Assassination Classroom
Episode 5

by Paul Jensen,

It doesn't always take big ideas or grand emotions to make something worth watching. Sometimes, all it takes is a good sense of humor. Assassination Classroom is at its best when it's having fun, and that's exactly what it does this week.

This episode is split into two separate stories, the first of which involves a student's attempt to kill Koro Sensei with poison. Okuda's weapon of choice is a departure from the show's usual array of guns and knives, but it's her delivery method that stands out the most. Rather than trying to trick Koro Sensei into drinking it, she just walks right up to him and asks nicely. Okuda's earnest request is funny on its own, but the show takes the straightforward exchange a step further: Koro Sensei obligingly chugs the vial. The whole scene is a bizarre mix of energetic humor and attempted murder. It's also very, very funny.

The story breezes through a series of poisonous concoctions, each of which has a progressively more unusual effect on Koro Sensei. We learn a little bit about Okuda along the way, and the plot wraps up with Koro Sensei offering a fairly obvious life lesson. The whole thing is simple, entertaining, and just unusual enough to distinguish itself from other shows in the genre. Essentially, it's about ten minutes of Assassination Classroom playing to its strengths. The results are enjoyable, even if they don't do much to move the story forward.

In its second half, the episode uses a school assembly to expand on class E's position and role in the school hierarchy. It was already established that the 3-E kids are formally ostracized in order to keep the other students motivated, but this is the first time we really get to see that process in action. I find it difficult to believe that a school could implement this system without getting buried in lawsuits, but I'm willing to buy it for the sake of the plot. Misfit kids need a system to rebel against, even if it's an obviously stupid one.

The trip from class E's building to the main campus is an amusing comedy of errors, if only because the show dumps all of the misery onto a single minor character. Things pick up again as Koro Sensei and the other teachers help the class get the last laugh during the assembly. The rest of the student body is so comically despicable that there's a certain evil glee to be found in watching the 3-E kids take them down a notch. Of course, the big revelation comes when Nagisa holds his ground against a pair of kids from another class once the assembly lets out. Evidently, trying to assassinate a superhuman monster day in and day out makes it hard to be intimidated by an average junior high bully. I see now; the whole premise of the show is really about Koro Sensei teaching his students to stand up for themselves. It's definitely a stretch, but at least the series is trying to put some meaning behind its antics.

It's goofy, cheesy, and a little self-indulgent, but Assassination Classroom is adept at pulling fun moments out of its premise. As long as this show can keep being entertaining, it doesn't need to make any profound observations. It may need an extra dose of plot before the end of the season, but it can certainly ride its current wave of momentum for a while.

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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