As a wistful conglomerate of both originality and clichés alike, my feelings about Claymore are, needless to say, quite mixed. With more ups and downs than sand dunes in the Sahara, the storyline continually fluctuated in maintaining my interest, a sign which generally causes me to drop a series before its finality. However, Claymore is unique in that the series doesn't stand still for very long, and by dissecting the plot into miniature three to six episode arcs that emphasize character growth and interaction, it prevents itself from falling into ruts and quickly becoming stagnant.
In layman's terms, Claymore takes place in a somewhat stereotypical world where demons have invaded the realm of humans and maliciously slaughter and consume people for not only their sustenance but also their enjoyment. To combat this, mankind has created fierce half-demon, half-human warriors who have sworn to use their demonic powers to hunt down and destroy the forces of evil. Ironically, though, despite the fact that the story initially sets itself up around this premise with a weak "monster of the day" theme, it quickly changes course. The vast majority of Claymore actually encompasses the trials of a number of the sword-bearing beauties (all Claymores are female) as they struggle to cope with their lives, their powers, and their obligations to their duties. With very little humor and only very vague inclinations toward romance, Claymore is almost entirely drama oriented with a large abundance of, as you might expect, action. This is most certainly a welcome trait, as too often I find myself confronted with serious anime series that mindlessly try to throw in thematically inappropriate scenes in order to appeal to wider audience. Claymore shuns this concept entirely, so if you want a serious anime that remains so from start to finish, definitely turn your head in this direction.
The series follows one Claymore in particular, Clare, who finds herself struck between coping with the horrors of her past and dealing with the pitfalls that confront her from day to day. After finishing one her jobs killing a demon tormenting a small village, she is followed by a lone boy whose family was slaughtered by the creature, and despite her resistance to his kinship, he ends up tagging along with her. For a lone-wolf mercenary whom the entire world shuns in fear, this obviously causes her to experience a number of emotions unfamiliar to her such as family and friendship, which causes her to call into question her reasons for being alive - is she simply a mindless killer or is she just as human as the rest of mankind? The series manages to approach the subject without swaying ignorantly one way or the other, and presents an overall logical, human set of experiences that she must confront and deal with accordingly.
Overall, despite the huge number of action scenes, the animation for Claymore is fairly average. If there's one thing I loathe about any series with swords, though, it's "black screen ‘n slash" fight scenes. Aside from a handful of instances where the bar was raised offer some explicitly detailed duels, for the most part the visuals in fights were all very linear and predictable, only instead of black screens we have sword whirlwinds. Though it didn't really bother me much at first, by the end of the series I found myself seriously disappointed, as it felt I was just watching the same general fight scene over and over with each episode. To be fair, though, the characters involved in each fight are constantly shifted as the series progresses, so no two fights are complete carbon copies of one another and the outcomes are by no means guaranteed one way or another from the get-go. The fight scenes became boring to watch, and the only enjoyment I managed to siphon out of them was the end result and its impact on the progression of the story.
Another complaint of mine, though, were the bloody awful designs of the Awakened Beings. Let's just say there were enough freakish elements in each of them that if I were stranded in the artic and needed to eat them for food, I could have a feast three times daily and even share some with all the polar bears. Hell, I was half expecting some of them to pop out Starbucks signs as appendages and threaten their opponents with good coffee at some junctions. I seriously think they made all of them have tentacles just so that the hentai doujinshi fan artists would have some material to work with, as the absurdity just didn't seem to have any real purpose. In my humble opinion, some consistency in design would have gone a long way in raising my appreciation for the series.
While certainly no Juuni Kouki, Claymore's soundtrack does a decent job, but I felt a more "classical" feel would have been in order. For a series with a medieval setting, the musical score just didn't seem to fit in a number of situations. It wasn't a huge flaw, but when a series emphasizes drama in a medieval setting, tracks with more modern feels just don't convey the same emotional undertones. That said, however, the majority of the series' tracks were all well composed, and there isn't much else I can really fault it with save for Raki's voice, which cracked a little too much for my liking.
Holy crap, Raki was almost as annoying as Rumina from Tokyo Underground. I swear, if I hear one more "Clare!!!" I'm going to beat my head in with a block of granite. While his character presence was needed for the series, his personality could have (and should have) been entirely reworked. For some inexplicable reason the writers decided to throw in the "I will protect you!" cliché onto his character, which makes entirely no sense given the context of the series. For reasons beyond my understanding, Raki doesn't seem to realize that Clare is a Claymore trained from a very young age in the arts of war and imbued with superhuman, demonic strength, and that he is a wimpy civilian boy who just happens to be tagging along with her. It's pretty much the equivalent of me trying to rationalize that I can destroy a tank with my bare hands. It made him an utterly stupid and obnoxious character, and I think the series could have done well without his over-the-top ignorance.
Excluding this bumbling sack of crap, however, the rest of Claymore's cast isn't half bad. Though the quality in the character designs slipped a bit toward the end, for the most part they do a suitable job at eliciting empathy throughout the course of the series. To put it in context, consider that many of the girls have very generic back stories and that I am about as compassionate as a rabid dog is friendly, and I think I make my point. If solid drama is to your liking, you'll definitely enjoy watching all the various Claymores grow.
