Claymore was a neat surprise - 26 episode for under £10 was a bargain for a classy series full of bloodshed, beasts and strong women.
The story follows the journey of Clare, the lowest ranked Claymore (all female but half demon warriors who protect humans from evil shapeshifting beasts called Yoma) in the region, as she seeks revenge for the killing of her old guardian. It is composed of 3 or 4 small arcs which introduce us to more Claymores and increasingly evil beings, but also demonstrate the psycholigical trauma of being a Claymore. You see, these warrior women are essentially a ticking time bomb: if they push their abilities too far, they will eventually lose all of their humanity and become evil monsters called Awakened Beings. On her travels, she is joined by a young man by the name of Raki, who is constantly trying to 'protect' Clare in payment for the time she saved him from a Yoma.
The explanation as to why Clare is better at controlling her powers than a majority of the other Claymores was rather decent and surprising: the show doesn't just say 'well she IS the main character, so she HAS to be the best'.
The animation, whilst not ground-breaking, is at least consistent. The budget seems to have been spread fairly evenly throughout the episodes. Whilst there are never any particularly stunning environments, and the characters have nothing beyond the cosplay-appropriate haircuts to separate them from each other, Claymore never feels like a cheap show. The colour palette is grim and dark, but then so is the show.
I also appreciated the total lack of fan service (unless you're broken enough to count the implied rape scene which was seriously grim even for this show). The Scandinavian beauty of each Claymore isn't exploited in any way, and to me (and to the non-Claymore characters), it actually makes them all the more sinister. All fan disservice, but all necessary to the tone of the show.
The opening song is brilliant, one of the many reasons I returned to this show. As for music in the show, I still find myself singing that weird 'shit's gonna go down!' electro motiff. But I hate bagpipes, and they're used once or twice during the show.
It may sound a dumb thing to say, but I love character backstories which help explain their present behaviour. It makes for an emotional climax, and gives the creators the freedom to end a character arc in a satisfying way. Claymore is a little short on this, and barely fleshes out any characters other than Clare and the antagonist Priscilla. I would have loved to have gotten a little more insight in to why certain characters behave in such a way, because otherwise they're just as one dimensional as I thought Clare was based on the first episode. The combination of the tone of the show and the lack of depth was particularly problematic when they introduced one of the more cockier characters, who seemed out of place without a reason to be so competitive.
I really want a second series!
To: provide all the backstories, further the story of Raki (who gets some new abilities we don't really get to see), introduce us to whoever the Organisation really are and resolve that massive cliff hanger!
I don't know how, but the Claymore universe has sold itself to me. Initially, I couldn't stop watching it, and only stopped at episode 25 because I wanted to savour the end as much as I could. I got sucked in enough to want a second series, and now even my Firefox Persona is a Claymore design.
7/10 - Great
(remove one or two points if you're looking for something uplifting, but then you shouldn't have watched it in the first place)