I thought I was going to be able to everything in one go, but I ended up writing a lot more for each write-up. So I decided to split this into a few parts, and here is part 1! Yay!
Ansatsu Kyoushitsu 2nd season
The second season of Koro-sensei and his merry band of would-be assassins students picks up right where we left them at the end of the first season. The first half sees the students and teachers finish off their tropical island vacation with a good old-fashioned test of courage and a potential romantic coupling, while the second half has the students hanging out at a summer festival. All typical elements of the high school anime, to be sure, but Ansatsu Kyoushitsu keeps things fresh with its signature style of humor. Koro-sensei inadvertently ends up scaring himself silly during the test of courage that he himself had created, while Nagisa and company are able to dominate the festival stall games thanks to their extensive training. Meanwhile, the students attempt to match-make Irina (I can’t quite bring myself to call her Bitch-sensei) with Karasuma-sensei, a fun twist on the rom-com stuff that usually involves teenagers instead of adults.
We also get to see some nice character moments: a traumatic flashback to Irina’s childhood while at dinner with Karasuma-sensei, Nagisa talking about his strict mother while at lunch with his father, and Karma keeping his study materials hidden when Koro-sensei made a surprise visit. Out of all three, though, Irina was the most revealing. Irina might be an expert at reading and utilizing body language for the purposes of espionage, but she is completely clueless at dealing with her own emotions. Karasuma isn’t that much better either — he mistakenly perceives Irina’s flirtatious moves as practice for new espionage tactics. Karasuma doesn’t seem to reciprocate Irina’s feelings, and I can how the show might only use their future relationship mishaps for laughs. I’m hoping that this won’t be the case; Irina and Karasuma are great as the femme fatale and stoic military boss, but some nuance to their roles would be nice to see.
I still can’t remember any of the students’ names, besides Nagisa and Karma, without resorting to Google, but it’s nice seeing the show using its well-established character quirks and dynamics to re-introduce its massive cast of characters. There are plenty of story arcs that can carry over from last season, but the show is best when it mixes character development with its storylines (like the midterm/final exam arcs from last year). The standalone character-focused episodes make nice character portraits, but they got formulaic real quick with Koro-sensei doing his superhuman thing while giving the life lesson of the week. But as long the show’s humor and character dynamics stay strong, I’m looking forward to what Koro-sensei and his assassination classroom has in store for us this semester.
- Assassination is not an easy word to spell consistently, you guys.
- OP/ED and definitely mirrors of last year’s. I much prefer the first season’s ED though.
- Nobuhiko Okamoto brings such sliminess to Karma’s voice. It’s pretty great.
- In an obviously important story development, Irina’s mentor seemingly gets taken out by another assassin named Reaper. All other shady assassin aliases had been taken, apparently.
Musaigen no Phantom World
So Phantom World is this season’s contribution from Kyoto Animation, and with KyoAni you’ll at least be assured of quality animation. I tend to have high expectations of KyoAni: animation is always top-notch, and their style of visual storytelling is their backbone. Hibike! Euphonium was one of my favorites from last year, which was a real gem of beautiful animation that actually served to develop character and story, instead of just animating for animation’s sake.
Phantom World doesn’t have any of Hibike’s character nuance so far, however. Its world looks like a cross between Minecraft and KyoAni’s last fantasy outing, Kyoukai no Kanata, and is beautifully animated with lush backgrounds and some really creatively-designed Phantoms. Phantoms, by the way, are metaphysical beings that first appeared after a terrorist attack on a biotechnology laboratory that caused a rift between the physical and mythical worlds. Children born after this event are naturally gifted with Phantom-fighting abilities, and high schools have government-sanctioned Phantom-fighting clubs where these gifted kids can vanquish Phantoms while earning some cash on the side. Our heroes are Ichijo Haruhiko (a socially awkward book-loving nerd) and Kawakami Mai (big-breasted Phantom fighter), a pair of hapless Phantom vanquishers who employ a Phantom-eating girl named Izumi Reina to their cause.
The exposition really could have been handled with a little more grace, but the premise seems interesting enough to stick out. The Phantoms don’t seem to be mindlessly evil creatures, but physical manifestations of savaged human emotions. The spiritual and government angles aren’t exactly novel, but Phantom World could still ask some interesting questions if it doesn’t get too bogged down by its own narrative.
- There were a lot of boob jokes in this episode.
- This episode also had the cleanest and most ridiculous fanservice I’d ever seen. There was no arbitrary ripping of clothes, but I guess the animators deserve credit by making the fanservice more creative??? Mai boosts her powers by forcefully groping her chest, and defeats a group of Phantoms, which were manifested as electric poles, by using the PHYSICS OF BOUNCING BOOBS to win a limbo contest. Yes. Not since the infamous bullet-dodging boobs of High School of the Dead has there been such abuse of anatomical physics.
- That being said, I’m not vehemently against the fanservice, but the boob jokes and Ichijo stumbling into people’s chests will get old very, very quickly.
- Half the episode was spent on expounding on the goings-on of Phantom World, but nary a single explanation for Ruru-chan, who is apparently Ichijo’s pet fairy??? Or is she a Phantom? Is she Haruhiko’s inner goddess? Is she a distant cousin of Tinkerbell? Most importantly, why did she steal her wardrobe from I Dream of Jeannie?