Tag Archives: Claymore

Claymore 21 – the true face and the true strength of Evil.

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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.)

Continue reading Claymore 21 – the true face and the true strength of Evil.

A potential bad ending to Claymore?

If you already knew about this and are screaming bloody murder, you’re not the only one. But it seems like from the Newtype magazine Japan, that Madhouse will come up with an ending to Claymore. From what I’ve read on the “Claymore Fans” Live Journal site, I don’t know if this will turn into a bad ending (all the commenters basically said “yes it will”), but again from what I’ve read and “in my worse nightmares” that seems to be a distinctive possibility now. I’ll provide you with the link next but be warned, read from the top very slowly if you don’t want to be spoiled – the author said do not click the cut in capital letters but I didn’t see the cut button anywhere (stupid browser) and I read it. I’m just issuing a warning, that’s all. Anyway read slowly if you don’t want to know what’s coming up in episode 23. Source: http://community.livejournal.com/claymore_fans/37815.html

 

If you want to see the Japanese Newtype page where everything from episode 20 to 23 is listed in Japanese: http://pc.webnt.jp/anime/detail0023100807.html

 

So there’s a reason to read the manga and see the story unfold as the author intended. Strangely, this event kind of reminds me of Lord of the Rings – the books VS the movies.

 

HERE’S a minor SPOILER for Lord of the Rings movie 3 :

 

Gandolf’s staff gets broken by the King of Wraiths.

 

End SPOILER.

 

Let’s hope at least they know how to end the show OK.

Claymore 20 – There never was much hope. Just a fool’s hope.

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“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.

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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!!!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

He does.

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…

Claymore 18,19 Parody – The Chaotic War of Cirumcision in the North

clare-and-jean-coming-to-north.jpgClare and Jean were heading toward the North to join their comrades.

the-war-against-swines-and-wenches.jpgTheir mission is to participate in the Great War against the uncircumcised men and the heathen wenches who aid them.

today-against-the-first-wave.jpg“Everyone! Today we’re going against the first wave of the uncircumcised heathen swines!

hot-erect-head.jpgturtle-head-power-up3.jpgblind-fold.jpg“These three are known as: Hot Erect Head, Turtle Head, and the Blind Fold!

all-right-ladies.jpg“All right! Ladies! Let’s get us some wieners!”

ouh.jpg“OH!”

garrr.jpg“All right! That’s it! I tried talking to these women first but no more Mr. Nice erectus for me! GARRRR!”

turtle-head-power-up1.jpgturtle-head-power-up2.jpgturtle-head-power-up3.jpg“Hmph. This is why I like being Turtle Head…Behold my turtle head powering up!!! Mwahahaaha!!!!”

cannon-fodders.jpg“All right ladies, time to cut off their willies…I mean their skins!”


clare-powers-up.jpg“What, it’s not full moon yet?”

deneve-powers-up.jpg“I can’t wait to have me some sausage!”


jeane-powers-up.jpg“Save the balls for me!”

tentacles.jpgclose-up-of-tentacles.jpg“Hahaha! Look, now I have tentacles! And they’re all uncirumcised!

cut-off-heads-people.jpg “That’s it. If you want to cut of my skin, I’ll cut off their heads!”

jeanes-is-a-terrible-leader.jpg“Curse you! You uncircumcised heathen swine!”

the-action-is-getting-hot-and-heavy.jpgAll the women wanting a piece of this action!

look-at-me.jpg“Look at me! I have a huge and smiling turtle head! Come and get some!”

muscle-bitch.jpg“All right ladies, step back, this baldy is mine!”

hot-and-bothered.jpg“No so fast! I have made you hot and bothered with the power of my smiley head! Now you can’t even stand up!”

damn-you-captain-jack.jpg“Damn you, captain jack! Damn you!”

it-looks-bad-for-her.jpg“It looks bad for her. Let’s help her grease that axle~” “OK!”

On the other side of the town…

jean-hurry-up.jpg“Jean! Hurry up! We can’t fight back the power of his thick skinned tentacles any longer! We…We’re feeling hot and bothered!”


my-cic-is-almost-ready.jpg“Don’t worry, my spinning circumciser is almost ready!”

snapshot20070814025216.jpg“Hahaha! My peters are too fast for you! You’re pathetic! You can’t even please a boy with you skills!”

someone-talking-shit-about-me.jpgFrom the other side of the town, Clare said: “I thought I heard someone talking shit about me!”

its-time-to-circumcise-you.jpg“All right! TIme to circumcise you! Hyyyaaaaa!

penis-i-mean-turtle-head-is-getting-cut-off.jpg“Ouch, this turtle head is tough…I’ve never tried to circumcise this kind before!”

never-with-man-before.jpg“What, you can’t get the skin off? Never been with a man before?”

i-really-have-skiils.jpg“Well, unlike you, Madam Muscle Dominatrix, I actually use my skills!”

no-wait-not-the-head.jpg“No, wait! Please! Not the head~just the skin, just the skin!

ahhh-my-salami.jpg“AHHHHHH!!! My salami!!!”

looks-at-the-rocket.jpg“Well, looks like the rocket has taken off.”

successfully-flying-circumcision.jpg“Mwahahaha! My turtle head can fly! I’ll perform uncircumcised coitus somewhere else!”

not-so-fast.jpg“Not so fast, Mr. Willie!” i-havent-eaten-all-day.jpg“I haven’t eaten all day and this sausage is looking mighty good!”

lets-chop-soy-it.jpg“Let’s chop soy it!”

flora-iai-jitsu.jpg“You do that, I just want to slice it in half nice and easy, and I don’t even have to move my arm!”

turtle-head-heh-heh-heh-dies.jpg“GAHHHHH!!! My preciousss meeeaaaat~…”

lets-see.jpgwell-no-weewee.jpggrinder.jpgBack to Jean. “Hmm, I didn’t find your wee-wee. Just as I suspected, you’re a transsexual masochistic bug! It’s time to put whatever left down there in the grinder!”

cut-off-arms.jpgtime-to-cut-them-off.jpgjohnsons-off.jpg“Let me cut off his fake uncircumcised johnsons!”

wait-for-us.jpg“Wait for us!” i-wanna-slice-an-dice.jpg“I wanna slice and dice this baloney for my sandwich!

no-im-still-a-virgin.jpg“No I’m still a virgin!!!!!”

On Miria’s side.

miria-kicks-serious-ass.jpg“It’s time to circumcise! Die for your insolence, you heathen swine!”

hot-head-dies.jpg“GAH!!! My Hot Erecting Head…”

miria-is-cool.jpg“Hmm, I thought cutting the off the head is the same thing as circumcising the skin. Oh well better not tell the rest of the girls, least they pissing their tights laughing.

what-are-you-a-virgin.jpg“What, are you a virgin? Miria?”

im-gonna-kill-ya.jpg“I’m gonna kill you! Helene!”

hahhahaha.jpg“HAHAHAHAHA!!!!”

