Assassination Classroom Volume 7: On Island Time, collecting chapters 53-61. Story and art by Yusei Matsui.
Last time around, Class 3-E's pool was nearly the site of their greatest triumph, as wayward weirdo and Koro Sensei's brother Itoma returned, and tried his best to claim the bounty. But he hadn't accounted for the class's odd sense of loyalty, as they worked together to defend Koro Sensei. If anyone is going to take his life, it's going to be them! Then, Class A threw down a challenge: Whoever gets the most "Top Scores" in the upcoming exams can make one request from the loser... But can Class 3-E take down the best students in the school? Read on, to find out!
Chapter one, "Time for the five major subjects," sees Class 3-E taking on the surprisingly brutal end of term exams. But, through their own perseverance, and Koro Sensei's targeted teaching skills, The End Class just might have this in the bag!
Chapter two, "Time for setbacks." The exam results are in! And Class 3-E did far better than anyone could have expected... including Koro Sensei! Punished for failing to specify the exact parameters, Koro Sensei finds that he just might be giving up more than he'd expected.
Chapter three, "Time for Vacation," finds Class 3-E flushed with success, and finally able to sample the heavenly fruits reserved for winners. Namely, a three-day, two-night stay in a fancy island resort, care of the Kunugigaoka Special Summer Program! And where better than an island, to stage an assassination attempt?
Chapter four, "Spending time in nature," introduces us to a few of the remaining students in Class 3-E we've not met yet, namely: Kurahashi, a young aspiring Zoologist, and Okajima, a pervert. Between them, they've both put their expertise with traps to good use. One, to catch Stag Beetles, the other... to attempt to trap Koro Sensei!
Chapter five, "Plotting and Planning time," sees the return of the intimidating Mr Lovro, as the students of Class 3-E train extra hard, to make use of this golden chance they've won. But, behind the scenes, dark things are happening.
Chapter 6, "On Island Time," sees Class 3-E arriving in Okinawa, exploring the sights, taking in the amazing new hotel and planning their most elaborate assassination attempt yet! But is it TOO complex?
Chapter seven, "Time to take action," is exactly what it says on the tin. Class 3-E put their plan into action! but can it really succeed? Is Ms Vitch right, and it's too complex? Is this really the end of the series? Well, we know it's not. So, yeah. They get real close, though!
Chapter eight, "Time for a surprise," finds the students of Class 3-E convinced that they've finally won! But, Koro Sensei has a surprise for them. Feeling defeated, they all return to the hotel to relax. But the biggest surprise of the night is still coming...
Chapter nine, "It's pandemonium time," finds half the class very sick, and some rather bad people holding the only antidote. They'll sell it, but the price is Koro Sensei. Will the class give him up, to save themselves? Will they ever! It's time for Class 3-E to do what it does best!
And that's where this volume ends! because cliffhangers are totally in, this season.
Volume 7 was another strong one, wrapping up the exam arc well, and turning what at first seemed a simple "The class try and fail to kill Koro Sense again" arc into something much bigger.
First off, it's results time! I'm not going to lie, I was all but certain that Class 3-E were going to fail the exams. Or, more likely, they'd pass, but the evil head teacher would find some way to screw them out of it, or turn into into some kind of pyrrhic victory.
Thankfully, this ISN'T a '90s era high school dramedy, so we were actually allowed to win one, yay. Of course, the win wasn't total, Asano the younger still took the win in a few subjects, and was the overall highest score, but it was good to see the students of the End Class at least grab a FEW subjects. I also enjoyed the way that they explained HOW they were able to get these grades. It reminded me a lot of Danny Boyle's hugely overrated Slumdog Millionaire, but told in a way that didn't put me to sleep.
But, of course, if there's a winner, that means there has to be a loser. And it seems that even though he won out overall, Asano was not best pleased to play second fiddle to the school's rejects. However, I feel like I need to restate my point from last time: It really feels to me like Class 3-E are simply a tool he's using, to win his ultimate fight against his father. I can't help but shake the thought that sooner or later, Asano is going to end up in 3-E, just to annoy and win some points against his father... That or to spend time with his true love, Karma. I'd be fine with either.
The spectre of Continuity looms!
In a little filler chapter, the vaguely scary Mr Lovro returns. On the whole the chapter is fairly average. People seem surprised at how good the kids have become, our attention is drawn to two skilled snipers who will be important in the next arc, and people are once more utterly terrified about Nagisa. Overall, the chapter is almost totally forgettable... Almost.
There are two fairly important pieces of information, slipped in amongst the usual fluff:
1: Someone is killing off assassins. And not just the rank and file types, either. The really strong ones, that might actually stand a chance against a monster like Koro Sensei. I mean, it's not actually stated that they're being killed, but reading between the lines, it seems heavily implied. However, there's very little evidence (so far..) as to who or more importantly WHY.
However, grasping at straws, I can't help but think this has something to do with Shiro Sensei, from the last volume. It seems he really wants Koro Sensei dead, and what better way to do that, than to train operatives against some of the best assassins in the world? If your killer is able to kill the only people capable or taking our Koro Sensei, then he has to succeed against the main target, right? I guess we'll just have to wait and see...
2: The greatest killer, with the worst name! Lovro introduces us to the greatest killer he's ever known. Although "known" is probably overstating it, as he's never actually met this legendary killer. Known only by their title "The Grim Reaper," this unstoppable killer is feared, even amongst the most hardened of killers.
