» Review

Claymore Volume 1 and 2

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Wizards, magic, demons, anti-demons and just general magery is a fad that died off after the final release of The Lord of the Rings a few years ago – especially in the anime world. In recent times there’s been a larger focus on fabulous titles such as Lucky Star, Haruhi, Host Club, Naturo, Welcome to the NHK, Death Note and really anything that doesn’t involve magic directly. This was slowly turned around recently and another show bucking this tread is Claymore.

The world is being devastated by a demonic beast that is able to carefully disguise itself as a human, so well that the humans around this demon are unable to detect them. The only reason these beasts; called Yoma prey on humans is due to their taste for the delicate flavours of human flesh. However, all is not lost, there’s a sect in humanity called Claymore who alone can sense Yoma and their altered physiology allows them to survive from wounds that would otherwise kill other humans.

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The Claymore’s are feared almost as much as the Yoma’s by the general population, as they tend to bring disaster with them everywhere they go. When they go to fight a Yoma they transform and become similar to those of which they hunt. The more they fight, the more they become those creatures.

Following a young Claymore, Clare is one such warrior who is accepting missions to kill Yoma and defend everyone, who in turn despise her for her work. However, after she rescues a young Raki her life begins to change for the better. Raki attempts to learn as much as he can about the Claymore as possible, which for a normal “human” is very rare.

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Along with this Clare is entasked to find and protect various villages, kill friends and meet up with the best Claymore to ever exist. Yet during these trying times it becomes apparent that the Claymore Organisation has anything but their best interests in heart with a human is killed involving an incident with Clare. Unfortunately Clare is the worst Claymore on the continent and can do very little about this; however a startling revelation shocks the entire Claymore people when they find a Claymore gone bad, but not just gone bad but something a little more than that as well.

Claymore could easily have turned into the cookie-cutter anime standard, where the women all have huge breasts, they all talk cutesy and there’s some bad humour on the side to keep everything jovial. Fortunately Claymore has managed to use its substantial backstory and create a show that’s different in many ways. Aside from the first, which is the nearly all female cast, of course there are many shows out there with female casts, but rarely are they so dominant, powerful and confident.

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Claymore has a rich storyline, with it’s own mythology and philosophy. This is normally the cue for people to stop caring and just wish the show would get on with it. Fortunately Claymore manages to explain it’s extensive storyline throughout the plot with the characters having to deal with the turmoil of being ranked against other’s who are like them, but knowing that at some point they will turn into what they kill. Along with being despised by everyone they meet. It also deals with corruption as the very organisation that looks after the Claymore are hiding information not only from the general public, but from their own members which is discovered in a unique and strange way towards the end of the double disc set.

Throughout this fast paced show information is delivered in an easy to understand and enjoyable way. This in turn makes the viewer connect with the show on a comfortable level; it’s no art-house anime – even if it looks like one. This connection is one of the primary reasons to enjoy Claymore, as the show is walking a fine line between being interesting and being over-indulgent and data-dumpish.

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Fortunately the casting is spot on between all of the characters and the English dub is enjoyable, although the Japanese cast have a slight edge over the English characters. There is emotion expressed from the entire cast and there is subtlety too, which is rare these days. The subtitles are done well as always.

The animation itself is good, the colouring looks a little washed out from time to time, but for the most part this benefits the show adding a touch of edginess to it. The character designs are good, but not brilliant. Unfortunately some of the characters do look a little samey and this is a huge shame as this show is worth of much more.

Final Score

8

Claymore manages to mix magic and drama brilliantly. With subtle touches from the cast and a great storyline it’s a must for any collection. It’s just a shame that the character designs and the general washed out feel of the colouring lets it down.