Does Nagisa go a little crazy after the setup from the cliffhanger in the previous volume? Yup. Does he manage to rein himself in and deliver some satisfying comeuppance to the main antagonist from this arc? You better believe it. “Assassination Classroom” isn’t a series that will be remembered for its unpredictability, but rather its ability to deliver on the setups it promises. It’s also one where things won’t get too dark as Shonen Jump titles will never go that far. If it looks like they are, then that just means we’re in “final arc” territory. The rest of vol. 8 is a mix of amusing diversions (Koro-sensei tries to play matchmaker for the class) and setup for future storylines. After all, whatever happened to the person who taught Class E before Koro-sensei showed up? It finishes with a well-delivered bit of filler as nerdy otaku Takebayashi is tempted with being able to rejoin the rest of Kunugigaoka’s students so long as he badmouths his former classmates. The power of friendship trumps all in the end, as is Jumps remit, but does allow for some quality villainy from Principal Gakushu and his son.
Vol. 10 opens on a story that spotlights another of Koro-sensei’s weaknesses. His weakness for pudding! Then it segues into a mini-arc that has Karasuma teaching Class E about the virtues of parkour while their teacher reveals another weakness -- for trope-y sob stories! No time is wasted as we move into another arc that first has Koro-sensei trying to prove that he’s not a (complete) pervert before Shiro and Itona show up to take out the alien. Only… things don’t go as planned and Itona is left at the mercy of his tentacles and Class E. Does the power of friendship triumph here? Only as much as Koro-sensei loves his nudie magazines. I know I’m simplifying things here, but mangaka Yusei Matsui actually does a pretty good job of fleshing out Itona’s backstory and character here to make his motivations up to this point believable. He also gets bonus points for having Terasaka and his fellow numbskulls be the ones to bring Itona over to the side of Class E. In a way that actually feels credible and not a manipulation to make us like them more. It’s quality work all around in these volumes that makes me look forward to their adventures in babysitting for vol. 11.