It is hopeless.
What once was fool’s hope, has now turned into blood pool. The Blood pool of your comrades-in-arms.
There is no kindness left.
What once was kindness has turned to veiled malice toward a fellow human being.
Even after reading the spoilers I was shocked at the intensity of this episode. It was hard to grasp what I wanted to say, especially after seeing Jeane dying going after a demon god. That traumatizing agony of seeing a loyal warrior, a great companion, an honorable soldier perishing so easily at the hands of the top henchman of the Evil in the North.
(Tears and anguish were pretty appropriate.)
The parallel between this and the Lord of the Rings the books, not the movies, is striking in that all hope is destroyed. The enemy is impossibly strong.
I could go into the shonen conventions of impossibly strong enemies and how many time the main character gets knocked down, and how heroically his friends would try, but would die. But all that process often gets drawn out, in one-on-one dueling situations. A lot of times with no real strategy, just try your best and beat the crap out of the other guy.
However, this is real war. Or as real as a war portrayed in anime is going to get.
Speaking of strategy, let’s compare the organization’s strategy with Isley’s.
The Organization’s strategy: Send cannon fodders with some pretty strong leaders and try to win with sheer numbers, while preserving itself, oh and, make sure to send the potential troublemakers and sure losers. After all, if these die, the organization can make some more. It’s just lives of girls. But at least the organization is preserved.
Isley’s strategy: send 3 decent cannon fodders – in terms of strength comparing to other awakened ulta-demons (yes I know they were human once), and test out the strength of the forces in Pieta. Oh, and, losing 3 out of 30 isn’t so bad. But at least now Isley knows what he can afford to do next.
Isley’s prepared to throw in all his forces to make it relatively simple, quick, and painless. After all, his forces are far superior. And there are still 27 of these Awakened Beings.
(Note: I thought Isley is going to pull a Nobunaga against Imagawa in that particular battle, which is real history – in it Nobunaga purposely sent a small force against Imagawa’s forces, and then with the aid of a storm, he charged from a mountain path directly into Imagawa’s camp and killing Imagawa Yoshimoto. The battle is known in Japan as the Battle of Okehazama – or for a more accurate account in English, see here, but it seems there’s no need, after all. Raki? He doesn’t matter…Does he?)
The organization is not prepared to throw in all their forces against the legendary Isley, who now also owns Priscilla. The organization is practically left with 4 super strong warriors. I doubt the 18 other Claymores left there can do much.
It looks very clear to me at least, which side should win this war. And the Claymores aren’t looking like they’re on the winning side.
There isn’t a prayer left for them. They have forsaken by God, in the Claymore world God is simply a being worshiped by prejudiced priests who refuses to let a certain people into their Holy City, just because they’re different.
Not that prayers mattered, as Miria quickly finds out.
She really is a great leader, she shines especially under the circumstances where there’s no hope. However, she has strategies of her own. They’re really quite simple. Follow the leaders, ambush the probably arrogant enemies who do not suspect the will and the strength of the minds of these Claymores. Lure them into the alleys and ambush and stun them, and then finish them off.
Surprises often win the day. As long as you don’t face a minor demon god, also know as the “King of Lions”.
It looks like a miracle for the Claymores but it’s not; it’s superior strategy working with a much weaker force with some X factors mixed in.
Miria doesn’t do much rallying and encouraging, which are very important in this case if they were to try to at least not annihilated on sight. Flamed courage gives birth to the will to survive, and with the help of strategy, bravery, and good leadership, miracles can happen. But her comrades did all the encouragement.
I’ve already read the plot and I knew it wasn’t going to work out. But once again, I was stunned at how it all happened. Madhouse does some of their best work here, btw, with excellent animation of…of the characters we’re rooting for getting torn and ripped apart and some of them don’t even have a chance to fight back, that, alongside with the “usual” great sword fighting animation.
It just all happens so fast after Shishi Oh (King of Lions) strolls into town.
Just moments before, the Claymores were surprised by their enemies’ action of leaving the town (being surprised in a battle is never a good sign). Then, in like the classic Japanese samurai war stories about impossible to beat generals, Shishi Oh walks into the battle.
Miria makes one mistake just a little before that, and she has no time to correct that then. She should’ve told the Claymores to immediately go back to ambush into the valleys, and to wait for whatever is coming. Although with the impossibly strong Shishi Oh coming, I don’t think that would’ve mattered.
