by Paul Jensen,
It may claim to be a story about final exams, but this episode of Assassination Classroom is really all about second chances. A fresh set of exams presents a new opportunity for Koro Sensei and the class E kids to stick it to the rest of the school. By the same token, revisiting the topic of school-wide tests allows the series to take another shot at telling this story. The midterm episode was perfectly decent, but things are significantly more interesting this time around.
Once again, Koro Sensei tries to make things interesting by striking a deal with his students: for each subject that a class E student gets the top score in, the kids will get a chance to shoot off one of Koro Sensei's tentacles. In case getting a chance to slow their target down wasn't enough motivation, the kids also make a deal with the heavy hitters from class A: whichever class takes the top spot in the most subjects gets to make the other class do whatever they want. With the school going out of its way to toughen the exam questions, and Koro Sensei in tutoring overdrive, it looks like the competition could go either way.
Throwing class A into the mix immediately makes this a stronger and more interesting story arc than the midterm episode. The characters have someone to compete against directly, in addition to the more abstract opponent of the test itself. Not only do we want class E to do well for their own sakes, we want them to beat the stuffing out of class A. There's an intensity to the rivalry that we haven't often seen from Assassination Classroom, and it creates the impression that the show's world is about to be shaken up. That's exactly the kind of anticipation you want to build with this ongoing story.
Much of that unpredictability comes from the introduction of the show's most interesting antagonist to date. As the principal's son and the mastermind behind class A, Asano is a genuinely worthy rival for class E. The animosity between him and the principal brings some immediate depth to his character and adds an extra dimension to the conflict. He's a cocky, manipulative snob, but it's difficult to completely hate anyone who can strike fear into the school's administration. It's very telling that Asano's classmates know he's using them for his own ends, but they're still willing to follow him in the hope of riding his coattails to success. It's a bit early to form a definite judgment, but Asano might be the villain that Assassination Classroom has always been looking for.
Even as it lays all of this groundwork, the show still manages to sneak in a few laughs. The gradual deterioration of Koro Sensei's “clones” is very clever in its silliness, and the over-the-top introductions for the class A students fit in nicely with the tone of the series. More than anything else though, I enjoy seeing just how little the main characters care about what the rest of the school thinks of them. Class E has slowly gone from trying to be invisible to walking around like they own the school. There's some interesting character development going on there, producing some very funny exchanges throughout this episode.
Assassination Classroom is moving into uncharted waters now. It's carried a story across multiple episodes before, but never with this many moving parts. There's a lot of intrigue, a lot of subplots, and a metric buttload of characters to keep track of here, and only time will tell if the writing can keep up with those ambitions. If it does, however, the result will be very impressive. As fun as this show is, this is the first time I've found myself genuinely annoyed by the thought of having to wait a week for the next episode.
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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