Title: Assassination Classroom Vol. 21
Author: Yusei Matsui
Publisher: Viz Media
Genre: Shonen, Battle, Comedy
Publication Date: April 3, 2018
The final volume of Assassination Classroom is here. As I expected, this was a nice epilogue volume that ties up everything. Since Koro-sensei’s assassination, the students have attempted to read all of Koro-sensei’s personally-tailored memoirs, but they’re so long that they continuously fall asleep while trying to read them!
Next, we get to experience their graduation ceremony. Afterward, they are bombarded by the press but their former rivals, the upperclassmen, act as shields so that they can escape the furious onslaught of media questions. Finally, we get the actual epilogue chapter that runs through some of the major supporting characters to showcase what they have become post-graduation. The most important one was Nagisa who pursued his goal of becoming a teacher. It was quite hilarious how Nagisa didn’t even grow and ended up getting placed inside of a classroom with a bunch of high school delinquents.
It reminded me a lot of Dangerous Minds, but instead of a marine whipping the class into shape we had Nagisa and his assassination training. It didn’t take long for him to demonstrate his skill in order to get the class to take him seriously! With that success under his belt, Assassination Classroom comes to an end.
No characters section because the epilogue chapters take care of that for us. From beginning to end, this was a highly enjoyable series when the main story was in full force. There were some times when the series dragged a bit as they inserted some filler between the main stories that added a lot of humor to the series. While I do understand the importance of pacing, there were a couple of volumes that had nothing but filler material and that kind of broke the pacing up for me a little bit.
Despite that, the story that unfolded was spectacular, especially towards the back end of the series. In the beginning, you had your clearly established goal: kill Koro-sensei. You didn’t think much of it because the series didn’t give you the importance behind it. You, as the reader, were given the same amount of information about Koro-sensei that the students in the manga received. You knew he blew up the moon (which turned out to be a fabrication) and that they had one year to kill him or Earth would suffer the same fate (which only ended up as a less than one percent chance of happening.)
The first half of the series was just filled with great moments where the students grew as assassins. They had to overcome challenge after challenge and it not only taught them how to be assassins, but it also bestowed upon them great life lessons. This was Koro-sensei’s goal all along, but nobody really realized it yet. The biggest clue was Koro-sensei’s compassion for teaching his students. You often found yourself questioning why he would go to such lengths if he was going to blow up the Earth? That’s when the back half of the series took a darker turn and began to explain the origins of Koro-sensei.
At that moment, the series didn’t just feel like a cheap shonen comedy anymore. It established a myriad of emotions, it brought forth intangible connections to the characters. Every decision the students made weighed heavier and heavier. When you realize what Koro-sensei is, was and what he was trying to accomplish, the more you began to have an appreciation of him as a character. You wouldn’t think a series like Assassination Classroom would go that deep, but they did and that was the surprising factor to his whole story.
The biggest thing that soured the great storytelling wasn’t the character development, but the sustainability of the characters once they were developed. The cast to Assassination Classroom is, no doubt, massive. I understand with a cast this large, it is virtually impossible to develop every character and keep that development relevant throughout the series. It would have taken WAY more than twenty-one volumes of the manga for Yusei Matsui to pull this off. So in that regards, I understand why the characters were the way they were, but it was still rather annoying to have a chapter or two dedicated to a character and then have their backstory either barely referenced or the character itself not matter all that much after their backstory was told. It just felt like “okay… here’s some story and now, back into the closet you go.”
If anything, I believe that was this series’ greatest weakness. What’s even worse is that the majority of these characters could have disappeared from the series and it wouldn’t have mattered one bit. I think this series would have worked better with a much smaller cast. Start off by having a select few become the Class E that was tasked with assassinating Koro-sensei. This way you could build those characters, keep their stories relevant and make them more meaningful. That’s just me playing the role of armchair managaka though, but I felt something like that would have solved this problem.
While this volume does end after its third chapter, this volume does pack in not one, not two, but FIVE bonus chapters worth of material for you to enjoy! Just nice little side stories for you to relax with once you finish the main course!
Outside of that, this is still a great series to pick up. It will make you laugh throughout, but in the end, it will take you on an emotional roller coaster.
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This item was provided for review by Viz Media