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.
In times of olde, humans live in constant fear of demons known as yoma. These vicious creatures can take the appearance and memories of humans they have devoured, thus blending into society as they freely feast on human flesh. The key to stopping the yoma lies with the tolerated yet feared Claymores - women who are half-demon, half-human, and fully fated to become the demons that they hunt. Meanwhile, in a village, the young Raki has been banished; his only crime was losing his family to the yoma. Raki is drawn to a Claymore named Clare, and together their journey begins. While Clare fights the yoma plaguing the land, can Raki help her in her struggle to retain her humanity?
Though I'm a big fan of slice of life and romance, I'll watch just about anything that catches my interest. My opinions tend to be pretty level-headed, but I have been known to be controversial from time to time! Feel free to lay into me if you so desire, as I always appreciate feedback - positive or negative. I hope you enjoy reading!