Tag Archives: gore

Anime Review: Claymore

Warning: The anime I am reviewing today is called Claymore. It is rated TV-MA (Mature Adult). Therefore, it is not suitable for young viewers. The series contains adult themes.
Mature Content: Without question Claymore has graphic violence and gore. Children are absolutely mistreated emotionally and physically in the series. A male character flat out states he intends to rape an adult woman.
Kern’s Disclaimer: This is not just a typical hack-and slash action show. It should not be treated like one. Know that going into it. One more time for the people in the back. This anime is NOT for young or impressionable viewers. If you have delicate sensibilities regarding the content warnings above, maybe just don’t watch this anime. I won’t be held responsible if it triggers the absolute crap out of you.

Did you read the warning? I put that there for a reason, so you better have read it. There is some content in this anime that even gets to me a little, and I’m no snowflake. Anyway, if you didn’t heed that warning, that’s your problem now. I did my due diligence as far as I’m concerned. Assuming you did read it from this point on, let’s get started.

Hey everyone, it’s Kernook here. Yeah, it’s time for another review. Today I’m going to talk about an anime that isn’t perfect, in some ways it isn’t very good at all, however in others it truly shines. I have always enjoyed it, despite its many flaws. There aren’t many series quite like it in my personal opinion. This anime is called Claymore.

Now, depending on your particular tastes in anime, there’s no shortage to pick from nowadays. As fans, our choices for solid anime has never been better. However, if you were a fan back in 2007, you know that the anime fandom was quite a bit different.

We didn’t exactly get the same flood of series that we do nowadays, and while we got a plethora of great shows over the years, fans had a tendency to cling onto their chosen favorites for just a little while longer. Mostly this is because a favorite and beloved anime was just harder to replace.

This is especially true for anime that deviated from the normal offerings of a yearly line-up. Yes, I do mean yearly, because back then full seasonal floods were just harder to find legally. We still had a lot to choose from, but nothing like the magnitude we do today.

Needless to say, when an anime manages to hold my interest for any length of time, I am impressed. This one stands my test of time. Claymore lingers in the back of my mind as a series I can fondly recollect, to me that is vastly important.

It was directed by a lesser known man by the name of Hiroyuki Tanaka. You may not have heard of him, because although he occasionally deals with extremely popular anime, he rarely dabbles in positions widely acclaimed by the anime fandom at large. Funnily enough, he would later have his hand in shows like Attack on Titian as an assistant director.

Dark World Done Right

Claymore is the sort of series that demands a particular attention to detail. There’s a lot of carefully embedded themes that help to build the lore and law if its world.

Animated by the studio Madhouse, it stands the test of time, more or less.

Even when the scenes do look dated by today’s standard, I’d never think them awful. The series is packed with action, and dips in quality do happen from time to time. This is not their best work, but it’s certainly not terrible either. Corners were cut, but never in a way that makes you truly cringe.

There’s a real sort of grit and grime that allows this series to age very well. When it wants to look beautiful or captivating, it does. Red pools of blood can shimmer in the darkness like a dark omen in one moment, while in the next a moonlit sky can softly drape across the land. There’s a duality here, layered in a way that only an anime like this can really pull off.

This is a historical, nearly medieval world. As many anime tend to do, it takes place in an alternate universe from our own. Plenty of sinister little truths lurk behind every corner, and emotional levity comes in small doses. All of this is encapsulated with a sunning soundtrack that is perfectly fitting for the themes at play.

Due to the existence of monsters known as Yoma, the people in this world are tormented and live in fear of their existence. This stands to good reason, as Yoma tend to feed off of humanity. They are quite demonic in behavior, but not necessarily in appearance. You see, not all Yoma make themselves obvious. Yoma can live among humanity, blend in as a human and act as a human might.

Yes, that’s right. These aren’t your typical monsters under the bed. Yoma can live among humanity, and might linger there without being found. How do they do this, you ask? Simple, a Yoma can take the form of any human that they’ve eaten. So long as they’re careful and calculating, an unsuspecting village may never know a Yoma lives among them.

Due to this, Yoma are not to be pitied. They are inhuman creatures, often posing a great threat to society and therefore they need to be expunged.

This is where the Claymore come in to the narrative and the plot begins in earnest. Claymore are the ones that take down these beasts.

Warning, there are spoilers beyond this point. If you don’t want spoilers, just go watch the show (provided you keep in mind the warning I gave above). Go find it, and watch it. it’s on Funimation, and I think maybe Hulu. There is an actual age gate on the anime on most reputable websites. That means you’re going to have to actually log into the website, like Funimation for example, just to watch the series. Anyway, with that said, let’s continue on.

The Story

Dotting the landscape there are sleepy little towns that would otherwise be peaceful. However, the townsfolk have come to the conclusion that a Yoma lives among them. This poses two different threats. The first is that Yoma would eventually eat them if it continued to live there. The second is that the townsfolk would have no real way to detect the Yoma hiding among them. For all they know their best friend or loved one could be the Yoma simply hiding its true form.

There is really only one way to deal with a Yoma, and that is to hire a Claymore. Now a Claymore is many things, all of them equally as deadly as the Yoma themselves. You see, these women are half Yoma, half human hybrids. Even when they sustain incredible bodily damage that would kill a human, they don’t easily die. Normally they heal right on the spot. For example, even while impaled like this Claymore is below, she is still fighting fit to take down her enemy.

They’re created and trained by a mysterious group known only as “The Organization” an otherwise nameless entity. As far as these women are concerned, they may as well be entirely removed from humanity itself.

