Assassination Classroom Volume 8: Time for an Opportunity, collecting chapters 62-70. Story and art by Yusei Matsui.
Last time, the students of Class 3-E executed their most ambitious assassination attempt yet! A multi-pronged assault taking into account everything they've learnt about Koro Sensei's weaknesses so far, and their advantage they earned by doing so well in the end of term exams! Things looked to be going pretty freakin well, until Koro Sensei revealed his actual plot armour, which saved him. Boooo. Then, as if things couldn't get any worse, half the class were struck down by a mysterious virus! Do the remaining members of The End Class have what it takes to save the day... without any assistance from Koro Sensei? Read on, to find out.
Chapter one, "Time to send in the pros - 2nd Period," sees the students attempting to breach the mysterious hotel full of baddies, without triggering the alarms. But it seems getting in will be the easiest part, and to get through the entrance hall, they'll have to rely on the last person they ever expected...
Chapter two, "Time for a chaperone," finds The End Class running into Smog. The first of three ultra-skilled and ULTRA-weird Master Assassins currently in the hotel. And while they do achieve victory, the cost may be a little too high!
Chapter three, "A time for peculiarities," finds the students climbing further into the hotel, where they meet the second of the three Master Assassins, Grip. This one is strong enough to crack toughened glass, or crush a human's skull, with a single hand. This could be trouble.
Chapter four, "Making time for Karma - 2nd Period," sees Class 3-E's resident bad boy Karma step up. But even with his exceptional close combat skills, is he strong enough to take out this foe?
Chapter five, "Girl Time," sees the ladies of 3-E (and Nagisa, in a dress) attempt to distract their way through the club, which makes up one level of this fancy hotel. Honestly, I think this chapter was just here to give Matsui an excuse to draw Nagisa in ladies' clothes.
Chapter six, "Time for weapons," is ALL about the guns. The students get some upgraded hardware, and just in time, as they arrive at the concert hall (seriously, how cool is this hotel?) just in time to meet Gastro, the last Master Assassin, and utter whackjob.
Chapter seven, "Time for an opportunity," sees Class 3-E doing battle with insane, gun-licking Master Assassin and utter nutter Gastro. But will this last, most skilled and creepiest of the Masters prove to be the end of The End Class?
Chapter eight, "The puppet master's time," reintroduces an old friend. And by friend, I of course mean enemy. As the student finally reach the top floor, and confront the mastermind behind this whole evil scheme, things get personal REALLY fast, as a former teacher returns.
Chapter nine, "Time for Takaoka," reveals the big twist a little early, and annoys me because I read the chapter title before reading the volume... As the mastermind of this whole debacle is revealed to be Akira "Daddy" Takaoka, Class 3-E must attempt to take him down once more. But this time, it won't be nearly as easy!
But sadly, we'll have to wait for next volume to see if they succeed! Because that evil, evil man Matsui ends the chapter and the volume there...
Hot DAMN that was a strong volume. I know I've been saying this basically every volume for the past few, but that's because this series just keeps getting better.
Volume 8 finally gives up the "monster of the week" theme, that has been quite common up to this point, and spends the whole volume on a single ongoing plot. Namely, infiltrating a hotel full of ne'er-do-wells, in an attempt to obtain the antidote and save the other half of the class.
And I've got to say, it was a huge improvement, and I really hope this goes on to be the norm, rather than an exception.
While I'm not totally against smaller arcs or self-contained chapters, they get old after a while, and if you're going to keep a story going for 20+ volumes, sooner or later something resembling an ongoing plot needs to emerge. We've already met most of the students, and there hopefully won't be any more teachers added to the class, so now seems like the best time for the story to shift to a more extended narrative style.
I said last time, that it would be interesting to see how the Class survived, without Koro Sensei to fall back on. One thing I hadn't accounted for, or rather TWO things, were Karasuma and Irina. However, it seems Matsui was one step ahead of me, as usual, and the story opens with the two remaining teachers conveniently being removed from the equation.
I was glad to see Irina getting a chance to shine, as these days she mostly seems to be there to make jokes about being a bit of a slag, and show off her cleavage. Now, to be fair, she did use her weaponised boobs this time as well, but it was in the service of the plot and in addition to her other skills, so I'll allow it. Not only did she handily distract all the guards with her exceptional piano playing, but you could see that the students gained a new level of respect for her at the same time, which will probably last all of 30 seconds, but it was nice to see nonetheless.
With her out of the way, there was only Karasuma left to dispatch. And he fell during the first of three big battles, this volume. Karasuma vs Smog was as short and brutal as you'd expect from a series about assassins. They managed to highlight once more just how savage Karasuma is, while also taking him off the board for the rest of the arc, with no lasting damage inflicted. Not bad, Matsui. Not bad at all.
With those two impediments removed, it's all down to the Class, to succeed. And I've got to say, it was everything I could have hoped for. I was wondering how they'd play this arc out, with the kids finally in charge and no safety net to speak of. Turns out, the answer was ALL the ways. Over the course of the volume we see the students somehow dropped into a strange and unexpected variety of situations, and finding ways to survive using their skills, their guts, and only a tiny bit of help from Koro Sensei.
