Book Reviews · Books vs. Movies · Manga

Manga vs. Anime vs. Movies: Assassination Classroom

I love having the opportunity to try new anime and manga! It’s always so exciting to find a new series that you enjoy, especially when it’s unique. One of the series that I had the opportunity to read (and watch) for the first time this year was Assassination Classroom.

Asssassination Classroom is a 21-volume manga series, created by Yusei Matsui. The story focuses on the students of Class 3-E at Kunugigaoka Academy. Known by the rest of the school as the “End Class,” 3-E is supposedly filled with delinquents and students who are underperforming academically, and the class is being used by the school’s principle to boost the performance of the other third-year classes (i.e. be successful or you’ll be transferred to 3-E). Despite its current academic record, Class 3-E is filled with kids who just need the right motivation to successfully compete with the rest of the school.

Two weeks into the new school year, that motivation arrives in the form of 3-E’s new homeroom teacher. Koro Sensei is definitely a dedicated and skilled teacher, but he can also move at speeds up to Mach 20, and looks too much like an octopus to be anything but inhuman. He also claims that he’s the one responsible for blowing up a significant portion of the moon, and is threatening to do the same to the Earth…unless his new students can successfully assassinate him before graduation.

Under the direction of Tadaomi Karasuma, a member of the Ministry of Defense, the students begin their training as assassins. But it won’t be easy to assassinate Koro Sensei, especially since he’s the best teacher Class 3-E has ever had!

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this series, and completely fell in love with both the story and the characters. Despite what the government has asked them to do, the students of Class 3-E are normal junior high kids, and they deal with a lot of the same problems that teenage readers face on a daily basis (such as schoolwork, juggling school with a part-time job, getting pressured by their parents to be successful, and even bullying). While the students are attempting to assassinate Koro Sensei, they learn so much more than how to eliminate a target. They learn confidence, ways to use their skills to help others, and the value of hard work and education.

As I read Assassination Classroom, there were many times when I found myself laughing out loud (because the series is extremely funny), but I also have to confess that I actually cried a couple of times. I don’t often cry while reading, so the fact that that happened is testament to Yusei Matsui’s ability to create characters that people love and are able to empathize with.

The art of Assassination Classroom is phenomenal! As you might imagine, this manga includes a tremendous amount of action, not only during the students’ assassination attempts, but during their training sessions as well. Yusei Matsui really excels at creating exciting action sequences, but he also does a great job with character design and backgrounds. There is a lot of detail in his artwork. I especially love his design for Koro Sensei, who is an interesting humanoid-octopus.

I do think it is important to note that this series is rated T+ (which stands for “older teens”), and its content is consistent with that rating. In addition to frequent assassination attempts against Koro Sensei, the series contains scenes involving sexual innuendo, seduction (for the purpose of assassination), drug use, and the objectification of the female body. Some of the books also include references to suicide, examples of past and ongoing bullying, depictions of war, and unwanted sexual attention.

Assassination Classroom is not only a popular manga, but it has also been adapted into a two-season-long anime series and follow-up movie, as well as two live action movies.

The anime adaptation is fantastic, and definitely worth watching (whether you’ve read the manga, or not)! While the anime does include some minor differences, it follows the manga’s original plot and character designs very closely.

I decided to watch the series in the original Japanese (with subtitles, of course), so I can’t really talk about the English dub. I did really like the casting choices for the original Japanese language track though. I felt like the voice actors/actresses did a great job of capturing their characters, especially Jun Fukuyama, who voiced Koro Sensei.

I really enjoyed watching the entire series, and loved the music that was created for the opening and ending credits! The opening songs are extremely catchy, and stayed in my head for days after finishing the series!

The anime’s follow-up movie, Assassination Classroom: 365 Days’ Time, takes place shortly before the epilogue to the series. The movie is essentially a series of flashbacks, as two of the main characters, Nagisa and Karma, visit their old classroom and reminisce about their third year of middle school. It covers many of the most memorable parts of the manga/anime, and is a pretty decent overview of the series.

While I did enjoy watching this movie, outside of a few conversations between a more grown-up Nagisa and Karma, there really wasn’t a whole lot included that I hadn’t already seen while watching the series. So if you’ve already seen the anime (or you’re planning to watch it), you might want to skip this one.

The live action Assassination Classroom movies do follow the same overall storyline as the original manga, but there are some significant differences between the two. I won’t go into any specifics, in order to avoid spoilers, but there were quite a few scenes which were very different than those included in the manga.

Some of these alterations include the timing of specific events, the locations in which key moments take place, or the characters who are involved in these events. In some cases, there are scenes which are omitted entirely.

Honestly, the fact that these changes were made really wasn’t a surprise to me. Since the filmmakers were condensing a 21-volume manga (which was close to 20 hours long when it was adapted into an anime) into less than four hours of screen time, you’d expect there to be a significant number of things that were changed or left out.

Despite its differences from the manga, the live action movies are a tremendous amount of fun to watch. They are action-packed, and include a lot of humor. I also thought that the casting choices were excellent, though the length of the movies does not allow for the same level of character development (especially among the secondary characters) that you see in the manga and anime.

Ultimately, if you’re a fan of manga and/or anime, then I definitely recommend giving Assassination Classroom a try! The manga is fantastic, and the anime is one of the best adaptations I’ve ever seen. Whether you read the manga first, or start with the anime, I would recommend taking the time to enjoy both. I would also recommend watching both of the live action movies, but I would wait on those until after you’ve read the manga (or watched the anime).

Enjoy!

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