Assassination Classroom was serialised in Shonen Jump between 2012 and March 2016, ending after its 180th chapter. It has been collected into 21 volumes, all of which are now available in Japan, and 15 volumes are currently published in English, due to be completed by summer 2018.
In 2015 a spin-off series started running in Shonen Jump called Koro-Sensai Q.
The story and art Assassination Classroom was done by Yusei Matsui, who previously wrote the 23 volume series Neuro: Supernatural Detective (not published in English). Matsui has also worked as an assistant to Yushio Sawai, the mangaka of Bobobo-bo-bo-bobo.
The story is about the students in the bottom class of a prestigious school and their teacher, who just happens to be a tentacled monster bent on destroying the planet at the end of the school year if he is not assassinated first.
So the Ministry of Defense sends assassination teachers to train the students in skills and techniques to kill their teacher, and save the Earth.
Although the title ‘Assassination Classroom’ implies an emphasis on violence, the series focuses more on the development of the students within the classroom.
The series asks questions of the education system’s use of testing to rank students opposed to nurturing their individual talents of students.
Within the school presented in the manga, students are divided into five groups, A-E, with A being the highest achieving students, and E being the lowest achieving, and referred to as the ‘End Class’. These students have been separated from the main school and are continuously looked down on by other students and teachers.
However, while in class E the students begin to learn more and more about their individual talents, and that by working together they can perform better than anyone else.
Also, every now and again they use what they learn to work together to try and kill their teacher, ‘Koro-Sensai’.
The one issue I had reading the series is that early on it becomes very repetitive to read as story arcs are very similar and long winded, but after the first few volumes arcs become shorter and the reader can feel the progression of time as the series progresses.
Character development is good with many of the central characters, and you can see the attitudes and mannerisms of students evolve as the series progresses. Admittedly, this occurs slower with female characters, but this seems to be changing in the most recent volumes.
I really enjoyed the themes of working together to accomplish goals opposed to working individuality, and the research and thought Matsui has put into aspects of the story such as the exam questions when the students take part in school exams.
In volume 14 in particular, there is a maths exam and the students in class A struggle to use complicated formulas to answer the question in the allocated time, while a class E student reads it over and from looking at it from a different perspective realises the formulas are unnecessary and the answer is actually quite obvious.
Violence is present in the series, but is minimal with no gory and bloody scenes throughout the series, The weapons used to try and assassinate Koro-Sensai are designed so that they can only harm Koro-Sensai, they refer to them as ‘Anti-Sensai’.
Some readers may have issues with one of the teachers, Ms. Vitch, who is a common character for fan service and also teaches some of the girls to use their bodies to aid them in assassinations. But her character does develop later in the series. She is also often referred to as Ms. Bitch by he students, which is the only instance of swearing throughout the series.
I would say that overall, the offensive content is kept relatively low, and the series is rated T+.
With 15 volumes currently available in English, and 21 volumes completing the series by the middle of next year, now is a good time to start reading if you are not already doing so. I would recommend Assassination Classroom as a ‘SHOULD READ’.