Review/discussion about: Assassination Classroom Second Season
The best professor who I have ever had the pleasure of learning from goes simply by the name of John.
John is a complete character. With his long, scraggly beard and expletive-filled conversations, he taught me and my friends two very important life lessons: scratch your itch and quid pro quo.
“Scratch your itch” means to follow your dreams. You only have this one life, so you may as well make the most of it. I’m scratching my itch by writing and becoming a writer I can be proud of.
“Quid pro quo” means you have to put in the effort to get any results. So long as you are determined and willing and focused, success will follow. I apply these words to writing, too, having experienced firsthand what such effort brings.
Assassination Classroom Second Season has also taught me words to live by: Moving at Mach speed will not solve all troubles.
Classroom begins almost immediately after where the first season left off. With the kidnapped kids saved and Koro-Sensei out of his protective bubble, the class finishes up their getaway and prepares to take down their teacher within the next handful of months – or face the Earth’s imminent explosion.
Unfortunately for the show, it’s the only one doing the exploding, for it has as many problems (once again) as Koro-Sensei has tentacles.
One of the biggest being the gross over-exaggeration of many of the events therein.
For example, Nagisa’s abusive mother goes from calm to insanely ballistic in less than second, making it difficult to take her tantrums seriously.
The main-campus kids, after one tough study session, start foaming at the mouth, wanting to (in their words) kill the E-Class.
Koro-Sensei’s death scene is dragged out for as long as alienly possible for a finalized farewell, but it goes on for so long that time must have frozen. (Otherwise, the world would have ended due to overshooting their time.)
Another way to put it: Classroom has next to zero subtlety when it comes to its emotions, actions, and outcomes. And it can be seen all throughout this second season.
A different, odder problem is the anime not capitalizing on Koro-Sensei’s weaknesses. The ones that were constantly highlighted. While many of them were for fun, like him getting motion sickness (from the first season) or being a sucker for romance gossip, the vast majority do not get used against him. Not utilizing its Chekov Guns of sort.
Then the anime actually tries to go the save-Koro-sensei route which is beyond silly. They were trying to kill him for over thirty episodes and it is literally the plot of the show. The whole board a spaceship, fly it successfully to the space station, and threaten the people on board with bombs (to which the astronauts invite them to hang out) makes this entire arc that much more absurd.
There being a one-percent chance of Koro-Sensei blowing up (or potentially and slowly dwindling away years from now) even if they do save him – meaning it’s not an absolute cure – makes it even worse: pointless.
Yes, they are kids who do not want their teacher to die after everything he has done for all of them. But when the premise, direction, and events are each geared towards assassinating him, and saving him becomes an idea (and even a possibility) near the last leg (tentacle) of the series, it makes little sense to say the least.
And getting back to Koro-Sensei’s death scene, the way the class kills him does not even follow the whole premise of the show. They were supposed to assassinate Koro-Sensei since that’s what they were trained to do (let alone “assassination” being in the title of the show).
But no. Instead, he gets very tired from fighting the new Reaper and resurrecting Kayano, and they all just sit on him and strike a dagger through his heart. (A couple of his weaknesses that the class actually does take advantage of.)
These issues are the most notable. Smaller problems also add up.
Despite having assassinations and aliens, the anime chooses to have a (similar) repeat of the exam arc.
There’s also the kids’ apprehension at attacking Koro-Sensei when opportunities arise, such as when Itona is being used to lure out Koro-Sensei.
The entire save-versus-kill survival game mini-arc halted progress of the plot without adding much to it (no matter how divisive the class had become).
Koro-Sensei essentially beating the new (powered-up) Reaper with a beam made of his feelings produces a shake of the head and not a holler of triumph.
A lot of harping has gone on up to this point, so it would be unfair to not list some positives. For there are a few. “Few” not “many.”
