Anime I’ve Seen: Claymore
Posted by travizzt on April 27, 2011
So over at Clan of the Fanboys, another member and I decided to take a look at Claymore. He now likes it. You’re welcome. If you’d like to check out his review of Claymore just click this link right… here. So let’s just let the fanboy of me take over. Here’s my extended look at one of my favorite things of all time, Claymore.
In a world where creatures called Yoma prey on humankind, an organization of female fighters are tasked to take down the creatures. The fighters are known as Claymores or Silver Eyed Witches and are feared by normal humans. The reason for the fear is that Claymores are half-yoma, and are seen as half-human, half-monster.
Claymore follows a Claymore named Clare and her ordeals. After saving a village that was plagued by a Yoma and saving a boy named Raki, the boy starts to follow Clare after running away from the village. The duo faces challenges that they might not survive.
I love Claymore. I love it, love it, love it! Sure it may not be perfect or even the best anime out there, but there is something about it that I just can’t help but love. I love the characters, the story, the setting, the tone, and just about everything else. I can’t even pin-point the exact moment I fell in love with this show, and I mostly can with any anime I watch. As soon as I started watching, I couldn’t stop. I devoured Claymore within two days. I almost never am that interested in anything. Maybe if I take a closer look at Claymore, I just might discover why I love it so.
Here’s the easiest way I can describe Claymore; it’s Dragonball Z with female main characters wielding huge swords. But that’s not all it is. Claymore is much deeper than Dragonball Z ever hoped to be. It’s a dark fantasy adventure, an action heavy show with some mystery, romance, horror, and heartbreak. Nothing really feels out of place in the series, well aside from comedy. Claymore is a serious show. There is a bit of humor added in, but nothing over-the-top or down right silly. That’s another reason as to why I love Claymore. It’s serious and it makes certain situations feel dire. There never was a point in the show that I knew a character would make it out alive. It’s a dark fantasy for a reason. Then again, I love dark fantasy so Claymore was a perfect fit from the start.
Claymore has a fairly simple premise with following the adventures of Clare and Raki. There isn’t much more to it than that, but it almost seems like there is. The duo go through a lot, and I mean a lot. The series starts off simple enough with Clare entering a town beset by a Yoma, meeting Raki, and at the end of the episode, the two traveling together. It’s a very basic set up. The next episode is very exposition heavy. It’s basically a lesson on Claymores and their way of life. This episode really helps you understand such a foreign concept of what a Claymore is. After this point, the series just becomes awesome. The next two episodes deal with Clare tracking down a Yoma in a holy city, a city where Claymores are not allowed. These two episodes are some of my favorites, but they also make me a bit mad. They introduce two interesting characters, yet at the end of the arc, we are still left with Raki. I hate Raki, but more on that later. After these two episodes we go into a flashback dealing with Clare’s past and how she wound up with a Claymore named Teresa. These four episodes are probably the best in the series. I just love the Teresa arc. The next ten episodes really just deal with Clare learning more about the organization, becoming a stronger fighter, and to develop her relationship with Raki (NO!!!!). The last stretch of the series deals with a group of Claymores (including Clare) in battling a group of stronger Yoma, called Awakened Beings. This is the only real letdown of the series, story-wise. It’s not bad, it just felt a tad rushed through. Now I would go into more detail, but I feel as through I shouldn’t spoil anything. It’s just a great story that you should experience for yourself.
Over on Clan of the Fanboys, we had this idea for posting all day on Valentines Day, dubbing it “Blitz Day”. We had to choose Top Five’s on various things, most of the posts were about the hottest character in various mediums. For my My Top Five Anime Girls Clare was my number one. Yes, I love Clare. I love her so much that I brought a key chain with her symbol on it. I love her so much that I even brought a poster with her on it. I may be a tad bit obsessed. Why do I love Clare so much? I honestly don’t know. She’s not the strongest, in fact she’s the weakest Claymore out of all the Claymores. She’s not drop dead gorgeous, she’s just cute. Her personality is cold and almost unfriendly, but if humans treated you like a monster wouldn’t you be? There was just something about her that made me just love her. It could be that she’s not your ‘normal’ anime heroine. Clare is generally cold and distant. She’s always serious and almost never cracks a smile. But when she does, I can feel my heart melt. Clare is driven, and that’s another reason I love her. She won’t die until she accomplishes her goal. If she gets knocked down, she gets right back up. If she is cut up to the point of dying, she pushes on and tries to continue fighting. There is something admirable about that. I could go on and on about her to the point of being annoying but I’ll just stop it there. I just love her.
There is only one other character that comes close to Clare’s level of awesome and that’s Teresa. So maybe I’m not anywhere close to being in love with Teresa as I am with Clare, but Teresa is a surprisingly deep character for only being in four episodes. Teresa also adds a lot of depth to Clare’s characterization as well. Who is Teresa exactly? Well, she was the Claymores former number one, the most powerful Claymore to ever exist. What is even more surprising is that she barely used her Yoki essence, which is the power to be able to kill Yoma. She is commonly referred to as Teresa of the Faint Smile, due to her always having a smile when slicing a Yoma in two. What makes Teresa so good? Well, it could be that she is the most developed character in the series and that she actually goes through the most change. Sure, Clare goes through a change, but it’s mostly in the physical sense. With Teresa, she goes through a mental change. After inadvertently saving a girl from a Yoma using her for its disguise, the girl starts to tag along with Teresa, much to the Claymore’s disdain. Teresa even beats the child back with her foot, in hopes of making her understand that she doesn’t want her to follow. But the girl continues, to the point of Teresa saving her from a band of bandits. Still unwilling to take the girl along, she leaves, but the girl still follows. After trying everything, Teresa finally breaks down and allows her to follow until the next town, giving her the name of Clare. As the two travel, Teresa starts to develop maternal feelings towards the girl. These feelings really change how Teresa looks at her life and everything she thought of until this point. This whole scenario is played out fantastically and ends in a very surprising twist. Without Teresa, Claymore wouldn’t have been as good.
