I went into this volume with high hopes regarding the promised origin of Principal Gakuho Asano. What turned this once-caring educator into the ruthless victory-at-any-cost authoritarian that we’ve come to know in this series? As it turns out, the reason why is pretty straightforward: He felt responsible for the death of a student and changed his methods in the hope of preventing it from happening again. This is all explained in the first chapter so Asano’s origin doesn’t wind up being as epic or exciting as I was expecting. The wrap-up of the current arc in the next chapter is also free of surprises, though I did appreciate seeing how Koro-sensei manages to connect with the principal using his compassion. Superman would definitely approve, even if this doesn’t necessarily take Asano off the board as an antagonist. If anything, I expect we’ll see him back in another volume or two ready to beat the tentacled teacher on his own terms. Maybe even without the dirty tricks.
While the opening to vol. 15 was something of a letdown, the rest of it is anything but. mangaka Yusei Matsui kicks the narrative into high gear with a series of surprise revelations. It turns out that one of the students has been a secret assassin since the very start of the series! This revelation does threaten to run up against one’s suspension of disbelief, particularly when you consider that this student has always been one of the more well-adjusted and upbeat ones. What saves is that Matsui commits to it fully by further revealing that not only does this student have a very personal connection to the (deceased) teacher that started Koro-sensei on his career, but they have a special and familiar weapon at their disposal to help take him out.
The fight that ensues is as crazy as anything the series has done, only with some gripping emotional stakes thrown in as well. Even if it all ends for the best — if you’re expecting otherwise, why are you reading a Jump manga — the stage is set for the reveal of the title’s most important origin of all: Koro-sensei’s! Though the lead-in does kind of ruin my ongoing analogy of this series being a really good “Superman” story, it still promises to be everything that Asano’s was not. At least, it had better be consider how key Koro-sensei’s origin is going to wind up being to the series as a whole!