Soooo... it's clearly someone we know, and the fact they're being so evasive about all of it, makes it pretty clear to me. The big question then, becomes WHO.
The way I see it, there are three main candidates: Principal Asano, Karasuma, or Koro Sensei.
Principle Asano is the exact kind of scary bastard who would make a top tier assassin, and it would also explain why he allows the Assassination Classroom to exist, AND why he would want to observe Koro Sensei so much. He's biding his time, waiting for his moment to strike and claim the bounty.
Karasuma is clearly a very skilled fighter, and seems hesitant to share too much information about himself. He's either hiding something big, or he's just super boring and doesn't want to admit it.
Koro Sensei seems the most obvious choice. We know he was human at one point, and seems VERY knowledgable in the ways of assassination. Could it be because at one time, he was the world's most feared assassin?
My money is on Grim Reaper being one of those three, but honestly, I'm hoping to be surprised. It's always more fun that way!
The volume comes to a close, with Class 3-E celebrating on a fancy island resort, in sunny Okinawa. And I've got to say, this was their best, most utterly insane attempt yet. Loved it!
It all begins, back in the results arc: When Koro Sensei says he'll let them shoot one tentacle off, for every person that gets a top score in a core subject. He counts 5 subjects (Math, Science, English, Japanese, and Civics), plus a potential extra for getting the top overall score.
However, he doesn't account for one thing: Home Economics. Class 3-E decide to troll hard, and use this as an opportunity to score extra points. In so doing, they end up getting SEVEN top scores, and are able to take out almost all of Koro Sensei's tentacles.
I really loved this little twist, because it marks the first actual WIN that the students have had over Koro Sensei. Every time in the past that it's LOOKED like they've got one over on him, he's later revealed that actually he knew from the start and had already planned for this... but this marks the first true, clean-cut win the kids of 3-E have had, over the yellow meanie. I do love to see progress!
But, of course, if something is worth doing, it's worth OVERDOING. So, they utilise the weakness they've gained from taking out seven of Koro Sensei's tentacles, plus their extra training with Lovro, plus Koro Sensei's known weakness for getting overly embarrassed, to set up a huge strike... And pull it off! Kinda.
Introducing Koro Sensei's Absolute Defense Form. By exploding into a huge burst of energy and rapidly shrinking into this tiny form, he's able to wrap himself inside a nearly indestructible shell. It was this, and only this, which saved him from the class's damn near perfect attempt.
Not going to lie, I thought this was kind of a cop-out. It falls way too cleanly into the standard Shonen "This isn't even my final form!" trope.
The students had pulled off an excellent attempt, and for it to fall short because of what is essentially a deus ex machina feels... cheap. If Koro Sensei had somehow managed to plan for their skills, or found another way out, that would have been fine, but for him to survive because... secret skillz. It all just feels a little cheap. Especially when they'd already laid the groundwork for a solid excuse:
The kids of Class 3-E have come a long way in their first semester. They're all well on their way to becoming top class assassins, especially the oddly terrifying Nagisa. But, at the end of the day, they ARE still children. Mostly forgotten and mistreated children, who are finally being treated well for the first time, by Koro Sensei.
I love the idea that even though they had this perfect chance, Koro Sensei survived because when it all comes down to it, they're just kids still and aren't QUITE ready to become assassins. It would have made their failure far more human, far more relatable and WAY less of an asspull...
Of course, while that would have been a better ending, for the arc, it wouldn't have set up the NEXT arc, in such a strong fashion, so I'll allow it for now.
Because, with Koro Sensei locked in a diamond ball for the next 24 hours, the kids of Class 3-E are woefully unprepared when some rather nasty types unleash a deadly virus amongst their classmates. There isn't huge amount to say about this arc, because being the final arc of the volume, it was mostly set up for the conclusion that will open the next volume. But there is one thing I CAN say:
While I feel like the Absolute Defense Form is a bit of a cop out, it DOES feel like the real reason Matsui introduced it now was to make totally sure that Koro Sensei is off the board for the next 24 hours, meaning that whatever happens next, and whatever resolution comes from this disease outbreak... it's pretty much all on the students. While it's true that this is far from the first time they've been in danger, more often than not the resolution in the past has been "And then Koro Sensei did something funny, a bit mean, and possibly illegal, and they all lived happily ever after." So it'll be interesting to see what happens, when the option is totally removed from the board. Will the kids sink or swim?
Overall, Volume 7 was another solid entry, it wrapped the exam arc up nicely, showed us how strong the students have become and kicked off the disease arc in style. The story continues to evolve, with some solid attempts at continuity emerging and some real mysteries for me to pick at, which is one of my favourite things to do! As the series progresses, I'm finding myself more and more drawn into this world, and I'm starting to really look forward to each new volume. I can't wait to see where it builds too, from here!
If you want to see how the kids do, with no Koro Sensei to back them up, come back next time for Assassination Classroom Volume 8, "Time for an Opportunity": collecting chapters, 62-70. The 3-E students head for the lair of the enemy to stop a deadly biological attack. But blocking their path are three master assassins: Smog, Grip, and Gastro, who excel, respectively, in the use of poison, brute strength, and guns. With their teacher Karasuma down, Karma and his friends face terrible odds. And even if they defeat their foes, how will they wrest the antidote from them? Worse, it turns out the mastermind behind the attack is someone they know…
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.