As a Tokyo-based writer, I will introduce you to various aspects of pop culture such as manga, anime, movies and music. I want to spread the joy of Japanese pop culture around the world.
Hello, otaku readers of MANGA.TOKYO. I’m Mokugyo and this is yet another Anime Study!
I love manga and anime, and I enjoy reading Shonen Jump every week. Various popular manga series in Jump ended in 2016: Kochira Katsushika-ku Kameari Kouen Mae Hashutsujo (had been running for 40 years), the popular romantic comedy Nisekoi ,and the Soul Reaper battle action BLEACH.
But today I want to talk about a very dear series that also ended in 2016: Assassination Classroom (Ansatsu Kyoshitsu) and its octopus-like teacher, Koro-sensei.
Assassination Classroom is a manga series written and illustrated by Yuusei Matsui. It was serialized from 2012 to 2016 and it received two anime adaptations in 2015 and 2016. It was also adapted into two live action films that became box office hits, the first film grossing 2.71 billion yen, and the second 3.51 billion yen. 24 million volumes of the manga were sold as of June 2016, an amazing number especially since the publishing business has been hit hard by the depression.
The manga was serialized in Weekly Shounen Jump, just like ONE PIECE and Naruto, the super popular series that are selling not only in Japan, but everywhere in the world. Assassination Classroom was not as popular, but it was popular enough to compete with the next titles in the list, Death Note and BLEACH.
The plot: Class 3-E of a junior high prep school is filled with hopeless students that get a new mysterious teacher. He is a super-being with extremely quick motions who has previously destroyed half the moon. He declares that he will destroy Earth as well, unless someone kills him by next March. The students of Class 3-E are assigned the role of assassinating this immortal teacher, also known as Koro-sensei.
This series has a very high-impact first chapter. The story starts with the 3-E students saluting Koro-sensei at his teacher’s desk with a volley of bullets. The students are carrying anti-Koro special airsoft pellets and knives that were provided by the government for this top-secret assassinating mission. The students of Class 3-E, hopeless dropouts, were somehow assigned for this special mission to assassinate their teacher. Why were they chosen? Who is Koro-sensei? The story makes sure to bring the main questions to the forefront right away.
Japan has the Firearm and Sword Possession Control Law, and not only students but also ordinary adults are prohibited from carrying firearms. The unique and interesting ideas of this series appealed to many manga readers.
Koro-sensei is the assassination target for the Class 3-E students. They all try to attack him whenever possible with their special guns and knives, but they can’t even manage to hit him as he can move extremely fast. As the students continue to attack him, he just avoids the attacks and goes on with his teaching.
The title of the series may sound dark, but the anime is basically a comedy about a passionate teacher that wants to make his students a better version of themselves. As the students are trying to find the best method to kill him, he is trying to find the best method to teach every one of them. No matter the obstacles, his main purpose is to teach them, and that is an aspect that every student wishes for in their teachers.
Japanese media is full of similar stories about charismatic teachers who passionately help and support their students. For example, there was this well-known TV drama series called Sannen B-gumi Kinpachi Sensei (Class 3-B Mr Kinpachi). The name of Class 3-E in Assassination Classroom sounds similar to Class 3-B. In this TV drama series, a passionate male teacher called Kinpachi-sensei resolved various issues at school. He didn’t have a special ability, but his best weapon was his sincere passion to seriously deal with the students. It aired in the 1980s and 1990s and most, if not all, Japanese citizens know or have heard of this series. Great Teacher Onizuka is another super popular story about a teacher who was an ex-biker. He is resolving the problems at his school using unconventional methods. Its original manga, anime adaptation, and TV drama adaptations were all very popular.
In 2000s, we started having a variety of teacher stories. Gokusen is a very popular manga, anime, and Jdrama series about a female high school teacher who is also the granddaughter of a yakuza boss. A TV drama series called The Queen’s Classroom about a perfect female teacher ruling elementary students became popular and also caused public controversy with its peculiar story.
Assassination Classroom follows the tradition of these fictional stories about ideal school teachers. The image of these ideal teachers has changed in time, from passionate humane teachers into more perfect teachers who are transcending humanness. The change happened when the Japanese society started demanding more from teachers. For example, teachers at junior high schools or high schools in Japan are expected to supervise club activities as well as teach. When a student stops coming to school due to bullying, the responsibility rests with their teacher. In addition, they now have to deal with more irrational and over-demanding parents, the so-called Monster Parents, which is another major social problem. Teachers are now expected to have more skills and abilities than before. Koro-sensei, the super powerful teacher who can’t be killed, reflects the current beliefs of the Japanese society.
Assassination Classroom is a distinctive show that was born from Japanese societal demand. It depicts the relationship of an odd teacher and his students in an ordinary junior high school in Japan. If you want to learn more about the Japanese school system and the ideal teacher, see Assassination Classroom!