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Ansatsu Kyoshitsu vol. 18, by Yusei Matsui, Grade B+
The capsule reaches the ISS, and the other crew members goad astronaut Mizui into unpacking the payload, since the rocket came from his country. He notices that the dummy suits are empty, then gets taken hostage, as Karuma and Nagisa bluff their way in with a fake knife, and a package of youkan (red bean paste) marked up to look like a bomb. Initially, the crew acts like they're going to fight back, then they cave in and allow Ritsu to copy the tentacle anti-self destruct research via her virus hack. The crew leader says "sure, why not," but requires the two kids to help around the capsule as payment. When the copy is finished, Nagisa and Karuma return to the capsule, and wait to return to Earth. Ritsu plots the return vector, and Koro helps straighten out a parachute problem. The capsule is guided to land near the school building, where Karasuma learns of the class's plans for the first time, and he prepares to get very angry, until Koro hands all of their data over to him in exchange for JAXA letting them use the capsule. Manami Okuda, the poisons expert, looks at the notes from the anti-self-destruct project. The ISS team had injected various creatures with the tentacle seed, and then ejected the lab containers out to space to explode more-or-less harmlessly. What they discovered was that the smaller the creature, the greater the chance of an explosion at the end of 1 year. The researchers had found a formula that loosens the atomic bonds of stiffer materials, which further cuts the risk of an explosion by half. For something Koro's size, after receiving the formula, the odds of a self-destruct are less than 1%. And, it seems that one of the poisons Okuda had tried on Koro already pretty much matches the anti-stiffener formula (it caused Koro to turn into a big blob).
The class tells Karasuma what they've found, and he gives them one month to show that Koro is not going to self-destruct, and then the rest of the time before graduating must be spent on assassination training just in case. During February, Koro enacts various holidays because he'd missed them while his students were on winter vacation. This includes Christmas and Setsubun, and lots of additional assassination attempts. After this, they have to start planning on their future career paths, since there's only 38 days left to graduation. A few of the students have ideas of what they're going to do in the next year, including Karuma, who will stay in the city and go to the same school as Asano. Nagisa is in a funk because he doesn't have plans, and pre-school student Sakura yells at him for not focusing on tutoring her. She suggests that he should become a teacher, and he doesn't know how to respond to that. The next day, Nagisa is on his way to one of the high schools he's applied for, and there's a whole line of Koro-senseis waiting there to cheer him on (they leave to cheer on some of the remaining 3-E students, too). The day after, Nagisa gets a letter saying that he's been put on a waiting list for that school. Takebayashi failed to get into his school, so he's fallen into a depression. Koro tries to prevent the other students from using words like "drop-out" and "failure" to keep the boy from getting worse, and things just escalate from there until Takebayashi tries to shoot Koro with a machine gun, and ends up cheering himself up as a result.
("He's checking his list...")
Elsewhere, there's a condemned building about to be demolished. Shinagami 2 is inside, waiting for the command to start. Outside, a general is talking to Shiro/Yanagisawa about the need to stop Koro any way possible to prevent the 1% chance of a self-destruct. Shiro flashes back to when he was a promising up-and-coming researcher that had gotten a free pass on his anti-matter energy research proposal. He'd noticed the very cheerful Agura Yukimura, and vowed to destroy her just on principal. But, all his plans went up in smoke when his Guinea Pig escaped. He wants revenge. In the building, Shinagami 2 remembers when he first saw the assassin who'd killed his father so beautifully that he'd vowed to become just as good. At first, the kid had enjoyed learning to be an assassin and getting all kinds of praise and attention, but eventually it seemed that nothing he did was good enough for "the God of Death," and he'd decided to betray his teacher and take over from him as the new God of Death. Now, Koro is simply "the enemy." Shiro gives the signal, and Guinea Pig 2 destroys the building in a matter of seconds. The next step is to face Koro himself.
(Koro greets Nagisa at the high school he's trying to apply to.)
We then get a silly side story where two of the kids have a misunderstanding during Valentine's Day, and some of the other girls try to give chocolates to the boys they like. Karuma and Nakamura rag on Kayano for being too embarrassed to give her present to Nagisa. Kayano is an actress, and has kissed boys on stage, but that's nothing compared to the "kiss of death" she'd gotten from Nagisa in the previous book. As she working up the nerve, Nagisa sees Koro in a tree looking closely at a photo. The boy is about to take a shot at him, then gives up because this looks to be too easy. Seeing the boy in action as an assassin, Kayano settles down, gives him the box of chocolate, and leaves. Then, we learn that she'd also given a present to Koro, which is what he'd been so fixated on - a photo of her sister, Agura, in a bikini on the beach, and a box of chocolates.
(The General, the anti-Koro barrier, and Craig.)
In the last chapter, Irina and Karasuma go to a restaurant for dinner, and Irina gives him some "obligation" chocolate before resigning herself to talking about work. He wants Irina to quit working as a hired killer and move in with him. It takes her time to realize that he's serious, and she apparently agrees to the offer. Elsewhere, some guy is supervising the construction of a big black machine, and then he's joined by a soldier in a black trench coat (Craig Houjou). Also, Gakuhou shows up at the classroom to take a swing at Koro, then the two of them sit down to enjoy sweets over cups of tea, while talking about Koro's plans after the end of the school year in March, and how difficult it is to be a father. The narration ends by saying that even teachers have it hard trying to find their ways through life.
Summary: Only 3 books left. The climax is drawing near. What is the General's weapon going to do? And who is this new guy, Houjou? Will Guinea Pig 2 and Shiro be happy? Highly recommended.
Inside cover quote:
This is a new pattern from Koro-sensei.
The falling cherry blossoms are "Koro Storm,"
and are very peaceful and Japanese-like.
I want to share this excellent idea in public, too.
Back inside cover quote:
This is one small step for man,
One giant tentacle for mankind.
- Captain Koro