Wednesday, November 25, 2009

First Anime Review: Claymore

Lately I haven't been watching as much anime as I would like. It just seems that with all of the current shows, movies, books, and comic books that I've been reading, anime just fell to the sidelines. No more!

I'm almost completely through Claymore, and it's been a very unusual experience. The premise in a nutshell is that there are shapechanging monsters called Yoma, that have an insatiable hunger for human flesh. This is an anime though, so surely some spunky kid with crazy hair will show up and pummel them all to death whilst jumping ridiculously high.

Not quite, this isn't that type of anime. There are problems with Yoma, they can regenerate superficial damage without slowing, they're strong, they're fast, and they can take on the shape, personality, and memories of someone after eating their brain. Often a Yoma will come into town, kill someone, eat them and assume their place, and then slowly whittle the population down one at a time. During this time paranoia runs rampant, and the village starts to fall apart.

Now if you're lucky, your village has enough cash that they can contact a group that will send a Yoma hunter to your village. Supposedly this organization has no name, nor do the hunters, but everyone calls them Claymores. Claymores are all women, have silver eyes, and carry monsterous swords on their backs. Even the weakest Claymore outclasses your standard Yoma by as much a factor as a Yoma outclasses a human. They can also sense a type of energy that Yoma give off, thus allowing them to detect them even in human form. These two facts make most Yoma hunts more of an extermination than anything else.

Claymores eat and sleep very little, and do not age. They are born human, but then there is a process where they take in the flesh of a Yoma, and become a form of hybrid. They are completely shunned by humans, and live only to serve the organization and hunt Yoma.

The story mostly centers around Claire, the weakest Claymore on the continent. She attracts a hanger on in the form of a human boy who's entire family was eaten by Yoma, and she allows him to follow her, and be her "cook" for some at the moment unknown reason. Later it is revealed that Claire was almost in the same situation as him, before she became a Claymore, and instead of taking Yoma flesh into herself to become a Claymore, she took in the flesh of Teresa the Claymore she had been following around. This means that Claire is not 50/50 Yoma/Human like other Claymores, but is actually 75% human, this seems to be the primary reason that she is so much weaker than the others.

Furthermore we discover that all Claymore's push their limits, and once they've used too much energy too often, they start to be in danger of becoming Yoma themselves, and thus they either request to have a fellow Claymore put them out of their misery, or have to be hunted and killed. Then there are Yoma called Voracious Eaters, or Awakened Ones, that are far stronger than your average Yoma, and often far more powerful than Claymores. Turns out that when a Claymore reaches there limit and isn't killed, the Yoma they become is very powerful, which is what the Awakened ones are, when the Organization receives a request to kill an Awakened one, they usually dispatch a team of 4 Claymores, one of which is in the top ten ranking of Claymores. However, sometimes they simply send out the Claymores that have problems with following orders, and/or have come close to awakening to die at the hands of these creatures.


All in all, Claymore has an interesting mix of brutal violence, racism, politcal intrigue, and just over the top monsters that it's hard not to find entertaining. Just watching the first few episodes, I wasn't sure I would like it, but after being told to give it another try, I'm hooked.

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