For something I should’ve started months ago, I sure caught up to it quickly. That’s always a good sign.
First of all, let’s blow out any preconceptions audiences may have about this show: this is NOT a Dark Comedy, Sci-fi mystery, or dramatic social commentary. Despite the premise revolving around assassination, delinquency, condoned bullying and class warfare, this is far less grim or serious than what you’re expecting. What it IS is a feel-good slice-of-life that occasionally becomes an over-the-top parody of both school dramas and shonen stories. Each episode revolves around a new way to kill an uncontrollable creature threatening to destroy the world, but being tamed to fit their roles as students/teachers while also being encouraged to try harder at taking him out. There’s some heartfelt drama, mischievous attempts at killing, entertaining chemistry between students, underlying conspiracies, and an underdog story for a class of misfits.
That sounds like a recipe for disaster when kept in an episodic format, but it all fits together because it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Everything is handled in a tongue-and-cheek manner that either exaggerates the details or puts a cartoonish spin on things. The prejudice between Class E and the other students is akin to a dictator’s treatment of minorities. The assassination attempts become so commonplace that they replace the role of greetings. Keeping things so over-the-top actually unifies these different bits in a way where it can all be enjoyed as part of the show’s energy. At the same time, not everything it confronts is treated as a joke. It realizes some subjects should be given an honest answer and that eventually the objective of assassination shouldn’t be belittled. So it leaves enough seriousness to have some heartfelt and tense moments, but just enough levity to transition into silliness once more.
Much of this material comes from the growing, dysfunctional family called Class 3-E. Apart from featuring a diverse cast of personalities, it’s easy to sympathize with them, considering the fact that they’re misfits tasked with an impossible, thankless job. Even if they manage to kill Koro-sensei and get the 10 million yen, those around them will either treat it as another job or go back to rejecting their worth. But what brings them all together is the realization that any attempt alone will inevitably fail. Killing their teacher becomes the dream that both unifies and motivates these scattered rejects. And while we don’t get to see much individual character development, their camaraderie and confidence grows in a way that makes them better students, better assassins, and all-around better people.
And this leads to the glue that keeps everything about this show together: Koro-sensei. When it comes to teaching methods, he’s actually the most normal out of all the badass anime teachers. Most human teachers in anime are capable of great things because they go against the standard teaching methods. Onizuka uses delinquent methods to have students appreciate life, Kagami changes the teaching system to focus on his student’s strengths, and Itoshiki promotes positive worth by highlighting everything wrong with the world. But since Koro-sensei is capable of inhuman feats, he can practically solve any issue involving his students by being the perfect teacher. He can change entire teaching programs to suit any educational need, motivate students to explore their talents, provide means of improving their skills, and do so all while dodging every attempt at his life.
Full of energy and surrounded in mystery, he’s able to be both their best friend and ultimate target. In fact he’s kept at such a high pedestal that it’s almost impossible to hate him. Everything he does seem to help those around him and he uses his powers for the most childish reasons. His willingness to groom others in the face of danger almost makes you wonder if he’ll destroy the world as promised. But much like the show handles serious subjects, it brings up a near lethal situation with the appearance of his brother. That moment works as a wake-up call to the students, revealing their selfish desire to kill the one that’s helped them on their own. Both assassination and school work becomes a high priority for these students and it opens itself a chance to diverge from the formula they set. This will probably lead to a more plot-oriented segment, but i’m glad that it doesn’t treat its existence as a joke.
This definitely isn’t as strange as the premise would have you believe, but it’s an interesting mix of genres that never ceases to entertain. I’ve certainly seen better Teacher anime, better coming-of-age stories, better slice-of-life comedies, and even better stories involving the joy of killing. However, this handles the job of a jack-of-all-trades surprisingly well without becoming too formulaic. There’s not enough material to really warrant multiple posts, but I can’t wait to see how this all ends. Till then, check more updates on our new discussion board.