One more shonen convention for your reference: an angry protagonist becomes stronger and will overcome his opponent by the end.
Goku gets angry at the “death” of his friends; he becomes super saiyan 3. Seiya gets angry at the death of his comrade, he bust through his power limit and uses the comet punch. Other shonen shows generally follow this convention. It’s used to the satisfaction of the audience, who probably feels the anger and the sadness the protagonists feel. This parallels the anger the members of the audience feel when they face some kind of tragedy individually or collectively, but in real life, besides being angry, sometimes no one can do a thing.
In shonen anime, there is something one can do; something to fight against, to get back at for all the pain, hurt, suffering caused – a boss character.
However, by using the power of anger in real life, mistakes are made, the innocent are hurt, and the real life audience member bears mental anguish for God knows how long.
In this case, Clare is dangerously closer and closer to the “dark side”. Only her own will can aid her in her struggles against her opponents.
The Shonen Thesis is this – that toughness, mental strength, and growth through learning (though maybe undesired), will lead to accumulated experience and power to deal with something worse that comes along later – in this case the ultra-powerful Ligardes.
Utilizing everything she learns from her experiences Clare fights two opponents: Ligardes, and the power of fully awakening. It’s a battle against the physical and the mental; against the awakened being and the awakened power; without and within.
As Deneve said in episode 20, the desire for blood becomes great.
However, the shonen thesis often gets abused when the protagonist gets knocked down for the millionth time in one show, and the enemy powers up for the 100th time in another. The process of important growth is squeezed into very few important battles, and the process of being knocked down and getting up again becomes a prolonged nightmare of endless repetitions of almost the same motions being played for the sake of making the show longer and milking the fights for all they’re worth. Done for the sake of earning a few more yen and (these days) dollars.
Claymore refuses to muddle and abuse the thesis. Everything that Clare does is well used; every time she goes down, she stands back up and learn from her mistakes right away. Her growth don’t come so super sudden in one episode; she slashed and clawed and ached her whole way to get to this point. Claymore shows clearly without melodrama that Clare’s grueling work pays off. Of course, she mostly learns super fast, especially under extreme stress. But this formula doesn’t get abused here.
Why does she, or rather why do they go through all that pain and suffering? Because they have to. Because that’s the only way that they can actually do something against great evil.
This leaves us with one last perhaps small question: What can Raki, the “actual” shonen character (being a young guy), do facing this great evil? This evil attacks from outside, in the forms of awakened enemies, and from inside, in the form of one you care for losing control of the yoki and becomes an awakened. What can Raki do?
That, my readers, is the one small piece but perhaps important and overlooked piece of puzzle I’m currently searching for. I only hope Madhouse can do something with this interesting little dilemma and not mess it up. Because if they do mess it up, they shall have fucked up answering one of the most hard to answer questions that a normal human being can ask:
What the hell can I do when it just seems that I’m so fucking powerless against it all?
“She said to me, even now, there is hope left, but I cannot see it. It is long since we had any hope.” – Boromir talking to Aragorn, at nightfall in Lothlorien
94% to 99% recommended for your daily anime diet depending on the way you shall look at it. The animation is awesome, the struggles are great. But whether this episode is rather too conventional or not I leave it up to your judgment.
[Editor’s note: Woohoo! Jean is alive, Jean is alive!~ And the Lion dude is dead, and the lion dude is dead~ Can’t believe I forgot to celebrate!]
(The quote used is from Lord of the Ring.)