The students of Class 3-E have to kill their teacher by the end of the year, or the world will be destroyed. But with it still early in the year, they have a lot to learn.
ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM VOLUME 2
WRITER: YUSEI MATSUI
ARTIST: YUSEI MATSUI
TRANSLATOR: TETSUICHIRO MIYAKI
LETTERER: STEPHEN DUTRO
TOUCH-UP ARTIST: STEPHEN DUTRO
PUBLISHER: VIZ MEDIA
COVER PRICE: $9.99
Previously in Assassination Classroom: A mysterious creature has destroyed most of the moon, and has told the leaders of the world that they have one year to try to kill him before he destroys the earth. And in an odd twist that no one yet understands, he has another demand in this so-called last year – to teach the class of 3-E in Kunugigaoka Junior High – the class of academic rejects. They are to try to kill him as often as possible, and are humanity’s only hope. To help up the stakes, the governments of the world have offered a reward of ten million dollars to the person who can take the creature down. And, of course, the students can’t talk about it to anyone outside of the classroom.
What no one expected is that he would be an excellent teacher, and that the students are starting to like him.
With about nine months left until the end of the world at the start of this volume, the governments of the world are getting more and more nervous. If nuclear missiles and countless assassination attempts can’t take Koro Sensei (the nickname given to the creature by class 3-E) down, what hope can the “losers” of Kunugigaoka have? So, it’s time to bring in the best of the best, with an elite German assassin entering the teaching ranks as the language teacher.
While volume 1 was oddly charming in Koro Sensei’s faith in his students’ abilities, I was almost lost completely at the beginning of this book. The German assassin has a last name that easily lends to a nickname which is a common slur against women, and I am so sick and tired of seeing women written in comics to be the flavor of bossy and assertive and hypersexualized that often gets branded with this slur and paints them in a negative light. Now, to be fair, Assassination Classroom is by far not the worst portrayal of this, and I know there are many more high profile versions. But it’s a trope that is gross and I almost stopped reading this book because I was so disappointed. (It took me a whole four days to pick it up and finish it.)
And said assassin doesn’t do much to endear me to her, though by the end of her entrance story she is starting to work on understanding the students more, which is a plus. But even in her redemption, she is not being taken seriously by anyone, as shown in her new nickname (which isn’t the slur as they were using before but it rhymes with it), and her immoral behavior to the main (student) character who is without a doubt underage. And even if he were of legal age to consent, I find it incredibly disturbing when sexual harassment is played off as humor. Am I surprised at seeing this? No, because it’s fairly common in both Japanese and American cultures. But it doesn’t mean I have to like it.
In the previous volume, the reader was introduced to the concept of what the class of 3-E represented, and they delve further into that idea in volume 2. It is taking the bell curve and making it a literal thing, requiring the failure of a small set of students for the rest of the bell curve structure to hold. It is deplorable, and I would of course hope that no school in the real world would use such tactics, but there is a pragmatism in the principal’s description that makes me worried that schools that use similar tactics actually exist.
Because while we do live in an age of trying to be more socially aware of issues such as bullying, there’s still a lot of nastiness that’s swept under the rug of the world of education. And I am much more terrified of the principal of the school than Koro Sensei, who can allegedly destroy the world, because I have met people who think like the principal does. No weird magic or alien technology is needed to set up a school as horrifying in ideal as Kunugigaoka Junior High.
What’s odd is how much humor is put on top of these issues, and the person interested in getting into Assassination Classroom shouldn’t forget that this is a comedy series. But perhaps the comedy is needed to deal with these bigger issues. I certainly needed some laughs after encountering the principal.
The volume ends on a cliffhanger, and I would caution anyone who has issues with sexual predators to wait until I’m able to review volume 3 when it comes out before proceeding.
PLENTY OF WEAPONS TO GO AROUND
With the premise of trying to kill the thing no one can kill, there is a lot of violence in this comic. However, it tends to be on the sort that is difficult to describe. Does “graphic” mean lots of weapons AND the state of the injuries, or can it mean one or the other? Because if I were to go on the presence of weapons (and them being used) alone, then this is a graphic comic. (This is slightly less graphic, in this sense, than volume 1.) In terms of actual injuries, though, anything portrayed tends to be really mild to outright cartoonish. Koro Sensei gets ‘injured’ occasionally, and sometimes in a way that one might consider severe, but his injuries are often the cartoonish ones.
In terms of sexualized imagery, the German assassin is very suggestive and often inappropriate for the situations she’s in, but no one who has read Eastern or Western comics for any length of time is going to bat an eye at this. This walks the line of being very suggestive while being mild at the same time. For example, in any mentions in flashbacks of her making hits, she uses seduction. It is obvious that sex is implied, but the most you’ll see of her is a skimpy negligee that will hug her curves but isn’t transparent, and a lot of cleavage. Her hit, usually dead in the picture, is often in boxers or at an angle you can’t see anything. And any visible wounds are not graphic.
With the way Koro Sensei behaves, it’s a great excuse for Matsui to draw a wide variety of outfits and souvenirs, since Koro Sensei can travel at supersonic speeds all over the world. And this is comedy, after all.
I would say that the art style workmanlike, and not the sort that would grab me to buy this series on art alone. The backgrounds are what I would expect from a vast majority of manga – to be incredibly detailed. My only real complaint about the art is drawing the German assassin so provocatively, but that is more of an issue with the character concept than the art itself. (The art itself is fine.)
BOTTOM LINE: GO BACK TO VOLUME 1 FIRST
I originally picked up volume 1 because of the strange series title, and stayed because I’m hoping that this will have surprisingly deep plot points despite it’s comedy and zainy exterior. So far it looks like my theories are on track. I’d recommend picking up volume 1 if you’re curious, as the beginning of volume 2 is not a good intro to this series. However, my opinion is colored by my least-favorite story, the introduction of the German assassin, which is the first story. Viz actually does a great job offering summaries of characters and stories at the beginning of a manga volume, so if someone really wants to pick it up, they won’t be left in the dark.
I still say start with the first volume, though. You can also check out a free preview (available as of this review’s publication date) on vizmanga.com