Assassination Classroom Volume 20: Time to graduate, collecting chapters 170-177. Story and art by Yusei Matsui.
Last volume, everything quickly went haywire. As the government sprang their final plan, blasting Koro Sensei from space with their orbital death laser. He escaped, because he's Koro Sensei, but they'd also erected anti-Koro Sensei shields, trapping him in the school. Of course, that didn't stop his students from sneaking in, for one last lesson. Sadly, they weren't the only ones, to arrive. So now, it's time to bring this grand tale to its inevitable end.
Chapter one, "Time for the next generation", begins with Koro Sensei greeting his students, who have brought him a special birthday gift! And of course, all good parties need a party crasher or two. And this celebration is no different!
Chapter two, "Time for the last boss", sees the Sinister Shiro and his evil creation Second Generation show up, committed to breaking Koro Sensei, in every way possible. But with Shiro and Second Generation powered up beyond even Koro Sensei, is there any way to win this fight?
Chapter three, "Time for the students," finds our evil duo attempting to 'exploit' Koro Sensei's mean weakness. But if we've learned one thing over these past volumes, it's that Koro Sensei is the best when it comes to turning weaknesses into strengths.
Chapter four, "Time for my students", Shiro thinks he's found a way to truly hurt Koro Sensei. Second Generation thinks he can really stick the knife in and twist it. All they succeed in doing is making Koro Sensei ANGRIER THAN WE'VE EVER SEEN HIM.
In chapter five, "Time for facial colours", Koro Sensei goes Super Saiyan, and our troublesome twosome think this is their chance to finally seize victory. All they managed to seize is a monster sized L. Take your seat, losers.
Chapter six, "Timeless," is a terrible sci-fi drama from a few years back. Just a truly awful show. It's also the title of the final chapter of this amazing fight, but can Koro Sensei claim his ultimate victory?
In chapter seven, "The time has come", an exhausted Koro Sensei falls to the ground, and the Assassination Classroom come to a dark realisation: If they were ever going to kill Koro Sensei, now is the time.
Chapter eight "Time to graduate". We all knew it was coming, but here it is. Koro Sensei takes roll call, one final time. And then, Graduation.
Oooh boy, I wasn't expecting that. I mean, I WAS... but I wasn't expecting it NOW. I figured there was one volume left, so this volume would be mostly the big fight and the they'd 'Graduate' next volume. Nope, this is the end, my only friend, the end.
SO, there are two main events we need to cover, this volume, I'm not QUITE ready to talk about the second yet, so we'll leave that for later. For now, let's focus on the cool stuff!
Last volume left off with Shiro and Second Generation sneaking into the Koro Shield, in order to cause some trouble, and they kinda succeeded. This volume begins with a fairly epic fight between the creature that was once the Grim Reaper, and before that was just a nice young man, and Shiro AKA Yanagisawa, AKA that utter bellend scientist who caused all this nonsense, against the yellow perv Koro Sensei.
I'm not going to lie... I kinda felt bad for Second Generation, by the end of this fight. I don't know why, because he's been a bit of a psychopath this whole series... but there was just something about all of this that left me feeling a little warmer towards him. Maybe it's the vague comparisons to our own resident assassin-in-training Nagisa, but it really feels like if ol' Grim had met Koro Sensei during his kinda yellow period, he might have turned out all right.
Sadly, he didn't. He met Reaper Koro Sensei, and then once that went tits up, he found his way to Shiro... and the rest is history. Bloody, murderous history. And so, here we are, in the final fight of the series and it's pretty freakin epic, and only mildly held back by a deus ex machina.
So, Koro Sensei and Second Generation square off, but Second Generation has given up any remaining hint of his humanity and has thrown everything into becoming a big enough monster to kill Koro Sensei. In fact, he's now SUCH a monster, that he even kills poor Kaede. Possibly because he thinks killing the sister of Koro Sensei's lost love will upset him, or something.
