by Paul Jensen,
It's been a long wait, but Assassination Classroom is finally back in action. The series needed to claw back some momentum after taking a week off, and this episode does just that. Some useful refinements help build on the concept's initial appeal and give the story some much-needed direction.
The show introduces a new student with a violent past this week, and new kid Karma stirs up the classroom dynamic immediately. Karma uses some seriously shady tactics in his attempts to kill Koro Sensei, and he seems to revel in the idea of taking out his teacher. No matter how you look at it, the guy has “problem student” written all over him.
Karma's introduction is well timed, as he helps to solve a few issues that were present early on in the show. He's clever and underhanded enough to pose a legitimate threat to Koro Sensei, which adds some dramatic tension to each assassination attempt. Karma's dive off the cliff at the end of the episode marks the first time that the big guy's abilities have really been challenged. His unnervingly casual attitude towards violence also makes Karma one of the more interesting members of class E. He's a welcome addition to a previously weak supporting cast.
Arguably the best thing about Karma is the openly hostile relationship he has with Koro Sensei. Karma clearly knows how to push his teacher's buttons, and Koro Sensei's absurd abilities let him give as good as he gets. This kicks off the assassination equivalent of a prank war, and the results are riotously funny. Koro Sensei makes a good comedic lead on his own, but he's even better with Karma around to test his limits. I hope that the mutual understanding they reach at the end of the episode doesn't take the venom out of their relationship.
Assassination Classroom still suffers from a few minor faults, chief among them being its lack of subtlety in portraying the school's less inspiring teachers. The flashback scenes do help illustrate why Koro Sensei's attitude means so much to the kids in class E, but some of the dialogue is too straightforward. Would a lousy, self-centered teacher really admit to his students that he's throwing them under the bus to help his own career? I don't buy it, and this show can clearly do better.
The content of this episode isn't much more objectionable than anything that's come before, but I can understand why it was delayed by a week in light of current events. As fun as it is to watch Karma try to break Koro Sensei, his attitude could certainly be seen as disturbing in the midst of a hostage crisis, so I don't really have any complaints about the decision to play it safe and push the schedule back a week. If nothing else, it makes it easier to focus on the series as a piece of entertainment.
Assassination Classroom improved on an already fun concept this week, and I'm eager to see where it goes from here. It's bright, energetic, and just crazy enough to keep things interesting. Unless it does something spectacularly dumb in the next few weeks, it should be one of the stars of the season.
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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