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MANGA: The pole's the goal! In Assassination Classroom Volume 11: Time for Sports Day.

Assassination Classroom Volume 11 Cover 1. Published in the UK by Viz Media.

Assassination Classroom Volume 11: Time for Sports Day, collecting chapters 89-97. Story and art by Yusei Matsui.

Last time around, exploding pudding nearly scored them the bounty, and a pervy panty thief nearly got Koro Sensei in a lot of trouble. Thankfully, what little remains of his reputation was saved with the return of the terrifying Itona, who was revealed to be the true culprit! After yet another beatdown, the mysterious Shiro abandoned his young charge, who has now taken his place as the final member of Class 3-E... and just in time. They'll need his acrobatic skill, as it's Sports Day!

Here's a bizarrely detailed drawing of a kitten. For no real reason...

Chapter one, "Time to take names," answers the age old question, once and for all: What's in a name? As a member of Class 3-E reveals their real name, and everyone in class decides to try out some cool new codenames.

Chapter two, "Making time for Mr Handsome," follows Class 3-E's resident heartthrob Isogai, who is apparently breaking school rules by having a part-time job. Which seems pretty mean if you ask me, but whatever. Would be a shame if the psychotic Asano found out, right?


Chapter three, "Time for Sports Day," sees Asano's plan go into full effect, as Class 3-E must win the "pole pull down" event (Never heard of this 'sport' before...), or Asano will tell his father about Isogai's job and get him expelled.

Bread is a beverage.

Chapter four, "Tactical time," Sees the battle between Class 3-E and Class A heat up! But can The Endclass use their unusual tactics to triumph over Asano and his team of giant ringers?

The tide is turning...

Chapter five, "Time for a leader." The battle on the field is immaterial. The true battle now is between Mr Handsome, Isogai, leader of the scrappy underdogs of Class 3-E, and Gakushu the absolute nutjob, and his army of monsters.

He sure is a raging lunatic.

Chapter six, "Time for the agony of defeat," brings this grand drama of pole riding to its conclusion, as Class 3-E deploys its secret weapon and Principal Asano shows his transfer students the true lessons you can learn from defeat.

Damn, dude...

Chapter seven, "Time to make a mistake," finds Class 3-E preparing for the mid-term exams. Is time passing really quickly, or do Japanese schools just have exams ALL THE FREAKIN TIME? And when on the way to school, some parkour practice goes a little wrong, Class 3-E find their study time may be diminished.

Somehow, I don't think it is...

Chapter eight, "Time for a before picture," finds the disgraced students of Class 3-E doing whatever they can to make things better for the man they injured... including taking over his job at an after-school program!

Kids are THE WORST.

Chapter nine, "Time for an after picture," (I just got that, very clever). Finds the injured Principal Matsukata returning to his now unrecognisable after-school program. Needless to say, he's rather happy with the improvements! But with all their time spent working there, how will the students do in their exams?

Repeat after me, Nagisa: "That is not a lesson for children."

And that's where the volume ends. Victory, defeat, Parkour accidents and home renovations; this was certainly an odd volume. The whole thing feels like an '80s era family movie. Where scrappy underdogs and fish out of water struggle against seemingly insurmountable odds and somehow come out the better for it, after the dust settles. As I'm a huge fan of cheesy '80s films, you'd think I'd be in heaven... so why am I oddly unmoved?

Koro Sensei is a magnificently attractive potato.

It feels like there was something missing from the volume. It might just be that coming off the back of the action-packed hotel assault arc, and the shorter but significant in the long run Itona attack arc, this whole volume just screams "FILLER ARC." But once the final chapter was read and the volume was closed, I couldn't help but sit for a second and think "Wait... was that it?"

Sparkle sparkle!

The volume begins with a throwaway chapter, about the 'hilariously' named "Justice." No one in class had noticed that was his real name until now, because the Kanji used to spell his name can be read a different, more normal way, so he told everyone that was his real name. At its core it was your basic wholesome Assassination Classroom "learn to love who you are" plotline. We've seen it loads before, and while they're not usually that great, they always have a few fun moments. This time around it was everyone in class giving themselves Codenames... but as the names were all picked by other members of the class, and chosen at random, it's safe to say they were... rather colourful. Not the best chapter we've ever had, but got a few chuckles from me!

Spoiler warning: I hate people like that.

With that out of the way, we get into the main body of the volume. The handsome, skillful, and loved by all Isogai has to work part-time when he's not at school, because his one 'weakness' is that he's SUPER poor (their words, not mine).

Apparently though, Kunugigaoka Junior High has rules against its students working part-time jobs... because they really like dumb rules, or something. I don't know.

So, naturally, when budding sociopath and prince of the school Asano finds out that Isogai is working at a small cafe when he's not at school, he uses this as leverage to make yet another wildly outlandish bet with Class 3-E. Because despite being the smartest kid in school, this dude just DOESN'T FREAKIN LEARN.

This time around, their bet is that Class A can beat Class 3-E in the school's annual "pole pull down event." A 'sports' even where two teams each have to guard a giant wooden pole, while trying to drag the enemy team's pole to the ground. Which, honestly, is no more insane that 90% of the sports out there, so crack on.

But, of course, Asano has other plans. Because OF COURSE, this isn't just about him proving that he's better at handling a pole than Class 3-E. That's far too simple. His plan isn't to beat them, it's to embarrass them. So, he drafts in four ringers, freaking GIANTS from America, France, Korea, and Brazil to give his team the winning edge they'll need.

