Fantasia 2015 Review: ASSASSINATION CLASSROOM, A Heartwarming Tale About Assassinating Your Alien Teacher
An extraterrestrial has destroyed most of the moon and will destroy the Earth at the end of the school year. To help wait it out the creature made a most outlandish suggestion. At Kunugigaoka Junior High School the flunkies of classroom 3-E, nicknamed the End, will be tasked with assassinating this alien. If any of the students in 3-E can kill it they will save the planet and also win 10 billion yen. He will be their teacher for the school year, teaching regular subjects, and will also teach them about assassinating.
This extraterrestrial does not have a name so the students decide to call him UT, for Un-Killable Teacher. The thing is, UT looks utterly ridiculous. He has a huge bulbous yellow head like a huge smiley face. His body is like an elongated octopus. He looks funny and mostly harmless. Mostly. The students are armed with special weapons that can only harm UT. However, he moves incredibly fast, is always a step ahead of his students and can regenerate lost limbs in seconds. From the start UT would appear to be pretty much impossible to kill.
Karasuma Tadaomi is from the SDF and will oversee the class. Irina Jelavic (Korean actress Kang Ji-young) is a professional assassin who ends up becoming their English teacher. But the central character is Nagisa Shiota, a shy boy who mostly takes notes as he learns more about UT and any possible weaknesses he may have. He may or may not have a crush on another girl in another class at school but because he is a member of 3-E the moment he sets eyes on her someone steps in to shame him.
I have no familiarity with the original manga or anime so this review cannot comment on any accuracy to the source material. Having enjoyed this film though, I will go back to the anime later to see for myself. Assassination Classroom has an open ending with a promise that the story will be continued and there are some secrets that have will be revealed in a second film.
There are flashbacks suggest something is strange about UT's origin. Those frequent flashbacks hint at something to do with the students' last teacher as well. A room is in shambles. Fire, sparks and water rain down at the same time, a sure sign of a chaotic moment. And UT is right there with this teacher. When did this happen? And what happened? Another hint is dropped as to his past during a conversation with Karasuma. He asks UT at one point in the film, "Is that when you only had two hands and two feet?" The introduction of another assassin Itona and his claim that he and UT are brothers leaves questions unanswered until the sequel.
By the end the heartfelt message of the film is to realize your potential despite what others make think of you and do not let anyone put you down. There is also something said about the relationships between teachers and students, that they can be special and meaningful. It has no shortage of these super sweet moments.
Assassination Classroom is hardly without threat or dangerous moments. A former military pal of Karasuma is a major source of trouble later in the film.That other assassin that is brought in, Itona, proves to be a significant threat to not only UT but the students as well. What that boy needed was some super strength hair gel. But for the most part Assassination Classroom is light entertainment with quite a few comedic and action moments. This was the lighthearted and feel good Japanese film I was waiting for all festival long.
We are banking a lot on a successful run in Japan so that the sequel will be made and we find out more about UT's origins, the mystery of the former teacher, and if the students of class 3-E accomplish their mission in the end. One can already sense that they will probably not as the truth comes out. We will just have to wait and see. Or go watch the anime or read the manga.