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A sweet shell hides a deadly core. In Assassination Classroom Vol 18: Time for Valentine's Day!

Assassination Classroom Volume 18 Cover 1. Published in the U.K. by Viz Media.

Assassination Classroom Volume 17: Time for Valentine's Day, collecting chapters 152-160. Story and art by Yusei Matsui.

Last Volume, the future of Class 3-E was decided as only The End Class can do things: By shooting each other, until we're all friends again. With this huge decision made, the students all started to work together, to try and find a way to save Koro Sensei! Thankfully, this part is super easy... they just need to get onto the International Space Station! Let's see how that turns out.

Yup, Koro Sensei is a monstrously good teacher!

Chapter two, "Time for outer space," finds Karma and Nagisa arriving on the ISS. But will they be able to convince the astronauts there to give them what they need, and get back without causing an international incident?

The AI is evolving? Great, that NEVER ends badly.

Chapter two, "Time to prepare," sees our brave spacemen return to Earth, and while Koro Sensei smooths things out with the government, resident science buff Okuda explains their new data to the class.

One percent isn't zero... Just saying.

In chapter three, "Time for Winter Break," free from the weight of recent events, Koro Sensei and the students of 3-E catch up on celebrating a few holidays that they missed, over Winter Break. Plus, the students begin to look towards the future.

This is how you end up on the naughty list...

Chapter four, "Time for super teacher:" The students have faced superpowered assassins, trips to space, and out of control delinquents. But now, they face their most dangerous challenge yet: Entrance Exams! Plus, one student finally starts to see the path ahead of him.

Never underestime the power of SPITE.

Chapter five, "Time for a side part," finds one student feeling particularly down in the dumps. But never fear, Koro Sensei is here! And he's going to make it SO much worse. But, at least if the students are angry, they're not sad... right?

Poor Koro Sensei. He's trying his best...

Chapter six, "Time for the enemy:" Suddenly, everything gets rather serious. While Koro Sensei and his students were having fun in space and worrying about exams, the evil Shiro and his new assassin/monster "Second Generation" have been working hard. And their work is really starting to pay off...

I guess two wrongs can sometimes make a right.

Chapter seven, "Time for Valentine's Day." It's that time of the year again! Feb 14th, when girls give boxes of chocolates to the guys in their lives. And, of course, nosy teacher and Shipper Supreme Koro Sensei is keeping a keen eye on who is gifting what, to to whom!

To be fair, that's a good skill for EVERYONE to have.

Chapter eight, "Time for Valentine's Day - 2nd Period." The chocolate gifting reaches fever pitch, and former actress and tentacle-wearing killer Kayano is in a tough spot: How best to give her gift, when she can barely even TALK to the object of her affections...

Aww, that's sweet. Ya know, in a terrifying way.

Chapter nine, "Time for Valentine's Day - after school." It's not just the students who are caught up in the season; Karasuma and Mrs Vitch have an interesting meal, and Karasuma has some advice for Irina, regarding her future. Or is it, THEIR future?

Oh, that is SMOOTH. Didn't know he had it in him.

And just like that, the box of candy, and the latest volume, is finished. An odd volume that seems to be mostly filler, but hides within its sickly sweet outer shell a terrifying core, that may come back to haunt us, very soon.

Once again, I'm right and once again, I'm a little annoyed to be right.

I predicted, at the end of the last volume, that the space arc was going to be rushed through. And, lo and behold, it was all wrapped up in two more chapters. It wasn't a BAD arc, per se, but it did feel rather rushed, and I can't help but think this was something of a missed opportunity.

I guess they've been alone up there for a while...

For the students to have found out the data they need was on the ISS, gone to space, retrieved the data, come home and used that data to effectively cure Koro Sensei... all within four chapters? It just feels off. Especially when in the same volume, they spend three volumes on the subject of Valentine's Day chocolate gifting.

Given how the space arc was a direct result of the somewhat lackluster battle arc, ends on a fairly huge reveal, and that there's less than a 1% chance Koro Sensei will explode, it all feels like it would have had FAR more impact, if the arc had been built up a little more.

Space stuff out of the way, the next arc of the volume revolves around High School Entrance Exams, and the related stresses. It's a fairly standard "Everyone is stressed, but soon realises that things will be okay, because Koro Sensei taught us well" set-up. And, of course, there's more character development for everyone's favourite proto-assassin Nagisa, who is starting to realise that he does want to follow in Koro Sensei's footsteps. Not by becoming the world's greatest assassin, but by becoming a teacher. Although, from what I know of the field of teaching, becoming an international super assassin would probably be far less stressful.

The final arc of the volume is all about Valentine's Day! The annual festival of chocolate and exclusion, Valentine's Day is celebrated a little differently in Japan. On February 14th, it all rests on the LADIES. Traditionally, on the 14th women will give boxes of chocolates out to the important men in their lives. Not just their romantic partners, but ANY man they share a significant relationship with. The basic idea of Valentine's Day in Japan is for the women to confess how they feel to the men in their lives, by way of chocolate.