And the day is saved! Thanks to – the circumcisers we know as the Claymores!

Claymore 19 – Cannon fodders strike back with smarts and gain some exp points and Raki is officially an idiot.

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There are a few thankful things I learned after watching this show (especially after watching this ep 3 times in 4 days and giving it a lot of thoughts):

1. It’s produced by Madhouse. Only Madhouse can completely translate the awesome sword motions and the fights perfectly into the anime medium (I’ve finished reading the first 5 manga), and still have a good plot. I can’t imagine any other studio does a better job. I mean, I shudder to think if Gainax were to do this with Anno at the helm…the flying heads! The cowardly protagonists, the overtly introspection! Or if Gonzo were to do this…the super bright colors! The degrading animation in later eps! The ugly renderings! Ugh!

2. The author of the original manga is very smart and he can write a story as well as draw. He writes an excellent story as well as knowing how to make different arcs and plots work, without making anything way too complex, oh and don’t forget that he knows his priorities when it comes to character developments and these that should be forgotten aren’t portrayed much in the manga and in its extension, the anime.

3. We see a shonen convention gets used but not over the top and things make sense. Sure, people gain experiences in battles, but we don’t see something like few characters get their asses kicked over and over and over and over and almost endlessly for 5 or more episodes before they finally see the weak point in their opponent’s attack. With Miria’s arrangement, nobody dies and everyone gains some experience points against the awakened – as Flora points out to Wendine (Edit: Undine, thanks for the correction). Miria has to work with a lot of weak people, so she divides the teams so well that each team has at least 2 experienced fighters and she knew that it’s actually the best idea that she takes on the 2nd weakest of the 3 awakened. I’ll explain that later.

I don’t know the names of the lessor important characters well, even having watched this ep 3 times, so bear with me and please correct me if I get the names wrong. But here we go.

So far, no real surprises except for Miria, who seems to have gotten A LOT stronger. But what I’m most impressed with is her strategy. Instead of grouping all four of the pact – Miria, Helene, Deneve, and Clare (that’s right, Clare is just one of the characters in a war, rather than being the “ace fighter” or “ace pilot” or whatever. This is the real “common man” character, not like Nadie the incompetent ditz from El Cazador) into one team, Miria decided to spread themselves out into different teams to give each team an X factor to help the team captains. Here are the 5 captains – Miria, Flora, Jean, Undine, and Veronica. Each team has an awakened-but-pulled-back Claymore – Miria has herself on her team, or rather, I don’t know if she awoke before that but she’s very strong. The Flora team has Clare; the Jean team has Jean herself, the Undine team has Deneve, and the Veronica team has Helene. Looking at the opponents and the teams, we have these match ups – The Flora team against the Turtle Guy (sorry, I really don’t know and probably don’t care about his name); the Jean team against the Blind Fold Bug (same reason), and the Miria team against the hot headed dude who charged first – I’ll call him the Hot Head.

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There is a reason that Miria, being the strongest, actually fought the possibly (in my view) second strongest of the 3 awakened. But before I begin discuss the strengths, let me show you what I thought was the rankings among the 3 awakened (all these thoughts are my theories):

The strongest: the Turtle guy – he’s got a thick and impossible to crack skin much like Duff’s, and he’s got a yoki control skill as well as appendixes that he can use to attack enemies.

The second strongest: the Hot Head. He didn’t seem to do much and he charged first without using his head. He’s got appendixes that he can shoot out of his body as well.

The weakest: The Blind Fold Bug. He seemed very smart but doesn’t have superior attributes except he seems fast with his attacks.

The match ups are (before the support teams comes to help):

Team Miriya VS Hot Head.

Team Jean VS Blind Fold Bug.

Team Flora (with Clare) VS Turtle Guy

And the support teams are Undine (with Deneve), and Veronica (with Helene). Try to bear with me here, I’m getting to my theory and my point in a minute.

There was a story in China about a master (A) with 3 horses, and he raced against another master (B) with 3 horses. Master A was smarter, his strategy was

1. Use the fastest horse against Master B’s 2nd fastest horse.
2. Use the 2nd fastest horse against Master B’s 3rd fastest horse.

3. Use the 3rd fastest horse against Master B’s fastest horse.

Master A ended up losing only one race. Race number 3. Go ahead, take some time to think about this logic…

OK, you can say the story with that situation was contrived or the situation was a pure set up. But consider the situation that Miria and the rest are in. It’s a set up as well (by the organization who’s practically using these claymores as cannon fodders). And it looks like there’s a very good chance that everyone including Miria will die, with perhaps Miria dying last. But it sure looks like everyone will die. So, what’s a intelligent character like Miria to do?

She has to make the best out of this group.

If Team Miria were the best team, she has a pretty good chance of defeating the the 2nd best awakened – the Hot Head.

If Team Jean were the second best team, Jean has a good chance of defeating the 3rd best awakened – the Blind Fold Bug.

If Team Flora were the third best team, Flora has a not so good chance of defeating the strongest awakened – the Turtle guy.

(Note: again, these are only my theories).

Consider, however, that Flora is strong only second to Miria, so even against someone like the Turtle Guy, it seemed like she has a good chance.

Again, consider that because the Blind Fold Bug seems weaker, Jean has a pretty good chance of defeating him anyway, with some help.

Miria knows that the Hot Head wasn’t strong enough to be her match. We see that Miria easily defeats him.

So guess what? Now they all have a chance! Oh, and there are 2 back up teams standing by!

Technically by ranking, Jean isn’t stonger than Flora, however, Jean awoke before, which makes her an X-factor, so perhaps with that advantage, Team Jean could be considered the second best team. Except we saw the Jean is a terrible leader. But wait, here comes the back up team! That what these back up teams are for! They come to the aid when the primary teams are losing.

clare-powers-up.jpgdeneve-powers-up.jpgjeane-powers-up.jpg

Exclude Miria, who seem to have no trouble dealing with the Hot Head even by herself alone, we now have two matches with 4 teams on the Claymore side, and 2 male awakened:

1. Team Jean (medium strength in my view) and Team Veronica (with Helene, the team’s X factor) against the Blind Fold Bug.

2. Team Flora (low strength in my view, with Clare, the team’s X factor) and Team Undine (well, she’s rather “strong”, with Devene, the team’s X factor) against the Turtle Guy.

All of the sudden, the odds aren’t so totally overwhelmingly stacked against the Claymores now are they?

Team Veronica, with the lowest ranking captain among the captains, with Helene, who’s a weaker X-factor than Devene, helps the second strongest team (from what I think) – Team Jean, and Team Undine (would you look at that muscle chick Undine? It’s like Revi took steroids or Chyna from WWF shaved off her manly jaw and became an anime character) with Deneve, the somewhat Stronger X-factor, helping the the third strongest team (from what I think) – Team Flora (Clare is actually the most difficult X-factor to determine for me at this point).

