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

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.

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.

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.

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!)

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