There are a few other characters that add something unique to Claymore. After the Teresa arc, we are introduced to three Claymores; Helen, Deneve, and Miria. These three add something to either the plot or the tone of the series. Helen adds a dash of humor here and there. She’s brash and loud, almost having a carefree attitude. However, she’s a surprisingly devoted friend to Clare, Deneve, and Miria. Without Helen, Claymore may have been a little too serious for its own good. Deneve is calm and collected. She’s never really does much in the series, but her devotion to her follow Claymores makes them feel closer. Miria helps add a bit of mystery to the plot in the form of “who’s side is the organization on”. She’s also great at leading the others. There are a few other Claymores I could talk about, but you need to be surprised.
There is one other thing that Claymore does a fantastic job with is with the antagonists. Almost every enemy is either charismatic and charming, creepy and disturbing, or tragic. They all add a bit more to make the story that much more enjoyable. I’m not talking about the Yoma however, they just are basic monsters with really no personality. No, I’m talking about the Awakened Beings. Even the Awakened Beings that only appear for an episode or two are fantastic and full of personality. Take Dauf and Riful for example. These two characters appear in the middle of the series and leave a lasting impression. Dauf and Riful are in a relationship, and it really shows that they are. Dauf is a complete idiot and it’s strange that it’s so charming. What’s even better is that I believe that Dauf is in love with Riful, it’s touching. Riful acts the same way, but a bit more reserved. However, there are two antagonists that really deserved to be focused on; Priscilla and Ophelia.
Priscilla is a tragic antagonist. When we first meet Priscilla, she’s a naive, new Claymore, but is surprisingly powerful. So powerful that, in time, she could surpass Teresa. In order to see if she’s capable, the organization sends her and a group of Claymores to take down Teresa after breaking one of the organizations rules. The group fails, but Priscilla goes over her limit, due to her inexperience. She then awakens. What makes this so tragic is that she seems so naive and innocent. You almost can’t believe that she could be capable of doing the things she’s doing. She doesn’t even know that she’s a monster after she awakens. She doesn’t know that she’s eating someone’s innards, or that it’s wrong. She also seems to flashback to before she was a Claymore, remembering her father killing her family and chopping off his head. All in all, she has the more tragic of the back stories, aside from Clare.
Ophelia is just twisted. There is no easy way to explain it other than that. She’s absolutely twisted and I loved it. She doesn’t act like any of the Claymores we’ve seen up until this point. She’s a cold, heartless killer. She’s cocky and doesn’t care about the rules. She brings a lot of terror and menace to Clare and Raki, and it was perfect. I almost wished that she was the main antagonist. She had everything that a good antagonist needs to have. Plus her shocking realization at the end was touching and added a dash of humanity to Ophelia.
There is one character in Claymore that I wouldn’t mind setting on fire, the utterly useless and annoying Raki. Raki is the only real thing that Claymore has going against it. All he does is cry. Yet, he somehow makes Clare fall in love with him! It’s just not fair! Every time his mouth opened up, I wanted to stab a sword through his guts, throw him in a fire, and then throw acid on the cooling corpse. I hate him that much. Thankfully, he does have one moment that makes him actually awesome. When Clare encounters Ophelia, Raki tries to protect her and fails. He gets cut up badly and would have died if an Awaken Being didn’t show up and save him. It was a pretty bad-ass moment. However he goes back to a whiny, annoying character. When he wasn’t in the show, it was awesome. When he was, he did bring it down, slightly. Why can’t you just die Raki?
Claymore has an awesome soundtrack that really helps you get into the series fast. Almost every song throws some excitement and wonder the viewers way. However, there is one song titled “Bishou no Teresa” that felt extremely out of place. It uses a lot of brassy instruments to create a majestic and happy tune. That would have been fine if it wasn’t used at the most inappropriate times. This song is mostly used whenever something horrible is about to happen, or is happening. It just misrepresented what was going on. Aside from that, all the other tracks are great and definitely worth tracking down.
This is probably the only time that I’ll recommend reading the manga if you want to continue the story. Claymore only gives us a taste of things to come and the ending of the anime never happened like it did in the manga. In fact, the whole Clare/ Priscilla fight never happened like it did in the anime. Truth be told, I do hope that a second season happens and that the ending of the anime changes to better fit with the manga version. There is just so much more that happens and with so many questions left unanswered, a follow-up or sequel needs to happen. The manga is good, and I devoured all 110 chapters (at the time) within two days. I even started to pick up the volumes through Amazon because it’s that good. If you have the money, or the time, try reading it.
To end my look at Claymore, let me just say that I love this show. I can’t force myself to give away anything because I really do think that anyone who is interested should watch this. If anything I said during this look comes off as vague or it doesn’t make sense, don’t blame me. Blame my inner fanboy.