Assassination Classroom Volume 12: Time for the Grim Reaper, collecting chapters 98-106. Story and art by Yusei Matsui.
Last Volume, it was Sports Day. Class 3-E had to ride a pole until they were shaking with exhaustion, but it all worked out in the end, as they beat Asano in yet another ill-conceived wager. Of course, Asano won in the end, as the mid-term exams rolled around. Most of Class 3-E failed horribly, due to spending all their free time redoing a daycare centre and having no time left to study... but even that thrashing can't prepare them for the horrors they face this week, as the greatest Assassin in the world, the Grim Reaper (Shinigami in Japanese), has his sights set on the bounty.
Chapter one, "Time for a Gift," finds Class 3-E testing out their new, cutting edge PE uniforms, to great results! In other news, it's Ms Vitch's birthday... or rather, it WAS. Guess who forgot?
Chapter two, "Time for a Gift - 2nd Period," sees the students of Class 3-E attempting to secure the perfect gift for Karasuma to give to Ms Vitch. Thankfully, a chance encounter with a very helpful flower salesman gives them everything they need... and so much more.
Chapter three, "Time for the Grim Reaper," kicks off the arc with the most episodes we've had so far! After three days without a sign of her, the class begins to worry about Ms Vitch, but with Karasuma busy and Koro Sensei off watching football in Brazil, the only person they can ask is their new substitute teacher. . .who might look a little familiar.
Chapter four, "Time for a Counterattack," sees Class 3-E desperately trying to come up with a plan to counter the Grim Reaper, and rescue Ms Vitch. But what can a class of kids, even THESE kids, do against the greatest assassin in the world?
Chapter five, "Time for the Grim Reaper - 2nd Period," sees the class splitting into three teams, to better counter the Grim Reaper's threat. But when Team A (who, disappointingly, are never referred to as 'The A Team') find themselves in trouble sooner than expected, and the plan begins to fall apart.
Chapter six, "Time for the Grim Reaper - 3rd Period," kicks off with Nagisa attempting his secret move against the Reaper. And while Team A holds him off, the other classmates find Ms Vitch and free her. Both of these plans seem rather simple. Both go horribly wrong.
Chapter seven, "Time for the Grim Reaper - 4th Period." BETRAYAL! Ms Vitch has sided with the enemy and the two of them have taken out Class 3-E. But, just when everything seems hopeless, reinforcements arrive.
Chapter eight, "Time for the Grim Reaper - 5th Period." Koro Sensei and Karasuma are here, to save the day! But given how dangerous the Grim Reaper is, and adding Ms Vitch to that... will even the power of Class 3-E's best teachers be enough to win the day?
Chapter nine, "Time for the Grim Reaper - 6th Period," the Grim Reaper is headed to the control room, to flood the prison and wipe out everyone. The only person left that can stop him is Karasuma... but can even the near superhuman Class 3-E PE teacher stop the world's greatest assassin?
And that's where this volume ends, because life is pain.
I have to say, I hoped for more ongoing stories/subplots and boy, did Matsui deliver! This whole volume is basically one ongoing plot and it's freakin AWESOME. We finally get to see the fabled Grim Reaper unleash his master assassin skills against Koro Sensei and the rest of 3-E and WOW, that dude is beyond impressive. Can't wait to see how this arc wraps up!
What begins as a simple mission to get Ms Vitch a birthday gift, in the latest effort to hook up her and Karasuma, turns into a brutal life and death fight against the world's most dangerous assassin. This is the kind of plot that you only get in Assassination Classroom!
First off: The class have new uniforms. Designed by Karasuma, using the latest cutting edge technology, with a few less-than-helpful design tips from Ms Vitch. Not only do the new uniforms look awesome, but they're packed with all kinds of useful tech, that will come in handy when they go up against Koro Sensei... and a few upgrades which literally save their lives, against The Reaper!
I'm loving their new look, vaguely sci-fi military style, with just enough gadgets and nonsense tucked away that they can write themselves out of mid-tier dangers with "don't worry, our uniforms have a counter for that." They also subtly mention that it has a kind of quasi-camouflage, which I'm SURE won't come into play later on, in a really important way... <<whistles innocently>>
Sadly, all the gear upgrades in the world aren't going to help when The Reaper has you in his sights. Fresh off getting slighted—again—by Karasuma, Ms Vitch is kidnapped and used as bait to lure the class into an obvious trap. Or, as the members of Class 3-E call it: Tuesday.
Things seem to be playing out much like they always do. The class get themselves into some inexplicable situation, they divide into teams with distinct missions. One team being the "kill all the things" team, features a bunch of people that just don't matter, and then Nagisa, who is going to do all the heavy lifting.
Okay, it's no secret by this point that I'm a big fan of Nagisa. He's the adorable little ball of murder that has pulled Class 3-E's nuts out of the fire on more than one occasion, and has proven time and again that just because he looks harmless, it doesn't mean that he won't straight up murder you, if he gets the chance.
