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Greetings, all! It’s time for another round of Mad Manga Reviews, where we’ll review a manga volume from Madman’s catalogue. And remember, everyone! You can send in your own review!

Just email a manga review of maximum 900 words to with the subject line “MANGA REVIEW” and your review might get picked for the next month’s manga newsletter. Now’s your chance to tell the world your deep love (or loathe) for a manga! If your review is chosen you can win an awesome $20 voucher for the Madman store.

This time we’re looking at the popular series, Assassination Classroom!

The students in Class 3-E of Kunugigaoka Junior High have a new teacher: an alien octopus with bizarre powers and unlimited strength, who’s just destroyed the moon and is threatening to destroy the earth—unless they can kill him first!

Whilst the title might sound edgy and the plot synopsis might make you think of a battle royale-esque ride where kids must kill aliens or die trying… Assassination Classroom (or AssClass as many like to call it) is actually a quirky comedy.

Firstly, we have the alien-cum-teacher, Koro Sensei. His simplistic face – which adorns each manga volume’s cover – kind of sums up the feel of this manga. It’s not a series you take seriously; at least not in volume 1.

We’re dumped head first into another day of Koro Sensei assassination attempts before the plot is explained to us. The mysterious Koro Sensei will destroy the Earth in a year unless the unfortunate students of Class 3-E can kill him first. This is an important task for the students, not just because the lives of everyone on Earth depends on it, but because no one has ever really relied on them before. 3-E is the class where the problem kids go. Kunugigaoka is a highly prestigious school, so as soon as a student’s grades slip or they embarrass the school in any other way they’re shafted to 3-E. Such is the case of the main protagonist Nagisa, whose eyes we witness most of the story through. Even though most of the students are good kids, they’re treated as dirt by the students in higher levels. Therefore, when the chance to redeem themselves appears in front of their eyes, they jump for the chance. Of course, the ten billion yen reward money for killing Koro Sensei helps.

Koro Sensei himself is an enigmatic figure, and if you’re expecting any hints on why he decided to teach a class of misfits you’ll be sorely disappointed. Volume one explores his nature and his abilities. He can travel at Mach-speed and can only be killed by BB pellets and rubber knives. He destroyed 70% of the Moon without breaking a sweat. And he’s a caring teacher. We see this early on when Koro Sensei scolds the students for devising a scheme to kill him that also puts Nagisa at risk. Later, he motivates a student who aims to be a baseball star, providing advice on how to best improve their pitch. He’s able to individually tutor every student in preparation for exams, and his exams are designed for each person. When a troublemaker joins the class Koro Sensei risks himself to save them. It’s not a stretch to say this is similar to those movies where a teacher helps a misfit class learn about themselves through questionable teaching techniques. Only, Koro Sensei is a yellow alien with tentacles who plans on destroying the world.

 It’s early on that we realise that, while he looks kinda cute and seems to care greatly for his students, Koro Sensei is actually an alien that has no problem with destroying Earth. These moments where you can see that Koro Sensei is actually a threatening and, quite frankly evil, creature, have a great impact. Just as soon as you’ve relaxed into the antics and humour of the series you’re hit in the face with brief, menacing scenes showcasing Koro Sensei’s power and reminding us that he isn’t actually a friend.

The art in Assassination Classroom is, while not remarkably exciting or different, appealing and works well with the subject material. Koro Sensei’s design is great, and his expressions are priceless. The rest of the cast are quite good and you can generally tell each character apart. Only a few of the students display individual personalities, but as everyone has their own design you can tell that we will learn more about each student in later volumes.

It’s also easy to read, with easy to follow scenes and generally uncluttered panels (unless Koro Sensei is flying around the room in Mach Speed, of course). It has a good flow that lets you zip through the comic quickly, or take it slow and enjoy each scene.

There are often little details to look for in the background, such as the student’s faces and Koro Sensei’s different expressions and facial changes (for example, green stripes cross his face when he’s mocking the students, a circle appears on his face if a student gets an answer right, etc.)

The manga is very funny, with scenes where the students happily trying to stab their teacher or Koro Sensei dodging an assassination attempt whilst beautifully decorating his attackers nails. The jokes come thick and fast, so there’ll always at least be one joke that’ll tickle your funny bone each chapter.

If you’re hoping for speedy plot and character developments you’ll have to look elsewhere. Assassination Classroom is at its core a slice-of-(alien) life manga, so the year is going to stretch out for a very, very long time. But volume one throws enough crumbs to reel you in. The comedy and brief flashes of Koro Sensei’s true power keep you reading.

It may not be top of the class, but it’s pretty darn close.

Assassination Classroom screening on AnimeLab

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