This post represents the third of three entries our blog is submitting this week to the Manga Olympics for Bloggers. Voting begins on June 16th, so just enjoy the article for now. Or check out our illustrious competition.
Manga in Japan can be hard to break into, and most manga take time to become big sellers. That is why it is always amazing when the first volumes of series do so well so quickly. In the past year, there have been many big starts with the biggest being:
Assassination Classroom – Over one million copies of the first volume in print in less than one year
Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui, the creator of Majin Tantei Nōgami Neuro, is the story of what happens when aliens invade – or, in this case, THE alien. Koro is an alien that can move at speeds of mach 20, is incredibly powerful, and destroys most of the moon during first contact. He says that he will destroy the earth in one year, but during that year he wants to teach a middle school class, so the kids of Kunugigaoka Middle School’s class 3-E become his pupils, and Koro-sensei teaches them the 4 Rs- Reading, Writing, ‘Rithmetic, and ‘Radication, for he is also teaching them how to kill him. But how easy is it to kill a genocidal alien when he is also the best teacher you have ever had?
The big reason for the manga’s success, in my opinion, is Koro-sensei himself. He is, to put it bluntly, a total troll; He constantly trips up students, tells them exactly how to kill him and watches them mess up, and HIS VERY NAME is a pun on the Japanese word for “cannot be killed”. The other thing about him, though, is that he is actually a great guy. He has strong morals and routinely helps good people, as well as beats up bad people in creative ways; In short, a character who you never quite know what he is thinking. Does he really want to destroy the earth, or is that just some weird alien lesson he is trying to teach?
The other great part of Assassination Classroom, as I alluded to earlier, is the way that Koro-sensei betters the life of those around him in weird ways. For example, he helps a student realize her potential as a scientist and motivates her to become more social in order to utilize those talents to a greater degree, by giving her the chemical formula for what he says is a poison that will kill him, drinking it the second that she gives it to him, and using the chemical to turn himself into liquid. It’s like Great Teacher Onizuka, if Onizuka was a genocidal, all-powerful alien instead of a cosplay-obsessed street punk.
Assassination Classroom had one of the biggest starts of ANY manga in quite some time, and it reflects the explosive potential of shonen manga to capture the imagination of its readers.