Review for Assassination Classroom - Season 2 Part 1 Collectors Edition
Once in a while, the world makes sense. The popularity of an anime is recognised and rewarded. It’s amazing to me that the anime industry manages to work at the best of times, as it seems that what the Japanese side wants, and what the Western side wants are usually two different things. Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most popular shows, one of the biggest landmark anime in recent history, yet it remains painfully out of print, even after it’s seen a Japanese Blu-ray release. So you can imagine my shock when the first Part of Assassination Classroom Season 2 shows up just a year after the release of Season 1, and more importantly just one year after its Japanese broadcast. That kind of turnaround almost never happens. But Assassination Classroom has its fans, not least because it delivers an original and refreshing twist on the usual shonen staples.
The moon has been destroyed! Most of it has been blown away, leaving a permanent crescent in the sky and a field of debris. And the one who has destroyed it, an enigmatic figure with a large round yellow head, and tentacles (but definitely not an alien, he claims) has threatened to destroy the Earth the following year, unless he is killed first. But killing him isn’t easy when he can move at Mach 20. And for the year before he destroys the world, he wants to be a teacher. He’s been installed at Kunagigaoka High School, teaching class 3-E. So the government come up with a proposition for this class, kill Koro-Sensei, and get 10 billion Yen in reward money. Education has never been so lethal. But it’s not easy to kill Koro-Sensei, not easy at all. After several attempts in their first semester, including an elaborate scheme that almost succeeded on their summer school trip, it’s back to school for the second semester, and another shot at taking their teacher out...
13 episodes of Assassination Classroom Season 2 are presented across 2 Blu-rays. This time the label switches from All the Anime to Funimation, but the discs are the same either way.
1. Summer Festival Time
2. Kaede Time
3. Itona Horibe Time
4. Spinning Time
5. Leader Time
6. Before & After Time
7. Reaper Time, Part 1
8. Reaper Time, Part 2
9. Round Two Time
10. School Festival Time
11. End of Term Time/2nd Period
12. Think Outside the Box Time
13. Let Live Time
It’s getting harder and harder to comment on the video quality of Blu-ray anime, as they all seem to approach the same level of consistency. You get wonderful HD transfers, offering great detail, colours and animation, and there’s usually the consistent niggle of digital banding across colour gradation. Assassination Classroom’s 1.78:1 widescreen 1080p transfer is just like that, and like every other Funimation and Sentai Blu-ray that gets released these days. The only times that the digital banding will annoy here is when there are close-ups of Koro-sensei’s head.
Assassination Classroom is a noitaminA show, but don’t expect the usual adult sensibilities, the more complex world designs and adult character designs. Assassination Classroom might as well be any mainstream show, and it looks just like the Shonen Jump adaptation that it actually is. It has the look of many a high school comedy, with likeable character designs, a simpler world design, but with strong animation. There’s a hint of the Baka and Test to the show, not least because of the low rent campus that Class 3-E get, but also a little Nagisa/Hideyoshi crossover in design and voice actor choice. The real creativity comes in the form of Koro-Sensei, a moon-faced tentacle creature in a teacher’s gown, and the object of the many assassination attempts in this show.
I could say the same thing about commenting on Blu-ray audio. With anime hardly challenging the boundaries of home cinema audio in the same way as the latest summer blockbuster, you’re going to get good quality sound each time, and Funimation has this sussed out by now. You get the usual Dolby TrueHD 5.1 Surround English, 2.0 Stereo Japanese, and as is so often the case these days, translated English subtitles and a signs only track locked to the appropriate audio stream. I sampled the English dub to ensure that it existed, but I stuck with the Japanese throughout this time. The audio was clear with no glitches or dropouts, the characters voiced appropriately, the action coming across well, and the show’s rather quirky music suiting its irreverent tone. The subtitles were timed accurately and free of typos.
The discs present their content with rather nifty animated menus.
Disc 1 autoplays with a trailer for Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, while in the extras, you’ll find two audio commentaries.
Episode 3 has an audio commentary from Ricco Fajardo (Itona), Terri Doty (Kirara), and Marcus D. Stimac (Terasaka).
Episode 5’s commentary features voice actors Jerry Jewell (Isogai), and Micah Solusod (Asano).
Disc 2 autoplays with a trailer for Wolf’s Rain.
