Review

by Rebecca Silverman,

My Status as an Assassin Obviously Exceeds the Hero's

GN 1

Synopsis:
My Status as an Assassin Obviously Exceeds the Hero's GN 1
Akira's life changed the day he and his high school class were all summoned to another world and given extraordinary powers – but he's not sure if it's for the better. Quickly figuring out that there's something besides a basic isekai dream come true going on, Akira capitalizes on his oddly high stats as an assassin to work behind the scenes and make sure that things don't get too out of hand. But when the king and the princess out-maneuver him, Akira has to figure out how to keep his classmates safe all on his own.
Review:

If you read the title of this manga and immediately had the dual thoughts “this is based on a light novel” and “this is boilerplate isekai,” you'd basically be right on both counts. My Status as an Assassin Obviously Exceeds the Hero's is from the Arifureta school of isekai, meaning that an entire class is transported to a fantasy land in order to defeat a demon king and each of the students is given a unique class and video game-style status. Also familiar is the fact that protagonist Akira is the outsider of the group, although in this case it's not because he's a loser or anything of the sort; he's just not all that keen on people in general and prefers to do his own thing.

That's the saving grace of this story in more ways than one. While we're unsurprised to find that Akira actually has a very impressive set of skills and stats despite being in the “assassin” class rather than “hero” (it is right there in the title, after all), Akira's preference for staying on the fringes of the group means that he quickly figures out that there's something seriously odd with this particular bit of wish-fulfillment. Not only does he see that his stats are significantly higher than anyone else's when a few classmates touch the magic crystal of stat projection, but he realizes that this means that there's probably a lot more going on than meets the eye and that maybe, just maybe, it would be a good idea to keep his powers to himself and spend some time doing a bit of research. Since his classmates are used to him just sort of wandering off and keeping to himself, no one pays much attention to the fact that he's vanished (literally; it's one of his assassin skills), and Akira is able to do some poking around.

What he discovers is that there's definitely something sinister going on involving the king and his plans for his so-called summoned heroes. Although Akira doesn't figure out what that is precisely, he realizes that the king and the princess plan to use his class for something that probably isn't straight-forward demon lord subjugation. He also finds out that the head knight is also aware that there's more happening here than is being said, although just what the knight knows as far as specifics go isn't revealed. This puts Akira in the position of being the hero-in-shadows; he's the only person of those summoned who has any idea that they're all potentially in danger.

Despite this, and his ridiculous assassin powers, Akira is still a high school second-year, and he doesn't have the guile or adult powers of deceit to fully work with his new fantasy skills. That he's basically punished for making the moral decision early on in the book is one of the most interesting aspects of it, and it does set him apart (if only a little) from other similar protagonists in the many works resembling this one. Even though he acquires the help and relative trust of the head knight, Akira is still mostly working on his own, and by the end of the volume, when his plans haven't quite had the desired result and he's forced out of the palace, Akira has only partially confided in one classmate – Tsukasa, the designated “hero.” Tsukasa and Akira have a odd relationship, with Akira resenting Tsukasa's seeming facility with people and Tsukasa annoyed that Akira won't give him the time of day, so their working relationship here in the fantasy world isn't so much a partnership as something that Akira realized he couldn't avoid. His actions in helping to save Tsukasa from a curse and in reminding him that “hero” doesn't mean “protect literally everyone at the expense of yourself” force Tsukasa to start thinking about how he's viewing this entire scenario, and when Akira is forced out, it's clear that he's the only one able to see what Akira glimpsed at once – that this is no one's power fantasy made flesh, unless it's the king's. This does allow a third classmate to begin to be brought into the fold as an ally, although she and Tsukasa are still working on trusting each other after the king's latest ploy.

As with many adaptations, it's clear that there's a lot being glossed over or straight up left out from the source novel, which is not officially available in English as of this writing. This doesn't affect the flow of the story too badly, although it does mean that it feels like we don't quite go into enough depth in places and a couple of characters appear to exist solely to show up, act mysterious, and then leave for the remainder of the volume. Although both text and image do rely on the tired RPG tropes that have become a stale staple of this subgenre of isekai, they don't use them as a crutch, and we don't get frequent status updates or attack names, or even level designations for monsters or people. This helps the book to feel a little less tired than it otherwise might have and ups the readability of the volume significantly.

If you're a fan of isekai in general, this is definitely worth picking up. If you're more ambivalent on the genre, My Status as an Assassin Obviously Exceeds the Hero's is still one of the better examples of what being transported to another world can do even in a relatively textbook example. It has aspects of the usual, but it isn't quite as wed to them, and Akira comes off less as a regular guy granted awesome powers and more as a not-too-social one given powers that work well with his personality so he can better use them. It won't win over those who actively hate (or are sick of) the genre, but for fans, this one feels worth paying attention to.

Grade:
Overall : B
Story : B-
Art : B

+ Some good variations on the basic theme, Akira's powers work well with his personality instead of making him seem suddenly amazing. Good twist about the summoners.
Still hews very closely to genre tropes, feels rushed or glossed over at points.

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Production Info:
Art: Hiroyuki Aigamo

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