Saturday, July 23, 2016

Ansatsu Kyoshitsu, vol. 2 comments

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Ansatsu Kyoshitsu vol. 2, by Yusei Matsui, Grade B+

(Irina leads Koro-sensei into an ambush.)

As mentioned in the entry for volume 1, I don't want to do a full summary or character guide for Ansatsu Kyoushitsu because Viz has the U.S. English rights to the manga. But, I do kind of want to mention that I am reading each book as I go along, so I need to pick something to write about. I think what I'm going to do is make a few general comments, and talk about new key characters as they are introduced.

In volume 2, Karasuma, the dark-featured teacher that kind of is in charge of getting Koro-sensei killed at the school, has been told by the school chairman (initially a faceless guy that hides in the shadows) that 11 professional assassins have been summoned from around the world and that Karasuma has to manage them when they're in Japan. The first outsider is the 18-year-old black widow killer, Irina Jelavich, who works as a seductress to get close to her target before offing them. Koro finds her way too attractive, and claims to be unable to defend himself against her. He has no problems dealing with her henchmen, though. Irina is brought in as a language teacher, but her arrogance immediately turns the 3-E class students against her. Koro gives her a lesson in humility (rather, he tells her to be a better teacher) and she settles down a bit. However, the students continue calling her "vich-sensei", which with the Japanese inability to pronounce "v" and "ch" correctly, keeps coming out as "bitchy-sensei." Later, she's treated mainly as comic relief.

(Introduction of the school chairman, Gakuhou Asano.)

Gakuhou Asano runs the junior high school, and is an incredibly calculating man. When he first appears, he says that the fastest way to solve a Rubik's Cube is to dismantle it with a screwdriver and reassemble it correctly. He uses a metal wire puzzle to entrap Koro-sensei, and claims that the status quo in the school has to remain intact. That is, class 3-E is the bottom of the totem pole, insects swimming in the mud, used as incentive to the other students to not screw up and get demoted. The problem with this system is that the other students bully the 3-E group, and when anyone like Nagisa stands up for themselves, they get punished by the other teachers instead. This gives Koro-sensei extra work in trying to protect his students more surreptitiously. Gakuhou gives a test to the entire school, and Koro gives cram lessons to his students in an attempt to get the entire class to earn decent grades on the exam. The testing company schemes with Gakuhou to manipulate the scores anyway, and Koro falls into despair. Turns out, though, that Karuma got some of the best scores in the school, but he's not interested in being promoted to the next level, and had intentionally failed the test. He talks Koro into getting revenge on the next test. And Koro is ALL about revenge.

(Karuma tries to cheer up Koro-sensei after the class does poorly on a school-wide test.)

At the end of the volume, the school gets ready to go on a trip to Kyoto. Koro prepares a 40-pound "sightseeing guide" for each of the students. One entry in the index is - if someone kidnaps members of your group, go to page 1243. So, when a gang of dropouts beat up Nagisa and Karuma, and drive off with Kaeda Kayano and the most beautiful girl in the class - Kanzaki, the guide is there to help them.

What's interesting about this manga is that Koro-sensei views himself as a teacher first, and assassin and assassination target second. He's there to help everyone who needs him, including other assassins, become better people through focused killing techniques. And, like most manga, the core values include taking care of your "nakama" (friends, or in this case, classmates). Lots of humor in with the more serious elements. Recommended.

Inside cover quote:
"His regular expression is to have a yellow face.
When he really thinks that something is too below him, he looks like a barber pole."

Back inside cover quote:
"Small birds understand not the will of the tentacle.
(Baby birds can not understand the larger intent of a tentacle.)
- Koro-sensei
(??? - 209 B.C.)"

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