Company: Madhouse Studios/avex mode/NTV/VAP
Format: 26 episodes
Dates: 4 Apr 2007 – 26 Sep 2007
Synopsis: A world sparsely occupied by small, isolated villages needs someone to defend its people from Yoma, devil-like creatures with fearsome strength and hunger for humans. The people are protected by Claymore; half-human half-Yoma female warriors with silver hair and eyes and power to match the Yoma. Clare is one such Claymore. After she saves a young boy named Raki, whose family is massacred by a Yoma, he begins to follow her from mission to mission.
Story: Well told; lot’s of twists and interesting events.
Action: Above average, but nothing special; disappointing from Madhouse Studios.
Characters: Not much in the way of genuine character development.
Atmosphere: Typical Madhouse, really good.
Ending: I liked it, even if no one else did.
In a sense, Claymore is an anime of a previous era. There’s nothing groundbreaking or inspirational about Claymore, but it still retains its originality thanks to a well established setting and premise that the creators have simply taken and run with, as far as they could go. But Claymore is ultimately a story… nothing more, just a good old fashion yarn. There’s no polished-to-reflect animation or overwhelming, mood-setting music, and little in the way of character development or analysis. It’s just a series of events that happen to the characters during their adventures and are interesting for various reasons. In a way, it’s all very simple, but its limited focus allows it to be streamlined and do what it does well (at least for the parts that matter): storytelling.
While this is a good (not great) story, as an anime, there are a number of places where it falls short. The action sequences are a mixed bag to say the least. Some fights take place at a blazingly fast pace, with an onslaught of big events happening in quick succession, and while these are certainly the more entertaining battles, the majority are unfortunately slow battles of attrition, with lots of reused cels and repetitive sword slashing. The animation itself is generally good, but it noticeably falls away during these fight scenes, which is highly uncharacteristic of the usually impeccable Madhouse Studios. The character development leaves much to be desired as well. Obviously Clare, Raki and a few others get good spotlight, but there are so many characters that a lot of them simply become cannon fodder. This is made worse by the fact that the character designs lacked diversity, and not just appearance-wise (although this is explained by the plot).
On the flip-side, the focus on storytelling has its inevitable boons. To put it bluntly, Claymore has no qualms about killing off major characters, sometimes completely without warning, and this does a fantastic job of keeping the audience on their toes, as well as making for some jaw-on-the-ground plot-twists. A flashback arc towards the beginning of the series makes for one of the anime’s highlights, but what is really impressive is that the series never forgets it, virtually allowing this arc to drive the story. It helps that this arc was very powerful, and it makes a good base for the rest of the story to build upon. The ending is an interesting point, since it somehow manages to bring everything full-circle without actually resolving certain important issues. The series reaches its dramatic climax, but, despite the fact that there is obviously more to this story, I walked away from the ending rather satisfied. It’s strange: it was the best ending I’ve ever seen that actually didn’t resolve anything.
Claymore is a “nothing special” anime, but it’s a particularly well executed one, especially on the storytelling front, and that’s what redeems it. As far as atmosphere is concerned, Madhouse Studios uses its artistic tools with the poise and balance we’ve become accustomed to, setting a suitably menacing atmosphere with a proficient, unassuming effort (ignoring the fight scenes). But it’s the story that makes this series’ highlight. Don’t expect anything revolutionary (this is a shounen action, after all), but expect to be entertained and, at times, enthralled.
The Rating: 7
Reviewed by: Sorrow-kun