The Claymore director and chara designer PMX panel isn’t until Sunday, so I have a few more days to spend watching this show before I get to go to their panel. :) (If you have questions you’d like asked, please leave them in the comments section.) Plus, we just came back from a major outage all day, so bear with us as I make the second post for today…which is about the evolution this show is taking by its halfway marker.
The first scene that really caught my eye was the opening sequence of episode 9, where Clare carries the head of Teresa to the man in black. Not only did this remind me of a certain show that featured Nice Boats but the contrast in the scene’s tone was all too clear as to why this show is meaningful and full of pathos, and that one was merely gruesome.
The heart of this show is still the inner battles of the Claymores. We see in some of these episodes that an Awakening is often prompted by some terrible event that occurred in the Claymore’s life (such as in Ophelia’s case), and preventing a full Awakening is often done only through the intervention of beloved people like Raki or memories of loved ones. The Fellowship of the Four that forms at the end of the “Slashers” mini-arc, however, exist in an even more ambiguous netherland where they have already begun Awakening but can halt it, at least for a while. I’ve wondered sometimes why such a state of affairs wouldn’t simply lead to despair and a complete giving in to the demonic nature, as is what happened to the male warriors the Organization recruited at first. The show is shrewd enough to recognize that giving into bestial evil carries a kind of orgasmic ecstasy with it, which is what the male warriors never could resist. After all, if that’s the case, what the heck is the point if it’s inevitable anyway? I don’t sense a heroic sensibility akin to the Norse myths in which the good gods knew they would lose but they fought on anyway, the kind of thing Tolkien loved so much. (Of course, given that Ray really found parallels with Lord of the Rings in later episodes, that heroic spirit may show up soon.)
The idea of men never being able to resist Awakening does seem to play into the stereotype of women being more continent than men, as if they were somehow categorically less susceptible to the desire to give in to the orgasmic pleasure of…eating guts. In the real European Middle Ages, actually, the stereotypes were reversed; men were assumed to be rational and self-controlled and women unable to control their own desires (exhibit A: Eve). I also caught an anachronism in which Clare mentions her “cells” in her body. But now I’m just being too nitpicky…
There is a sense at this point that the story is becoming somewhat more drawn out and focused almost entirely on battles. I can see the story going programmatically–the members of the Fellowship will encounter the Top Five one by one (Ophelia is down now) and defeat them one by one, probably eventually with casualties. They sure like their dismemberment in this show, and it reminds me about how in so many shows these days auto-regeneration capabilities are often an excuse to show some pretty bloody violence. (Baccano! anyone?)
I like how the really powerful Yoma aren’t just grunting beasts, but usually deeply intelligent beings with coherent voices and with battle planning strategies. While the battles are somewhat stretched out, they are also smart compared to a lot of shounen action shows; one gets the sense that even when protagonist Clare is involved, one can never be too sure that she will actually win decisively. The opponents are a lot more evenly matched and the swordfighting is still BADASS. The temptation aside to start quoting the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail whenever limbs get lopped off, which is very often indeed.
Finally, what’s the deal with Clare kissing Raki during her little parting speech, after he oh-so-foolishly tries to “protect” her all Naruto-like? (And he has less capability than Naruto.) Kisses like that are only earned, like in End of Evangelion, if the Older Woman Protector is about to Die. For real. Otherwise it feels unearned and cheap. Yes, yes, I know; Clare is a warmhearted person deep down, as her backstory showed us, and she herself was just like Raki too. This guy better grow up fast, though, if he wants to be worthy of such a GAR older “sister.” I can understand why some may find his presence immediately offputting to the whole show. And that voice, too. Even Shinji’s Japanese seiyuu didn’t sound that whiny.
The show can go in several different directions now, and I eagerly look forward to the brilliance that I am told is coming in the civil war arc.