by Paul Jensen,
Assassination Classroom has a problem. No matter what happens, the audience knows that class E can't actually kill Koro Sensei without ending the series in the process. This makes it tough to watch the show without a little voice in the back of your mind offering constant reminders that every assassination plot is doomed to failure. There are plenty of ways to write around this kind of problem, but this episode picks some of the worst.
The class E students set their big plan into motion this week, and it almost works. Everything goes smoothly and the final attack comes at just the right time, but Koro Sensei manages to escape thanks to a previously unseen ability. He turns into an immobile but invincible sphere, completely impervious until he returns to his normal form. The kids are understandably bummed out, but their pity party is cut short when a group of rival assassins infects half the class with a deadly virus. If they want the cure, they'll have turn over the temporarily baseball-sized Koro Sensei. Naturally, the class plans to steal the cure instead, even if it means taking on a group of actual assassins.
The first half of this episode is reasonably strong; the video that the kids use to demoralize Koro Sensei is very funny, and the assassination attempt unfolds nicely. The whole thing is amusingly over the top, which is exactly what it should be considering the overall tone of the series. Even as speedboats and water-powered jetpacks run amok, there's still a kind of internal logic that holds the whole thing together. It feels like the students really did sit down and plan everything out, and it's fun to watch each step unfold. For a brief moment, there's a surge of excitement as we wonder how Koro Sensei will manage to escape.
Unfortunately, it's all downhill from there. I'd be fine with Koro Sensei taking advantage of a flaw in the plan or pulling off some kind of impossible stunt, but having him pull a new ability out of thin air is a pretty big letdown. It feels like the series couldn't think of a good way to have Koro Sensei escape using his established powers and took the easy way out. Instead of a frantic chase or a spectacular action scene, the plan ends on a lame “gotcha” moment. The writing is good enough to immediately start picking up the pieces, but the disappointment is there either way.
The rival group of assassins seem to appear from nowhere in a desperate attempt to keep the story moving. The showdown between class E and the faceless professionals will have to be the scene that saves this story arc, but the early signs aren't promising. Human adversaries haven't been this show's strong suit, especially when the story focuses more on the assassination half of its title. If I wanted to see a group of teenagers run circles around a posse of generic bad guys, I could watch just about any other show in this genre. Assassination Classroom is usually more creative than this, and I can only hope that that it manages to make something out of nothing here.
The things that make Assassination Classroom worth watching are still here, but they're buried under a series of ill-considered plot twists. No amount of clever humor can fully disguise a weak resolution, and regaining that momentum will be a challenge. Like the members of class E, next week's episode has a mountain to climb.
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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