Now these ladies have a chance.

As we see in about the 2/3 point of this episode, Hot Head moans about how strong Miria is before he dies. By the way, here’s another reason why this is different from your average regular shonen anime. By this point, Clare is still not that strong. She knows it and she seems disgusted at how she’s not as strong as number 6, Miria.

You still have a long way to go, baby.

Anyway, Jean, with the help of her comrades delaying the Blind Fold Bug, uses her spin/drill sword attack (I’d rather call it the “helicopter” sword or the “grass cutter”sword) and does a disabling damage on the Blind Fold Bug, with a big help from Helene. Then, to the satisfaction of two “tank characters”, I mean, defensive Claymores, Veronica and Cynthia, who spoke about their duty and the pain doing their duties, which is to attract the enemy’s attention while getting hurt in the in the process, they get to take out the Blind Fold Bug, who I can’t help but perceive as supposedly the smarter (or sneakier since he was hiding on a roof) but definitely the weaker among the 3 awakened.

We get to see a lot abou Undine (I can’t imaging any Otaku that likes her…Oh well, I’ve met some folks back in college that thought muscle chicks were hot…), whose verbal bout with Deneve provides some comedic moments. They sound realistic enough, just like two soldiers who dislike each other in a war but glad to help each other out nevertheless.

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Deneve seems to fight pretty fast. Is this her power? I can’t remember. Oh wait, her power is to repair herself super fast, a defensive ability. She smugly tells Undine, “I use skills, unlike some people who only use muscles.” Hahahaha.

Like shonen anime, people gain skills by getting their asses kicked and then upgrade, but unlike regular shonen anime, everyone in this episode learned and survived through the first fight. Now they all have skilled up, even the nobodies. All thanks to Miria (and the author’s) intelligence and battle smarts in ancient style – good ol’ fashioned sword fighting, and women slashing the crap out of mo*beep*erfu*beep*ing monsters. What Miria does is a good leader suppose to do for her crew – trying her best to keep everyone alive and hope that with no way out, by fighting near the edge of death, they’ll step up and cut their way through.

There is one character in this episode that isn’t so smart or so impressive – Raki.

Gee, let’s see. Raki sees a village destroyed by monsters. Raki sees a girl walking around without much fear. Usually people don’t come back to an area full of potential danger, if the people are still alive…Gee, there’s that girl who doesn’t seem to notice that something is very wrong about this village. Well, could it be there’s something not quite right about her, Raki?
How about the fact that she says: “Hmm, you smell good.” Like she’s hungry. But Raki must be Lucky (har, har, har nice mixed language pon), because it seems like our girl in question doesn’t like to eat most humans, strange. Then, a bisenen (good looking adult, in this case a man) shows up, and oh wait, he’s not worried about monsters roaming around. Because he somehow knows that they are not roaming around. Come on, son! Can’t you see that something is not quite right here? Damn…

OK, so maybe Raki is the trusting type, but geez, at have some sense of danger! Oh boy…

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98% recommended for the smarts in kicking monster asses with strategy, Claymore style.

Claymore 18 – Cannon fodders and a honorable warrior doesn’t necessarily make a good leader.

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This ep is very interesting as it’s packed with information about quite a few things, which I’ll list below and then discuss each (note, I have watched this three times over two days before writing this that’s why I’m slow in coming out with this review, plus I tried to get the Audio Column on ASAP, sorry):

1. Clare perfects her version of the flash/lighting blade technique upon seeing Jeane’s strong will.

2. Jeane is a great friend and an honorable warrior, but a terrible team leader.

3. the 24 Claymores are cannon fodders, even including number 6, number 8, and number 9.

4. The organization has enough people to send to the front, or the ranking difference is really vague and one number difference can mean a great chasm between two Claymores, so it doesn’t matter even if a number 6 dies, because the organization can always send numbers 4 (who is that now), 3(Galatea. We’re told that she’ll be stuck with impossible duties), 2, and perhaps as a last resort, number 1 to deal with the monsters, the awakened, and the Abyssal Ones.

5. The organization isn’t betting on Clare getting out alive, but the head of the organization has presented a trial and is having a wait and see attitude.

6. Human will can over come. It’s rather implied here but it’s talked about.

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So here we go.

Jeane is a strong exception to the supposed rule that “Once a Claymore is awaken, there’s no turning back.” In the previous ep, we learned that what Galatea did to help Clare turn back indirectly helped Jeane to turn back. In this ep, we get some expansion upon what we learned – apparently Jeane has an “abnormally strong will” which helps her to be in control of her mind even when her body transforms. That’s something even our favorite X factor Clare can’t do. It fits the classical warrior’s mold – a tough and strong mind, which can control just about everything on the body. I salute her. Jeane is rapidly turning into my favorite character, also, when Helene asked her: “You’re number 9, aren’t you? But you’re with her (Clare, who’s 47)?” she just said: “She saved my life. What does that have to do with the ranking?” I couldn’t help but applause. But what bad luck she has (sign)…but is it really bad luck?

Not according to her latest opponent. The male awakened that had a bandanna/cloth strips/bandage around his eyes flatly told her that because she doesn’t really realize who on her team can actually contribute and who can’t, and she tries to cover and help everyone anyway, that’s why her entire team was annihilated. Now, an awakened one is utterly inhuman and it’ll probably not hesitate to sacrifice someone on its team if that someone is weak, so his view is probably a little skewered, but it’s probably true that Jeane should do something to prevent some members from going for a frontal assault (I’m making guesses from this point on), and then getting their asses kicked, and having the need of Jeane helping out, which in term, probably mean (we didn’t see, and I’m speculating) that Jean has to cover them, but unfortunately neglecting others, who are probably more useful, and lets them get killed. When Jeane tries to help them, and it’s too late, she comes back only to find the people that she first try to help die, and she gets hurt running all over the place. It’s such a shame that Jeane can’t lead, because she makes a wonderful and honorable friend in need.

In contrast, Miria is smart, quite analytical, and makes a great leader, too. She has already thought about the odds (So did Clare, btw),  and Clare asks her about the odds, Miria simply said: “Zero.” Later, in the battle against the scout team/first wave of the enemies, she calmly ordered the groups to get to positions and attack. By simply doing that, she prevented a complete disaster even after the surprise attack by the awakened ones. The awakened one that Jeane’s team has the unfortunately fate (well, maybe this is a mis-assignment by Miriya, but hey, the decision is made under an extreme circumstance – a surprise attack) pointed that out.

