Assassination Classroom Volume 13: Time for a little career counseling, collecting chapters 107-115. Story and art by Yusei Matsui.
Last volume, things got deadly. The assassin of assassins, the deadly murderer known only as The Grim Reaper struck. Taking the students captive and using them to lure out Koro Sensei and Karasuma, he thought he had all his bases covered, to collect the bounty on Koro Sensei's head! But is everything really as simply as it seems? Is ANYTHING simple, when Class 3-E are involved? Let's find out!
Chapter one, "Time for the Grim Reaper - 7th Period," Karasuma is closing in on the Reaper, but he forgot to account for the turncoat Irina! We also get a small history lesson, to explain why she is such a Vitch.
Chapter two, "Time for the Grim Reaper - 8th Period." The students use their ingenuity, expertise, and cool new PE uniforms to draw out the Reaper, and Karasuma closes in, to bring this whole grand encounter to a close.
Chapter three, "Time for the Grim Reaper - 9th Period" The Final Showdown! Karasuma Vs the Grim Reaper, with the lives of Koro Sensei and all of Class 3-E on the line. But, when the Reaper deploys his secret weapon, will Karasuma be able to survive?
Chapter four, "Time for the world." The students of Class 3-E are safe and sound, thanks to the badassery of Karasuma. But for how long can they stay safe? How long until another assassin tries to use them against Koro Sensei? Or, do they have a greater problem headed their way...
Chapter five, "Time for a little career counseling." With the pesky matter of an international killer of killers brushed aside, it's time for the End Class to get back to what really matters: School work! But, while most of the class know what they want to do, one student is stumbling a little, on the path ahead.
Chapter six, "Time for the new game plus mode." This chapter title really needed some cleaning up. I feel like "Time for New Game Plus" would have worked just as well... Anyhoo. Nagisa isn't sure where he wants to go, after he finishes in 3-E. The bigger problem though, is that his mother knows EXACTLY where she wants him to go. Whether he wants to go there or not...
Chapter seven, "Now it's time for a new game." Nagisa's terrifying mother wants to come in and talk to his teacher. But, of course, that's a terrible idea because Nagisa's teacher is Koro Sensei, and he WILL say something creepy or gross and anger her. This is going to be tricky.
Chapter eight, "Time for Nagisa." Nagisa's mother goes full nutterbutter and tries to get him to do something drastic. Thankfully, before they can do anything dangerous, a friendly assassin crosses their path. But it's not just this random wannabe assassin who is about to learn an important lesson.
Chapter nine, "School Festival time" sees every student's favourite time of year roll around once more! Yup, it's the 11th Annual Kunugigaoka School Festival! So, naturally, every class is setting up a stall. And, naturally, every eye in the school is fixed squarely on two classes: Can Class 3-A reign supreme once more, or will the constant thorn in their side, or Class 3-E as we know them, manage to upset tradition once more?
But sadly, before we can find out how The End Class manage to humble the Elite Five this time, the volume comes to an end and we're left craving dipping noodles. I mean, I'm not 100% sure what dipping noodles are... but from the way they described them, they sound pretty good.
The Grim Reaper has been reaped, in turn!
Yup, things looked a little bit grim for about a second there, but to the surprise of no one, Class 3-E were able to fight through and take down The Grim Reaper!
"Time for the Grim Reaper" is by far the longest arc so far in the series, spanning two full volumes just for this grand climax, and I've got to say the payoff was pretty strong. Not perfect, but strong. I'm a little surprised that they went with "Karasuma basically solos the boss" for the resolution this time. I had assumed from the start he was going to do most of the heavy lifting, but I was hoping that the class would at least be involved in SOME way. But sadly, it seems that they were high enough level for this particular quest, so they were relegated to observers, while Karasuma showed off his impressive hand-to-hand skills and took the guy down...
But, of course, what's an Elite Super Assassin of Assassins without one final hidden trick to play?
So, naturally, the Reaper deployed his trump card: 'The Hidden Scythe'! A very impressive name for a teeny tiny gun that he had implanted into one of his fingers, that while lacking in power, allows the Reaper to make a single, ultra-precise shot. This shot is used to penetrate his target's aorta, tearing the heart apart from the inside, due to science or something.
It's a cool idea, and seeing the instant reaction from Karasuma actually had me scared for a second. I was wondering how Karasuma was going to work his way out of this one... right until this series played ITS trump card. Koro Sensei. Who did some nonsense with tomato juice and a really long tentacle to trick everyone into thinking Karasuma had been shot... yeah. It was a REALLY dumb and disappointing end to what up until that point had been a pretty strong fight.
It reminded me a little too much of Thor Ragnarok: when we get to the emotional and dramatic climax of the movie, the destruction of Asgard, only to have it cheapened by a poorly timed joke from Korg.
