Claymore is a show that’s hard to define. The manga is easier to define. The manga is intelligent through and through. Its emotional impact is consistent and the plots are always good.
In my opinion the anime doesn’t lose to the manga in these departments. But because some kind of closure is necessary for a TV show, it kind of hurried itself a little bit and almost takes the easy way out.
It starts out as a simple show about demons eating people and warriors paid to destroy them. But it grows into something deep and thoughtful that explores human weakness and things that people do to act strong despite the inherent weakness in human beings.
All the pain, suffering, and disappoints are necessary for growth in a world filled with evil, and these things are the essential fuel to fight against the cause of evil. The demons are just allegories of evils in the world that cause people to do things to others in order to feel better, or to have the feeling of resolution. One evil causes another, one destroyed family in term, causes the death of a loved one, a destruction of another family, a trip for a person to the insanity of soldiers’ dark side, and then finally it leads to a squire’s receiving of a precious gift.
At its best, this show even echoes themes in Lord of the Rings, at its worst, at least this show doesn’t provide an easy way out of everything, pain, hate, suffering, and all that’s wrong with its world.
Warriors come and go, but some of them leave deep marks in our hearts by their loyalty and a sense of debt and duty. These warriors never die, they just fade away into the distant underworld.
We can only hope they shall reach the Elysian Fields reserved for those who are honorable, and have fallen in battle against the dark forces so foul and strong that normal humans fall hopelessly under their flesh tearing appendixes.
The living warriors walk on, learning from their mistakes, surviving under the policy that their cruel masters make while disregarding their lives. The decisions of the organization have sent many warriors to their needless deaths.
These warriors – Claymores, fighting under extraneous circumstances, misunderstood and sometimes hurt by the very people they risk their lives to protect, and being overused and thrown away by their masters, still walk upright and proud, attacking demons encountered, supporting one another when the pain of growth and transformation frightens their tender, caring and passionate souls, and mourn over the gravestone made hastily with the large sword over the body of their fallen comrades – some of which are loved by others, and definitely will be missed by the observers (us).
But others will not be remembered at all. They will truly fade into the recesses of the dark world that we the viewers are fortunate enough to get glimpses of.
I gasped at Teresa’s death; I bit my lower lip when Ophelia finally understood her brother’s last wish; I screamed and mourned at Jeane’s sacrificial last act for Clare.
I applauded at Clare’s strength in her heart; I admired Teresa for her ease and elegance at slaying the evil ones; I saluted Irene for her offering of friendship and her remaining arm.
Although this show doesn’t have the intricacies of Lord of the Rings, but it has certainly played the chords of my emotional strings delicately and yet shockingly.
I shall be in a certain kind of despair at missing the show but also a certain kind of satisfaction as I look on with the Claymores to the future – in which they shall encounter many more trials and troubles, and fight through it all, being the better humans with stout hearts beating inside their chests and hot blood running through their veins.
“If it were possible, let not one warrior here perish.” Amen.
99% recommended for your daily anime diet because I’m biased. So sue me.
Jeane dies honorably, repaying her debt and dying while helping Clare to change back. Farewell, Jeane, we shall truly miss you this time (manly tears).
Clare learns to move on, realizing that she must, because she can’t just go to the dark side and to hell just because she wants to – there are people who want her to live on.
Raki steps up to the challenge and helps to save Clare in the process. He knows that killing and taking personal revenge is actually the worst solution – it will drive a person over to the demon side. This is something Christians have know for centuries, that hating someone for the rest of your life, plotting or at least fantasizing about revenge will only destroy you.
In Japanese tales, when someone hates another person too much, that someone literally turns into a demon with horns and can never come back. The anime version Claymore seems to use that legend for the its story.
Clare finally gets over herself on her hate for Priscilla, and move on from her vengeful ways. She travels on with Raki and lives on, fully appreciates the meaning of living on. Jeane’s death teaches her that.