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I read somewhere that the “advice” or “praises” given by your enemy are the best advices. However, because it’s now obvious that most if not all of these people are simply cannon fodders that the organization sends to die, this awakened one points out that some of them will be afraid, and what’s implied is that these scared Claymores won’t be much help at all.

Let me side track a little bit. So, Miria is number 6. That means she has to be pretty strong, right? But she had so much trouble dealing with the male awakened during ep 9 or 10 or whatever – just about 10 eps ago. But I thought number 6 is quite a small number, which means she has to be pretty strong, right? So, why is it that she had trouble dealing with some awakened that appeared 8 to 10 eps ago?

My next question. So Galatea is number 3, eh? Sure didn’t look like when dealing with Duff. I’d think being number 3 means she would have an easier time, but she didn’t. In any case, the power comparison for Claymore is rather irrelevant to this great show at this point, though it’s rather confusing. So let me move on.

Well, but I’m kind of back to that power issue on this next item. So the organization really doesn’t care how many cannon fodders they send to die. I mean, we have what, about 47 Claymores? And in this campaign, a lot of pretty high and decent ranking ones are sent to “die”, as Miria probably fears. 24 of them to be exact. If they all die (obviously that isn’t going to happen as we would be out of a protagonist and the story would have to stop and perhaps change – yes, Clare is in this group of 24 ladies), then the organization will be left with 23 Claymores. But perhaps this doesn’t matter, since number 1 to 5 will still be left. Let me recount the top 10 people – 1, 2, Galatea, 4, Lafiel, Miriya, 7 -deceased, 8 Flora, 9 Jeane, 10 (who?). So the top ten should be the most powerful. So let’s pretend the group of 24 dies. Then from the top ten will have numbers 1,2,3 (Galatea), 4 (Lafiel), and 10. But the organization will be also stuck with a lot of weak ones. So unless numbers 1,2,3, and 4 can kill a lot of awakened ones in a hurry, otherwise the organization will be in trouble. Or will it? I’m still not sure why the organization decided to make Claymores to fight demons in the first place. To use my jaded thinking, these people at the organization are probably well protected enough or at least rich enough to not have to deal with these demons. So…why did they bother to make Claymores in the first place? Just to make a profit? My speculation (and if this turns out to be a spoiler I apologize in advance) is that the organization is somehow responsible for the demons in that Claymore world and they’re trying to fix that.

Well, all these are speculation, and I think Miria isn’t going to die. As for Jeane…well, let’s say in a lot of shows the honorable warrior who isn’t the primary characters usually dies. BUT PLEASE. NO SPOILERS IN THE COMMENTS SECTION!!! I DON’T NEED TO KNOW RIGHT AWAY!

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Is the organization giving Clare more trials? For sure. Lubelle gives Clare a pretty tough bargain, and Clare+Jeane probably feel that they have to accept the offer. So they get reequipped with the official uniform. In any case, in the last ep or two eps ago, we saw that the head of the organization wondering about Clare’s abilities and decides to give her a trial, and it happens that the organization is sending people to fight the Awakened and the King of the North. So it’s a great opportunity to send Clare there. If she dies, great, no more troubles from her. If she actually survives, then well, she’s still useful. Ultimately for what though? I don’t know yet.

One last point. When Clare pointed out that human will can be a powerful force, she affirmed what people have always suspected (come on, who’s 100% sure all the time) – that human will is very strong. I think I don’t need to discuss that too much as many examples in the human history have already pointed that out.

In this ep, we learn a lot about different personalities and the different ways the Claymores dealing with things. We also learn that the organization really truly don’t give a shit about any of these Claymores after all. They only care about these who are useful. The rest are stuck with tank duties. I wonder if the organization has a unlimited supply of women they can make into Claymores?

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In any case, 96% recommended for you daily anime diet. It’s another good episode that I screamed bloody murder when it’s over. I didn’t even realize that it was over until the credits rolled.

P.S. After watching this many eps, do you guys who have read the manga to the latest volume think it’s worth it to get the manga? I bought vols. 1 to 5, but I’m not sure if it was a good decision. Should I buy up to 10 (Taiwan only goes up to 10)? Or I should just stop here? I’d very much appreciated if I could hear some thoughts.

(Edit: P.S. 2 – I’m revising my daily recommendation to 98% – there are so many little details about things such as the group of claymore as a rather disconnected team at least on friendship, hints and speculations  that one can make about the situation, and the dead-pan humor that Deneve has is simply brilliant.)

Claymore 17 review PART 2. What can you do if your opponent is god-like?

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In pt.1 I mentioned about impossibly strong characters, and here I’ll talk about a couple rather minor things that I find not entirely satisfactory. 1. the impossibly strong, even god-like opponents. 2.the impossibility for me to compare/understand strengths and differences in strengths.

I’ll actually go with number 2 first. Riful and Duff are strong – super strong to the point that they make Ophelia the Awakened, who used to be no. 4 on the Claymore strength list; Irene, who supposedly practiced her techniques for many years even after losing one arm; Priscilla, who by using surprise, seemingly had no trouble taking out Teresa; Teresa, who used to be number one on the Claymore ranking, looking quite weak by comparison. Or can a comparison be made? There isn’t a clear distinction of how to rank powers of the Claymores, the Awakened, and the Abyssal Ones (thank you, Random Curiosity, and if not you, thanks to whoever first used this term in English for these characters in Claymore).

That’s really not that important to some extent. DBZ tried to assign power levels to everyone, but when a new opponent comes out, his (or her) power level usually blows the previous power level highs out of the water like nobody else’s business until another new opponent comes along – the whole process repeats over and over again so many times it gets ridiculously tedious and stupid. However, as a human being and a somewhat calculating one at that, I sometimes feel I’m on a layer of very thin ice when I’m trying to gauge the power of these characters (why? It’s not like I’m gonna have to fight them!). I personally demand some kind of measure that can help me to determine the strength of the characters so that I can kind of tell what kind of power clashes will happen and what likely the outcomes would be. It’s not exactly that I want to accurately predict the ending to a show, it’s more like knowing more precisely the strengths of the characters makes it easier for me to understand the character as a whole (maybe this is RPG influence).

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I was told that Duff can probably squash the male awakened from quite a few eps back like an ant. That kind of threw my perceptions about characters into haywire. My questions would be (and try not to leave spoilers in comments if you can help it, folks), how’s Priscilla’s power compare with Duff? With Riful? What if the Abyssal Ones ever decide to end this world? Who could stop them?

I know the last one is a stretch at this moment. I’ve come to care about these things because this show is a great show that draws me in, and I’ve had trouble to take my focus away from Clare’s own, dare we say, “little” vengeance quest? What that means to me is that the overall world and plot was very well thought out. The world of Claymore is complex with many characters, goals and desires, and many different elements. What happens to Clare is just part of this big and wonderfully complex world.

Onto number 1 of my very minor dissatisfactions – the impossibly strong opponents.

