Naturally, it’s Nagisa, who is the closest we have to a ‘main character’ amongst the students. We’ve already seen how he has a talent for research and tends to try to think his way to a better assassination. Now we see that he doesn’t even need to use strength and power to be able to achieve this – he can rely on his natural unassuming, slightly feminine personality (there are several jokes here about him looking like a girl) and go right for the kill. And thank goodness for that, because he’s up against the government’s replacement for Karasuma, who gets results by being a complete psycho, and thinks nothing about belting a 14-year-old girl across the chops.

This leads to the other interesting thing about this book, which is the school principal. He’s clearly the main antagonist of the series, and we’ve seen how his method of teaching requires Class E to be at the bottom of the heap for everyone to bully. I was, honestly, surprised at the ending of the baseball story – not necessarily because our heroes won, but more because the principal didn’t punish the main baseball team in retaliation. That said, as an antagonist he’s great, being able to almost hypnotize his students into doing what he wants, and sticking to his principles even if they are twisted. That’s why his appearance at the end of the arc with Takaoka is wonderful, as he strolls up to and casually talks about how dull and boring his class was. Not even worth sticking around like Irina does, he’s terminated right there and then.

Koro-sensei actually doesn’t have much to do in this volume – the main story is all Karasuma, with Koro-sensei merely commenting occasionally, and the revelation that he can’t swim will carry us into the next book, but doesn’t do much good now. Still, the series has now gotten to the point where we don’t need to have killing Koro-sensei being the focus of every chapter. There’s a lot going on here, and as the series hits Vol. 5 you can tell that Matsui has realized he’s not on the verge of cancellation and is drawing out a larger plotline. I look forward to seeing where it goes.

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  1. “Still, the series has now gotten to the point where we don’t need to have killing Koro-sensei being the focus of every chapter.” Then the world could explode, their families may die, and they don’t care?

    • Sean Gaffney says

      I… think you’re taking the main plot more seriously than the author wants you to? Koro-sensei’s deadline is the gimmick of the series, and one of the major plot beats, but the heart of the story is his teaching the students how to value themselves.

      • I know it’s a heartwarming comedy. But still, I feel that without focus the whole thing about assassination becomes meaningless. If it was just a story about a mutant octopus who wants to help some middle schoolers, ok, but it’s not. Plus: the teacher is so kind with them and they seem happy about it. So, when they say they will kill the teacher or when the teacher says he will destroy the Earth, I can not believe it, because it makes no sense to kill such a nice guy or destroy the kids he enjoys helping.

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