We’re on to the next major arc in this series. I guess you’d call it the “Grim Reaper” arc as it has the students of Class 3-E taking on the assassin of the same name. Our antagonist for this arc got that title by being kind of assassin you call on when you want someone in his line of work dead. Aside from having great skill at unarmed combat, he’s a master planner with a disarmingly friendly demeanor -- not unlike Class 3-E’s own Nagisa. Things kick off when the Grim Reaper kidnaps Ms. Vitch after she stormed off following a botched attempt by the students to create friendlier relations between her and Mr. Karasuma. Being the master assassin that he is, the students are taken captive in short order and used as bait to lure Koro-sensei into a trap. But hey! Even if he falls into it, they’ve still got Karasuma to come and bail them out. Which is a viable plan only if you assume his military training is on par with one of the greatest living assassins.
I know that I should be more excited for this arc than I am. The problem is that it’s following the established formula for this kind of story so closely that it’s easy to see every beat of the plot coming pages before they actually hit. We see the Grim Reaper’s superior skills demonstrated right from the start when he introduces himself to the class and leaves them dumbfounded. He then proceeds to dismantle the students’ attack efforts -- with special notice given to how he one-ups the killer technique Nagisa used in the prior arc -- with minimal effort. Koro-sensei’s rescue efforts also happen early enough in the plot to leave you with the expectation that they’ll fail. Which they do, thanks to the sudden and inevitable betrayal of Ms. Vitch.
If mangaka Yusei Matsui’s plan was to create drama by playing on my sympathies for the character, then he has failed. That’s because I have NO sympathies for Ms. Vitch. She’s not as annoying as she was at the time of her debut, but I can only hope her traitorous actions here are just cover for a triple cross to be executed at the arc’s climax. Then again, it’s equally probable that she is shallow enough to allow her sympathies to be swayed by Karasuma’s all-business approach to their relationship. This volume isn’t a total loss: Aside from Matsui’s always-inventive art, I liked seeing Itona’s reaction to being outclassed by the Grim Reaper, Ritsu’s “hacked” persona, and the idea of seeing Karasuma finally get a real chance to show off his badass credentials against a worthy adversary has some promise. My disappointment with this volume isn’t nearly enough to get me to stop reading the series, though I am expecting it to get its act together for its resolution in the next volume.