Movie Review: Assassination Classroom (暗殺教室, Ansatsu Kyoshitsu)

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Life’s tough when you’ve got to juggle school and assassination training. It doesn’t get any easier when your target is your teacher who has super powers and moves at Mach 20.   “Nurufufufu” Koro-sensei’s iconic chuckle will have you sniggering along with him in no time.

Welcome to the world of Assassination Classroom (暗殺教室, Ansatsu Kyoshitsu).

In this story, a strange octopus-like monster who has destroyed 70% of the moon and announces to the world that he will destroy the earth in a year’s time – unless someone kills him first. After throwing the world’s leaders into panic the monster, seemingly arbitrarily, decides to take a job teaching a high school class of misfits. The Japanese government then tasks these children with killing their supernatural teacher to save the world.

Set in a world identical to that of the manga, the movie makes a good attempt to compress about 75 manga chapters, or one full anime season, into 110 minutes. From slapstick humour to serious drama, the movie does its best to hit as many plot points and manages to stick decently close to the source material.

The film aims high to tell as many stories as possible while still maintaining some semblance of a progressive timeline with major characters and plots introduced and dealt with every half hour or so. You’ll realise very quickly that what you’re watching is just the surface of things but it’s enough to keep the movie going. Within the first 10 minutes of the film, you’ll be introduced to most key characters and you’ll cover their most of the class’ exploits through 5 minute shorts woven into the film. The plots might feel paper thin and of no really use to the movie but in the grand scheme of things, everything more or less works out.

Most of the film is shot on one location, the classroom’s seemingly abandoned location in the middle of the mountains. This allowed wild shoot out scenes and hilarious rampaging through the corridors to occur throughout the movie. The set captured the freedom and fun the students felt while taking their regular and assassination classes. The rustic location emphasised the lack of care the class received from the school as the bottom class in the school’s hierarchy – hence the class 3-E’s nickname as “the End” class. 

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The movie’s protagonist, Nagisa Shiota is played by Hey! Say! JUMP’s Ryosuke Yamada (山田涼介). The only actor to look nothing like his original source counter part, Yamada more than makes up for his lack of matching looks with his acting ability. His little physical quirks and nuances made for a believably timid, innocent and observant Nagisa. In the original source, Nagisa’s look is tightly connected to his back story, it will be interesting to see how they decide to play it out in the future if they do.

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Roguish Karma Akabane, the show’s genius deuteragonist, is played by Masaki Suda (菅田将暉). Suda makes for a devilish Karma with his charming standoffish personality – similar to his breakout character Philip from Kamen Rider W, just a whole lot tougher.

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Played by Kang Ji-Young (강지영), Irina Jelovic is the class’ sexy Russian assassin/English teacher. Kang does a good job as the seductive temptress but isn’t believable as someone with Russian heritage for obvious reasons. But with her role reduced as it was in the film and her pun-nish nickname, you’ll barely notice it.

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Tadaomi Karasuma, played by Kippei Shiina ( 椎名桔平), is the stoic instructor that’s hard on the outside and a little gooey on the inside. Shiina does a great job of showing Karasuma’s softer side without cracking his tough shell but could stand to have sharper fighting moves (as little as they were) in the movie.

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Masanobu Takashima (高嶋政伸) plays the antagonistic, slightly comical, Akira Takaoka. Takashima is so mean and condescending as Takaoka that at the end of the film you’ll be happy at what’s done to him by the students.

Most impressive is Arashi’s Kazunari Ninomiya (二宮和也) as the ubiquitous Koro Sensei. Using just his talented vocal acting skills, Ninomiya brings the mischievous and endearing Koro Sensei to life through his chirpy chuckle and wise words of advice. Ninomiya plays a brilliant upbeat Koro Sensei but could stand to put a little more emotion behind his upset and angry voice.

Surprisingly, most of the cast look like their original source counter parts, such as Maika Yamamoto (山本舞香) as Kaede Kayano and Miku Uehara (上原実矩) as Manami Okuda with the exception of Yamada as Nagisa – which may cause more serious fans to cringe throughout the movie. But kudos to the casting and wardrobe team, they really outdid themselves here.

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The youthful cast does a decent job of realistically playing off against the CG teacher in most of the scenes, especially during the “out takes” shown during the credits. However there were a few scenes in which Koro-sensei was darting around at Mach speed with the students shooting at him and you could tell from their lacklustre moves that they were clearly aiming and shooting at nothing. Koro Sensei himself was a wonderful piece of CGI, blending into the real world as realistically as he could. The movements were clean, smooth and crisp making his actions fun to watch.

Overall, the movie’s worth a watch if you’ve got some time to spare. Despite the odd plot gaps due to story compression, Assassination Classroom is heartwarming, funny and action packed. And even if you aren’t a fan of the anime or manga, you’ll certainly grow to love Koro Sensei by the time the credits start rolling.

We give this one 3 WA  out of 5.

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Check out the trailer below

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Photos supplied by Encore Films.

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