Assassination Classroom is one of the most interesting and unusual set-ups for a story that I've seen in a long time. It's kind of a mix of ALF, Great Teacher Onizuka, and Dangerous Minds. Ass Class (as I love to refer to it) is all about a yellow, jellyfish-like creature with a giant smiley-face for a head who recently blew up the moon. Apparently this lunacide was just the appetizer though, seeing as this super powerful and fast (think Mach 20) being has told the world leaders that in one year's time he will do the same to the Earth. Unless...
This goofy-looking, tentacled, seemingly-unkillable thing then gave his demands to the governments of the world (who chose to keep his existence a secret for now), and they are that he be allowed to teach a class of junior high students at a prestigious Japanese prep school for the next year, and if any of his students are able to kill him during that time period, then so be it.
The Japanese government jumped at the chance, and this creature (whom the students gave the name Korosensei, a name which pretty much means "unkillable teacher") then began to teach class 3-E. 3-E is the delinquent and shunned group of students at Kunugigaoka Junior High School, and is often criticized and looked down upon as being the "end class" of the establishment by students and teachers alike. 3-E is not even allowed on the main school grounds (instead they're shunted off into a super ancient school building way back in the woods behind the main, modern campus), except for assemblies and exams.
And on top of this already bizarre situation, Korosensei teaches his charges how to assassinate him in between classes on English, math, and Japanese literature. Oh, and Korosensei is forbidden from doing anything to hurt his students at all, and the Japanese government has offered ¥10 billion to whoever can kill the jelly-teacher once and for all. The main problem with cacking the teacher being that Korosensei is highly intelligent, and fast enough to form 20 shadow versions of himself at one time (i.e. he's easily quick enough to dodge a bullet or a knife-strike).
That's pretty much it in a nutshell. We follow this class of bottom-of-the-barrel students of class 3-E as a nigh invulnerable alien (well, Korosensei can be killed by weapons made by some strange plastic element that actually damages his flesh, unlike steel or any metal that we know about) instructs them how to study and build up their own confidence through book learning and assassination attempts. At random points, other assassins come in to the class too and act as teachers or students in order to get a chance to whack the always grinning, blobby professor. Wackiness ensues!
So, I thought that the subject of this series was unique and interesting, but the tone of Ass Class was equally as strange. It was first and foremost a comedy (even though the whole point of the series is "kids trying to straight up murder their teacher"), but it didn't have the full-insane, zany tone that I had at first assumed it would have.
Some of the kids even get so good at setting up impressive kills (that would take out any normal target) that they draw the attention of world famous assassins interested in training them further. But beyond all this, the wildly goofy and disturbed Korosensei never lets the feel of the show get too dark. Oh, and neither do some of the other bizarre happenings in Class 3-E, like the arrival of the monolith-with-a-screen A.I. student (who's programmed to assassinate but looks like a dating-sim girl), and the twisted principal of the school who is determined to keep 3-E down out of pure spite and conviction for their place in life, despite the fact that his messing with them pisses off a creature who's planning to blow up the world in a year's time.
For the most part, I liked almost every character. Almost the entire cast has a time to shine, and most of the students and teachers grow in their roles quite convincingly... Well, as convincingly as the story about a humanoid squid threatening to blow up the Earth, but who teaches a class of teenagers how to kill him in the meantime can be. But one character just didn't do it for me, and every time she appeared on screen I wanted to shoot her. This character (one of the top assassins in the world, a hot blonde Eastern European woman named Irina Jelavich) is supposed to be totally in control and cold and calculating, but within one episode (and several failed attempts at Korosensei's life) Irina becomes completely unglued, and soon afterward she's just comic relief for her flash rages and incompetence. The students even call her "Bitch-sensei" because Jelavich is hard to pronounce, sounds like "Yera-bitch" when Japanese school kids pronounce it, and because Irina IS a bitch. Fuck her, and the horse she rode in on.
I also absolutely hated the opening songs, but surprisingly liked the end theme quite a bit. In fact it's still stuck in my head. And I can't get it out whatever I do. Even that knife didn't help.
Other than that, I'll just let you know that this is apparently only the first half of this story. It is interesting enough that I will watch the second half when it's eventually animated, but it really wasn't anything amazing, despite it's unique set-up. I guess I was just expecting a lot more madness and absurdity from this premise. It would sometimes touch the line of insanity, but then quickly retreat to a safe [humored] distance, and then chuckle to itself as to how daring it was. It could have been a lot more interesting if it let loose a lot more often.
I used to daydream, back when I was a high school science teacher for a bunch of ungrateful yuppie larva, that it was legal to throw stuff at my disruptful students when they annoyed me. Only small things, like chalk, erasers, knives...
This animated television program was my worst fear come true: openly armed students openly attempting to assassinate the teacher in the middle of class. I kept a Saturday Night Special in my desk at all times due to this (very rational, as it turned out) fear.
Oh sure, the Japanese may laugh at this particular setup. Yes, it may be comical to try and murder one's teacher in a country where guns do not exist on the street in any way, shape, or form, but show this television program to any inner-city high school teacher and I would guarantee you that they would be sweating like a Duggar child being babysat by their older brother. (We're talking sweating blood here.)
I wanted nothing more than the jovial Korosensei to snap and shove each of his students' knives right up their rectums, and then make them sit down or face detention.