by Paul Jensen,
One of the most common pieces of advice in show business is to leave the audience wanting more. It sounds so simple on paper, but anyone who's watched an anime adaptation of an ongoing manga series knows that it's not an easy feat to pull off. It's tough to leave the door open for a sequel while still delivering a satisfying conclusion. Faced with this challenge, Assassination Classroom has managed to piece together a respectable final episode.
Last week's momentum carries straight through to this episode's opening scene, with Nagisa and Takaoka kicking off their duel on the hotel roof. Nagisa's anger starts to get the better of him, but Terasaka of all people helps him regain his composure. A couple of well-timed stun gun attacks later, Takaoka is out cold and class E has the final few vials of the cure for the virus. There's hardly enough to help everyone who's been infected, but that turns out to be less of a problem than it first appears to be. Takaoka's henchmen arrive on the roof to announce that they switched out the virus before using it; everyone just has a wicked case of food poisoning and will be fine in a day or so. With the bad guy defeated and the crisis averted, the class makes one last unsuccessful attempt at taking out Koro Sensei. Everyone's favorite octopus lives to see another day, but there's another full term left for the kids to get the job done.
In terms of both writing and direction, the opening fight scene plays out well. Having the normally hotheaded Terasaka be the one to bring Nagisa to his senses is a clever decision that sees the two of them reverse roles in a believable way. Of all the characters in this show, Terasaka's evolution has been the most enjoyable to watch. In the space of twenty-two episodes, he's gone from a generic jerk to a street-smart voice of reason for some of the more complicated characters. The fight itself is tense enough to justify its place as the climax of the series, and Nagisa's winning move is once again believable and thrilling in its simplicity. Assassination Classroom doesn't address its moral gray areas quite as thoroughly as I would have liked, but at least it feels like Nagisa made the correct choice by using the stun gun instead of the knife.
My only significant complaint about this episode is the way it deals with the issue of the virus. Having the henchmen appear out of nowhere to announce that everything will be fine seems more like a narrative shortcut than a natural development. It also robs the students of the initiative in helping their friends, which doesn't feel right given the show's focus on having class E learn to look out for themselves. On the other hand, it does provide an interesting counterpoint to Takaoka's character arc: instead of holding a grudge against the students, the other assassins acknowledge that they've been beaten and simply move on. Even if it's a bit contrived, at least it pushes the characters to reflect on what they've just been through.
In terms of wrapping up the season, Assassination Classroom came into this episode with the unfair advantage of already having a sequel in the works. That frees the show up to focus on resolving its current storylines without worrying about what's going to happen to Koro Sensei in the long run. Even with an automatic leg up on the competition, this is a reasonably impressive finale. It illustrates how much the students in class E have grown while building some anticipation for future events. There are no hasty additions or shameless teaser shots of new characters; the show just comes to a natural conclusion. It's hard to ask for much more than that.
On the whole, Assassination Classroom has been a fun series to follow. It's consistently funny, occasionally clever, and has remained perfectly watchable even in its least inspired moments. I briefly lost faith in the show halfway through this final story arc, but it's done a good job of rebuilding that confidence. As a lighthearted piece of entertainment, it'll be a tough act to follow.
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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