A Claymore is created by cramming the blood and flesh of a dead Yoma into a living, breathing, human female. This combination slowly turns her into something not quite human, not quite beast. They’re given their names because of the swords they wield, and the fact that they’ve completely renounced the concept of a peaceful human existence.

They are not to trifle in human affairs, kill humans (even when those humans are bandits, thieves, and murders themselves), or in any way think themselves as equal to humanity. There is no exception to these rules, and a Claymore that defies them will be hunted down and killed by her own kind.

Assigned by numbers denoting their skill, they are considered mere monsters, even when it is clear that they are not entirely like the humanity they vow to protect.

The fate of a Claymore is hardly peaceful, and usually ends tragically. Anyway you look at it, their mere existence is rather lonely and their fates promise to be the selfsame as the Yoma themselves. If a woman becomes a Claymore, her days are numbered and that’s just a cold hard fact that these women accept. They understand that this is the way of the world, and will not change.

The story one follows one such woman. A fairly young one at that. Her name is Clare, and as a Claymore her job is to dispatch where she is told to go, and slay Yoma that put humanity in danger.

She is a person of very few words, favoring action over mindless diatribe, and because of this her speaking lines are rather limited, despite how central she is to the story and overall plot of the anime. This is not a disservice to her character. In fact, I’d say this is a marked improvement over the typical protagonist that doesn’t know how to shut the hell up.

Clare acts decisively, with brutal skill in combat and a very clear-cut view of the world. Clare is many things, but she is no pushover.

She is not to be trifled with as far as humanity is concerned. Now unfortunately whenever you have an incredibly self-assured, competent female protagonist, running around in a world full of monsters, you also tend to have the jackass male sidekick.

You know the kind I’m talking about…

They’re usually worthless, and often times beyond help. These are the sort of guys you want to hit with a hammer, because they could not possibly survive in the world that surrounds them in any meaningful way. There’s just no way that the world would not eat them alive.

Well, sorry to say it, but we have one of those, yet again. His name is Raki and he is young, stupid, and you could get the same characterization out of a little lost puppy on the side of the road. Actually, that’s likely an insult to puppies, my apologies. Not even his own village likes him, he’s exiled from it.

In any case Clare saves Raki from the Yoma that she was hired to kill, and begins to teach him the ways of the world. This is the lens in which the entire series hinges heavily on from this point. Monster fights, traveling the world at large, and Clare trying to keep Raki out of harms way.

When I mean that this is the shows core themes, I’m not kidding. When we aren’t following Clare and Raki, We’re following a different Claymore named Teresa and through that lens we’re shown Clare’s backstory. In these flashback episodes of sorts, we come to find out Clare’s past isn’t incredibly dissimilar from Raki’s own.

She was once a human girl with no place to turn, and traveled with world with Teresa. As a child, Clare was enamored with the concept of becoming a Calmore, not fully understanding the terrible life they tended to lead. After a rather gritty and sorrowful series of events, Clare is left alone in the world again. She decides to become a Claymore herself, just like the woman who had been trying to raise her.

All in all, the plot is serviceable, and outside of Raki, the cast is generally well rounded when they show up. Now sadly, as many series tend to do, it deviated strongly from it’s manga in the ending.

If you are a written media purists, this will no doubt make you want to throw your chair at your nearest screen. For the rest of us, the ending isn’t amazing, but the journey proceeding it is well worth it regardless.

Final Thoughts

Claymore is not without flaws, and it makes some very questionable choices on occasion. There are times that you can only be brought to wonder what drove such narrative decisions forward. The inclusion of certain small details and the firm exclusion of others can make the show sometimes feel a bit muddled. It is never for very long, but this is something to keep in mind.

Honestly, in my personal opinion the show is at its best in the flashback episodes of regarding Clare and her upbringing. If the show contained more of that, it would probably be better off.

Furthermore, Raki acts like a small boy, a mere child. Yet, he is quite clearly a teenager. The average viewer wouldn’t be wrong to expect better of him.

I was certainly very disappointed by the lack of a decent male lead. I’m not saying he needed to be a bad-ass, but his lack of emotional maturity is completely agitating. He can be prone to complaining, and crying. For some, it might actually be a deal breaker. He is that bad, and I will not defend him.

This brings me to my last thought. Claymore is a mature story of losses and grievances. These women live within a society that just doesn’t have any room for compassion or understanding. Each Claymore has her own reason to become one, or at the very least, a reason to exist in spite of being one. The world they live in lacks emotional warmth, and their eventual deaths promise to be violent ones.

These are themes that constantly pervade the narrative, so while this ensures awesome fights, it also promises bleak outlooks upon their world at large. If you like dark story telling, this anime has that. You can dip into the waters of cynicism as much as you like.

In my opinion, the ideal viewer for Claymore would probably be a person able to handle mature themes and dark world building, set in an almost medieval society. The series is age gated by most reputable places, and has some blood and carnage, so that part matters. Secondly, this ideal person would also need to be in favor of a strong female protagonists and supporting cast. Overlooking the walking insult that is Raki, decent male characters are few and far between.

Lastly, an ideal viewer would likely be one that hasn’t read the manga before. The deviations are just enough to be agitating. This is a series you want to watch first, and read the written material after.

In the end, if you’re the right kind of viewer, I think that Claymore is certainly worth your time. The series has plenty of heart and soul, but it’s also a bloodbath in combat scenes.

I return to it from time to time, and I don’t regret it when I do. It is far from perfect, but the journey is enjoyable. I return to it from time to time, and I don’t regret it when I do. It is far from perfect, but the journey is enjoyable.

However, if you expect the hero to always win, with no trauma or strife, find a different show. This is not the one for you.

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This has been Kernook of “The Demented Ferrets”, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll catch you in the next post.

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