Classroom does follow-up on some characters and events from the previous season: the romance between Irina and Karasuma, the man in white (who happens to be Kotarou, the researcher who turned Koro-Sensei into who he is), the teenager that Nagisa duped near the end of the first season. Following through on these threads demonstrates that the anime did have a vision in mind moving forward.
The daycare-helping episode was nice and easily the strongest of the season. The comedy of the kids putting way too much thought and detail into the renovations was smart. Having the kids take a step back and realize that their newfound skills do not permit them to be overly careless and arrogant provided a new perspective. Slyly introducing Reaper into the equation was a good plot point.
Kayano’s twist was surprising (in a good way). While Classroom technically could have done this surprise with any of its characters, it was an interesting and unpredictable way of going after Koro-Sensei once more and segueing into Koro-Sensei’s backstory.
But perhaps the show’s best feature is that it actually finishes. The anime completes its story, going so far as to provide a small epilogue to bring as much closure as possible to the tale that was told. This detail seems obvious (since any well-crafted story will finish), but, considering the medium’s penchant for incomplete tales, it’s welcoming to see this nearly fifty-episode long experience fully come to an end.
Sadly, this second season has more negatives than positives, so the narrative ends up subpar overall.
Not much can be said about Classroom’s art and animation that was not already brought up last season, for, as expected, both areas remain mostly the same.
The kids still go to their out-of-the-way building. The detail of the backgrounds is still only marginal at best. And the animation remains roughly similar: lots of phasing and movement whenever Koro-Sensei takes the lead or when the kids are doing their assassination-esque duties, not as much nuance during downtime.
Although, the anime does make a couple of nice additions to the character-design department. Koro-Sensei shows off a brand-new color – black for absolute anger – and Irina’s extremely attractive casual outfit: a turtle-neck sweater, an unkempt ponytail, and a long, red skirt. Otherwise, the character designs, too, maintain their same level of quality. In this case, a high level of quality.
Classroom, same as before, has a lot of characters. One may even say a whole classroom’s worth.
Some, like Yukiko and Manami, got their spotlight in the first season, so their presence (and those similar to them) is not felt all that much. That’s fine because, as was just written, they have already been given attention.
Some, like Takuya and Masayoshi, receive more on the characteristic side. Takuya’s family runs a ramen shop, and Masayoshi’s name means “Justice.” Once again, other characters of this kind can be seen throughout the show which, once again (again), is fine since the anime is at least trying to showcase as many of the students as possible.
Some, like Yuuma and Asano, get a little bit more. Parts or even whole episodes aim at their “what a guy” nature or how he values strength not through domination but through demonstration. Either way, it helps to make these characters feel that much more developed or, at the minimum, more meaningful to Classroom beyond only being related to food and nicknames.
These categorizations cover a large majority of the cast, and, clearly, the show targeted as many of them as time would allow even if that means most of them are neither deep nor intriguing.
Those characters not apart of the majority must therefore do the heavy lifting. The question is, do they?
Irina is a character that arguably gets a lot of time (relative to the others). She gets her own mini-arc (shared a bit with the new Reaper), her background story is slightly visualized, and her conflict of not feeling as though she belonged in the world of safety and fun with the students fits her character well since she has often been an outsider of sorts (beautiful beyond compare, a seasoned veteran, a coarse nickname).
The resolution to her character being that she comes back more relaxed than ever, as well as ending up in a romantic relationship with Karasuma, ends her on as high of a note as possible. (Even if the second half of the season barely has her around.)
Gakuhou, the evil principal and Asano’s father, also gets much-needed backstory. Surprisingly, he used to teach at the same building that Koro-Sensei does now, doing his best to impart fun and wisdom on his meager class. Unfortunately, after one of his students commits suicide after being bullied at school (after graduating from Gakuhou’s class), he abandons his teaching philosophies entirely, favoring rigorous ideals and unwavering arrogance.
While the student’s death is tragic, going the complete opposite way in character is quite the shift. Especially when his two other students went on to lead successful lives despite their own (unseen) hardships.
