It is a time of darkness. Kingdoms quail and townsfolk cower in fear before a plague of demon-like creatures called Yoma. Shapeshifters that feast upon the entrails of humans, Yoma are a plague on the land. Difficult to kill and almost impossible to detect once they have insinuated themselves into a community, the Yoma threaten to turn all of mankind into a giant smorgasbord. Enter the mysterious, nameless organization. Comprised almost entirely of women, the people of the land start calling these saviors Claymores after the giant swords they carry with them. Also known as Silver-eyed witches, the Claymores will destroy Yoma in any town or city that pays for their services, but even so the people are almost as afraid of the Claymores as they are of the Yoma.
Claymores are half-yoma themselves.
Clare, a relatively new Claymore in the organization's ranks, is on the job in a small mountain town when she meets a boy named Raki. This fateful meeting begins a chain of events that will eventually test Clare's very soul. Which is stronger? Her human nature or her inner demon?
Claymore is an exciting, action-packed show with a well thought out premise. The artwork and character designs are beautiful. However, it suffers from many of the small ailments that plague shonen titles of its breed, and while the story is an interesting twist on the gothic sword and sorcery motif, it's not exactly breaking new ground.
First the animation; it is actually pretty decent for a television series, but once again, good action shows (see works by Sunrise such as Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo), don't skimp on the fight scenes.
Claymore is not so far gone as the black screen with a silver flash of light to depict a sword duel, but it does make judicious use of still shots and pans layered with gratuitous blood spraying in order to save on animation frames.
Despite this lack of animation in many of the fight scenes, the artwork makes up quite a bit of the slack. I especially enjoyed the creative character designs (hooray for anime heroines that don't look like they are twelve years old!). It's difficult to make distinctions between a group of characters that all share the exact same hair and eye color, but the distinctive faces, hairstyles and sometimes even poses the characters adopt become so familiar that it's easy to pick your favorite claymore out of the crowd. The backgrounds and other small effects within the scenes are also extremely well rendered. It's obvious that Claymore used a lot of CG in its production, but the compositing is nearly flawless.
Female demon hunters have been a staple of Japanese pop-literature for decades now, but the writer for Claymore has managed to put an interesting twist on the premise. Being half-yoma themselves creates endless opportunities for drama and conflict within the story. Indeed, the very crux of the plot is how the various claymores, especially Clare, deal with this condition. It's the one aspect of the show that keeps it fresh in an otherwise stock shonen-action wrapper.
That said, Claymore still has its little foibles. It suffers in a way from what I call Kenshin Syndrome, wherein the hero or heroine feels compelled in the middle of a pitched battle to stop and wax philosophic on the nature of life, the universe and this week's special attack. While not as egregiously bad for this as the show for which the condition was named, or others like Tokyo Underground, Ranma, or Dragonball (choose your flavor), the characters do often segue into long discussions of Yoki, special powers and life in general. I like detail in my shows, but could it please wait until after the bad guy is dead?
Claymore also has the habit of drawing big fights out into many episodes. While I understand that this is good business for animation companies that want to get the most out of a manga license, it's still annoying to have one battle, with one bad guy, stretch out for three or more episodes.
All in all, Claymore is a solid show in its genre, with plenty of action, nice artwork, and an interesting story. It's not the best show in its category, but fans of sword and sorcery won't be disappointed and even those who prefer sci-fi or drama might be interested in checking this one out.
Fans of sword and sorcery anime will probably add one star, while those turned off by gore or violence may remove one star. — Jason Bustard
Recommended Audience: Definitely not for the kids. Extreme violence and adult sexual themes limit this to the older teen crowd and up.
Version(s) Viewed: Prerelease fansub.
Review Status: Partial (23/26)
Claymore © 2007 Madhouse / avex mode
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