Riful is a god. In fact, it just dawned on me that the Abyssal Ones are gods. They’re the gods of the Claymore world. Or at least demon gods. They’re clearly not on the humans’ side and they each harbor awakened ones and demons, which means they probably don’t give a lick about humans. I can’t help but automatically see them as villains. One gets an incredible frustration when the villains are super strong and cannot be defeated by what one perceives as the “good guys”. At least I feel very frustrated. But to be fair, in the Claymore world there aren’t really “good guys” and “villains”, but just characters motivated by their own personalities, desires and goals.

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To me, it feels like we’re watching aces in combat with each other, with people as doormats (think Amuro Ray/Kira Yamato/Heero Yui against Char Aznoble/Rau Le Creuset/Zechs Merquise, and all the common soldiers that gets blown away by the hundreds). For some reason it’s not a pleasant feeling. The only bright spot is Clare, who fights to maintain the humanity inside herself and the humanity outside herself, which also includes herself. She’s not completely apart from it, though she does rise above it from time to time for fighting the necessary evil that inspires, trains, and even encourages her to fight for the humanity. The humanity does not understands her and also her comrades, but she and her comrades still do the necessary task to help the humanity out. Yes, for a fee, but don’t the police and the military in real life do these tasks for a fee, too? Are we not grateful most of the time anyways? Before I get too deep into something else completely, let me continue my discussion on point number 1.

Duff is insanely strong. Galatea, number 3 on the Claymore list, Jean, number 7 (I believe), and our heroine, Clare, who obviously has an extreme powerful potential (a common device for all shonen shows) almost completely lose to him. They are on the brink of being utterly annihilated and all they do seem to cause no damage on him. I’ve never enjoyed the type of warfares/battles where I get to see the same thing happen over and over again, and the opponent doesn’t even get scratched. I saw too much of that in DBZ and Saint Seiya, especially in DBZ where one fight can drag out for what counts as almost half a season in many other shows. I’ll admit, however, that I personally just doesn’t enjoy seeing impossibly strong opponents. Perhaps seeing these characters remind me of my own weakness against things in this world, and they prevent me the quick and easy satisfaction of seeing the protagonists and her friends winning with one super attack – not an easily conjured up super attack, mind you, but a super attack after enough beatings received. DBZ often pushes and goes way pass the limit of how much beating I can look at without throwing my hands in the air. I mean, after the 100th time Gohan/Tenjihan/Trunks/whoever uses a desperate super attack on Freeza/Cell/whoever, and Freeza/Cell/Whoever still look unscratched, save some dust on the body, I just change the channel.

I want the story to go on, already. Here I commend Claymore because Duff doesn’t last 5 to 10 (more like 10 to 20 eps in DBZ) eps before he is down. But I guess I’m just not good dealing with frustrations.

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Next, Riful. The “demon goddess” in my view. She easily saves Duff, which is fine and expected, but she completely dwarfs Duff in size! And she’s apparently ultra-impossibly-super strong. To follow the Claymore pattern: 1. the bigger you’re the stronger you usually are as a part of the Awakened “community”. 2. Being part of that “community” often means that, more than one Claymores come together actually can’t kill you; in the cases of Ophelia and Teresa, one of them is actually enough, but they’re supposedly super strong, and because I’m never sure how the Awakened are ranked, I just don’t feel comfortable about the battles.

Jean’s coup de grace gets easily thwarted, which is OK because she practically had no power left, and Riful doesn’t kill any of the Claymores – she says she doesn’t want to do it (and the day is saved! Thanks to…Riful’s playfulness? Riful’s strategy? Riful’s purpose for these Claymores?) so I guess that’s that. Not exactly lucky since the “demon goddess” has already said that she has no intention of killing.

The outcome of the battles against Riful and her minions gives me a sour and somewhat bitter taste in my mouth. It sure gives Clare a very bitter taste in hers. For the same reason I feel frustrated – these opponents are practically gods! They’re too strong!

After Riful leaves, Galatea flatly tells Clare that she’s taking Clare back to the Organization. Clare refuses, and Jean shows her noble character by standing in front of Clare and blocking Galatea. Galatea is pretty cool, too. She simply decides to go back and report that Jean and Clare are dead. That does one important thing, however, which is that now these two are officially out of the organization and cannot go back for help or resources even if they ever have desperate needs, and also, next time Galatea sees them, she’ll have to kill them.

This ep really shows me the shining merits of Claymore. Everything is so well developed and behind our main character’s quest there is clearly a much larger picture. I’m looking forward to the Northern Campaign.

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98% recommended for your daily anime diet.

(For part 1 of the review click here.)

Claymore 17 review PART 1 – The roles and the hearts of female warriors.

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It wouldn’t be the first time I was blown away by this show, but this time, it shows even more merits to lift itself above regular shonen anime – save a couple very minor things.

Clare has to be one of the most versatile “shonen” characters in the shonen genre. It’s not rare that the protagonist learns a special technique, and sometimes learn it on the spot, it is special when that special technique isn’t used directly against the opponents, but for aiding a comrade. In this case, the comrade is Jean, who gets into a big, seemingly impossible trouble.

What is Clare to do? Well, in the earlier ep she fought so hard to the point that she went past her limit of self-control and she had to use more yoki/demon power/powering up, and she had trouble turning herself back to human, but Galatea helped her back to turn back. Clare had received help before, from someone without any yoki powers – Raki helped her when she was going to become demon for the first time. This time, Galatea helps her by using yoki to somehow contain Clare’s yoki (inner demon, if I may use that term) from completely taking over.

When Clare heads to the basement, the thing she doesn’t want to see happens. Jean turns into a huge butterfly creature (something a Japanese goth fashion teenager or artist probably wouldn’t be too surprised to see). It seems to me that the more power an Awakened has the bigger it is. The first Awakened male we saw was a decent size; Ophelia was pretty big, Duff is freaky huge and very tall; for Jean, her body becomes about a head and half taller than Clare, and she has huge wing-like ligaments on her back. That probably means she’s pretty powerful as an Awakened.

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In any case, Clare helps Jean back to what she was, even though Jean wants to give up. The reason Clare can help someone else turn back is because she learns a technique from Galatea. Again, usually in shonen shows when the protagonist – the man, learns a special technique, it is used to strike the enemy or power up himself. Two classic examples would be the special power up technique that Goku learns when he travels to Kai’s domain, and Yusuke receiving Genkai’s power ball (or whatever it’s called). Both power ups are used to strength the self and to attack opponents. But very rarely we see the protagonist learns something to help out comrades. However, it’s probably not so rare to see a supporting character, most often a woman, learns a technique used for healing. But she often doesn’t learn it on the spot. Again for the men, they can learn it on the spot, or they solve/read the opponent’s attacks, after getting their asses kicked over and over again, the best example being Saint Seiya, where one super impossible strong opponent just kicks the crap out of Seiya over and over again with the same attack until Seiya finally gets pushed over his physical and mental limit, and/or reads the opponent’s attack. The reason Claymore is different is maybe because women dominate the show. Sure, Clare kind of learns the lighting/flashing sword on her own, but she really got the technique because Irene sacrifice her life for her.

