WARNING: This article contains MAJOR spoilers for the ending of Assassination Classroom. If you have not seen the ending of this series, you have been warned.
I’ve been writing about anime for almost eleven years now. Day in and day out, I sat at my computer and typed out articles about anime and manga. One day in the not so distant past, however, I had a breakdown. I realized that I was working way too many hours of the day and was not getting anything out of it any longer. It wasn’t that I didn’t still love anime, but writing about it just didn’t ignite that spark within me any longer. Maybe it was because things were becoming a little stale for me, or it could be for another reason altogether. Either way, I found myself needing a break. So, for the first time in over a decade, I stepped away from the computer until I could find something that made me excited again… and that something turned out to be Assassination Classroom.
This is a series that spoke to me on a very personal level and that excited me. Watching it week after week made me feel like I did when I was first becoming an anime fan. I would watch the subbed episodes, I would rewatch those episodes when they were dubbed, and then I would read the manga as it came out in the United States via Viz Media. I was hooked and could not get enough of it. Just recently, though, the series came to an end. While it was incredibly sad to see this series take its final bow (I’ll get to that more in a bit), it was also a happy moment for me because it gave me what I was so desperately wanted… a spark. For the first time in months, I had found an anime that excited me on a level that I hadn’t felt in years. I felt a burning desire to shout from the rooftops (or on an internet website at least) about this series and everything that it had done for me. I honestly can’t remember the last time something I had seen did that for me.
Why Assassination Classroom, though? What makes this series so damn special?
As I mentioned earlier, Assassination Classroom spoke to me on a very personal level. To be perfectly honest, I was a socially awkward and maladjusted teenager. I had very few friends (and no one that I would say that I was particularly close to) and was constantly trying to drown myself in things like drugs and sex in order to fill that void in my life. As I watched the members of E Class go about their daily lives, though, I found myself relating to them more and more. I found myself identifying with their personal struggles and constantly thinking to myself “what if?” – What if I had been in E Class and had these classmates as my friends? What if I had Koro-sensei as my teacher? I have to believe that, if my life had taken place within this universe, my present would be in a much more positive place. Of course, that isn’t to say that I’m unhappy with my life now. I have a beautiful, loving wife and a fantastic house with lots of furbabies that love me unconditionally. But I have to believe that had I been in E Class, the path I would’ve taken to get to this point would’ve been much, much different.
I’ve said this before on podcasts and in articles, but my school life was not a happy one. It’s something that I very actively try to forget. Koro-sensei is the embodiment of what I wanted in a teacher growing up, though. He was willing to do anything for his students, and would go so far as to put his life on the line to protect them and nurture their potential. He loved his students more than he loved himself and, again, to be perfectly honest, there are very few instances in my life where I can say that I have ever felt like that.
At the close of the series, when Nagisa drives the knife into Koro-sensei’s heart and finally assassinates him, he might as well have driven that knife into my heart as well. When Koro-sensei died, so did a small piece of myself. This is a moment in my life that will remain a vivid memory for months, maybe years, to come. I mean, we all basically knew it was coming. But to see it actually happen hit me so much harder than I ever expected it to. As I sat there and watched, I shed tears. The pain that I felt as Koro-sensei called out each class member’s name for the last time before disappearing into nothingness was possibly one of the most painful things that I have experienced within recent memory.
I shed tears when this character died, but it was more than just sadness that I felt for the loss of a beloved character. A couple of days after I saw the final episodes of this series, I was waiting to clock in at work and suddenly felt the weight and gravity of Koro-sensei’s death on my shoulders and heart, and began to actively mourn the loss. I actually felt like I had lost a close friend or even a family member. That it that weighed so heavily on my heart surprised even me.
Assassination Classroom is more than just a TV show for me. Assassination Classroom is what I wanted my life to be in so many different ways, and hit me on an incredibly personal level. I am completely aware that this was a ridiculous fictional comedy, but it doesn’t change the fact that it was so well-developed that I actually put myself into this world in my head. It just felt that incredibly real to me.
More than anything else, it was the characters of this series that really made me connect with it. Everyone in the class has a part of them that I saw in myself, and very slowly learning about each one of them and how they ended up in E Class made me feel that much closer to them. Above all, though, I felt the most connected to Nagisa Shiota. Nagisa is a very feminine looking boy who is teased constantly for various reasons. He comes from an abusive household, where he is never able to live up to the standards placed upon him by his mother.
While you might not know me on a personal level, please let me tell you that all of this hit very close to home for me. Nagisa wanted badly to just be accepted for who he was, and just wanted to live his life the way he chose. He didn’t feel particularly special in any way, but Koro-sensei challenged him. He supported Nagisa and helped him to become the very best he could be, which is all I wanted from my life growing up. I felt for Nagisa’s quest to find himself and his role within the world. His wins and losses felt like they were my wins and losses. I lived and died with this character.
The story was equally compelling to me. Not because I identified with the students’ quest to assassinate their teacher (though I openly admit that there were a few teachers from my childhood that I probably wouldn’t have minded see kick the bucket), but just because I found it to be fun without being far-fetched — we’re ignoring the bit where Nagisa and Karma travel to outer space — and that made it extra entertaining for me.
In the end, Assassination Classroom has set a new high water mark for me. I know that it’s easy for me to say this now, but I’m honestly at a complete loss at how another series will ever beat it in terms of speaking to me on such a deeply emotional level. It physically pains me to know that I will never get to see another new season of it.
If you ever considered yourself an outcast growing up or felt that you were just a little too “different”, you really should watch this series and think back to those days a little. Think back on how you life would’ve been different had you been given the opportunity to spend a year with a yellow biological lifeform that had cared for you on a level that no one else could ever dream of touching. Thinking about it that way, Assassination Classroom might just be one of those rare series that comes as close to perfection as is entirely possible.