Saturday, January 10, 2015



CARTOONIST: Yusei Matsui
TRANSLATION: Tetsuichiro Miyaki
LETTERS: Stephen Dutro
EDITOR: Annette Roman
ISBN: 978-1-4215-7607-7; paperback (December 2014); Rated “T+” for “Older Teen”
192pp, B&W, $9.99 U.S., $12.99 CAN, £6.99 U.K.

Assassination Classroom is a shonen manga that made its debut in Weekly Shonen Jump in Japan in 2012.  The series is created by Yusei Matsui, who was an assistant to manga artist Yoshio Sawai, the creator of such popular manga as Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo and the long-running JoJo's Bizarre Adventure.

Assassination Classroom is a humor and sci-fi manga about a classroom full of misfits who take on their teacher who has bizarre powers and super strength.  The teacher, whom the students name “Koro Sensei,” is the alien octopus that destroyed 70% of the moon.  He becomes a teacher at Kunugigaoka Junior High, where he teaches the outcasts of Class 3-E and he promises to destroy the Earth after they graduate.  Now, it's up to these students to kill their teacher to save the world.  They are the “Assassination Classroom.”

Assassination Classroom, Vol. 1 (Chapters 1 to 7; entitled Time for Assassination) finds the students of the Assassination Classroom ready to pop a cap to save the world.  Besides saving the Earth, the other incentive is a 10 million dollar/yen reward, offered by Tadaomi Karasuma of the Ministry of Defense.  It's up to Karasuma to train these students to kill... even if he has to become their new P.E. teacher.  Plus, a juvenile delinquent skilled in battle tactics returns to school.

The Assassination Classroom manga is weird, with its mixture of comedy and menace.  It can be disconcerting to go from poignant teacher-student relationship to classroom violence in the space of a few pages or even a few panels.  At least, it would really be disconcerting if Assassination Classroom were not a shonen manga – a genre or class of manga where comedy and comic violence meld in imaginative and even volatile ways.

I like the science fiction and fantasy sub-genre that brings aliens, humans, and schools together.  I am still a fan of the 1980s animated series, "Galaxy High School," and I have even sampled some of the manga that influenced it, Urusei Yatsura (or Lum).  Assassination Classroom Volume 1 makes me curious to see where this goes.


Reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux

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