Comic Picks By The Glick

Assassination Classroom vol. 5

August 31, 2015

Principal Asano wins one and loses one in my book for this volume.  I was very much looking forward to seeing how his intervention would change the shape of the baseball game between Class E and the varsity squad at the end of the previous volume.  Though he offers some choice motivation that helps the varsity squad turn the tide, some lateral thinking from Class E leads to them winning in the end.  After that, Asano just leaves.  I wasn’t expecting him to break down into any kind of angry rant, but some acknowledgement of how things turned out would’ve been nice.  Even with Class E and Koro-sensei coming out on top for once, this feels a bit anti-climactic.

That’s not the case in the second story from this volume has the military being frustrated by their agent’s (that would be P.E. teacher Karasuma) lack of progress in training these kids to take out Koro-Sensei.  So they send in a replacement, Takaoka, who was a colleague of Karasuma’s from back when he was part of the airborne brigade.  While Takaoka is all smiles at first and comes bearing lots of free candy for the kids, it’s quickly revealed that his style borrows a lot from “The Great Santini.”  Takaoka makes for a great, hateable villain and whether or not he remains as the kids’ P.E. teacher comes down to a duel between him and Nagisa with a real knife.

It may seem unlikely, but mangaka Yusei Matsui pulls off that part of the story quite well.  Granted, I’ve seen martial arts movies and comics that deal with the kind of strategy that Nagisa employs here so what he does is actually credible to a certain extent.  Also, I like how we get a potentially interesting and morally troublesome story thread to pursue with the character.  Helping matters is that Matsui set things up with a nice visual flourish involving Karasuma’s perceived reaction to Nagisa early on (this volume actually has several of them -- he’s getting quite good with delivering memorable visuals).  Asano also shows up at the end to remind everyone who’s really in charge in a way that doesn’t grate at all.  Karasuma still gets the victory while the principal’s power is further established.  Quality work all around with this volume that leaves me looking forward to seeing where it goes from here.

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