Traditionally, women are seen as mostly supporting characters in shonen shows – shows like Berserk, Saint Seiya, DBZ, Yuyu Hakosho, even Gundam. At least in the anime world, they often fight alongside men and not just shoved to the side as mere cheerleaders. But when it comes to learning techniques, women still learn mostly healing/aiding/white magic techniques. Oh, there is one example that stands out glaringly at the sea of examples of white magic women – Lina Inverse learns the Gigaslave almost entirely on the spot; she knows enough about it just haven’t tried it before that. In any case, Clare learns the “white magic” on the spot, even though she’s an attacker-based Claymore. That kind of makes her a Paladin, doesn’t it?

Jean is saved. Thanks to Clare, Galatea, and perhaps, indirectly Raki, who held Clare back from completely going over to the “dark side (hahaha…a way overused term).” What Jean does is very classic knightly and Samurai-like behavior. She sees her life as forfeit and is given to Clare for whatever use Clare wants. Here, I’ll go into the traditional Japanese warrior mindset a little bit from what I’ve learned. Perhaps the same mindset holds true for traditional knighthood in Europe as well.

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The classic Japanese warrior mindset seems to be this, follow any and all the orders the organization you belong to gives to you, because they take care of you. You shall not question any orders even if they’re unreasonable. To put this in today’s terms: just obey what the government/company executives/teachers say and do. I put this in today’s terms because that mentality still holds mostly if not completely true even for many people in today’s Japan, save one group – the students in Japan are increasingly being less mindlessly obedient and increasingly being more vocal and have their own opinions. Unfortunately once they become part of the societal machine, they choose to lose that ability for the sake of making a living in such a society as Japan. In any event, that’s what Jean seems to follow before she changes into an Awakened, and then gets pull back from turning into a complete monster by Clare. To Jean’s credit, when Clare discovers her, Jean is still in control of her mind. Even though her body has changed, her mind remains strong enough for some time. Clare sees the possibility of bringing her back from going off the deep end and she is then able to bring her back.

When that happens, Jean changes her loyalty from toward the Organization (I’ve noticed that this “organization” doesn’t have a name – I wonder if this is a subtle hint about governments and big corporate organizations in general) to toward Clare. But rather than just, what we assume, mindless or voiceless obedience to an almost faceless organization (save the men that hand out orders, who half hide their faces), this time, Jean knows exactly who she wants to give her life to – the comrade who saves her life. In the classic warrior’s mind, the person who saves your life owns it, and you’re supposed to do whatever the person asks of you, no questions asked.

Classic values still touch my heart. I deem that Jean has noble characters and I would love to see more of her in action alongside Clare. Also, Jean is voiced by Mitsuishi Kotono, who voiced Captain Ramius from Gundam Seed, Misato from Eva, and Usagi/Sailor Moon from Sailor Moon series. These characters are all strong and all become noble characters by the end of each series.

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Being probably wary of blind obedience, and having the strong desire to live her own way and do what she thinks as right – she learned that from Teresa – Clare tells Jean grimly that Jean should live her life and not forfeit it so easily. Here, I also commend Clare for giving freedom to a comrade and not just using this opportunity to gain the comrade’s life and services.

(See the next post for part 2!)

Claymore 16 – Clare’s revenege really doesn’t mean much.

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You know that in the classic shonen shows (even Berserk is pretty classic at times) the main character’s revenge is all that matters? I mean other things do happen, but the plot is ultimately aimed at resolving the main character’s hate against somebody? Well, throw that out with Claymore! Because in this case, the revenge that Clare desires is almost just a minor part of the overall scheme.

We learn that Priscilla has teamed up with the “boss” of the North (a male -awakened), and this group is fighting the other two main groups of awakened – The south and West. The reason that the current enemy, who turns out to be one of the three first awakened (West), is gathering other demons and awakened, is simply to fight the North boss.

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That is disappointing, considering that I wanted to see a more complex plot, I wanted it to be because the awakened are planning a massive counter attack against the Organization and the humanity with some other sinister purposes in mind. But anyway, that’s what’s going on. Nothing’s right in the Claymore world, and Clare is torn (ha ha ha…I borrowed that using a line from one of Natalie Imbrulia’s song), and this is how Clare feels – not naked and lying on the floor, even though she’s definitely not that important in the overall schemes of things. She only demands her revenge.

Let’s back up a little bit. Clare decides to go to the cave where Jean (wow! I didn’t realize she’s played by Mitsuishi Kotone, who played Excel, captain Ramius of Gundam and Gundam Seed, Ebichu, and…Sailor Moon!) is kept. Clare doesn’t know who’s being kept, and she can clearly see that she has no chance against whoever she has to face, but she goes there anyway. Now, Just as the right hand awakened man – Duff, is about to take out Clare, Galatea comes to her rescue. OK, it’s not quite the ex deus machina this time, because I remember that Galatea has been tracking Clare for sometime and she has found the cave as well. Unlike last time, where Irene just came out of nowhere and saved Clare’s ass, this time, Galatea is bound to find Clare. It’s a little too good of a timing, but I’ll let it slide.

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Notice I’m beginning to disrespect Clare. I mean, she’s been a weakling recently and has to be saved by other people. It seems like she’s very weak and should’ve died over and over again. Yet she acts so brave. Tto a younger person (like a Japanese teenager), that may look like bravery, but to me, a 30-year old jaded American man, that’s pure stupidity. I used to think Clare is brave, but right now I can’t help but think she’s stupid. But one thing she does puts me to shame – she goes to help even though she probably knows the odds are against her, but she can’t turn aside and just let it pass. Perhaps that’s what shone shows aim to do – to inspire people not to over look the wrong.

In any case, Galatea does come and save her. As they are fighting Duff, his leader comes out. It turns out that his leader – that little girl, is one of the first awakened – one of the three first awakened beings. She’s the awakened king (queen) of West. However, it seems like her interest lies not in fighting the claymores, but to defeat the king of the North, who recent received help from Priscilla. This is the reason why she’s trying to make claymores awaken and join her side and gathering demons to help her.

Clare demonstrates her superior control as someone who can go pass the limit of normal claymores and become an awakened, but comes back. However, it doesn’t mater as we see that she’s still pretty weak (man that’s sad), and she gets out of a jam only after Galatea tells her to go find Jean.

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When she finally finds Jean, what she sees is…

90% recommended for your daily anime diet. Everyone does a great job being who she or he is. But nothing really spectacular happens here.