I do have one gripe here. Shishi Oh is impossibly strong. It’s almost like The King Of Wraiths took shadow steroids or something, and as if Gandolf isn’t there in the first place. So, I felt like saying: “Well, just send Shishi Oh first!” But if that happened, then we would have no story. :) So in any case, let’s take a look at the minor and rather insignificant event. (reading the spoiler up to 23 making Raki looking rather useless at this point)
Raki never suspects a thing. He has doubts and he probably frowns at Isley’s puzzling talk but in his kindness, he never suspects what is really going on. He’s not making the connections in his head even now. But he sees something really faith-breaking.
The good, gentle, fragile, and almost small Priscilla eating a man’s guts.
He struggles and wants to kill her, but he doesn’t. After hearing Priscilla’s cries, and Isley’s explanation he can only hold the girl, hoping she’d stop.
All the while the Claymores are dying one by one, at the hands of a truly demonic force.
Some will say this scene is useless, since Raki’s powerless and looking useless. It really will depend how studio Madhouse ends this. My speculation is below – be warned if I turn out to be right, these could be spoilers, so don’t read them if you truly don’t want to be spoiled –
WARNING! A possible potential SPOILER maybe found BELOW (yeah right if I were a prophet.)
Speculation 1: Perhaps Claymore the anime really isn’t that popular in Japan, I dunno; I heard rumors. So Madhouse cops out on the lack of budget and simply leaving the audience hanging somewhere – either everyone except Raki dies, and Raki screams like Amuro Ray in the original Gundam, or everyone dies and Isley triumphs and say some lines to end it all. Sounds ridiculous? Remember the Japanese Otaku, probably the male Otaku, are the primary audiences here. And we all know what they’re into these days – shows with moe moe, big eyes girls in love with a stupid man; baby loli in odd diapers spouting words like “hony hony”. Or some guy driving a supped up tofu delivery vehicle who probably can’t write “plot” in kanji (I don’t know if there are kanji in Japanese for that), or something that would make all Otaku men laughing themselves silly but would seem pointless to people who just started watching anime – something about 4 girls talking about really nothing (I do like that show, btw). In short, these Otaku probably don’t care. And for those who do, there’s always the manga.
Speculation 2: Somehow, impossible as it is for me, Raki convinces Isley and Priscilla to stop what they’re doing, and leave the town, with Clare surviving. By leaving the town it could work another way – that Raki and Clare leave, and Isley and Priscilla decide to spare their lives. But they do win the day. It certainly is possible, and hopefully in reruns and DVD sales Claymore would pull off the stunt that the original Gundam did – gain wide audience acceptance and viola! We’d have another season coming! I certainly hope that’s the case; a great story like this one deserves to end properly. But alas, this is commercialism and this is in Japan we’re talking about. Try not to have your hopes up.
Speculation 3: For whatever impossible reason (just as Shishi Oh is impossibly strong) Clare becomes stronger and manages to defeat him, Isley, and Priscilla. In short? Yeah right, like that’s going happen. And if it does…well, at least the backlash in here in the States would become tsunami and make its way to Japan, and it’ll probably kill DVD sales in the US, and probably in Japan as well. This would be another huge cop out.
Speculation 4: Somebody from the organization or somewhere finally come and saves the remaining Claymore(s), this person tells Clare to give up and makes a deal with Isley on the behalf of the organization. Well…I don’t want to say much but there’s a reason I came up with that one.
Speculation 5: “God” comes down from somewhere and saves everyone! Hallelujah! And the day is saved! Thanks to…In your dreams, homeboy (Har har har)! That certainly will never happen, in joking or in the context of the show, where it’s apparent no real deities are involved.
End my potential spoilers (yeah, sure.)
Well, the possibilities are endless. But before I ramble on,
98% recommended for your daily diet. I apologize but I don’t have a particular reason to give this one 2 percent less. My personal feelings don’t really matter watching this show. (EDIT: I just now realized why I’m not giving this 100% – the shonen dilema. In a war, the reason the enemy is strong because of the power of an entire group – a Panzer Battalion, a group of suicide jet fighters, a dreadnought division in a fleet of ships, a group of soldiers led by a brave general with superior fighting skills, leadership ability, strategies and so on. But here, even in this specific context, it still makes me fuming to see an impossibly strong guy who just come in and easily takes out 4 of the strongest in the Claymore group. Then again, this part of the show is just like these warring era samurai stories of old.)
P.S. 1 I didn’t scream like Shinji when Jeane died. I just kept muttering :”damn…damn…” in Japanese. My eyes were wet. Jeane, we shall miss you. I will send your soul away to the warrior’s heaven with a salute. May it rest well at the side of the Ultimate Comfort and Salutation that a true warrior with a noble heart deserves.
P .S. 2 Fine, laugh all you want.