Miria, Helene, and Devene part ways. All of them including Clare, will not serve the organization any more.
The story ends fully concluding and closing the Northern Arc and yet it’s not so closed that a possible second season cannot happen. I commend Madhouse for pulling this one off. Congratulations!
The warriors journey on, each grows a lot, learning a lot, and knowing that one day, they shall meet again. Knowing that “Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.” (Samwise Gangee, while trying to encourage Frodo)
Isley and Priscilla goes away like classic anime villains, except they haven’t utterly lost the battle, it’s just that Isley simply decides to leave with Priscilla. This keeps in line with the eccentric characters of the Abyssal Ones.
I screamed like Aragorn when Jeane died. Man that sucked. But once again thanks to Mitsuishi Kotono-sama, the show is lifted up to another level of greatness.
I really have nothing much to say about this episode (I was so touch that I can’t even write anything now) except I’m completely satisfied with the how the TV series ends – it can end here, but it also leaves the possibility of a second season. Without talking too much more about it –
“There never was much hope. Just a fool’s hope. Our enemy is ready, his full strength gathered…” Gandolf, from Lord of the Rings.
I’ve never seen such a close to realistic war drama in anime. NEVER. In movies, sure. The first thing that comes to my mind is Saving Private Ryan. Even for that, I was told that if a human is shot with these machine guns he’d be charred meat (as told by my army and marine friends; this was back in States), instead of just having his guts cut open. Another “war drama” was Lord of the Rings, written by someone who’s been through 2 world wars, one he fought, the other one he witnessed.
The odds are so stacked against these claymores, so much so that it looks like even Miria’s command ability will not matter in the least bit. 3 awakened defeated? So what! Try to defeat 27 of these including one Priscilla and one Abyssal.
However, is there hope after all? I really don’ know.
One very strange event greatly puzzled me (PLEASE, I know everyone who has kindly left comments are pretty restrained but once again I will ask please NO SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION) : The reaction of Priscilla and (obviously) Isley toward Raki.
I thought the same way with probably most people, Raki is now food for the Awakened/Abyssal One. But very strangely, Priscilla hasn’t even tried to eat Raki at all (neither did Isley). She…almost seems to really like him similar to the way a character from peanuts likes his blankie. Why? Priscilla’s behavior kind of reminds me of when she first became an awakened. She skipped past Clare without so much as to acknowledging Clare’s existence. There was Clare, having fresh and young guts. But Priscilla didn’t even bother to look at her. And here’s Raki, having fresh and young guts, and Priscilla isn’t treating him as food at all. But her feelings toward Raki is stronger. Isley’s explanation is that Raki smells like the south, where Priscilla comes from. I just can’t quite buy it.
There’s something about Priscilla…
I read in the manga that Clare thought (we don’t know what went through Priscilla’s mind except perhaps – “want…guts…now”) that she was so insignificant and worthless that Priscilla probably couldn’t be bothered with her. OK, I don’t know if that’s true, but this time around, Raki, who looks like a healthy boy, should be a decent meal for her.
Not at all. Priscilla is glad to hold on to him and be comforted like a little girl next to her older brother or even her father. Because of that reason, even Isley, the demon king of north, is willing to teach Raki how to fight with a sword. Not that it will matter at all – since it takes a lot of yoki in the claymore world to be effective against anyone. Unless the author pulls off a classic shonen stunt – that the weakest character in the show often has the greatest hidden powers. But, somehow I don’t think Norihiro Yagi (the author of the manga) and studio Madhouse’s director for this show would be that conventional. Anyway, Clare is kind of like that character already. So in the end I suspect that it won’t matter how strong Raki’s sword technique will become. But at that moment, I almost wish it would.
So what’s the significance here? I guess I’ll find out soon. My theory is that somehow, Raki’s encounter with Isley and Priscilla will save at least Clare. Although that may not be the case at all.
Let’s go back to “the close to realistic war drama in anime bit.”