PS. I really want to see Clare kicks some serious ass, but for now, she’s weak. sigh…

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

Claymore 14 – Claire Frankenstein and Ophelia Orochi

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So, what do you get when you combine Teresa’s flesh and Irene’s right arm with Claire’s body?

You get a huge power up for Claire! OK, OK that’s not funny at all. But that’s not the point of this eps. Even though it is important.

What is more important in this eps, at least to me, is the admiration and friendship that Irene offered.

From Irene’s talk, it seems that she secretly admired and feared Teresa – the noble and skilled but once cold and distant, even a little cynical Claymore.

Teresa, the noble Claymore. In the story she used to slew monsters with a smile.

Teresa, the skilled Claymore. She used to slew hordes of monsters without a sweat.

Teresa, the cold and distant Claymore. She used to not care if men wanted to ravage her, except perhaps with just a slight regret that she vowed to save these men as well as the rest of humanity.

But she saved Claire. That was a worthy save.

I think Irene knows that. However, she first tells Claire frankly that because Teresa took Claire along, Teresa’s power dropped and that’s why she was killed by Priscilla (I’m not sure if I can buy that). To explain that a little bit – Irene says that because Teresa took Clare along for the journey, Teresa’s power dropped, and that’s how Priscilla could kill her.

There aren’t any indication of rankings for the awakened. We don’t know if the awakened Priscilla is stronger than Teresa or not. To me, the eps where Teresa got killed, it seemed like Priscilla used surprise as her weapon against Teresa. Could Teresa avoided the surprise attack if she didn’t travel with Claire? I really don’t know, but I’m sure that’s not the point here.

What Irene wants to communicate, and does, is that the happiest and the warmest time Teresa had before she was killed was the time she spent with Claire. “It was the happiest time Teresa had closest to her time before as a human.” Irene said.

Back to Irene. She saved Claire in last eps. Then she began to teach Claire her high speed sword attack technique.

In order to use that technique, a Claymore has to be deadly calm and ice cold. Claire can’t do these things. She has emotions; she just often pretends that she doesn’t. To help her survive and grow stronger, Irene actually severed her own right arm! She told Claire to attach that arm to her body!

I won’t say Claymore is very bloody; I’ve seen anime way more bloody to the point of disgusting (Elfin Lied being the perfect example of overboard in bloodiness). But it has enough blood sometimes. What touched me is that Irene offered her remaining arm, and told Claire that she doesn’t need it anymore. Ignoring the normal impractically that comes when a human being or humanoid loses both of her arms, Irene has to know that she’ll be in grave danger later because of that – and trouble indeed comes to find her, in the form of the number 5 Claymore on the current Claymore ranking chart, whose name is too difficult for me to remember. More on that later.

So as the title says, Claire is now kind of like Frankenstein. She has Teresa’s flesh, and Irene’s right arm, and she’s a Claymore. Except it seems like she was never fused with an actual monster. But that, conveniently (although the process of Irene giving up her remaining arm was touching and did make my blood boil a little because I was touched), after getting Irene’s right arm, she can now use the high speed sword technique well. I don’t know, I always get the impression that practice makes perfect (something Allen Iverson didn’t understand), but in the case of Claymore, it seems like having the body parts of someone who used the technique well and learn to control that part is the key to success. It’s kind of creepy but since this is an anime, I’ll let it pass. Now, onto Ophelia Orochi.

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Ophelia is a great character that you love to hate, but near the end of this eps, you couldn’t (or I couldn’t) help but feel for her. Looking at her in the classic shonen anime perspective, she’s the enemy that unwillingly becomes a helper, and even a key figure, in the hot-blooded main character’s path/journey to his goal (in the case, her goal). It looks like the awakening of Ophelia actually gave her some sanity back, and makes her think about some very important things, one of which is her brother’s reaction before he told her to run away, when Priscilla as the horned monster destroyed her home. The awakened form for Ophelia is fittingly, an Orochi figure (the Japanese mystical snake figure), but also Medusa, without the snake hair – it’s just like her character, crafty, smart, venomous and a little slick.

Ophelia’s reaction upon seeing herself in the reflection of the lake isn’t surprising at all. She hated the awakened for a similar reason that Claire is trying to find Priscilla – Priscilla the awakened (Ophelia didn’t know her name) killed someone dear to her (her brother – she has a bro-con). While Ophelia is driven insane by the event, Claire is driven with vengeance because of a similar event. They actually have something in common. A cheesier and less intelligent show may have to use that to help the plot. Claymore doesn’t have to. In fact, Ophelia kind of redeems herself, with some unintentional help from Claire – Claire is a real shonen character at heart – hot blooded and emotional, and charges forward without giving up most of the time. Of course, when things look impossible, ex deus machina come and saves her – but that’s not the point here.

Ophelia is able to squeeze her human side apart from her monster side. When she saw Claire giving up, she “encourages” Claire as if she couldn’t stand it anymore by speaking what herself wants to say to her brother after all these years. That line in my opinion, is a great line to all who thinks about letting their lives go easily. “If you just throw your life away, what are these you leave behind going to do?”

Claire thought about Teresa, and Irene, who gives her all to her (a typical shonen, and even Sailor Moon device), but that’s not enough. It’s not until Ophelia gives her a verbal kick in the ass that she recovers and starts to attack again. Ophelia becomes more like her trainer and friend in this way.

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Ophelia’s life ends in a rather touching way. She slowly sinks into the lake thinking back to her brother’s last smile. He had protected her from death. she finally remembers that smile…

I really shed a tear in my heart for her. She’s a great character without any stereotypical actions or cheesiness, and her redeeming scene, although a little abrupt, is still worthy of going down as one of the best redeeming scenes of shonen anime history. It is sparkled by Claire’s refusal (or I also think it’s stupidity) to just skip the entire snake body and go for the vulnerable human part of Ophelia. Perhaps this is in a way, a metaphor of saving Ophelia’s humanity. That a sick person needs help, but the sick person has to do something to help herself as well, perhaps by being vulnerable. In this case, Ophelia comes up with her last challenge, in which she doesn’t exactly has the complete upper hand. Claire is a classic shonen hero, except she’s a supermodel like girl voiced by Houko-chan. Both Houko-chan and her character have nice feet, btw. Clare defeats Ophelia, and saves her soul, or as Clare says: “I’ll take your soul with me on my journey.” Anyway, speaking of seiyuus, the seiyuu for Ophelia deserves a round of applause for her awesome job voicing the character.

There’s not much more to say about this eps. We see that the current number 5 is going after Irene. Without her arms, what will Irene do? One of the commentators to my last post said that even offensive Claymores can regenerate their arms, but the process takes weeks, and their arms become really weak because they won’t be able to channel their yoki through these regenerated arms. Even if that device is actually going to be used in the anime, that still won’t help Irene, who has to somehow deal with number 5 (played by Yukino Satsuki, who played Otohime Mutsumi in Love Hina, Chidori Kaname in Full Metal Panic, and Kagome in Inuyasha among other roles), who, according to Irene, is too strong to be merely number 5. We don’t get to know why that is in this eps.

