The yoma food pyramid consists of one section, as opposed to the six sections of the human food pyramid. Unfortunately for humans, the sole section of the yoma food pyramid is labeled human organs.
In the Claymore universe, there are demons called yoma who are shape-shifters. They hunt humans by eating their victims brains and then using the memories they gain to impersonate the people they have eaten to infiltrate their victims communities. The yoma are also stronger and faster than humans and can regenerate as well as turn parts of their bodies into weapons.
An unnamed human organization has created a special breed of warriors to combat the yoma, they are called Claymores. The organization takes young women and creates half-human/half-yoma hybrids that gain a degree of a yoma’s strength, speed, and abilities. These hybrids then have silver hair and silver eyes making them easily distinguishable from normal humans. The appellation Claymore comes from the humans they protect not from the organization or the warriors themselves. People call them Claymores because they wield gigantic Claymore swords almost as big as they are.
What first attracted my interest was the female dominated cast, in powerful roles. In fact, men rarely show up at all, minus Raki, until the very end of the series. It’s rare that a clearly shonen show has an all woman cast and it is not fan-service central.
Well, there is somewhat of a non-Raki male presence before the end; there are those two church knights in episode 4. But the major purpose of the two church knights is to show that you can be an awesome human fighter and that you are still nowhere near the same level as even the weakest Claymore.
When Claire appears she seems to be a flawless killer. Claire is certainly a stoic character, and I almost mistook her for completely emotionless. But as the story goes on I believe this exterior is melted to some extent through her interactions with others. Also, it helps to give depth to her motivation to find out she is the lowest ranked warrior. I think it is worth pointing out that Claire does have many qualities that are typical of shonen male heroes. But as the story progresses and we see some of her back story, I felt I saw a woman.
I think the writer wants Claire to be a mystery in the beginning. He wants Claire to be the same enigma to the audience that most people see when they see a Claymore. In fact, the writer tries to go out of his way to make Claire seem like a monstrous killing machine in the first few episodes. Most people see the Claymores as emotionless monsters only a little better than the Yoma they hunt. Only as the series progresses do we slowly learn that Claire has feelings, inner conflicts, and personal goals and desires.
In fact, in the early episodes all the Claymores we see are rather emotionless and serious business like. It’s not really until Helen and Deneve do we start to see Claymore who are somewhat playful or personality filled even if it’s a definitely psychotic version of playful or personality filled.
I like that Claire is the weakest of the Claymores. She win fights more on learning and cleverly applying new techniques or using teamwork with other Claymores and their abilities, more than winning because she has a hidden, previously unknown, mysterious power that makes her super strong and lets her win due to brute force.
Raki is vulnerable yet determined and I think Claire sees a lot of herself in him. Unsurprisingly, he has a strong desire to protect his savior and works towards becoming stronger. He also brings the only fully-human sided perspective to the situation. As his race completely rejects and abandons him because his family was killed by Yoma.
Raki is the stereotypical shonen hero who wants to get more powerful to protect the ones he cares for. In most shonen anime Raki would the protagonist who would grow stronger with his hidden previously unknown mysterious power and Claire would either die or be surpassed by Raki. Although it has yet to happen in the manga I feel one day Raki might be able to fight along side Claire as an assistant and comrade but I don’t see him ever surpassing Claire and I find it unlikely he will be her equal. His role will always be support. At least that is my prediction.
Since Raki also appears in the first episode, it t is almost strange that he wasn’t the main character. I like that. I knew what Claymore had in store but for a split second those formulas came to mind. I am quite enjoying this string of shows that have both female and male protaginists that both grow. We also have to remember that Raki just decided to become strong right when we meet him, but Claire we really don’t have a sense of how much time has passed but it seems like a significant amount.
Raki’s other importance to the plot is to be the naive person who has how the world works so the audience learns how the world works as well.
I don’t think Raki has totally been rejected by humans in general. I think he was definitely abandoned and cast out by his home village but he had several chances to stop following Claire and just settle down in another town that does not know his family was killed by Yoma. Both Raki and Claire were abandoned by the people of the town they lived in and they both had chances to leave the people who saved them but stuck with them despite the fact that their lives would be far easier if they stopped following the person who saved them. It’s not like Raki has to follow Claire. He wants to. That’s an important distinction.
I loved the comradery that became a ongoing theme. In a series where everyone seems like a loner, this is a nice touch. It makes the characters more tangible to realize they need other people. The friendships you see can sometimes be unexpected in the situation everyone is in. But then maybe that is what makes these vital, a lot of these woman I assume “grew up” together if you can call it that. You truly see this between Deneve and Helen who appear later as friends. While we don’t get full back stories of anyone except Claire, there is a lot of things one can infer through the way characters deal with one another. The the group of half awakened beings that form a kinship are especially strong as a group who have a common bond.
