Claymore 15 – damned intelligent shonen anime with strong women!

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Wow. Once again, I’m blown away by Claymore. What seemed to be just another hack and slash anime featuring women kicking ass (I was thinking Noir with guns except in medieval setting) is showing its intelligence unexpectedly

As my friend would say, “the plot truly thickens unexpectedly”. Let’s get on with the review.

The contact that Clare reports to is trying to cover up the fact that Clare is more than what she seems. This much is clear enough from his internal dialogue and his attempt to make Clare’s power potential sounding like a ludicrous tale in front of his superiors. They are not stupid, however, and they decided to get that woman with the power to detect the youki from far away without being discovered – she appeared about 3 to 4 eps ago. Her contact is that Ninja/Middle Eastern clothing/mysterious guy whose name I didn’t think was important enough to remember. But let me back up just a little bit.

Clare, technically, is missing from under the organization’s radar scope. Even though I get the feeling that her contact – that bald guy with the hat, who looks like a slick informer/street punk in an old fashioned mafia film (without the other kind of hat that these people usually wear), knows or at least has a pretty good idea where she is, and perhaps even knows what has happened to her. But he’s not telling the council (what is it with shows with secretive councils anyway? We have El Cazador de la Bruja, and now this).

Where is Clare? She’s currently trying to find Raki, who’s traveling in the desert at the moment. He’s a tough kid, and his portrayal in the show has totally changed my previous perception of him. I used to think that he’s just an annoying side kick whose role is the fulfillment of Japanese young men’s and boys’ fantasy of being together with a beautiful, western supermodel girl (well, he kind of still is in that fulfillment role) and being loved by her. However, Raki’s got character and he’s really tough and strong. He tries everything he can to help Clare in a battle, as we saw from 2 eps agp. Also as the writer (Hidoshi?) of the article at this web site – http://hidoshi.com/wordpress/?p=304 points out, Raki in effect, is the “housewife” that awaits, or in this case, separates from the “husband” who goes to war. This seems to reflect the modern anime’s focus on stronger women ( a role reversal), who actually protect men. One good example is Saber Marionette J (1996), in which Lime gets to save Otaru’s life often, and Otaru’s no where as powerful as Lime. Another good example is Noir(2001), in which the women regularly slaughter the men without any misgivings about their roles as women and supposedly being weaker. Certainly in Claymore, there aren’t any thoughts from the women that follow that vein.

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As many have noticed, what happens in previous Claymore plots affects later plots and story arcs. For example, Ophelia becomes what she is because of the awakened Priscilla, who seemingly has been going on a path of destruction after she left Clare and Irene behind. Irene and Clare survives, and Irene saves Clare later by the design of the author (one does suspect that the author had to get Irene into play and also couldn’t think of a way to save Clare from certain death). However, Irene’s character more than makes up for the ex deus machina. Now Clare is much stronger because of Irene’s sacrifice. So we can continue forward to this eps.

Clare, in her new disguise, comes to another cross road, as her search for Raki goes on. Her ability has certainly increased – I’m not sure if her ability to disguise her voice is a newly developed ability, or maybe she knew how to do it before (I’m think Terminator, but I’m off the track). In any event, assuming that her voice disguise is an indication of the growth in her powers, it certainly shows that she is now wiser and not as head strong as before – not that she has been highly head strong. Clare’s fire burns within, and does not flare outward. She rarely shows emotions. This seems to be a trend in the more intelligent and mature shonen series, such as Berserk, in which the main character is rather cold to the point of almost utterly ruthlessness. But Guts’ (from Berserk) ruthlessness is directed only toward demons, as Clare’s ruthlessness is. Clare can cry. Clare can get angry, and Clare can get “head strong”, except she keeps a certain calm that most old fashioned shonen characters don’t keep.

In this eps, when that Claymore (her name isn’t important at all in the overall story) comes back to the town and asks for help, Clare goes to help her fallen comrade immediately, regardless the fact that she’s trying to be hidden from the organization. Clare, learned, or has been a person that knows the importance of helping the hurt. How do I know that? From her previous journey and interaction with Teresa, and from Teresa’s realization about their relationship. It seems to me that these Claymore ladies became what they are because of painful reasons. Clare certainly recognizes that. In this case, however, a even simpler sense of comradeship happens, as Clare rushes to the fallen Claymore – the fallen fellow soldier’s side. She accepts the fact that she’ll be found, or she didn’t even think about the consequences of helping this fallen comrade. She simply has to help.

Clare is a character that seems to try to be emotionless and cool toward things, but deep within, she holds back her feelings and she refuses to become cynical or too world weary, which is what a person who tries to be emotionless and cool often does. She decides to let her true identity resurface – as number 47 of the organization – as a reason for her to give up her disguise and perhaps to justify her rash action to charge toward the unknown awakened group (she does not know that there’s a group). Her duty as Claymore, and her sense of justice by fulfilling her duty and at the same time, avenging her fallen comrade, compel her forward. Clare in fact, does follow rules. This is proven in the previous eps where the awakened Ophelia proposed a challenge with rules, and Clare followed the rules without taking a shortcut. That action was perceived as stupid by Ophelia, who however, was touched by it and she reformed by the end, because she was touched by Clare’s spirit of not giving up simply because when the rules just seem so unfair.

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Clare plays the cards she’s dealt, in her own way without regret. She has a one-track mind when it comes to dealing with the wronged and the broken.

In this eps, we learn that apparently this group of demons are headed by not one, but two powerful awakened beings – the muscle guy, who is obviously an awakened, and the young girl. I guessed that she’s an awakened because of a previous example (Ophelia killed that one). In any case, I doubt that an awakened male would obey anyone except a stronger awakened being.

There has been a trend for the demons to act in groups. This was proven when previously Clare commented about demons are beginning to act in a group, and I think Teresa commented on that as well when she was alive. But in this eps, the demons are even better organized and they learned about the patterns of reaction that the Claymores employ when facing attacks. The head of this group of demons is that young girl. She’s encouraging her right hand awakened minion to fight and to provoke the captured Claymores into awakening. To what end? I guess that’s what we’ll be finding out in the next few eps.

One thing – I’ve noticed that there are a lot of two parters in a couple of recent series – Claymore and Darker than Black. I think the authors are using two or three or more parters to title plot arcs, rather than having to think of unique names.

Lastly – I think the trend of women taking more active role in the men’s anime world began with Mobile Suit Gundam the original – just look at the female pilots and women who perform important duties in the One Year war. Clearly Tomino and the author of the original gundam recognizes the role women play in modern warfare. Or these female characters could be representing the male Otaku’s fantasy of being protected by women. I think technically, the jury is still out on that. But one thing is true: at least in the anime world in Japan, some people aren’t treating women as completely weak, soft, and of second class. Whether that’s due to fan demand or because the artists know better, we’ll never know for certain until probably many years later.

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97% recommended for your daily anime diet. To put it shortly, this anime kicks ass! =D

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