Everyone’s scared, just in different ways, no surprises here. What is surprising is why different people got scared. The people who seemed most daring or indifferent (stoic) or have it all together, turn out to be the most scared or worried about (gasp) death! Some of the rest, however, are more afraid of something people in real world aren’t afraid of – having more power and turn to mindlessly violent…wait, I take that back. I’m sure some soldiers in Vietnam, Iwajima/other Pacific fronts in WWII, and even Iraq were or are afraid of turning into killing machines without conscience.
Mike will probably do a better analysis about powers and God and other stuff in the future. Here, I offer my observations and thoughts.
I was simply shocked (though I suspect a lot of other people saw this one coming) at what Deneve discovers in the back of the supply house – that Undine is really scared of death, and she has a really frail and feminine body just like most other Claymore ladies!!! Holy Shit I was just shocked!!!
To me, Deneve plays 2 roles: 1. The role of the curious audience – who wants to see what’s wrong with Undine. 2. The person who truly understands and knows that Undine has to be confronted and talked exactly at her weakest moment. I never thought I’d say this, but (blush) the real, vulnerable Undine is kind of…cute! No, I’m not strange. You have seen the episode, you know. As part of the curious audience, Deneve barged into the backroom, and she found Undine sitting on the floor crying and shivering, without her bulging muscles. She’s just a scared young woman, ooooh (just kidding).
I was so shocked that I almost fell out of my chair. Undine acts so fearless in the last episode that I didn’t think anything would faze her. Not true. There are two reasons why she seems so brave. Reason 1 has something to do with her past. But, let’s look at the second role that Deneve plays.
Deneve knows a scared person when she hears one. In a war, it’s very important to help a comrade, especially if that comrade happens to be your captain. Deneve goes to the store house. Inside, she hears Undine yelling at her and commanding her to get out.
Knowing what a person sounds like when she pretends to be commanding and tough but in reality needs a lot of comfort and help, Deneve takes a chance and walks into the backroom, with the other sword that Undine has in hand.
Undine has two swords. However, one of these isn’t hers. Deneve figures out why.
In this sequence, I learned why Claymore is such a good drama. It portrays fear realistically. No some guys with their jaw dropped and utters “uh…uh…uh…” for 50 seconds. No “OH MY GOD HE’S IMPOSSIBLE! I MUST FIGHT HARDER, LET MY BLOOD BOIL!” crap. Just some realistic fears against impossible odds and an almost certain death.
Without a God or any other deities to help out. Not at all. You’re on your own and no amount of good luck is likely to get you out of this one alive.
In short, Deneve shares her story with Undine with a somewhat flat voice. Half of the story involves the death of her family, the other half involves her best friend, Helene, who’s very realistic about fear.
Oh god (or Mr. Yagi) please don’t kill Helene or Deneve!
What Undine says in some way mirrors the sentiment of an older soldier who lived through WWI, even though it’s not quite the same. The old soldier said (about his experience about the death of his friend): “Yes, we were war buddies. But when the shell blew up my buddy and not me, my first thought, as disgusting to me as it’ll be later, was that I was glad that it wasn’t me.”
Deneve, after the death of her family, specifically her sister, who used her own life to protect her, decided to become a defensive Claymore and not an offensive one. Those who know the show enough just think about it and you will realize her cowardice.
Or maybe she’s not a coward. She’s just human. Just like Helene said.
Let talk about our protagonist next.
Here’s another good scene that I just have to talk about – Flora confronting Clare. The character I want to talk about isn’t actually Clare or Flora. It’s Jean.
It seems like Flora have been wondering about Clare, specifically Clare’s right arm for some time, and she isn’t going to trust Clare without some good explanation, or at least a good fight. She thought Clare got the arm of Irene using dirty methods.
I can’t blame her. Clare never bothered to explain how she got Irene’s only remaining arm to anyone. I’m sure since Irene had only one arm left, that arm must be precious to her. Yet Clare has that arm now. Therefore I can’t blame Flora being very suspicious about why Clare has that arm.
