Monday, November 23, 2015

Assassination Classroom, Volume 1 by Yusei Matsui

Kunugigaoka Junior High School is an elite school where the best and brightest are sent.  One mention of being sent to class 3-E is enough to get the laziest slacker motivated.  No one wants to be sent there - it is for those who cannot make the grades or have behavioral issues.  Class 3-E is completely separate from the main school and no one really sees the students anymore.  Another thing that separates this class is that it is taught by an octopus-like alien bent on destroying Earth.  The students give him the name Koro Sensei and are tasked with killing him before the school year is done - or he will destroy the world.  The students are backed by the Japanese government who plan to award 10 billion yen (about 100 million US dollars) reward to whomever manages to take out this teacher.  Each day is a new adventure and riddled with a variety of ways the students try to take out Koro Sensei.  With each attempt we learn more about the individual students and how they ended up in class 3-E.  Will the students get the skills to finally kill their teacher before the year is up?

Even though the premise is a bit absurd, Assassination Classroom is an action filled dark comedy with rather poignant moments.  Matsui has created an odd little world where reality is rather skewed.  That said, there are several moments that are rather redeeming.  When the reader delves into the students' personal stories, valuable lessons are learned.  One student is a failure and was kicked off the baseball team.  He feels very down and that he has no talent.  Koro Sensei flies to America to scope out this student's favorite baseball player and ends up giving him some tips on how he can be just as good, but with different talent.  Another student we learn about is a wiz at chemistry but not so much with communication.  Koro Sensei provides a learning moment where she learns the value of communication, even for a scientist.  Matsui manages to do this in a way that readers aren't beaten over the head with the lessons learned and feeling a bit too sugary.  Combined with the zany action elements (lots of guns and other various weapons) and these lessons, they make one interesting story. If action elements (lots of weapons - specially designed to only hurt the alien, not humans) aren't for you then you will not want to read this series.  This title is better suited for older teens (16 and older) and adults.  It does contain violence towards aliens and some language.  However, if you are able to suspend reality for a bit and enjoy some zany action then you will want to give this series a try.

You can find Assassination Classroom, Volume 1 by Yusei Matsui on the VBPL Catalog. If you enjoyed Assassination Classroom, you may want to try Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida or Deadman Wonderland by Jinsei Kataoka.

Review by Michelle L. Chrzanowski, TCC Norfolk Campus Library

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