The size and type of chocolate can differ: from small store bought boxes, given to bosses or family members, known as "Giri-choco" (or Obligation Chocolates) to the far more significant and often handmade "Honmei-Choco" (or True Feeling Chocolates) which are exclusively given to your romantic partners. There's also the far more fun "Jibun-choco" (or Self Chocolate), which is a gift bought for and given to yourself, because Chocolate is awesome.

This gift giving bonanza comes full circle one month later on March 14th, known in Japan as "White Day," when men will give return gifts (usually of two to three times the value of the gift they received the month prior) to the ladies in their lives. I expect this to show up in some hilarious manner, in an upcoming volume.

So, naturally, this is THE most important day of the year for Class 3-E, where no one is able to say how they feel about anyone, and hormones do 90% of the thinking for most of the students!

These two know what's up.

It's a funny arc, and it's interesting seeing the differing ways that the various "almost couples" in the class interact, but I can't help but feel that we didn't really need three whole chapters based around this. We've got very few volumes left, and it feels like we have a huge amount of ground to cover. So, spending a good chunk of this volume on probably the most pointless of all fake holidays seems like a huge waste of time...

Credit where it's due, though: I didn't know Karasuma had it in him. In the final chapter of the volume, he and Irina finally go on a proper date and he gives her some excellent advice. Culminating in a very clever and impossibly smooth pick-up line, from the usually rather staid Karasuma.

It's excellent character growth for two of the strongest characters in the series. It's interesting to note that while the vast majority of the screen time is given over to the students of Class 3-E and discussing the many and varied ways that they've grown over the years, I think a strong case could be made that the two people who are furthest from where they started are probably Karasuma and Irina. Despite starting off as wildly different people, both have opened up a lot, and grown far warmer in their interactions both with the students, and more important, with each other. Leading to this culmination of the "will they/won't they" nonsense which has surrounded them for about 10 volumes now.

Which, of course, means there's now an EXCELLENT chance that at least one if not both of them will die, before this series reaches its tragic conclusion. Because we all know it's the law, that when a relationship like this reaches its climax (pun intended) BEFORE the end of the series, there's a better than average chance that the whole thing will end in tragedy. It's only safe to hook up in the epilogue, people!

And how do I know there's tragedy on the way? that's easy...

I mean, you ARE a tool, though.

Because much like a candy, this volume had a sweet outer shell, but nestled away in the middle was a poisonous centre, just waiting to spring its trap!

Because ya boy Shiro is BACK. And now, he's brought the big guns. He's teamed up with Grim Reaper 2, Koro Sensei's old protege, and has supercharged that crazy bastard.

Yup, the bondage suit we saw before in "Second Generation" wasn't just for his off time. He needs to wear that to contain all the crazy evil he's made of now. We get a small chance to see him work, where he effortlessly takes a building apart, and leaves only burning rubble in his wake...

This guy was trouble before, but now? Now he's got the skills AND the physicality to match up with Koro Sensei. I'm genuinely worried to see how this will play out.

And that's not all! There's a second, even more worrying chapter. It seems the government are finally ready to spring their final trap. They've been hinting at it for a while, but now it seems their "device" is complete, and while it may look like an oversized coffee machine, I have a feeling it won't produce anything quite as delicious. In fact, I think all it'll produce is pain.

Overall, this was a decent volume. While there was an inordinate amount of fluff, there was enough character development and plot advancement that this didn't feel like a totally wasted volume. I DO really have issues with the way this series is paced, though.

Generally speaking, I'm very much enjoying my journey through year with the students of The End Class. But, with only three volumes left after this to tie up what remains of this story, I can't help but think that was a really bad time to spend three chapters focused entirely on chocolates. Between last week's big battle being written off within a few chapters, the space arc feeling so rushed, and Valentine's Day-related shenanigans making up a clear third of this volume, I can't help but notice that the pacing on this series just seems totally off.

I get it, it's mostly a slice of life comedy series, it's not some Shonen battle manga where every arc has to build towards the big conclusion... but come on, people, even Gintama eventually stopped trolling us and dropped one of the greatest conclusion arcs in Manga history. I can't help but feel that with so little time left in the series, it's time to really buckle down and focus on our endgame. Because the clock is ticking, there's only a month left until the end of term!

So, if you want to see if they can stick the landing, come back next time for Assassination Classroom Volume 19: Time to go to school, collecting chapters 161-169. Koro Sensei's lessons in verbal defense are put to the test when Karma must use his brains instead of his brawn to rescue a classmate. Then things finally begin to go smoothly for the students of 3-E. Everyone receives some good news about their futures, and Nagisa settles on a career goal. But the peace is broken when the world's nations miraculously manage to coordinate their efforts long enough to launch a plan to assassinate Koro Sensei — with the aid of the strongest mercenary in the world, and an ultimate weapon! Will anyone break ranks to protect everyone's favorite tentacled teacher...?

If you want to read along with me, you can find every issue on Comixology, collected volumes on Amazon, or read the whole series on the Weekly Shonen Jump App.

Really, Ms Vitch? A BANANA.

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