Where the f@ck do I even begin with Assassination Classroom, an anime/manga adaptation about a classroom of high-school-age assassins? It’s a film so absurd, that even when one of the main characters – an alien homeroom teacher who intends to destroy Earth – explains the plot rather coherently, another character takes over by immediately saying “That probably made no sense.” Then again, do other Japanese movies like Dead Sushi, Tokyo Gore Police, and Machine Girl make any sense? Welcome to one of the wildest cinematic genres around.
Assassination Classroom is an apocalyptic bit of J-pop mayhem that’s an underdog story at heart, but an alien invasion film in practice – among twenty billion other elements. How about we settle on “children have to defeat a giant smiley face before he eliminates humanity” and move on from there?
In Kunugigaoka Junior High School, the E-Class represent the lowest of the low. With no foreseeable future, students like Nagisa Shiota (Ryôsuke Yamada) are separated from the other classes, so their intelligence is not corrupted. These are the children with no path, until a new teacher introduces himself as an alien who will be destroying Earth if he can’t be killed by graduation.
It turns out that the alien, dubbed UT (Unkillable Teacher), gave the government a chance by saying if E-Class could successfully assassinate him, Earth would be saved. With no other choice, the terms are agreed to, and E-Class are given special alien-killing weapons in order to defeat UT when the opportunity presents itself. The task won’t be easy of course – UT can travel speeds up to Mach 20, and his elasticy tentacles can be regrown infinite times. If E-Class is going to save the world, they’ll need a proper assassination teacher who can lead them to victory, and that person just so happens to be their single target.
Assassination Classroom is one of those titles you throw on to have an absolute blast with, because nothing about Eiichirô Hasumi’s film is meant to be taken seriously. The children attack UT with playful whimsy, UT retorts with nurturing acts of kindness, and the whole apocalyptic scenario is handled with a smile on everyone’s face. Hilarious little jests about child-friendly-guns work their way into a script that’s a mixture of rainbows and bullet-frenzies, striking a sugary-sweet tone meant for adorable assassins who take aim at a squishy, hug-worthy “villain.” But with his constant joking, infectious laugh, and adoration of luscious breasts (big ol’ titties), UT could be more lovable than the students themselves.
Hasumi stays away from overly gory fare in an attempt to make the Assassination Classroom material accessible to all audiences, focusing more on the adventure of E-Class. UT takes a large brunt on the film’s damage, and his malleable nature makes for nothing but a floppy digital appendage laying on the floor. I suppose this would be Japan’s answer to one of our “Young Adult” adaptations, but these overseas maniacs just have so much more fun playing with the material.
Dramatic scenes are always undercut by UT’s goofy, adoring nature, bet it his stealthy infiltration of a female slumber party, or his frivolous goading whenever the students attempt to kill him. Hasumi’s focus tears away at our emotions, because part of us wants to see E-Class become heralded heroes, while the other half never wants to lose UT as a character – in other words, it’s the most lovable assassination attempt you can imagine.
The tone of Assassination Classroom is steadfast and entertaining, as we’re always permitted to have fun, yet the kid-friendly attacks never reach a realm of cheesiness. It’s Japanese pulp cinema through and through, exemplified by the smoking-hot female assassin who bursts out of a closet while UT is going through roll call, blasting double machine guns in super-sexy-slo-mo (she’s also their English teacher). There’s a computerized “transfer student” who’s really just a government-built killing machine, experimental hybrids, killer poisons – the government tries everything to stop UT (and try they do), but E-Class is Earth’s only salvation, and humanity must believe in them. Assassination Classroom is dedicated to the misfits out there, because no child should ever be left behind…without a weapon…when trying to assassinate a tentacled alien.
You’ll definitely feel the gimmick wearing thin as the film meanders a bit in Act 2, but Hasumi regains control for what can be described as a heartwarming ending. That’s not to say the preceding events aren’t strangely sweet, because UT is much more than a teacher to E-Class, and their bond blurs the line between professional academic and proud parent. I mean, just watch the trailer for Assassination Classroom and you’ll know the exact kind of zany anime warfare that awaits your viewing pleasure – it pulls no punches (metaphorically), and remains true to form throughout. Even now, I still crack a smile just hearing UT’s laugh in the fondest of memories, and I guarantee you will too – or it’ll drive you mad. Either way, I assure you that UT will be a memorable character, nonetheless!
Assassination Classroom is heartwarming J-Pop mayhem that tells of an alien schoolteacher who plans to destroy humanity, and the class of misfits who must kill him before graduation. Just soak that in.