by Paul Jensen,
Assassination Classroom offers a valuable lesson this week: even good shows have mediocre filler episodes. When the stage is set for an epic finale but there are plenty of episodes left in the season, it's time to break out the side stories and hope that the narrative doesn't lose too much momentum. At least this series manages to be entertaining while it stalls for time.
This episode is broken into two separate stories, the first of which features a visit from Irina's assassin mentor. When the old guy suggests that Irina doesn't have the skill to kill Koro Sensei, they decide to settle the argument with a competition. The first one to “kill” poor, overworked Karasuma with a training knife wins. The catch here is that Irina specializes in working undercover, not fighting special agents in broad daylight. As she points out, it's awfully hard to build a cover identity when the target already knows who you are.
Of course, the whole segment conveniently ties into the language lessons that Irina's been giving to the class E kids. Just as she pushes the students to overcome their problems with pronunciation, we see that Irina has been pushing herself to overcome her own weaknesses. It's all vaguely interesting without being particularly memorable. The strongest part of the episode is easily the side bet between Koro Sensei and Karasuma: if Karasuma can survive the mock assassination attempts, Koro Sensei will stand still for a full second. As everyone starts to realize how tough Karasuma is, Koro Sensei starts to get amusingly nervous. His attempts to cheer on the two assassins are a solid reminder that this show can be very funny when it puts in the effort.
The episode's second half is the weaker of the two, and follows Karma and Nagisa as they take an overnight trip to Hawaii with Koro Sensei. Three characters trying to fit into Koro Sensei's teaching outfit makes for a fun visual, but there's little else of interest here. The story plays out exactly as you'd expect it to, and the show's trademark originality is missing in action. With some very dynamic characters getting plenty of screen time, I thought that the writers could piece together some more effective comedy. Unfortunately, it just doesn't happen.
In the final minutes of the episode, we do at least get some indication of how the season might wrap up. A kid with creepy eyes observes Koro Sensei from the shadows, apparently able to track his rapid movements without any trouble. The new character is referred to as Koro Sensei's brother, and it looks like he'll be the newest transfer student to join class E. The show has handled new characters well in the past, so I have every reason to think that this latest addition will add something useful to the series. If it means that we finally get to learn a bit more about who Koro Sensei really is, then I'm all for it.
In the grand scheme of things, I doubt anyone will remember this episode a few months from now. It's not up to the high standard that the series has set for itself, but it's still competent enough to avoid being memorably bad. It's an acceptable placeholder, burning up some excess airtime in a reasonably pleasant manner. Assassination Classroom needs to get back into the groove as quickly as possible, but even at its worst it still gets the job done.
Assassination Classroom is currently streaming on Funimation.
Paul Jensen is a freelance writer and editor. You can follow more of his anime-related ramblings on Twitter.
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