Assassination Classroom Volume 5: 'Time to show off a hidden talent,' Collecting Chapters 35-44. Story and Art by Yusei Matsui.
Last time, the students of Class 3-E were surprised by yet another new addition to the class! The shocks kept coming, when this new kid was revealed to be Koro Sensei's brother! He then got his ass kicked, and left the class, no doubt to return at the least opportune moment. The students of Class 3-E then had to play in a baseball match against the school's top team... read on, to find out how that arc ends!
Chapter one, "Time for a huddle," finds the baseball game in... full swing! With Class 3-E leading at the halfway point, the principal swoops in to start coaching the losing side, which seems a touch unfair, but Koro Sensei doesn't mind the challenge!
Chapter two, "Time to get closer," finds the baseball match reaching its conclusion! When the School team give Class 3-E a taste of their own medicine, things start to look grim for the scrappy underdog. Until Class 3-E come up with a suitable 3-E way to play the game!
Chapter three, "Time for art," introduces us to Sugaya, 3-E resident art prodigy. But when he turns up to class sporting some new ink, Koro Sensei decides to have a little fun. At Ms Vitch's expense!
Chapter four, "Time for training," sees another new teacher join the class. At first, Akira Takaoka seems like a great teacher, he brings sweets to class! but then lessons begin, and the class soon realises that they were far better off with Karasuma!
Chapter five, "Time to kill them with kindness," spoiler warning, 'Kindness' is the big stick that Takaoka wants to beat his students to death with. Yeah. The new teacher's harsh teaching methods are disliked by all, sadly, there's very little that anyone can do to stop him. Gulp.
Chapter six, "Time to choose," finds Karasuma finally ready to step up and put a stop to Takaoka's reign of terror. A challenge is proposed: Karasuma will pick one student, if that student is able to land a strike with a knife on Takaoka, he'll leave. But if Takaoka wins, no one will ever be allowed to question him again... but who can Karasuma pick, to defeat this beast?
Chapter seven, "Time to show off a hidden talent," sees Karasuma's pick facing off with the sadistic Akira Tadaoka. But can any student, even 3-E's best, really beat a fully trained special forces drill instructor? Let's hope so...
Chapter eight, "Time for doubts," sees the fight resolved, and the teaching situation at 3-E settled for the better. But, on seeing how easily his pick won, Karasuma begins to have doubts. Is he really doing the right thing, teaching kids to kill?
Chapter nine, "In the summertime," sees the students of Class 3-E sweating to death in their run-down classroom. But, as always, Koro Sensei to the rescue! as a small stream, with a bit of a make-over, becomes Class 3-E's private pool!
And for once, the volume DOESN'T end on a cliffhanger! which is nice. I mean, we're not totally free of my complaints from last volume, as we once again had the usual "new person joins the class, is terrible, the class rallies" arc that we've had in basically every volume so far...
However, this time around, it actually worked. I know, crazy right? Because for once, it wasn't Koro Sensei, or one of the other teachers that saved the class. The new sadist teacher joined, was a sadist, and was defeated by one of the students stepping up and handling their business. Young Nagia stepped up to defend his friends, and claimed his spot as my favourite character, at the same time. His fight with Tadaoka was excellent, because despite being part of an arc we've seen in basically every volume so far, the conclusion was a huge surprise.
I was expecting him to get utterly stomped for a chapter, then either Karasuma or Koro Sensei would have a word with him, and he'd learn to use his hidden talent to achieve victory against all odds.
Nope! Turns out Nagisa's hidden talent is the fact he's so bland and gives so few f***s that he's a pretty perfect assassin. I was NOT expecting him to just walk up and utterly ruin Takaoka, before the dude even had a chance to move. Alpha Strike!
So what could, or probably SHOULD, have been a very annoying arc, turned into a pleasant surprise, and a great moment for one of the lead characters to shine. Always fun! I'm glad that this series is starting to mix things up a little, even while sticking to its formula. I was getting worried that it was going to become too predictable, which wouldn't have been great.
Of course, there are other stories to discuss. Namely, the conclusion of the baseball game that began last volume! Yup, the Principal has decided to step in and coach the school's team... and only cheat a little bit, while he does so.
Sadly, this arc was as bland as the Takaoka arc was surprising. Asano cheats a bunch, to counter Koro Sensei's odd tactics. Koro Sensei cheats even more to win. Taking advantage of the fact that the umpire didn't call out Asano when HE cheated, to ensure that he can't call Koro Sensei out either.
There's only one problem... Asano cheated a BIT, then Koro Sensei used that as an opening to cheat a LOT. At which point, the Umpire should have called 3-E out, because they'd clearly taken it too far. The only reason they didn't, is because 3-E are the protagonists, and needed a way to win. It felt like a cheap victory, and they're never fun.
I don't know. Maybe it's because I'm a Brit and just don't understand baseball, but this whole arc just seemed kinda off to me. There seems to be a strange obsession with slice of life manga putting baseball games in, and the heroes always win, despite the fact they're terrible, usually by doing something that just toes the line of fair play. This time around, though, it feels like 3-E didn't so much put a toe on the line as they did leap right over.
I mean, a win's a win, sure. But the point of "scrappy underdog wins the game!" arcs is to make you feel like the team somehow won, against all odds, by playing the best game they could. When "playing the best game" includes borderline cheating, it makes it quite hard to support the team you're MEANT to be backing.
Overall, Volume 5 was a step up from last week's manga retrospective, resolving the rather stale baseball arc, giving us a solid showdown in the Takaoka sucks arc, and a very strong standalone chapter, that helped us get to know another member of the class. The volume ends, as usual, by setting up the next arc. Which involves the members of class 3-E going for a swim in their new pool! This can only end badly...
If you want to join me, and see how they manage to ruin this, join me next time for Assassination Classroom Volume 6 "Swim Time," collecting chapters 44-52. The 3-E students discover that Koro Sensei’s greatest weakness might be a common substance. Will they be able to use it to assassinate him while he helps Meg, formerly of the varsity swim team, with her greatest weakness? The next assassination attempt, implemented by Terasaka, is more elaborate but endangers his fellow students. Can he save them without saving his target? Then, the top class at school, including Principal Asano’s son, conspires to prevent 3-E from ever rising closer to the top!
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.