December 1, 2009

Worth Watching: Claymore

I don't watch a lot of anime. Ask the other guys, I just don't. My problem with anime is that they're like soap operas. I simply don't want to watch the same same show for ten years, no matter how good that show may be. The Dragonball saga is the one exception for me. Why? Well, because everybody watched Dragonball. Yeah, that reasoning sucks, but that doesn't make my statement false. Anyway, I like it when animes (or mangas for that matter) have an end in sight, that way I know what I'm in for. I don't want to get invested in a show that goes on for ever and ever because 1) if I miss some episodes here and there I'm screwed and 2) if I like the show it'll cost too damn much to collect all 300+ episodes. So I'm always on the look out for reasonably sized animes (preferably ones that have finished because I know just how many episodes there are). But I will say that the good thing about anime is that they actually do go on forever... until they eventually conclude. Here in America we often run into the problem of shows with ongoing plot arcs getting pulled off the air before their story concludes. It's infuriating. Perhaps that's where my phobia stems from. If it's already over, then its safe to say I can enjoy the story in its entirety.

Anyway, like I said, I'm always on the lookout for new anime. I'll actually watch anything good, I just prefer that's its on the short side. I'll often watch the first few episodes of a show to see if it grabs me. Almost always, they do not. Well, a while back I stumbled across this anime called Claymore. It just so happened that Claymore met my criteria in the length department, coming in at just 26 episodes. So, I watched the first episode and was amazed. It just happened to be my lucky day.

The plot... well, I'm too lazy to summarize it so it's time for a little help from Wikipedia:
In a world where humans coexist with sentient monsters that feed on human innards called Yoma, an organization has created an order of half-human, half-yoma warriors to protect humans from the yoma, for a large fee. The people of this world have dubbed these warriors "Claymores" based on their swords. They are also referred to as "Silver Eyed Witches", based on their appearance and seemingly cold nature toward others.
A Claymore known as Clare saves a small town by killing all the Yoma living there, and meets Raki, a boy whose parents were killed by the Yoma. Out of gratitude, Raki ends up following Clare from town to town during her Yoma-killing jobs. The story becomes a tale of revenge, as Clare seeks to confront someone from her past.
Sounds like it was copied off of the back of the DVD box, doesn't it? It all seems pretty straightforward to you, I'm sure, but something about Claymore makes it not only unique, but the best anime I've ever seen. Although I'm not sure if that's saying much considering I don't watch a lot of anime. Oh, and it's quite a bit deeper than that description above. That's the story in a nutshell. A tiny nutshell.

The first thing that sets Claymore apart is its protagonists. They're all women. Well, except for Raki (yeah, it's pronounced Rocky- kinda lame) and the members of the organization. While they're important to the story, it's the Claymores that the plot really focuses on- and they're only women. But not only are they women, they're not your typical anime women. They don't have massive boobies and wear next to nothing, they're not weak, and they don't take a backseat to the men. The women in this show don't take sit from nobody! They're kickass warriors clad in armor with massive swords. They can hold their own in a fight and a conversation. It's weird because I wouldn't normally see myself watching a show with primarily female protagonists. Very few animes have strong female protagonists. Typically, that kind of show would end up being something like Super Bubblegun Rainbow Highschool or if there was action, Super Bubblegun Shotgun Highschool. Let's face it: animes centering around girls are usually geared towards girls. If there's any action it's because the main character's boyfriend fights in a giant robot when he's not studying chemistry or being sexually attracted to the hot female teacher with the glasses and the cleavage and the ridiculously short skirt. Nope, there is nothing sexy nor helpless about the ladies of Claymore. Well, ok, maybe a little sexy. As sexy as demon breasts can be. That's bound to turn some weirdo on, right? Anyway, it's a refreshing change of pace. Maybe you can even get your girlfriend into it! Maybe.

The only thing that bothers me about these women characters is that it's hard to tell them apart. Seriously. Claymores all have the same color hair and the same color eyes. And wear the same thing. And wield the same weapon. And a lot of their hairstyles are similar. You can tell them apart by their voice obviously, but also their personality (and number/symbol). Actually, maybe that's why they all look the same- so their personalities can shine through. Hmm...

The second thing is emotion. I have seriously never seen a more emotional anime in my life, which is weird because most of the characters are hardly human. Yet somehow the whole thing is really humanized and relate-able. It totally drew me in. I really felt for the characters. It showed that everyone fights for someone and nobody is incapable of compassion. Love really plays a strong role in the series, but it never comes off mushy of off-putting. It somehow always feels sincere. It's hard to describe unless you see it, but the emotion involved is much appreciated in my opinion. Claymore packs an emotional punch.

Oh, there's also intense action. All that emotion is balanced with uber violence. I don't know how they pulled it off, but it all works. Speaking of working, the music certainly works too. It's nice that they didn't change the Japanese language track for the English dub. Funny story about the dub: I originally started watching Claymore online in Japanese, but I could only find so many episodes in the same place. So I went looking for the rest but it turned out that these actually had different subs that were incongruous and it became confusing to follow. I picked it up again recently in English. I thought it would be strange because I was used to the Japanese language and the series had been dubbed by none other than Funimation. I went in expecting the worst: everyone sounding like DBZ. To my surprise, the cast was completely different with the exception of Chris Sabat voicing some very minor characters and that woman who voices kid Trunks. Fortunately, she was playing a woman in Claymore and her voice was unrecognizable. The dub is very well done in my opinion. One of the better ones actually. Not only is the dialog accurate, but the acting is good and the voices seem to fit. For the most part anyway. Especially Claire. I first heard her speak and thought, "YES! That is exactly the voice it looks like she would have." Raki's was a bit meh at first but it grew on me.

Contrary to what I seem to believe, I came away from Claymore wanting more. The series could have easily been twice as long. Yes, I actually wish it were longer. There is, however, a way around this. If you end up absolutely loving the anime and wanting more, you should know that there is an ongoing manga. The anime closely follows (seriously, its actually impressive how closely) the manga up to a point, with the final two episodes being an alternate ending for the series. If you pick up the manga half way through volume 11, disregarding episodes 25 and 26, you're good to go. It's a bit of a shock at first thinking that what you just watched was a lie, but once you get into the manga things start to get very interesting. I also hear rumblings there might actually be another Claymore series made sometime next year if there's enough support.

Claymore is a fantastic anime series that should not be missed. If you watch anime, definitely watch this series. If you don't, definitely watch this series. If you like animation in general, or anything with a good plot, check Claymore out!

This is the ONLY clip I could find that was not a trailer or a music video. It's in Japanese. You gotta love how that thing dies at the end, though.


  1. first off i just wanted to ask where we can watch this? second since facebook doesnt want to work, i just wanted to tell you, and whoever else reads this, that Vienna is nice.

  2. Best anime in a long time. Wish they could have finished it though. Lot of things left unanswered due to the ongoing manga.