I think that I like all of the interactions between the Claymores because besides comradery you also see a wide variety of different relationships between them. You have fierce rivals, friendly rivals, devoted companions, standoffish business relationships, bullies, mentors, subservient lap gods, loyal retainers, and more. It’s almost like two Claymores don’t interact with each other in the same way. It speaks a lot to how quickly and carefully the Claymores are developed in the series. Since a lot of the Claymores don’t last a long time it would be easy to simplify their characterization, but the writer takes the easy way out in that respect.
I also have to say that, as we both sort of hinted, Helen and Deneve have the most interesting relationship outside of Raki and Claire. They are characters that would easily be voted as characters most able to have their own spin off series. They have a close almost sisterly relationship while still being sort of messed up 6 ways until Sunday really makes them fascinating characters. I’m also sure that there are like 5 million yuri doujinshi of them only being surpassed by the 6 million doujinshi of them getting raped at the same time. Oh doujinshi. :(
I’m also surprised you did not mention Jeanne who I was pretty sure is a character you would marry (or at least make your BFF with benefits) if she were not a fictional character.
Well, this was the great thing, I thought it had a steller cast in general. I liked Claire, Raki, Helen, Deneve, Miria, Theresa, and Jeanne. Okay, but you’re right Jeanne was my dearest. Although she doesn’t show up till much later she brings honor and pride, without arrogance. Her sense of duty to those around her, especially Claire, bring real depth to her personality. And lets not forget her totally awesome ability.
Raki and Claire’s relationship brings me back to my point about seeing a woman in Claire through a sort of seemingly male figure. But I must admit, the turn it took between these two happily surprised me. It could have gone a number of ways, but I liked this route. I also felt like this could create a really dynamic interaction that is not often explored.
I feel that the change of the relationship is unexpected and interesting but not out of the blue. Their relationship was definitely always building and always growing so it’s not like anything was thrown in just to be thrown in because it was time for something to change. It also subtly changes both characters without being to subtle as to be almost no change in the characters or too bold as to be unrealistic and out of character.
The ending was pretty weak in my opinion but this doesn’t devalue the show for me. I felt like the Claire and Raki relationship, that I thought would be dynamic, just collapsed in on itself and it was just a role reversal.
Well the dynamic part of the relationship really falls apart when the stop using the manga as a guide and start making their own ending. I have a distinct feeling that the writers of the anime did not fully understand how Claire and Raki’s relationship worked so they fell back on the formula they already knew and just changed the roles.
I also feel the writers could only do so much with the ending of the series. Where the manga ends and anime basically ends is a very open ended part of the manga. It seems the writers wanted to put some sort of ending on the series because it does not look like will be getting a second season of Claymore. They basically had to pull together plot threads that were not together in the original manga to make some sort of resolution. That kind of abrupt patch job will always lead to a ending that is less than it should be. I think all in all it did what is set out to do. They wanted to get you wanting to read Claymore while being and be okay with the ending if you can’t read the manga.
There are a bunch of things I would have liked to have seen but we never got to see but I think a lot of them just have not come up in the manga so there was not much to be done about it. I would have liked to have seen how Claymores are made and trained. We have a vague idea of how it’s done but I’m sure there is something important about the processes and how it’s done. I would also like top know what the deal with the Claymore organization is. It seems that even the Claymores themselves have almost no idea how the organization works and they seem to have their own less than savory agenda. I would have also really liked to have seen more done with the Yoma’s ability to take on other people’s shape and how you can never know who is a yoma. I think that could have made some really interesting stories but they stop focusing on it after the first few episodes.
There are things I wanted to know, but I don’t fell like the series suffered from not telling us. In fact, being brief and vague can be good when done right. I like when the writer lets me infer things, make guesses , and come to my own conclusions about some things. But you are right, these are all things that haven’t been throughly explored in the manga yet either, so we will get our answers eventually.
I have to say, nothing has capture me in the same way as Berserk did, until this show came along. Although not quite as violent and gory, it is enough to satisfy. This show has a pretty large following if the Internet can be believed. But I personally doubt we will be seeing anymore animated productions of this series. I suspect it is very well loved among otaku and did well in its time slot, but not better than expected. I guess we will just have to wait and see what is on the table for the spring line-up. I also expect to see theis series licensed in the near future. In any case, I am definitely going to start reading the manga.
This show just finished up in Japan and also on the fan-sub circut. Now you can watch it straight through, we were watching week by week. It’s fairly easy to come by, too. I recommend the Eclipse translation. And don’t forget, if you like this show be sure to mention it at cons and write in saying you want it licensed!
UPDATE: Claymore is now licensed by Funimation!