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?
StoryAs 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.AnimationOverall, 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.SoundWhile 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.CharactersHoly 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.OverallAll 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.
For many years Claymore was promoted as the second Berserk, because it was dark fantasy and we didn’t have much of that back when it was made. The similarities are surface level at best, since down to it Claymore is like Berserk, but with more boobs and less plot. It hardly does much with its potential and it’s average at best. The art was very good as far as aesthetics go. High on detail with lots of filters and dark palette colors to transmit the feeling of a grim world overrun with dread and death. That aside, character designs were unappealing, with weird faces and very similar body types. I had a hard time telling apart the Claymores since they all looked and acted the same. Also common Yoma were drawn too simplistic and human-like and were closer to painted bandits with fangs, which was hardly making them scary. The fight scenes were mostly about the gore than the action choreography, so it wasn’t exciting even back when it was made. Now it’s just plain and boring to look at. It’s extra insulting when you know it was animated by Madhouse, which back then was the king of anime studios. You would at least expect more fluent fighting scenes or creepier monster voices, but nah, despite the popularity of the manga it was based on, they did a rushjob. Most battles didn’t last much and ended in a dull way. There was very little actual animation to the fights as most slashes were nothing but frozen pictures with a silver line that was substituting motion. This was usually followed by excessive amounts of blood, which as cool as they may have been if you were not accustomed to the glorious goreporns of the 80s, they were not rewarding you for the boring build up and the disappointing finishing move. Claymore’s strong point was not its story, which was simple, linear, and just like it happened with the first Full Metal Alchemist, not even a faithful adaptation, since it followed a small part of the manga and then changed the ending it in a way that made a continuation impossible. The premise is about fighting fire with fire and thus the monsters that plague humanity in this series are to be dealt by humans possessing monster abilities. It could have been an exploration around that and how you can keep your humanity despite having to act like a monster, but you hardly get much of that. This is no Parasyte or Devilman Crybaby, or even Tokyo Ghoul. The plot can also be easily divided into short arcs with their own set of monsters, which don’t explore the theme or the setting, as much as they offer some fairly basic characterization. The characters are the selling point, since the monster hunters are a bunch of emotionless super waifus whose worst enemy ends up being their own selves, as they slowly turn to Yoma. We mostly see that through Claire, the main heroine, who moves from a heatless killing machine to a… heatless killing machine than has a will of her own and doesn’t go around killing stuff just because she was ordered to do it. And this is done through her interactions with Raki, an obnoxious idiot who is supposed to be a pacifist and what keeps Claire connected with her humanity, but comes off as a spineless idiot who is nagging, making unrealistic remarks, standing in the way, and generally causing more trouble than helps out. Nobody likes Raki; he’s a party pooper. As for the adversaries, the Yoma, they can hardly be called characters, since to the most part they are just mooks that exist to be killed as generic mini bosses. You will never get something to care about them, much less find out where they come from. They don’t even feel like monsters most of the time, since they come off as cosplaying cannibals with motivations that don’t go beyond ‘kill humans’. I also didn’t like the dialogues, as they are very shonen for the subject matter they are dealing with. They infodump a lot, even during a fight, when they have no reason to say all that shit. All the Claymores want, is to kill Yoma, and by talking needlessly about what they plan to do, they give them a lot of information which can be used against them. And the Yoma talk like hillbillies without some voice alteration for making them sound like the scary monsters they are supposed to be. Also, Raki’s moral speeches are unbearable, as he keeps saying the most out of place things all the time. He is not the voice of reason or the good angel sitting on the right side of the brutal Claymores. He’s completely detached from the reality of the world he is living in, and thus quickly becomes a major mood-killer. So, is there any value in this anime? Aside from nostalgia possibly, no there isn’t. You can easily find shows that do everything better, and don’t have Raki in them. The popularity of the anime was based on a lot of people who were easily impressed by violence and amoral characters, something which is nothing special and keeps repeating to this day every time an edgy anime comes out.
Story 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. Characters 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. Sound 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. Animation 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. Conclusion 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. Other thoughts 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.
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