The Many Faces of Koro-Sensei lasts 6:06 and fans, as well as the English voice actor Sonny Strait look at the aspects of the character.
You get three textless openings and one textless closing (locked subtitles).
There are 3:24 of next episode Previews.
Finally there are trailers for Danganronpa, Unbreakable Machine Doll, Death Parade, Nobunagun, Scrapped Princess, and Attack on Titan.
Just as before, I saw only the Blu-ray check discs for this release, and cannot comment on any physical extras that come with the title.
The new car smell has faded. The novelty is gone. If you’ve seen season 1 of Assassination Classroom, then there is little to surprise in the first half of season 2. It’s about delivering the familiar characters and it’s now trademark humour to satisfy fans of the first season while incrementally moving the story on. That’s not to be sniffed at, as most sequels and continuations are this way. Adding to the intensity and the stakes that were being played for at the end of season 1, would lead to a Gurren Lagann level escalation, which in a show as out there as Assassination Classroom would quickly lead to it spinning out of control. Not every show is Gurren Lagann. The alternative which most shows opt for, is to reset things a tad, ease the audience back in with the first few episodes, and then deliver those familiar beats, the action and the comedy with the rest of the episodes, while moving the story on.
The thing about this familiarity is that it can become stale and repetitive, but in its defence, Assassination Classroom looks to be picking the pace up. While the first season covered the first term at school, this second season, while longer at 26 episodes instead of 22, seems to be covering the final two school terms in its runtime. The second school term encompasses the whole of this first half of season 2. That means that this story should come to a conclusion with its second half, as Kuro-sensei’s deadline to the end of the world is rapidly coming due.
Season 2 doesn’t kick-off in a great way. For one thing it has to act as a reminder of what the show is about, reintroduce the characters for those whose memories might be slipping after a lengthy hiatus, and it’s also coming off the back of the conclusion of season 1. The first episode might have been better placed there, as a sort of wind-down zone, but instead the match-making and summer festival hijinks of the first episode seem curiously subdued. Following that, it’s a series of episodes that restate the mission statement, and get the viewers back into the groove with the show, although it takes a surprisingly long time to do so. It begins with Class E’s attempts to take out Koro-sensei, initially with a giant pudding, and later with a remote controlled model tank. All of which is familiar and comfortable. There’s a bit of story beat when Koro-sensei’s ‘brother’ Itona Horibe (who tried to assassinate him in season 1) winds up joining class E, and by episode 5 you should be back up to speed with the premise of the show with the first season 2 episode that has Class E face off against Class A, the school philosophy once more put to the test.
It’s around episode 6 that the show finds top gear again, the characters are all familiar, the various story aspects revisited, and the show can resume moving the story forward once more. There’s an entertaining episode where a little overeager assassination practice leads to some collateral damage, and Class E wind up helping at a rundown local elementary school as restitution. Then, mirroring the conclusion of Season 1, there’s another attempt on Koro-sensei by an outside assassin in a two part episode. The titular Reaper is perhaps the creepiest assassin we have yet seen on the show, and the most ruthless, as he determines what might be Koro-sensei’s most effective weakness, is his affection for his students. It’s also a useful reminder that the other Class E teachers, particularly Bitch-Sensei are assassins first and teachers second.
There then follows a useful episode of character development for Nagisa, before we head towards the halfway point of season 2, the end of the second term. It comes down to the end of term exams, which this time Class E have sworn to succeed at, to defeat Class A. It also looks to be the ultimate confrontation between Koro-Sensei’s teaching methods, and those of the cold-hearted School Chairman, only this time we learn just why he teaches his students so ruthlessly and without mercy, just why he sends all the losers to Class E, and unexpectedly, it’s quite a moving story. The final episode is the kind of wind-down episode that episode 1 is, although here it’s rightly placed straight after a dramatic climax rather than at the start of the next half. It’s a little inconsequential silliness with the school Drama Festival, but placed here is really quite funny.
Assassination Classroom Season 2 takes an inordinate time to find its feet again, and I have to say that I actually found the first few episodes a little tiresome and dull. But once it picks up speed, and really gets back to what it’s good at, this is as good as the first season. Hopefully there will be no such narrative hernia with Part 2, and it keeps the momentum going towards a worthy conclusion.