There’s a little bit of fan service in here, where Claire’s naked butt and back is visible, but for some reason, I found her back looking rather artificial. I can’t quite explain what it was. But overall, this is a very shonenesque (yep, I invented that word) eps, except all the shonen mentors, enemies and protagonist are all women. But the men still control the secret organization. None of that, however, deters my enjoyment of the show. The pacing is perfect as usual, and this time, I knew it was over but I wanted it to continue, and I was surprised how fast it was over anyway.

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94% recommended (the fan service here really doesn’t raise my score)

PS. the seiyuu for Irene (Takayama Minami) is the same person who played Delandu in Escaflowne, and used to be the singer of Tw0-Mix (I believe the group broke up), who performed the OP for Gundam Wing.

Claymore 13 – AHHH!!! NOOO!!! Clair lost something on her…

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Her right arm, that is. That makes her kinda look like that Venus statue – OK, that’s weird. But anyway, this eps proves that the creator of the show and the writer of the manga (I was told the show pretty much follows the manga), aren’t afraid to make the main character looking real bad – I was appalled to see her arm gets destroyed worse than ground meat in a juicer on high spin (yeww…), good thing we didn’t get to see that happen realistically, otherwise we’d be seeing ground beef before getting made into hamburgers. Do you want fries with that? (NO, and I know I’m not funny) But yeah, let’s just say that it is possible in Claymore world that Ophelia’s sword can vibrate so fast that anything gets in the way become tiny little bits of meat…OK! STOP THAT! I still want that burger! And yes, I want the goddamn fries!

Anyhow, I’m not turning to vegetarian any time soon. But I was sad, I guess that a beautiful, short-haired supermodel warrior with nice feet, lost part of her body. It is indeed a devastating defeat for Clare, not to mention it’s her sword using arm that got lost.

We got to learn a little about difference between the Claymores. Some are defensive types that can regenerate, some are offensive types that can’t. But that brings out this question: Doesn’t Clare do better when she’s on the defensive? I mean she has trouble switching from defense to offense when she uses her powers. So technically doesn’t that make her a defensive Claymore? I’m a little bit confused here. Or maybe that doesn’t matter it just means that she somehow learned to use defense better but she’s technically not a defensive type. In any case this spells trouble, because she can only reattach limbs but not regrow them.

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Ophelia is smart, deadly, fast and absolutely ruthless, that, plus being almost psychotic, makes her a formidable if not impossible to defeat warrior. I think she’s number 4 on the list. Wow. Only number 4? It seems like to me some Claymores can’t quite contain their rage, and you know what they say in the Force, anger, fear, and aggression, the dark side of the force are they (no, I don’t love George Lucas’ franchise, but in this case this kinda works). At any rate, anger and super hostile aggression and then the frustration of being defeated by the former number 2, Irene, ultimately drove Ophelia to the dark side. She becomes the very thing she loved to hunt – the awakened. It’s a bit of an irony there.

Let’s back up a little. Clare, in the second time of her life, sees despair up close, threatening to destroy her. She has no way to defeat Ophelia, who is insurmountably powerful and very cunning. Clare thinks she got out of the situation but Ophelia is too smart for her. She loses her sword using arm for good. What to do? Well, since Clare is the main character she isn’t going to be killed. So the former number 2, Irene is sent by the author to help her… I mean Irene shows up at the right time and at the right place to save Clare’s ass from death.

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The conflict continues. Ophelia isn’t going to quit hunting for Clare, and for Irene probably, who prevented Ophelia from completing her hunt. It isn’t going to matter if Ophelia turned into something she hates. What will be interesting is how Ophelia’s going to explain “reason for being” (I forgot the French) when she and Clare confront each other.

I thought I saw in the preview that Clare gets her arm back (Yay). Well, more power ups are in order. She’s learning to use the lighting sword from Irene, but how’s she going to get out of this jam?

The only thing about this eps I wanted to pick on is the impossibly strong Ophelia. She’s number 4, sure, but she’s way too strong for our protagonist. However, at least this show takes care of the “power ranking” problem by having clear distinctions – Ophelia is number 4, she has no trouble beating the crap out of Clare, who’s only 47, but Ophelia can’t defeat Irene, who is the former number 2. To me at the present stage, it all looks very strictly number based (not that anyone watching really cares about such a system). In DBZ (Ugh), the previous super villains become insignificantly weak when the next strong character shows up, but somehow when our heroes fight them, they always seem so indestructible. Doesn’t matter if half of a villain’s body gets blown off, he always look surprised and a little scared, but in a minute or two he laughs like nothing ever happened and completely recover without any damage at all. I think that’s a problem with shonen manga with the formula: character wins a few bouts, meets stronger enemy, gets broken, upgrades his (or in the case of Claymore, her) power, or grows some weapon/modifies his weapon (like Allan from D-Grayman. D-Grayman is an excellent manga but the show drags a little) and beats the enemy, then he encounters an upgraded enemy, and then the process repeats. It’s the shonen formula but also the RPG formula.

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In the case of Claymore, however, I think they have a great though not perfect solution for handling the opponents’ and the main characters’ strengths and how they would fight in battles against each other basing on their assigned strengths. I don’t know any show that has a perfect solution for this, if anyone knows, please do tell. I’d be very interested to check out a show that has done this perfectly and I would love to see how they handle it.

So far, the best characters of this show have to be Teresa and Ophelia, if only because these two characters are allowed more emotional range. Miriya the Mirage, played by Kikuko-sama, also did a good job in the eps she appeared. But Teresa made a strong impression on me, and her sudden death left me unsatisfied – she didn’t get any lines before she got her head cut off. No lines before dying, but I guess that’s the point – it strikes all too sudden. That seems to be the device they love to use in anime – it strikes all too sudden. In Kenshin OAV (not the later one, but the 2 OAV eps when we got to see him in his former assassin days), the tragedy strikes when the woman he loves steps in and tries to block her father, but ultimately Kenshin’s sword deals the mortal damage on her, by pure accident. If she stays out of the way, Kenshin may win the battle and take her home alive. In any case, it just strikes so sudden. I know that was quite a stretch but my point here is that a lot of anime deaths seem to be complete surprises. But that’s a rather minor point. Romi Paku played a great Teresa. I don’t know the name of the seiyuu for Ophelia but she’s clearly a character I love to hate. Now she’ll have to deal with she being the thing she hates. I’m looking forward to the voice acting.

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I’m also looking for what solution they’ll come up to get Clare out of this jam.

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95% recommended for your daily anime diet.