Obviously, it doesn't. We've seen before many times that Koro Sensei is mostly a pretty chill guy, but the one way you're guaranteed to get him angry, is to hurt one of his students. So, as you can guess, when one of his students is killed, he goes RIGHT off the deep end, and punts Shiro Sensei right into the Koro Killing wall, which roasts him like a marshmallow. Good riddance, honestly.
Then, with the fight over... he uses his magic tentacles and some REALLY dodgy science, like, so dodgy it makes Doctor Who shudder, in order to bring Kaede back from the dead.
I mean... look, I'm not UPSET that she didn't die. Obviously, if you can save one of the students, you should, but it felt like a really strong arc for Kaede; the murderous tentacle monster who infiltrated the class solely so she could kill Koro Sensei, eventually sacrificing herself to give Koro Sensei the room he needed to snatch a victory. That's good stuff! That's a GREAT ending to her tale, so it does cheapen it a little when he's able to just sorta glue her back together, and she comes back to life without even a scar.
But, that tiny niggle aside, this final showdown of the series was unquestionably epic and easily the best fight in the whole series. From an action standpoint, a plot standpoint and even an emotional standpoint, it basically ticked every box I could have wanted it to.
And then, following that with Koro Sensei collapsing to the floor, utterly spent... and seeing the whole class know exactly what had to happen next. Absolute chills. A damn near perfect gut punch to finish off such an exhilarating and emotional confrontation.
Okay, I've put it off long enough.
So. Koro Sensei is dead. The un-killable has finally been killed. And OF FUCKING COURSE it was Nagisa that delivered the final blow, because honestly, who else was it ever going to be? We all saw it coming by about volume 10.
But I've got to say, other than that point, this didn't play out AT ALL how I thought it would.
After seeing the class's amazing near-miss during the hotel stay arc, and the many and varied attempts they've made, I really thought they'd eventually do him in using some elaborate plan or scheme. Looking back, it was a dumb freakin theory, and I should have known it wouldn't play out that way, but I really thought there would be some big showdown where The End Class had to finally beat Koro Sensei into submission, and then one of the students would deliver the final blow.
But, yeah, that was a really stupid theory and would have been so out of place, I'm actually rather glad to be wrong, on that count. Having Koro Sensei use almost all of his energy defending the class from Second Generation, and then using his final reserves to bring a fallen student back... that is how he SHOULD meet his end. There was never any chance this series would end, with Koro Sensei actually fighting his students, because as he said:
I'm not going to lie, that ending hit me HARD. It's no secret that I've had my issues with this series, but when it's good, it's so freakin good, and this ending was pretty much note perfect.
Obviously, there's still one more volume to come, so this isn't the end... but I'm guessing that will mostly be an epilogue of sorts, showing where everyone ended up, and how their lives are all going after they graduate. In many ways, this chapter is the real conclusion of the series, and I don't think they could have ended it any better.
Overall, this penultimate but also sorta final volume was everything I could have hoped it would be. An exciting and emotional climax that will really stick with me, I can now understand why this ending is on so many "Saddest endings in anime" lists. While I've had issues before with the pacing of this series, it really feels like Matsui got his shit together for this last few volumes, delivering a killer arc at just the right time, and bringing this whole glorious catastrophe together, just when he had to. It'll be interesting to see how the final volume plays out, and I can't wait to bring this wonderful tale to its close.
So, if you want to see how this all wraps up, come back next time for Assassination Classroom Volume 21: Time to say Thank you, collecting chapters 178-185! In the aftermath of tragedy, the students of 3-E nevertheless march proudly in their graduation ceremony. Will their futures still unfold as planned? And what will they do with their reward money...? Then, enjoy a long side story revealing what Koro Sensei was really up to over winter break! Can Koro Sensei truly make a friend and ally out of anyone...?! Plus, a bonus short story with all-new characters, set in a dystopian future.
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.