By Mikayla Mitchell
The role of a teacher in a student’s life is vital, even if that teacher happens to be an alien that the students are supposed to kill by the end of the year.
In Assassination Classroom, a teacher named Koro Sensei destroys part of the moon and vows to destroy the planet. This leads to him teaching a class of delinquent middle schoolers who must kill him before the end of the year to save the world.
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With a ticking clock hanging over their heads, the students must get through the school year, figure out what they want to do with their lives and cement a plan to assassinate their teacher – even though he’s hellbent on helping them grow and succeed.
For many students, especially those who may be struggling in their personal lives, a teacher can be an incredibly positive influence. They can serve as mentors to offer valuable advice students might not find elsewhere. These students are often stuck with labels, bullied, or ignored by their peers, but teachers rarely carry a bias.
The kids in Assassination Classroom deal with typical student trials just like this, although Koro Sensei sees through it and looks to enhance the potential of each of them as a human being. This is new to many of them. He cares.
Even though many of Koro Sensei’s students are labelled as “bad” by the main school district for their grades or behavior, this doesn’t stop him from pushing them to be their best. He reaches out to them with kindness and shows that just because they’re treated badly, it doesn’t make them bad kids.
From the first episode, it’s clear that Assassination Classroom has no shortage of characters. And each of them gets a chance to shine. It’s a sort of meta-narrative on the power teachers have to bring out what’s special in every student. Koro Sensei helps these kids solve their problems, not by solving them himself, but by equipping them with what they need to move forward. That’s not just limited to problems in school either, and for students who might feel like the whole world is against them, the kind words of a large alien teacher can be a saving grace.
Even with its unique presentation, Assassination Classroom doesn’t shy away from dealing with serious challenges. Koro Sensei talks these kids through things like family abuse, bullying and increasing academic pressure. Episodes of the series focus on these tough topics without misusing them and allow viewers to relate to these characters. Koro Sensei helps them in his own unique way, but the correlation to a strong model is there.
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For example, let’s look at Nagisa Shiota. He’s introduced as a gentle and compassionate character who is just trying to figure out what he wants to do with his life and education. And we’ve all related to that at some point, right?
His journey of finding out what he wants to be, even if it ends up being something quite unconventional, is a reflection of an audience that may still be figuring that out themselves. Despite Nagisa struggling with his home situation, he builds up a support system of peers that cares about him and wants him to succeed — something vital for a student tasked with living up to the high expectations of a family member.
Even if it seems like things may start crashing down, his friends and teacher are the ones to help him tackle the situation head-on. At the core of this lesson is Koro Sensei, driving these students to care for one another. Through this, Nagisa finds himself.
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Assassination Classroom, with all of its trimmings, is ultimately a tale of growing up. It’s a story that we all experience, as the stresses of schoolwork swell and the pressures of adulthood loom. Koro Sensei displays many of the qualities one might expect of their ideal “favorite” teacher. He’s a voice of reason, a mentor to learn from, a force to push you forward and, above all else, an unbiased friend.
And sometimes – sometimes what we all need is a 9-foot alien mentor that’s tasked us with murdering him.
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