Assassination Classroom
Episode 17

by Paul Jensen,

I assume that somewhere, perhaps in a top-secret facility, there's a dedicated team working day and night to come up with new shapes and colors for Koro Sensei to change into. Between his delightful stag beetle costume and progressively more amusing summer tan, this episode is filled with some very funny visuals. While the yellow octopus fashion show is clearly the highlight this week, there's also a decent episode hiding behind the sunglasses and beach hats.

With the latest round of exams safely in the rearview mirror, the class E kids take some time to enjoy their summer vacation while hatching a complex plan to kill Koro Sensei. A few of the students go hunting for bugs, everyone sets some time aside for target practice, and they take full advantage of the school's fancy island resort. Some groundwork is laid for the big assassination attempt, but this episode is mostly concerned with giving the cast a break after the previous story arc.

Assassination Classroom has gone back to its goofball roots, and it clearly hasn't lost its sense of humor in pursuit of a more complex plot. Sight gags, witty banter, character humor, and silly situations are all put to good use here. If one joke fails to net a big laugh, there's always another one waiting in the wings. Much of the humor feels broad and cartoonish, but it's carried out well enough to make up for any lack of subtlety. Perhaps the show is simply eager to put Koro Sensei back in the spotlight after letting the supporting cast carry the last few episodes. In any case, there's a lot to laugh at here.

The show's increasingly convoluted view of its characters' assassination-related talents is a potential stumbling block. The premise of killing Koro Sensei started off as a way for each student to discover their own strengths; the athlete coated a baseball with BBs, the chemistry prodigy brewed a variety of poisons, and so on. As the series has gone on, those educational tie-ins have grown tenuous. We're down to the point where new characters are singled out for things like their accuracy with a sniper rifle. I realize that class E does eventually need to get on with the assassination, but I worry that the theme of self-improvement is starting to get lost in the shuffle.

By its very nature, this story arc looks to be more predictable than the last one. We know that the plan will fail because Koro Sensei needs to survive in order for the series to keep going. The good news is that our anticipation can be redirected from what's going to happen to how it will all play out. Class E's elaborate preparations function like an establishing shot of a Rube Goldberg machine; seeing the individual parts of the contraption only makes us more eager to find out what will happen when things start moving. The value of all this setup won't be clear until the BBs start flying.

By trading intrigue for humor, Assassination Classroom has redefined its priorities for this new batch of episodes. It's done a good job of keeping the audience entertained while it sets the stage, but now it's time to move on to the main event. Given the show's track record, I'm inclined to give it the benefit of the doubt. Whatever the message ends up being, we should be in for an amusing tropical showdown.

Rating: B

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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