But here's the problem: We've already got Koro Sensei, who is basically a get out of jail free card with a face drawn on it. Then, as back up, we have Karasuma, who has proven to be almost as unstoppable as Koro Sensei. . . We don't need a third ace in the whole, insta-win button.
So, despite being my favourite character, I'm actually quite glad that Nagisa got so utterly dominated, this arc. Between those three characters, it was starting to feel like 90% of the cast were essentially useless. So, seeing Nagisa step up to save the day, again, and use his super-clapping powers to disable a superior foe, again, felt a little like retreading old ground. Which made it all the more shocking, but welcome, when not only did the Reaper disable Nagisa so easily, but he did it WITH THE SAME TECHNIQUE. It was the perfect way to illustrate that while Nagisa may be the big guns of Class 3-E, he's still barely a peashooter when it comes to dealing with a Pro. A humbling, but necessary lesson for one of the strongest characters in the series.
Next, we have to address the bitch in the room...
Yup, it seems Ms Vitch has swapped sides. Despite seemingly growing close to the students of Class 3-E over the last few months, and despite her growing, if unrequited feelings for Karasuma, it seems our resident Languages teacher is now speaking the forked tongue of Morder, language of evil!
I can't lie... while I obviously don't like to see Ms Vitch swap sides and betray the class the way she did, I'm still happy that we get this most chilling reminder that while she may play the fool at time, Ms Vitch IS still a trained, and pretty brutal, assassin. It feels like she often gets sidelined, or used more as comic relief, while the heavy hitters I spoke of before do most of the cool stuff. Do I think that she's now lost to us, and is going to either die or leave by the end of this arc? Doubtful... I'd be willing to bet money that when push comes to shove and she's forced to decide between carrying out her plan or saving one of her former friends (probably Karasuma), she'll choose to save her ally, and all will be forgiven.
That said: Do I think that going forward the class, and the other teachers, will have slightly more respect for Ms Vitch? Absolutely. And that's what I think this little "Betrayal" is actually about, reminding us all that Ms Vitch is more than just cute comic relief.
Now, the last and most important question: Just who is the Grim Reaper?
Up until now, the Grim Reaper has been a near mythical figure. Mentioned in hushed whispers, and only emerging to murder people, before disappearing into the shadows once more.
That's all changed, now. He's emerged from the shadows, a little earlier than I'd expected, to try and take Koro Sensei down, and maybe murder the whole class in the process, just to make sure.
But, while we see his face many times, during this arc, they make a point of repeatedly saying that, as a master assassin, he's adept at hiding his appearance. They even specifically state that his costumes are so good, no one on Earth knows what he really looks like. So, while he most often uses the face of the Florist we first saw him as... we can quite easily assume that this isn't his real face.
So, the question then becomes, will the Reaper escape at the end of this arc, to return at a later date and try to kill everyone again OR, will his true identity finally be revealed?
Personally? I'm betting it's the second option. We already have a solid recurring antagonist in the mysterious Shiro, I don't really think we need to keep the Reaper around, beyond this arc. We're a little passed the midway point now, meaning this is the perfect time for a "mid-boss" to show up and cause some chaos. Seeing everything he's done so far, the Reaper seems the perfect candidate.
So, I'm guessing he'll do some real damage, give the class something to think about going forward... but this will be the end of his story in Assassination Classroom.
Which means: Next volume, it will be revealed that he's really Principal Asano, he'll be killed and now Asano Jr will have a blood vendetta against the students of Class 3-E. I don't know about you, but I think that has limitless potential, going forward!
Or maybe he will be revealed as Asano Jr, and when he dies that will make Principal Asano even more dedicated to ruining Class 3-E's life? Either way, I hope it's one of those two, because I'm tired to trying to remember which Asano is which.
Overall, Volume 12 was a LOT of fun. Matsui essentially gave me everything I've been asking for so far, and a few things I didn't even know I needed. Can't really complain! I'm also glad that we got to see some misused characters shine, and some of the more... scene-stealing characters have a little humility. Got to love a bit of balance. Add in that we might finally get an answer to one of the mid-tier mysteries of the series next volume, and I'm a very happy reader!
If you want to know the true identity of the Grim Reaper (hopefully), then join me next time for Assassination Classroom Volume 13: Time for a Little Career Counseling, collecting chapters 107-115. The Grim Reaper sets up a lethal trap that buries Mr Karasuma and Ms Vitch alive. Will Mr Karasuma’s repressed feelings surface before he and Ms Vitch do? And how will Mr Karasuma face Death? Then, despite his vow to destroy the planet in March, Koro Sensei offers career counseling to his students. Nagisa’s professional goal raises some serious issues. And finally, it’s time for the next school festival showdown. Class A and Class E compete for the most customers. If they build it, will they come…to the top of 3-E’s remote mountaintop?
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.