While there were lots of great moments, two in particular stood out for me. While it WAS great to see Karma get out of his funk and start to fight again, his whole downer arc felt kinda forced. And if it WAS to be resolved, I'd rather it was by fighting/making out with Asano Jr, rather than by thinking his way out of a fight with some random mid-boss, who will be all but forgotten within a volume.
So, the first part that really stuck me: Chapter five saw the girls of 3-E attempting to sneak through a nightclub, in order to open a locked door and let the rest of the class through. During what could have been a fairly silly chapter, we have an oddly heartfelt conversation between perpetual badass Nagisa Shiota (currently in disguise as a lady), and an unnamed guy, who is trying to hit on him. The guy is ALL talk, smoking weed, talking about how great and rich he is, and how he can basically do anything, because his father is a powerful exec. Ordinarily, characters like this end up getting screwed over and we all cheer, because we all know people like that and they suck. This time, however, things take a different path...
Because while we're obviously following Nagisa at the time, we also get some insight into the thought process of the other guy, we see that he's as annoyed with himself as we are, and hates himself for constantly bragging about his dad, to pick up ladies. The chapter ends with Nagisa wondering exactly why he had to come along for the mission, because him being in disguise was no help. We then cut back to the rando, throwing away his box of pre-rolled joints, because of something Nagisa had said to him.
It's a tiny scene, and will probably never be referenced again, but something about it really resonated with me. The idea that even our smallest actions can have big effects on others is a recurring one in pretty much all fiction. And considering where this arc ends, it's nice to be reminded that those effects aren't always negative. I know there's almost no chance we'll see that guy again. But I'd like to see him appear later on, as a much kinder and better person thanks to that meeting, at a time when Nagisa needs reminding that he's not JUST a killer.
From the sublime to the ridiculous. The other great section this volume was Class 3-E vs "Gastro." A gun-wielding Master Assassin... who loves to eat off and suck on his guns. No symbolism there, I'm sure. We see him on multiple occasions this volume, and pretty much every time he's in a scene, at some points he's going to put his own gun in his mouth. It's super off-putting, but also vaguely hilarious.
After subduing the other assassins, Class 3-E finally take on Gastro in the hotel's concert hall.
The only problem, is that he's on stage staring down at the Class, hidden behind seats, and the moment they move, he'll shoot them.
Koro Sensei to the rescue!
I know, I know. I said the part of this arc I liked the most was that Koro Sensei didn't really help, but here's the thing: Even though he was pretty vital to the success of this fight, he didn't physically engage, because he's still in his crystal ball. While he totally helped the Class to pull off their win, it was still 100% their effort that made it work, so it gets a pass.
It also helps that their plan was so bizarre, that even the ever creep Gastro was freaking out. Like the world's most dangerous game of Battleship, Koro Sensei directed his students to move around, behind the cover of the seats, and using increasingly more bizarre (and often revealing) code names, to make sure they were all in the right place, at the right time, and prepared to execute their small part of the plan.
It was as confusing and hilarious as it was entertaining, and a very satisfying way for the students to take out a master gunman, without relying on a silly deus ex machina *cough* Koro Sensei's current form *cough*.
And the volume comes to its conclusion, with the Class reaching the top floor, and confronting the mastermind of their current predicament: Akira freaking Takaoka. It seems getting his ass kicked by Nagisa once wasn't enough. He engineered all of this, so he could get his revenge on Class 3-E, because after losing so spectacularly last time, everyone at work made fun of him. Not really sure why he thinks beating up some children will make the soldiers like him again... but the dude is nuttier than squirrel poop, so who am I to try and understand his clearly flawed logic.
So, once Takaoka has lured Nagisa away from the others, and debased him in front of his friends... he thinks it's just a grand idea to give the kid a knife and then blow up the antidote, that can save all his friends. And somehow, he thinks that arming and upsetting a kid who made a fool of him before is going to end any way other than badly, for him...
Sadly, this is where the volume ends, because Matsui is the devil.
Overall, Volume 8 was an EXCELLENT addition to the series. Delivering a really strong plot, some solid action scenes, and great humour. I really hope this sets the style for how the series continues, because I vastly prefer this over the shorter more self-contained chapters we've had up until now.
If you want to see if this trend continues, and how badly Nagisa ruins Takaoka's day, join me next time, for Assassination Classroom Volume 9: A Shocking Time, collecting chapters 71-79. Nagisa risks it all in an attempt to take down the mastermind behind a biological attack. After the dust settles, Koro Sensei gives his all to ignite summer romance between his students. Turns out their English teacher Ms. Jelavitch has her sights on someone…and everyone wants to help her get her target—er, the man of her dreams. Then, back at school, one of the students defects from the 3-E ranks for all the wrong reasons. How will they win him back before he inflicts irrevocable damage on them all…?
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.