Spoilers for the anime ending.
It’s hardly uncommon for anime to give its own twist to manga adaptations so that a season or series will not be left incomplete. Sometimes, these original elements work. Sometimes, they don’t. Unfortunately, Claymore belongs to the latter group. As I mentioned in the review, I don’t read manga much, so I don’t believe the anime ending was disappointing because it deviated from the manga. Rather, it’s the way the finale doesn’t quite fit the rest of the series that bothers me. There are a number of reasons for this.
01. Too much content
Claymore’s pacing has been of the slow and steady variety from the beginning itself. While I found this dull at first, as the anime progressed it was easy to see how the world-building and characterization benefitted from it. As a result, the sheer amount of things happening in the final two episodes is jarring. We have Rigaldo, Clare losing control, Priscilla showing up, the ensuing chase, their fight, Raki’s idiocy, Jean’s sacrifice etc There are a lot of intense events that as individual occurrences are of varying levels of quality but when taken as a single unit feels like the creators tried to cram too much at the end. This is the least of the ending’s problems though.
Throughout the series, Priscilla was developed as this immensely powerful Awakened Being, to the point that it became doubtful how Clare was ever going to kill her. She was a considerable threat and though she was absent for a large part of the show, her existence alone added some tension to the story. And then, after killing Rigaldo, Clare senses Priscilla and follows her, naturally resulting in a fight. It’s a good battle, or at least it is until Clare actually beats her. All that build-up and we see Priscilla defeated because Clare gets a rapid series of power-ups. Oh and also because Priscilla becomes terrified of Teresa whom she senses in Clare. Words cannot capture how flimsy this is. Yes, Priscilla is not mentally stable. But you can’t just create such an overpowered villain, foreshadow an epic battle and then conclude it in a way that’s not even remotely satisfactory. Even if I were able to accept that Priscilla was somehow beaten by partially Awakened Clare and Priscilla’s own fear, what happens after her defeat ruins what little credibility it retains. Which brings us to the next point,
03. Raki’s stupidity
The incident that cemented my dislike of Raki was Elena’s mercy-kill in the second episode. Him trying to restrain Clare was just plain stupid, especially since she had already explained to him why a Claymore had to be killed before Awakening. Not to mention that Elena herself wanted to die. Still, you’d expect that after being more exposed to the twisted world of the Claymores, he’d become more practical. Well, no. When Clare is just about to kill Priscilla – which is what she actually became a Claymore for- Raki jumps in front of Priscilla spewing what are supposed to touching words about the futility of violence. I think I literally face-palmed at that point. Not only does this deny the story even the semblance of a gratifying ending and leave yet another end loose, it is also an act of utter idiocy. But hey, what do I know. Maybe Raki bonded so deeply with Priscilla during all the time she spent smelling him that it was enough of a reason for him to deny Clare – the woman who saved him and cared for him – her coveted revenge.
04. Inconclusive conclusion
There is no sense of an ‘end’ to Claymore’s ending. It could function as season’s conclusion but as a series ending? No. There are far too many loose ends. What happens to the surviving Claymores? Will the Organization keep sending them on more suicide missions? What about the Organization itself and Miria’s investigation? What will happen with the Abyssal Ones and Priscilla? The questions continue. It’s been nine years and the manga is finished, so will there be a second season? Who knows.
05. The journey continues, aimless
At the end, we see Clare and Raki continue their journey, much like they did before Ophelia showed up and everything went to hell. My question is, what’s the point? Clare defined her existence as a Claymore with the purpose of killing Priscilla. Except that she didn’t kill Priscilla when she had the chance because her sidekick turned out to be a bleeding-heart fool. So unless Clare intends to seek out Priscilla again, which doesn’t seem likely, she has lost what drove her so far. ‘Live your life as a human’ is nice to hear but rather improbable since Clare no longer is human and is actively shunned by human society. Not to mention she won’t even age so a happy ever after with Raki is at best temporary. I understand that the ending is trying to be positive and peaceful but that doesn’t quite work out.
After harping this much about the defects of the climax, I’ll end the post with the one thing that I loved about the ending. Jean’s sacrifice is badass no matter how you look at it. She’s a character that appeared in only a limited number of episodes but her honor and loyalty makes her very likeable. Her death scene is arguably one of the best scenes in the series. She goes out with dignity while saving Clare the way Clare saved her. It’s a beautiful scene, emotional and bittersweet, and it almost manages to save the finale from being a complete mess.