All in all, Claymore ended up as another average/slightly above-average anime that could have done a lot better had it exploited its strengths more instead of falling back on its cliché safety-cushion plot elements so often. Because the series doesn't actually end, however, and that is set up to lead into a second season, it's hard to really pinpoint any final faults in the character designs. The end of the series in many ways seems like a beginning, as a huge number of very intriguing questions were left unanswered and leave a lot of room for the series to end with a bang. There is still a lot of potential tucked away in the story, so keep your eye on this series as it progresses into its next season - it very well could end up being on your top ten list in the near future.
Claymore has a unique-ish premise. Yoma roam the world, disguising themselves as humans in order to feast on human guts. The "Organization" has developed half-Yoma, half-humans called claymores to find and kill the Yoma. Claymores can use their Yoma energy to gain power, although if they use to much they will "awaken", losing their humanity and turning into a Yoma themselves.
The beginning of the story is fairly dull as it introduces the main characters Clare, a claymore, and Raki, who becomes attached to Clare after she saves him from a Yoma attack that killed his family (the classic "my life is ruined" beginning). After a few episodes, things improve as the story picks up many years ago to explain how Clare became a claymore. The story is good overall, but the series ends kind of awkwardly (the ending is different than the manga, apparently). The main bad dude decides he's tired of fighting, and everyone goes on their merry way. Lame.
Claymore does a decent job developing characters. Clare's motivations are well-explained and we see her developing her skills and relationships with other characters. Each claymore has her own unique abilities, and the series makes it a priority to compare different fighters and explain whatever clever techniques are used in battle. The series usually takes some time, through flashbacks or other means, to give you an understanding of each of the major characters.
On the other hand, various characters' actions feel crafted to take the story in a particular direction, including Priscilla, Ophelia, and Ilena. One particularly useless character is Raki, whose only function is to prevent Clare from awakening. Enemies, aside from Priscilla, are underdeveloped characters. There are also lots of completely mismatched battles in which a powerful enemy kills bunches of unnamed characters without a problem but takes their sweet time with the protagonists, leaving enough time for them to kill said enemy.
Claymore's soundtrack is unremarkable. Lots of generic classical pieces and very 80s sounding synthesized stuff otherwise. The opening and ending themes are okay. Sound effects were good.
I sampled the English dub and it was terrible, so watch it subbed.
Claymore came out in 2007. This is when anime like Code Geass, Darker than Black, and Gurren Lagann debuted. In comparison to these, while character designs are decent, the animation in Claymore feels very static. Sword slashes are blurs of light drawn over another character, and there's lots of "floating in space" motion of, e.g., detached heads across a painted background. The animation in Claymore looks more like something from the late 90s. It's like a Berserk that's less stylized, which is a shame because Madhouse is capable of great animation, like in Redline or Summer Wars. Even Trigun and Death Note by Madhouse have more fluid animation.
Despite all of its more technical flaws, Claymore managed to keep my interest like Dragonball Z does - tons of fighting, suspense, likeable characters (mostly), and a plot that doesn't completely fall on its feet. The atmosphere of the series is much darker, however, and there is lots of dismemberment, blood, gore, and other fun stuff (although, this would be more effective if the animation quality was better). The series is willing to pull suprise reversals on you to add some unpredictability, and I generally found myself itching to watch the next episode.
There are lots of comparisons to Berserk, which is primarily due to all the bloody fighting and the similar medieval time period, I guess. But Claymore is less refined in its animation and its fights are less tactically clever. I would say if you like Claymore, you'll like Berserk, but if you like Berserk you may feel a bit disappointed with Claymore.
It ends in an extended battle with gargantuan monsters and a remarkable death toll. And when I say it 'ends', I mean it 'to-be-continues'. Nonetheless, there is a meaty centre beneath the shallow crust of demons, gore, and flashing swords. Foremost, Claymore accomplishes strong character development, particularly of the intensely heroic protagonist Clare and her fellow warrior women. When all that deep stuff needs a break, in come the fantastical battles with sleek animation and striking choreography. In many significant ways, this is Berserk's spiritual successor, complete with rivers of blood and open endings.
Note: I will write a longer review later.
The music. No. Just no. I usually don't pay much attention to the music in anime. I usually skip the opening and endings (unless I actually like them) and the rest of the music usually blends into what is going on so smoothly that I don't notice it much. This is not the case with Claymore. I noticed it, and it wasn't because it was excellant. Many times I found myself thinking "what the hell were they thinking when choosing music? This doesn't fit the situation, the setting, or anything else!" The music does not blend into the scene but instead sticks out...like a sore thumb sometimes. Occasionally it wasn't too noticble, but quite often it took away from what was going on. It annoyed me so much that I felt the need to write this right away instead of waiting till I had time to write the whole review! It's an average anime at best. The music is just weird. On one hand, I can sort of see where they may have been going with the type of music they used, but the pieces they chose were not the best choice. So that is my rant about how bad the music choice was.
Its a shame to see it ended how it did I was hoping for so much more it had so much potential I honestly think if it ended the way the manga did it could of been one of the best anime series ever. The characters are half decent the one you like you love those ones you don't you hate (raki in particular), good backstory for the protagonist but it didn't explain everything like the manga did. This is an example of good series turning terrible purely due to the end as it leaves everything to open and completely diverges from the manga after the third major incident, as it is only 25 episodes long it's an easy watch and the only story related problem is the end and if you want to love it you have to the read the manga. Some of the music is outta place at times the voice actors aren't awful except raki but the may be partially because of the things his character come out with the fights are interesting and a major turning point early on is very unexpected, overall good series but it should of been so much more.