Assassination Classroom Volume 4: 'Time to face the unbelieveable,' Collecting Chapters 26-34. Story and Art by Yusei Matsui.
Last time around, the students of Class 3-E narrowly escaped disaster at the hands of some delinquent highschoolers, and then returned home to find out that a new "student," a robot built for assassination, had joined the class. Somehow, things all still ended fairly well. This time around we have a new adventure... as we resolve last volume's cliffhanger, and then a new student joins the class!
Chapter one, "Time for the master," finds Irina's mentor take up the challenge: If he kills the target first, Irina goes home with him, but if SHE can win, she stays on as teacher. Should be a simple task, right? Hahahah NOPE.
Chapter two, "Overcoming shortcomings in time," (this chapter title features the word coming far too many times) finds Irina deploying every trick and trap in her books to attempt to grab a win... but with Koro Sensei's side-bet still in play, will Karasuma play along?
Chapter three, "Movie Time," plays out exactly the way you'd expect it to. Koro Sensei goes on a little trip, to see a new movie he's excited for. He decides to bring a couple of students along, and turns the whole thing into a lesson, because that's what teachers do.
Chapter four, "Time for another transfer student - Second period," sees the second deadly assassin pretending to be a student join the team. And after the horror unleashed by the previous robo-murderess, you can understand why people are a little worried. Those worries turn out to be pretty well founded.
Chapter five, "Time to face the unbelieveable," sees the showdown between Koro Sensei and Itoma begin. But with the revelation of Itona's identity still fresh in everyone's mind, can Koro Sensei defeat this most challenging of enemies?
Chapter six, "A rough battle, this time,"sees the thrilling end of the duel between these two terrifying monsters. Who will be standing, once the dust settles? And does anyone REALLY think that Koro Sensei is going to lose this?
Chapter seven, "Bonding Time," finds the students of Class 3-E trying to get some information out of Koro Sensei, and when he's less than forthcoming, it spurs them on to train all the harder, and one day claim that bounty!
Chapter eight, "Time to play ball," kicks off the next mini arc, as the Kunugigaoka Junior High Baseball tournament begins! Of course Class 3-E aren't allowed to join in, because everyone hates them, but they ARE allowed to play a special match at the end, against the school's Varsity team... What could go wrong?
Chapter nine, "Time for offense," sees Class 3-E put their training, and a rather tricky plan, into action. But will their wily ways be enough to make up for their total lack of athleticism, and the vast gulf in skill between them and the other team?
And once more, the volume comes to a close on a cliffhanger, shocking. But this time, it's not so much a case of "Oh no, what will happen next?!" as it is "Oh gods, not this tool again..." So, yeah. I have a feeling the first couple of chapters next volume are going to be an exercise in frustration.
Which actually, brings me on to my main point.
Volume four was a solid volume. We got some cool action, got to see Koro Sensei on the back foot for once, and got a few more hints about just what the frack he actually IS.
However, this volume also perfectly illustrates my growing concern for this series. We're on volume four now, and in every single one of the volumes to date, at least one, usually more, of the chapters has been dedicated to a new badass joining the class, who tries as hard as they can to kill Koro Sensei, but ultimately fails...
Because let's be real here, IF Koro Sensei is going to die, two things need to be true:
First, it's not going to be until the final volumes. The whole plot of this series is about the kids of Class 3-E trying to kill him before the end of term. If we're on volume four of twenty two, there's a VERY good chance that Koro Sensei isn't going to die just yet.
Second, IF Koro Sensei does eventually shuffle off this mortal coil, you can bet that it'll be the students that eventually take the win, because again, that's kind of the whole point of the series.
So, while I'm not saying they need to totally stop trying to kill him off, because that would defeat the point of the series, but maybe stop having three chapter long arcs where it looks like Koro Sensei is going to die, but then he manages to pull through at the end? It was interesting the first couple of times, but when a good chunk of each volume is dedicated to the same basic idea, it gets a little old.
Thankfully, I think both the staff and the classroom are full now, so there won't be any more people joining, just yet. So that will hopefully curtail the "New person arrives, tries to murder Koro Sensei, eventually decides he's actually all right" pattern that has been forming, so far.
Thankfully, while the Itona arc was a little stale, the other plot lines in this volume were significantly more fun.
While I wasn't exactly her biggest fan when she joined, Irina is really growing on me, seeing her on the back foot this volume, as she attempted to outdo her mentor and win their contest was a lot of fun. Leading in with her standard "Hey, check out my chest!" approach made it seem like she really didn't have much of a plan... but then, as the truth is revealed, you begin to see just how much we let our perceptions of people interfere with who they actually are... a lesson that many people these days really need to learn.
This is the core of the series, that keeps me coming back each volume. while the plots tend to be fairly standard, the character development is incredibly strong. Each new chapter highlights some hidden depth that we'd previously missed, or shows off some unknown talent in a character we thought we knew.
It's these small character moments, that make this such a fun series to read, and even though I've barely started this journey, I'm sure that by the end the teachers and students of Class 3-E will have claimed a special place in my heart.
Overall, Volume four was something of a mixed bag. Offering some good character development, but hampered by a somewhat weak middle arc, which followed a stale format. I really hope that as we push forward, we'll start to see a "core" plot line emerge, and less of these 2/3 chapter arcs, something with some real substance, that will carry us through this most turbulent of terms.
If, like me, you want to see if a plot starts to develop, join me next time for Assassination Classroom Volume 5, "Time to show off a hidden talent" collecting chapters 35-43. Intramural relations are at an all-time low: Principal Asano wants to crush Koro Sensei's 3-E baseball team, while Koro Sensei wants to avenge Principal Asano's sabotage of 3-E's midterms. Then the government sends in a new Special Forces operative--a ruthless father figure who tests Karasuma's combat coaching skills. You'll never guess which student does him proud! And when Koro Sensei digs a swimming pool to help his students cool off, they discover a new weakness of his--as well as how cute their classmates look in swimsuits!
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.