Initially I was a little skeptical to delve into the 26 episode series Claymore, but I couldn’t resist the draw that these beautiful blond women were cold blooded vampire killers. I thought it would be some kind of proto-feminist offshoot, watered down version of Vampire Hunter D. It was and it wasn’t. The initial battle scene was bloody enough to keep me interested and there was no cutsie girl dolls, or slapstick silliness that deter me from most mainstream Manga series. It held my attention enough to go on a few episodes though done with a fair amount of eye rolling. I’m glad I held out. The character development and story arc improve dramatically half way through and I couldn’t stop watching episodes once I got to 7.
Claymore’s are a class of 47 ranked, blond female warriors. They are half human, half Yoma because we all know the best vampire hunters are half breeds and only converse in mono-syllabic sentences. Yoma are shape shifting vampire beasts whose diet consists of human innards. They’re always hungry. They always want to eat you. Clare, ranked #47 in the Organization is the weakest of the Claymore’s and we love her because she’s always getting her ass kicked and hates “the system”. Like all Claymore’s she’s cold and detached and her icy demeanor creates ripples in the Organization, a group of sinisterly cloaked men who dole out assignments and pay them wages. They feel she is a little too out there, a little too far off the beaten path. They begin sending her to increasingly difficult assignments in the hope she is either killed or gets stronger. Mostly just killed. But Clare naturally has a hidden revenge agenda. To kill the Awakened Being (a former Claymore who couldn’t contain her power and became an epic monster) who killed her protector, Teresa, #1 ranked Claymore. It was Teresa’s blood and flesh that Clare ate after her death to turn Clare into a Claymore and it is Teresa’s Yuki aura (the evil Yoma power each Claymore has to harness to fight) that Clare begins to use more and more of to get stronger.
Besides being blond and silver eyed, each Claymore is depicted completely different than the other with an entirely unique skill set, technique and personality. Everyone jocks technique – even the monsters, right before or after being killed are discussing technique in a sophisticated way reminiscent of Ninja Scroll or a typical shonen action series. There was no love interest or typical romantic device and if anything these warriors were treated with a respect reserved for male dominated battle epics such as Berserk, or Fist of the North Star. Claymores neither think about nor need romantic love. Their world is killing Yoma, Awakened Beings and the successful completion of their mission. The darkness, anger and aggression in battle becomes more pronounced as the series continues. The animation was good and reviews indicate the Blu-Ray adds some depth to particularly dark scenes. The story arc, while starting out weak becomes stronger as the viewer gets more invested in Clare’s journey and as Clare suffers much defeat,even losing an arm at one point, returns to dominate. Towards the ending I couldn’t stop watching, highly intrigued in the way each Claymore figured out how to get better in battle combined excellently with the evil they are fighting. It transcends plotpoint piecemeal anime into a completely new experience of shadowy monster figure vs silver warrior.
The downsides are the expository dialogue in some places (in the middle of battle?!), and ‘unusual’ music in some scenes. I’m all for bagpipes and hard rock, but not necessarily when two people are having a conversation about the weather. There is also the problem of some of the monsters in some places looking a little like dinosaurs and some creative and not so creative power-ups. Mostly creative though. Overall I give it a solid [recommendation].