Nevertheless, Gakuhou’s (new) way of teaching is one that Koro-Sensei does not support but recognizes. For while their methods may differ, their aims are the same: give their students the tools to succeed.
And when Koro-Sensei bests Gakuhou at his own game, the psychotic man finally eases up ever-so-slightly, indicating that even a person as staunch as Gakuhou could be influenced by the yellow alien.
Nagisa, as the pseudo-main-character, has his path laid out for him as well. He discovers a small love for teaching while working at the nursery. He realizes the gap between his strength and that of the seasoned-veteran Reaper. He “beats” Karma in a one-on-one duel, solidifying his spot as the best assassin as well as his relationship with the red-haired troublemaker.
Kayano as well. She unveils her tentacle secret as well as the connection she shares with her older sister – who, in turn, shared a connection with Koro-Sensei (before he became Koro-Sensei). Her acting ability allowed her to pretend to be somebody she wasn’t, and she endured agonizing pain every single day in the hopes of attacking and killing Koro-Sensei, demonstrating her fierce hatred of the man who (she presumed) murdered her sister.
Like how Nagisa chooses to become a teacher instead of an assassin, Kayano, too, chooses the better of the two routes by forgiving Koro-Sensei and apologizing for her actions. Granted, both Nagisa and Kayano are not extensive characters, but they still have some change throughout (however small).
This all leads to the final, most important character: Koro-Sensei.
One of the first season’s biggest flaws was opting to ignore anything on Koro-Sensei. Maybe one half-second flashback was shown, but nothing remotely worthwhile about him was given. Thankfully, in this second season, Classroom corrects this error by dedicating an entire episode to Koro-Sensei’s backstory and hence his character.
And it’s a mess.
While it was called “backstory,” what is given is more like a quick recap. For Koro-Sensei’s childhood, growth, and life in general is never fully shown. Instead, it’s glossed over and assumed that he becomes the best assassin alive – known simply as the Reaper.
So, without any actual backstory to go off of for him, it places his character in a weak spot for what follows: namely, captivity at the hands of the researchers. For without knowing about his experiences, ideas, and motivations other than “he is really good at killing,” the show makes it very difficult to resonate with him.
Then in walks Kayano’s older sister, Aguri. The setup itself is nice. He’s the trapped, charming assassin, she’s the optimistic, odd-shirt wearing lab assistant, and the two slowly start to fall for one another. However, their “moments” together can be counted on a couple of fingers, and they were not exactly romantic given the giant glass wall that separated them.
It also does not help that pre-Koro-Sensei still has nothing meaningful backing his character, meaning it is hard to gauge what this relationship means for him as a person.
Regardless, he does seem to have feelings for Aguri. “Seem” because, once he begins to escape the facility, he quickly pushes her away, telling her that she’s “not even worth taking hostage.” Which makes his sudden reversal later, after her death, weird to see. He liked her, then he didn’t care for her, and then he liked her again. Wishy-washy writing.
And that’s how Koro-Sensei came to be. Aguri’s death sparked him to lead her class to victory as well as turning him into the happy-go-lucky alien. All in all, not very riveting which, considering that Koro-Sensei’s past is arguably the most important piece of information in the series, makes this mishandling of his character arguably the worst offense of the series.
Near the end, during the final-boss fight, Classroom tries (and fails) to make up some ground by throwing in the twist that the white-robed villain was Kotarou, the researcher that mutated Koro-Sensei, and that his lackey was the new Reaper who, in turn, was once Koro-Sensei’s pupil.
But Kotarou’s goal of revenge rings hollow since it was a part of Koro-Sensei’s weak background, and the new Reaper’s relationship with Koro-Sensei is only given as fast flashbacks that lack importance (even if one of them involved Koro-Sensei killing the new Reaper’s father and another showed the new Reaper getting Koro-Sensei captured).
Koro-Sensei’s actual character is a bust, but the wisdom he imparts is not.