If you're going to end a fight that has had THIS much build up with one character deploying their secret weapon, it's generally a good idea not to dismiss it with a joke. It cheapens the whole event and leaves the reader with a slightly bitter taste in their mouth. Not unlike tomato juice.
See? A badly timed joke can totally ruin a serious point.
And, of course, even though he was literally right there in front of us, we never actually found out the Grim Reaper's identity... Because the creepy bastard has had his whole face removed, to more easily allow him to fit masks and disguises over the top.
However, I don't think we've seen the last of him, as the ever creepy and mysterious Shiro swoops in, to claim the Reaper as his prize and take him off to some dank hole, and there is literally no way this ends well for anyone involved. Except, maybe for the readers, who no doubt have another great fight ahead of them!
But all is not lost. While we don't know who the Reaper IS, we can now confirm who the Reaper ISN'T. Sadly, BOTH of my main theories are now disproven: The Reaper is neither of the Asano men, as both were seen shortly after the Reaper got taken down, and both were clearly still in possession of their faces, and freedom. So it seems we're pretty much back to square one, in terms of guessing who the Reaper really is. My new theory: He's Nagisa's father. Because sooner or later, everything in this series returns to Nagisa.
Speaking of Nagisa! With the Reaper's arc wrapped up, for now, we move on to a small filler arc, before the final set-up chapters.
It seems it's career counseling time, and Nagisa asks the question we've all been wondering for a few volumes now: Is he the only member of Class 3-E who is actually going to end up as an assassin?
Long story short: No. No, he won't.
And this is absolutely the right path for him. Over the course of three chapters, we get a little more backstory for Nagisa and find out why he's so good at reading the people around him. Turns out, to the surprise of no one, it's because sad things always happen to manga leads.
Yup, it turns out Nagisa's mother is just the freakin worst, and can't get over the fact her life sucks because she's awful. So, realising that there's no hope for her she does what any sane person would do, and lumps all of her hopes and dreams onto her son.
It's actually a really uncomfortable arc, to read. In a series about kids training to be assassins to take out their superpowered teacher who is threatening to blow up the world, it's a sad side of reality that all too many people are forced to live in, every day.
All around the world, right now, pushy parents are forcing their children to "conform" and try to live the lives that their parents want for them. Or, more likely, the lives that their parents wanted for themselves, but were unable to achieve.
Finding out that the reason Nagisa is so good at reading his enemies, and knowing when they're going to attack him, is because he's trained himself by reading his mother's moods and understands the small signs that she's in a dark place and shouldn't be argued with is genuinely heartbreaking. It ends well for Nagisa, for now, because he has the support of Koro Sensei, and because this is a fictional story. But, all too often, we know that things don't end so well in situations like this, and the subtexts of this arc are left hanging. A constant reminder of the price that some children pay, for not living up to the dreams of their parents.
Thankfully, the final chapter of the volume is slightly more lighthearted. The Annual Festival is here, and Class 3-E are ready to do their thing! There's not a huge amount to say, because this is mostly a set-up chapter for an arc that will pay off next volume, but I think it was a wise choice to end on a fairly wholesome arc, after the grim nature of the Reaper arc and the Nagisa filler arc.
The set-up is all fairly standard. A big school event is approaching, Class 3-A are cheating to win, Class 3-E are scrambling to get anything done, with the constant nonsense the school inflicts on them, and everyone else is just sitting back, waiting for the show. After the long and involved, life or death stakes of the Reaper Arc, honestly a little breather is quite welcome. So, I'm happy to sit back, eat some dipping noodles, and watch the show.
Overall, Volume 13 was pretty good. The conclusion of the Reaper arc was a little disappointing, but not enough to ruin the great work that had been done up to that point, and while she was cast as a villain in most of it, I did really enjoy the character development and backstory that we got for Ms Irina. I hope that in the future, we'll see her taking a more central role, at least for an arc, and getting a story arc that doesn't involve her being a turncoat, a slag or a joke.
There was some really great progression for the overarching plot of the series. Shiro returns, and seems to be teaming up with The Reaper, which is clearly going to come back to bite Koro Sensei (but hopefully not too soon).
The government seem to have some kind of nasty plan underway, on which doesn't require the students of 3-E, and thus is almost assuredly going to fail.
Yup. It seems as we push deeper into the back half of the series, things are really starting to heat up. I can't WAIT to see how it all pays off.
If you can't wait either, join me next time for Assassination Classroom Volume 14: Time for a Teacher Exam, collecting chapters 116-124. Lowly Class E and elite Class A compete for the most customers at their school festival booths. So far, the students of Class E are holding their own, despite their location on the mountaintop. Then a parade of familiar faces, some welcome and some…not so much…drop by with surprising consequences. Will Principal Asano’s son Gakushu be able to maintain his position as the illustrious leader of Class A? Who could possibly replace him in hopes of leading the students to victory and the subjugation of the weak…?
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.