Thinking that Clare used an improper method to obtain that arm, Flora decides to challenge her.
Jean steps in. Her reason for stopping Flora from challenging Clare is simple.
“Clare saved my life and therefore I can’t forgive anyone who pulls a sword on her.”
I don’t know what to say except old fashion values still touches my heart, even though I’m the demon king (Ma-oh) of cynicism and jadedness. Jean is the perfect portrayal of a classic warrior. I applauded again.
Knowing that trusting and working in harmony with the others is important in this war, Clare tells the whole story – It seems obvious to me that Clare still thinks that Irene is still alive, and Clare is trying to hide that fact as long as possible. Clare has no intension of telling the story until Flora tells Jean and her that she simply can’t fight with a person who she can’t trust, and that she is going to get Clare kicked off the team.
After Clare tells her story and her intension, which is to make sure she doesn’t lose what she wants to protect and for making up for what she has lost, and she wants to cut off Priscilla’s head. She gained the trust of Flora. Whew! That’s a relief. The three (Clare, Jean, and Flora) crosses their swords a swears an oath that they will survive. This scene happens thanks to no small part of Jean stepping in. Clare probably didn’t want to get Jean involved in a senseless fight. Although here, Clare is definitely not the best character.
This moment is so touching in a warrior kind of way that I can’t help but be touched. I also can’t help but wonder if Yagi-sensei have read novels like Lord of the Rings or some kind of samurai stories after all.
Even someone as jaded as I am is a sucker for these types of stories. In LotR, when they send Boromir’s body away by the boat I shed silent tears. There, I said it.
Next, after Undine surly forgives and purposely forgets what her team members have said, we get to see Helene and her seemingly silly way of comforting a scared Claymore (I feel bad I don’t even know who this one is). Helene talks about food.
But you know what? Sometimes you just have to cheer someone up with seemingly really silly things. In a war where death lurks very near in every corner, even simple things can be so encouraging. Even if it’s just an apple.
Just as Helene says, “Of course, we’re human, too!” While trying not so obviously to comfort that scared Claymore.
Again, the author somehow knows something about war. Next, we come to Miria.
she doesn’t show much emotions after all. But she whispered a silent prayer, to…nobody? She prayed “If possible, let not one soldier here perish.”
(I cried again. There, I said it again.)
It’d be nice if God were real. Alas, at least in the Claymore world, there is no God. Only the fighting spirit of the warriors are keeping them alive. Their only hope is their own strength.
Miria is a little embarrassed and self conscious about her prayer, and saying something about that even though there is no God to pray to.
So why bother then?
Miria discusses the bleak possibility, which is coming into truth, that these claymores have no chance if Isley gets serious.
With Raki passed out, Isley meets with the scout who reports back, and then he issues an order to utterly destroy the town of Pieta.
Leave nothing alive. To sum up what he says. Nothing living is allowed to be left behind.
The future is looking impossibly bleak indeed. I know this is only an anime but I’d pray for these Claymores if they were real people.
But prayers won’t save them.
This episode is 100% recommended for your daily anime diet even though the only action is Isley demonstrating his sword fighting skills and Raki practicing his useless sword technique. I can’t be more impressed with this episode even if I tried.
P.S. one issue that a lot of recent shonen anime talk about – one person tries to do everything on his (in this case her) own, because someone he (she) really cared died because he (she) was powerless. The solution? Deneve said it the best: “Your comrades are here. what you can’t achieve by yourself, we’ll help you achieve it. So don’t force yourself too much, Captain Undine.” (tears again for me. There, I’ve said it for the 3rd time.)
P.S. 2 I really hate to predict this (DON’T read if you don’t want to feel I gave you the spoiler) but Jean, Miria, Helene, and probably Deneve is probably not going to come out alive. I’ll probably scream like Shinji when Jean dies…Man, that will suck so bad…