When looking at the series as a whole, what he did and what he taught was certainly unorthodox. After all, not many kids can say they learned in school how to handle knives and stalk their prey. But the beauty of it, like most knowledge that is taught, is that it can be used elsewhere.
Koro-Sensei did teach them the “basics” to killing. But he also taught them how to help others. How to have confidence. How to simply reach their greatest potential through their own means.
In other words, Koro-Sensei did not just teach them some skills.
He taught them how to be themselves.
So, to answer the question posed earlier, a lot of the characters did do some heavy lifting. And while Koro-Sensei was mishandled, what he did is something that even the audience can appreciate and is definitely worth noting.
The first OP of Classroom comes out strong with switching between male and female singers, a level beat, the “Question” lyrical segment, and a groovy guitar. The second OP is not as interesting, but its catchy-guitar riff and its slightly somber tone help to make it at least a competent piece to lead off the episodes in the second half of the season.
The first ED is very reminiscent of the first season’s ED. And, while it does not live up to that one’s splendor, this new ED’s relaxation and sincerity contrast well with the show’s craziness and assassinations. The second ED follows a similar sentiment but is even more sincere. Given what goes down, and how the series itself comes to an end, it’s a fitting and heartfelt way to send off the anime (even if the song itself is nothing too special).
The rest of the OST (and as it was with the art and animation) sticks with what the first one provided. Comedy tracks for when Koro-Sensei acts ridiculous, ominous tracks when the new Reaper intimidates the students, and dramatic tracks for when the class goes through their roll-call.
And although the voice-acting performances are (yet again) nothing superb, Jun Fukuyama at the minimum deserves another shout-out for continuing his Koro-Sensei-related mannerisms and vocal cues.
Those that have read my review of the first season know that I was most certainly not a fan of it. This second season did not change my mind. Arguably, it made me dislike the whole series even more.
I could not stand the whole “clap in their face” ability. I shook my head at how much the show tried pushing this super-cool-and-effective technique that was literally just putting one’s hands together. And it was carried all the way until the end of the series.
I was also peeved that the anime chickened out on the romance angle. Nagisa’s bold move being excused as just utilizing his assassination toolkit was already lame, but then the anime, after the time-skip, had to bury any chances of him and Kayano getting together by her just not caring about the possibility since Nagisa is doing his own thing or some similar silliness.
Koro-Sensei continued being an annoying blob. His doofy laugh, his unfunny overreactions, and his near infallibility grated on my nerves.
The anime even had a lot less of one of my favorite characters: Ritsu. She had some moments, like when she officiated in her police outfit during the cops-and-robbers game or when she was hacked which caused her to become extremely lazy and irritable. But she was not around nearly enough for my liking.
I did like Irina once again. If only because she was so attractive in her new design and because her getting lovesick was funny to see. And, admittedly, I got a teeny tiny bit emotional during Koro-Sensei’s death scene despite how dragged out it was.
But when the other drama is lame, the villains are laughable, the characters are bland, and the action is boring, this second season ends up as a unentertaining experience.
Assassination Classroom Second Season does not get a passing grade. The story finishes and the cast gets attention here and there, but the poor writing decisions, Koro-Sensei’s weak background, and the annoying content make quid pro quo an unequal trade in this situation.
Story: Bad, while flashes of strength can be found, the narrative lacks any subtlety, mires itself in silly plot choices, and even goes against its own premise
Animation: Fine, okay artistic direction, okay actual animation, and nice character designs
Characters: Fine, while Koro-Sensei’s character is mishandled yet again, the attention given to the supporting cast as well as their theme on gaining more beyond the “basics” makes the cast at least passable
Sound: Fine, good first OP, okay second OP, good first ED, okay second ED, okay OST, and okay VA performances
Enjoyment: Terrible, “clapping” induced eye rolling, Koro-Sensei is annoying again, and Irina’s attractiveness can only do so much
Final Score: 3/10
Thanks for taking the time to read my review. If you want, take part in the discussion below! :3