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Ansatsu Kyoshitsu vol. 17, by Yusei Matsui, Grade B+
The class splits pretty much in two, with one group wanting to do what they can to find a cure to Koro's anti-matter juice, while the other gives various excuses for why they still want to kill him. (First, the world's top scientists haven't found a cure in the last year, how can they expect to do any better themselves?; second, what's the point of learning assassination if you don't assassinate someone?) Karuma is the most abusive of the second group, and he snaps as he pushes Nagisa around. Nagisa in turn gets angry and comes close to subduing Karuma. Koro steps in and says that if junior high students are going to fight amongst themselves, they have to do it in an assassination-style paintball match. So, the next day, the kids go out to the hillside for a game of capture the flag, with Karasuma acting as referee. Winner decides what the class as a whole will do next. Everyone gets ready, and the game starts, with Yuuma Isogai leading Nagisa's team, and telling Nagisa to hide and wait for the right moment to strike. Karuma leads his own team, and sets up traps and defenses that seem unbeatable. Karuma has most of the male students on his side, and 70% of the most highly-skilled specialists. But, Isogai is good, too, and both sides slowly whittle each other down. At the end, Karuma sends Ryouma and his team of 3 supporters after the enemy flag. Suddenly, Nagisa appears out of thin air and eliminates all four in one knife strike. Actually, he'd been standing with his back against Karasuma during the entire match, and no one had noticed at all.
(General MacArthur Koro breaks up the fight between Karasu and Nagisa, offering a paintball battle instead.)
This just leaves Karuma and Nagisa, and Karuma demands that the other boy come out and fight hand-to-hand - knives only. Nagisa still has his rifle and could easily snipe him, but he comes out of hiding anyway. There's a flashback to when Nagisa first started at Kunugigaoka. Karuma was a really smart kid who was equally at home street fighting against bigger groups of bullies. The only person that would eat with him at lunch was Nagisa. Then, Karuma left the school and Nagisa found himself on his own again. The two really like each other, but Nagisa is envious of Karuma's brains and physical skills, while Karuma is terrified of Nagisa's assassination skills. Now, it's a question of whether Karuma can overcome his jealousy of Nagisa and reclaim his spot as "best in the class." They fight, and Karuma keeps bashing Nagisa around. But, the class notices something that Koro elaborates on - Karuma is a great battlefield killer. He's strong, fast and clear-headed. But, while he concentrates on each attack, Nagisa is planning his next two or three attacks in the future. Karuma KO's Nagisa, then turns around to claim victory in front of Koro. But, he senses something behind him and spins around just in time for Nagisa to sumo clap him in the face. He bites his own tongue, which overrides part of the paralysis, but Nagisa feints with his knife, grabs Karuma in a judo sleeper hold and pins him to the ground. Karuma is close to passing out when he finds his knife again and considers stabbing Nagisa in the back. But, he was the one to make this a mano-a-mano battle, and he forfeits, admitting that Nagisa is the better assassin. (It takes a while for Nagisa to figure out the fight is over, though.)
(Hayami takes a sniper shot for the "kill Koro side".)
The class agrees to try to save Koro, and everyone feels a bit closer to everyone else as a result of the civil war. Karasuma allows this change in plans, with one caveat - the class only gets one month to find a cure. After that, they have to go back to their assassination studies and their initial goal of killing Koro. Koro is happy either way. Soon, Ritsu, the super computer, collects all of the tentacle research information available on the net. Most of the work is within research lab intranets that she can't access, but she can get project names, at least. Only one team is working on curing the tentacle self-destruct, and it's located on the International Space Station. However, there's a way to get their data - by using an experimental Japanese spacecraft to fly to the ISS during a supplies restocking flight. The class spends the days leading up to the launch studying the rocket and the ISS craft. On launch day, they infiltrate the rocket site, put a USB thumb drive in one of the JAXA computers so Ritsu can hijack the system, and then make their way to the rocket. Most of the kids want to volunteer for the mission, except the rocket is still unproven, meaning that Karuma and Nagisa get pushed into the job instead. The capsule has two dummies wired with feedback sensors. The dummies are removed and Karuma and Nagisa take their place in the payload. The rocket launches, and Koro follows along, talking through the capsule wall as if he's finally afraid that the kids won't find a cure for him. Nagisa reassures him that no matter what happens, they won't forget what he's taught them. Koro is happy with that, then the second stage boosters trigger and the rocket hits mach 24 to reach escape velocity, leaving Koro behind (it's the first time anything has ever gone faster than Koro can). Koro is ecstatic.
(Nagisa tries the sumo slap technique, and Karuma bites his tongue to counter it.)
Summary: We get a little of the history behind Karuma and Nagisa's relationship, and we see Nagisa at full power - like a snake that can not be stopped. The race to space is a bit silly, but the artwork is good. Highly recommended.
(Koro wishes the rocket "farewell".)
Inside cover quote:
He uses this half-way expression when he doesn't know if something is good
or not. When he falls into an unconscious state, he calls this his ""&"#$&$ yellow."
It is very cryptic.
Back inside cover quote:
When you take out a card loan or use a cashing window, you may overpay by
a tentacle. After you pay it back, you may over-extend yourself by a tentacle, too.
And, there are credit limits, too... What?...。
- Koro Prison Law