Original Run: 3 April 2007 –25 September 2007
Genres: Action, Fantasy, Adventure
Warning: Spoilers for the whole series.
In a world where shape-shifting monsters that feed on human innards, called yoma, are a constant threat to people, the only ones who can kill these creatures are Claymores, female warriors known by the name of their signature weapon. But these Claymores are half-yoma themselves and thus rejected by the rest of society. The Organization that creates and controls the Claymores often seems as dangerous as the monsters, and the end result is a world dominated by fear and tragedy.
Clare, one of the Orgaization’s Claymores, picks up a human companion by the name of Raki in an odd sequence of events. The story follows their various trials and tribulations as Clare relentlessly pursues the goal that drove her to choose the life of a Claymore.
In the beginning, I was rather underwhelmed by Claymore. The idea of all-female warriors wielding giant swords who went about killing monsters was very appealing but the first few episodes made it seem like a typical shonen action series. Clare and the mystery behind the Claymores were what kept me going despite the initial boredom. But by about episode 5, things begin to improve. The characters get a lot more fleshed out, the setting is expounded and the story becomes a lot more interesting. This trend continues throughout the various arcs and then drastically plummets in the final few episodes. Now, I am not a manga reader so this isn’t a case of comparing the two and finding the anime lacking. The anime ending is bad not because it deviates from the manga but because it doesn’t quite mesh with the anime’s own plot.
Let’s first take a look at the positives. The premise and the way it’s handled are both excellent. While monster-slaying itself is hardly a new concept, the way Claymores are created by planting yoma flesh inside children is innovative, though gruesome. Claymore also defies the widespread trend in anime (and pretty much all media) to sexualize female fighters and instead gives us a cast made up largely of powerful, competent women with little to no fanservice. The story, despite the slow start, is multi-faceted and intriguing, weaving together excellent world-building, driven characters and exciting action. The overall atmosphere of Claymore is somewhat gloomy but not so dark as to induce audience apathy. The conflict between the Organization and the yoma and the added element of the Awakened Beings as well the mysteries surrounding these factors all come together to form a gripping tale.
For me, there were two things that hampered enjoyment of the series. One is the ending, the last three episodes in particular. The other problem is present throughout the show. Anyone guessed it? It’s Raki. Why. Why, Claymore, did you have to ruin a perfectly good show comprising of numerous great characters with this little turd? It’s not that I even hate the guy all that strongly. I certainly don’t like him but there are other characters I’ve despised with far more vehemence. My issue with Raki is that he contributes a whole lot of nothing to the show, or rather, what he does contribute feels like things that exist solely so that he doesn’t end up being an utter waste of screentime. Reuniting with him serving as a second reason for Clare to survive? I call bullshit. Are you seriously telling me that the woman who, volunteered for a painful, alienating transformation for the sole reason of getting vengeance for her murdered mother-figure when she was a child, is more likely to be spurred on by the thoughts of a boy she’s known for such short period of time? I cringed every time Clare Raki popped up alongside Teresa in Clare’s thoughts. Raki’s sunshine and rainbows attitude also contrasts a lot with the general air of the show and not in a good way. And do not even get me started on his actions in the final episode.
I ranted a bit there but the point is that the show would have worked just as well – probably even better – had they used Raki to set things up in that first episode and then left him be. Nevertheless, Claymore is one of the best anime I’ve watched and I would recommend it to anyone interested in dark fantasy stories with fleshed out characters.
Claymore has a wide array of solidly developed characters. Both main and side characters are detailed and memorable. The characterization and character development is easily one of this series’ best features.
The protagonist is Clare, the lowest ranked Claymore of her generation, which comes as quite a shock since the first few episodes establish her as a skilled fighter. Clare is initially cold, though kind in her own way. Five episodes in, we see her past, which is as terrible and tragic as the pasts of most characters in this story. From there, Clare’s character is slowly and steadily unraveled, and we get to see what motivates her and who she is as a person rather than just a monster-slaying tool. As Ilena says, Clare has a calm and composed exterior but she’s very passionate inside, and this juxtaposition helps to make her a very compelling character. The other main character is Raki, and I’ve already made clear what I think of him.
Of the secondary characters, the one who stands out the most is Teresa of the Faint Smile, the top-ranked Claymore of her time. She acts as Clare’s mother figure for a time after Teresa kills the yoma that was keeping Clare captive. We only get to see Teresa for a handful of episodes but that is more than enough to leave a deep impression. I would say that the Teresa and Clare arc is the most powerful one from an emotional standpoint. Unlike Clare who is only cold on the outside, Teresa seems numb inside and out when she’s first introduced. The way she bonds with Clare and how it comes about, as well as the aftermath, are all unforgettable components that make up the heart of Clare’s story.
There are others, both good and bad. Miria, Helen, Deneve, Ilena, Priscilla, Galatea, Isley etc are all unique, fascinating characters. Even those who are part of the show for a brief time, like Ophelia, Flora and Undine, have quite the impact.
Art and Music:
Claymore has excellent visuals. Anime habitually uses wild and varied hair and eye colors to make each character distinct. But in Claymore, the process that converts children into the eponymous warriors bleaches their hair blonde and turns their eyes silver. So a vast majority of the cast are blonde and silver-eyed. Yet they each stand out. This is particularly evident when a large number of Claymores gather together in the last arc and they are all shown to be markedly different from each other. The backgrounds are also detailed and realistic.
The music is pretty good. The opening theme is Nightmare’s Raison d’Etre and it suits the show very well. The ending theme Danzai no Hana by Kosaka Riyu is the perfect song for Clare and Teresa’s relationship. The soundtracks in the series are nothing special but they’re alright.
An excellent series that was somewhat ruined by the poor ending. And also Raki.
From now on, I’ll post the analyses one week after the reviews. That way there won’t be such a long time between posts.