From here on, the arc plays out exactly how you expect. Asano cheats, grandstands, and generally acts like an ass. Class 3-E use tricky tactics, the skills they've picked up from their assassination training and that manga staple, the power of FrIeNdShIp to win the day, despite being hugely out numbered.

You would not believe how many times I've explained stuff with "It was the Coriolis Effect"

The only part of the arc that was even worth looking at a second time was a small scene after the games have concluded. Asano the Younger, and his four scary giant friends go to see Principal Asano, to explain why they lost again.

Needless to say, it doesn't go well, and they come to blows. At which point, Principal Asano UTTERLY destroys all four of the ringers, without even messing up his suit.

Which, for me, just seems more evidence for my theory that Principal Asano is in fact the dreaded Reaper that we've seen mentioned a few times, and who killed Lovro a few chapters back. In fact, the only thing that stops me absolutely locking in my guess that it's him, is that there is now almost TOO MUCH evidence, and it feels like they could be laying a false trail to make you think it's him, to make it seem more surprising when it's revealed who The Reaper really is.

Or am I over-thinking?

Either way, with that small case of GBH against four minors, the arc comes to an end with a resounding 'Who cares?' and we move into the second mini-arc of the volume.

That seems a pretty fair reaction.

So, we conclude the arc by accidentally crippling a pensioner. Not the best place to start, I'll grant you. However, this IS Assassination Classroom, the series where the most wholesome moments come at the most unexpected times.

It transpires that this particular crotchety old man is actually something of a saint... deep down. He runs an after-school club for kids, that is so run down it's all just a bit depressing.

Enter, Class 3-E. Who, for their last two weeks before the mid-term exams, decide to instead spend their time renovating the dilapidated clubhouse and teaching the kids the value of not being annoying kids. The fortnight passes in the blink of an eye, and suddenly all the kids are nice (even the one trouble girl, on the border of delinquency!) and the clubhouse is now a multi-story palace, that legitimately looked nicer than where I live. Everyone is happy and all is well with the world.

Do you see where they messed up?

We literally skip the whole arc. We see the students mess up and hurt a guy. We see them arrive at the run-down clubhouse... and then next chapter, two weeks have passed, everything is now super-fancy and everyone is happy.

It feels like the pacing for this whole volume was massively off. We got five whole chapters of Class 3-E playing with their pole, going into WAY more detail than was strictly necessary. Then, we see the start and end of this arc, with all the details skipped.

It feels, to me, like Matsui probably could have taken a chapter or two out of the pole plot, in order to flesh this second part out a bit. Even if it was just one more chapter, to show a bit of them working on the building (maybe one of the students really likes The Sims, and wants to be an architect?), and a little bit of Nagisa teaching that girl whose name I barely bothered to learn not to be such a dick to everyone.

As it stands currently, I have no investment at all in anything that happened in these last two chapters, and it feels like the whole thing was just a build-up to the final reveal, that everyone except for Karma failed horribly at the mid-terms. But here's the problem with that... you just spent five chapters setting up that Asano wanted to embarrass them in the pole dancing event, to make them fail the exams. But he failed and they won! But still ended up failing their exams...

I get that he was going for a whole "Pyrrhic victory" thing, and that they learned far more important lessons along the way than they ever could have in their exams...

The problem is, for me anyway, that it makes both arcs feel vaguely pointless. We spend five chapters seeing how The End Class overcome Asano, we see that the other students in the school are starting to acknowledge that just maybe Class 3-E aren't totally useless... and then we see them spend all their time playing Mr Fixit and they fail anyway.

Not only does this make the home repair mini-arc seem vaguely pointless, because it was so rushed, but it makes the whole pole arc pointless as well, because for all his grandstanding, cheating, and ploys, Asano didn't need to do anything. He could have just sat back drinking the blood of innocents (I assume that's his drink of choice) and skipped all of Sports Day, and Class 3-E would still have failed the exams.

The funniest part of it all is, giving Class 3-E a small victory at Sports Day probably only helped them out. improving their reputation with the school, and winning them some goodwill, before their terrible performance in the exams.

So, yeah. Kinda seems like EVERYONE was a loser this volume. And no one more so than the readers.

Still, the arc WAS pretty wholesome.

Overall, Volume 11 was a real disappointment. Serious pacing issues and a lack of any real ground gained lead to an extremely unsatisfying volume. If this was volume four or five it might have been acceptable, but at this stage we're passed the halfway point of the series. It seems a little late to be throwing out arcs that don't really forward the story at all, and basically feel like filler. This is especially annoying after such a long run of strong volumes, that had me believing we'd turned a corner...

If you want to see if this series can redeem itself, join me next time for Assassination Classroom Volume 12: Time for the Grim Reaper, which covers chapters 98-106 and already sounds pretty interesting. Karasuma gives the 3-E students superpowered uniforms…with great results. What amazing feats will they perform in their snazzy new outfits? Then, Karasuma gives Ms. Vitch a bouquet for her birthday…with disastrous results. Next, a 3-E teacher is kidnapped by master assassin the Grim Reaper, who threatens to kill his hostage if the students tell anyone. Their rescue attempt goes horribly awry, and soon they are the ones in need of rescuing! But at what cost to the world…?

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.

Wait, a small blond surrounded by big burly guys... I think I've seen this film.

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