Creator: A Madhouse Studios Production
Director: Hiroyuki Tanaka
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Action
Length: 26 Episodes
Purchase: Here From Amazon
+ Gorgeous animation
+ Clare is an interesting hero
Generic fantasy store
Raki is a whiny bore
Sometimes an otherwise enjoyable anime story can be rendered nearly unwatchable by an annoying character. Clare’s human sidekick Raki is such a character. Raki appears in the story largely to give the audience an ordinary character to identify with and the series largely unfolds from his point of view. However, he is such an annoyance, so dimwitted, talkative, and whiny that some viewers may wish they could reach through the screen and strangle him. Failing that, watching the series on mute is always a possibility.
3 out of 5
Claymore Anime Review
Written by: Frank B. Chavez III on 11/19/2008
What happens when those who are sworn to protect us are as dangerous as those they are protecting us from? In 2001, NorihiroYagi created the dark fantasy manga Claymore which explores that very question. In 2007, Madhouse Studios adapted the manga into a 26 episode anime television series. Set in a medieval fantasy world where humans must struggle with demonic beings called Yoma, Claymore follows the adventures of Raki, a boy exiled from his village as a suspected Yoma and Clare, a sword wielding member of a secretive organization that specializes in hunting down and killing Yoma.
While Yoma hunting, sword wielding Clare is an interesting character, a strong, taciturn woman warrior with a troubled past, the story unfolds from the point of view of her sidekick Raki, a whiny, talkative dimwit who takes forever to grasp even the smallest point of information and has the annoying habit of endlessly repeating each new detail he learns about Clare and the organization she works for. Claymores are half human and half Yoma? Claymores are half human and half Yoma. Claymores are half human and half Yoma? Yes! For Pete’s sake. While exposition is important in science fiction and fantasy, generally speaking the science fiction and fantasy audience is fairly bright and capable of catching on to even the most esoteric concepts. Heroes who are half human and half creature are a common occurrence in the genre and so such endless exposition is unnecessary, boring, and insulting to the audience’s intelligence. It only serves to further the perception that Raki is an idiot.
The story begins well enough. In a tiny village, several people have been murdered and eaten by one of the demonic creatures known as Yomas. Yomas are shape-shifters, when disguised they can only be rooted out by other Yomas and the human/Yoma hybrids known as Claymores (perhaps after the long swords they carry as their primary weapons) and the people of the village are beginning to break down into paranoia and suspicion. Desperate to save his village, the town’s mayor turns to the only organization that can help. Also known as the Silver Eyed Witches, Claymores are beautiful young woman who have voluntarily absorbed flesh of Yoma into their own bodies in order to gain their powers. Through sheer force of will, Claymores suppress the Yoma’s personality and blood lust so that they can use its powers to defeat other Yomas. However it is a harrowing struggle and when their human personality begins to break down, it is a Claymore’s fate to be killed by a fellow Claymore.
Show More When the Claymore named Clare arrives in the village, a young man named Raki whose parents were killed by a Yoma, finds himself drawn to her. Tragically, Clare discovers that the Yoma who has been killing the villagers also killed Raki’s brother and has been living amongst them, disguised as Raki’s brother, even sharing the same house. Clare kills the Yoma and departs the village, her job completed. However, the paranoid villagers fear that Raki may also be a Yoma so they drive him out of town. Clare feels sorry for Raki (Lord knows why, he is so whiny) and hires him as her cook until he finds a new village. Raki agrees to this arrangement and so begins a series of adventures hunting Yomas and exploring the world of the Claymores.
Of course Claymore is a dark fantasy series and in dark fantasy establishing the right mood tends to be more important than plot and character development and Claymore has mood to spare. Set in the Middle Ages not as they were but as we would have liked them to have been, Claymore fills the screen with castles, villages, peasants, monks, priests, and knights in shining armor. Scenes play out in mist shrouded forests, darkened alleys, and spooky gothic cathedrals. And as in other dark fantasy series such as Berserk, Claymore’s protagonist is the strong, taciturn type who fights monsters with a giant sword in bloody over-the-top battles that leave entire rooms in a shambles. The series adds to this rich mood by supplying a wealth of strange and mysterious details such as the weird men in black who follow the Claymores, collecting their fees and arranging their assignments and some of the creepy powers of the Yomas such as their ability to possess their victims and use their memories to improve their disguises. The only thing that breaks the carefully crafted mood is the presence of Raki, whose grating personality is reminiscent of fingernails on the chalkboard. In real life or at least a more realistic drama, a character like Clare would leave Raki at the first orphanage she came to and let the state deal with him. However, in this series she brings him along to whine and blather endlessly about what a great person she is. At best he is an annoyance, at worst he actually ruins some episodes. Wanting a teenage sidekick for the audience to relate to is understandable, however Raki is more annoying the Jason Todd version of Robin.
Show More Second only to Raki as detractors in an otherwise solid series are the Yomas themselves. In a series that gives us nearly photorealistic scenery and expressive characters, the Yomas are a disappointment. Essentially hulking, purple humanoids with glowing eyes, the nearly identical Yomas seem to exist for the sole purposes of talking incessantly about how awesome they are and then getting slashed up by Claymores in virtual explosions of purple blood. They are a visual reminder that no matter how beautiful the animation is, the story has been told before…and told and told. It is only one of many anime stories about lone warriors with troubled pasts and tragic presents wandering the landscape slashing their way through hulking monsters, righting wrongs, and occasionally looking out for troubled kids. The only thing that sets it apart is Madhouse’s truly beautiful animation.
Claymore isn’t all violence and gore of course. It has some surprisingly tender moments, some of the best of these come in the multiple episode arc that divulges Clare’s origins. When she was a little girl, Clare was the captive plaything of a Yoma killed by Teresa of the Faint Smile, the greatest Claymore of her day. Shunned by society, the traumatized Clare sought out Teresa’s companionship and eventually rekindled Teresa’s sense of compassion. In act of defiance, Teresa broke a cardinal rule of her order and killed a human being while defending Clare from some bandits. Although she easily defeats the Claymores sent to kill her and spares their lives, one of the Claymores loses control of her Yoma half and kills Teresa in an act of violence that inspired Clare to become a Claymore. The moments of tenderness depicted in this story arc as Teresa is awakened to her sense of compassion, love, self-sacrifice, and mercy are so well written and beautifully staged in comparison to similar scenes between Raki and Clare that it was perhaps a mistake to include them as they show how uneven the series is and how annoying Raki actually is.
Claymore is a visually striking series that draws the viewer into its world with splendid animation only to disappoint with talkative characters such as Raki constantly reiterating exposition, whining, and carrying on and a generic fantasy story we’ve seen a thousand times before. If the producers of the series placed half as much care into their story as they put into the animation and developing the details of their fictional world, Claymore would have been something to see. As it is, Claymore is a glorious mess standing testament to brilliant but half finished ideas. However, it is still an entertaining series worth watching for its beautiful animation and sumptuous visuals.
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