Where is hope? Where’s the miracle? Why are they even here?
“I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger, they were.
Sometimes you just have to go over your highest mental barrier. You just have to fight. To hold on and not giving up.
“Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why.
Even if you can’t seem to do anything, you have to be there. You just have to…
“Folks in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going. Because they were holding on to something.”;
“What are we holding on to Sam?”;
– Sam talking to Frodo, at Osgiliath
Why me? Why us? Why all the hurt?
Well, dare I say it (and I being the one of the last people on this earth that deserves the right to say so), why not? In the world of Claymore, that’s the only way to deal with the bigger challenges that come later.
Before you roll your eyes over and groan: “Oh no, another cheesy review with some encouraging statements thrown in.” Let me get to the point right here: Claymore the anime really expresses the human growth experience well and gives an excellent view on what the shonen genre in the anime ultimately intended. And the thesis statement (drum roll, please) is really starkly simple – lean on your will to overcome.
After watching this episode, I found the pace was almost perfect. Comparing with the last episode, which had a lot of switching back and forth and slower scenes that looked more like interruptions to action rather than good expositions, this episode strikes the balance almost right. I was staring at the screen non-stop. But I was distracted enough to sense the end of the episode when it was about to happen.
The last time I stared at the screen with full attention and my mind never wondered was when I watched Samurai 7. But Gonzo had one of the best movie (the Seven Samurai) to work with.
What impresses me the most about Claymore overall is its pacing. My mind almost never wonder and I’m always curious as to what’s going to happen next. The exception would be last episode, where they clearly had pacing problems.
What impresses me the second most about Claymore is that it doesn’t drag on forever. To people who can’t get enough shonen style fights this may not a good thing, but since I really hate it when they drag out one fight in shows like say (this has to be the gadzillionth time I’m picking on this one) DBZ for 12 episodes, sometimes for even longer. When that’s done, the pacing, the drama, and the beauty of well choreographed action scenes goes down the path of boredom and repetitiveness. It often leads to the recycle of frames/cells.
What impresses me the third most is the Claymore gets rid of all the exceed fat in conventional shonen genre shows, and concentrated on showing the labor and the fruits of Clare’s journey. But it also shows the dangers and the “dark side” that she’s rapidly descending into.
The power can be used for good, but it’s often dangerous to its wielder (Sorry, I forgot where that one came from).
I hate drawing comparisons with Star Wars and “the force”, but having “yoki” as power is essentially the same thing as having “the force”, except “the force” has a light end and a dark end, but “yoki” has only the dark end. It’s like there were no regular Jedi, just dark Jedi, but the so-called dark Jedi uses the dark side for good, for as long as possible.
The “yoki” is a powerful and dangerous force, indeed. But it’s the necessary evil.
Speaking of necessary evils, let’s take a look at Clare’s progress so far.
She starts out inheriting the flesh of one of the most powerful Claymores ever, then goes through one half-awakening experience but is held back by love (if you don’t think about it in that way then it’s not that disgusting), after that, her skills of sensing yoki, probably inherited from Teresa, was sharpened under high duress. Then, before she gets ahead of herself, she goes through a huge loss – losing her arm – but in the end, she gains a highly powerful skill that will proven to be extremely useful in helping her becoming stronger without breaking the iron-law of the Claymores – if you become an awakened then you must be hunt down. Not to mention you become a disgusting demon. She releases the hate of Ophelia, and takes her soul with her on the journey forward into deeper darkness.
Next, upon helping out Jean and encountering Galatea, she witnesses and firmly learns that power of human will – Jean awakens but still retains her human mind. Also Galatea uses her yoki and her will to help Clare to come back (remember Raki kind of did that with just his will and love), after that, Clare practices her will and helps Jean back.
The battle with Duff and encounter with Riful certainly strengthens her resolve to become stronger. Just when we thought Clare can take a breather, danger come looking for her and she finds herself participating in the impossible war against the demon king of the North and his super powerful minions. For the first time in her life, she is fighting alone [Edit: along side with] people who she can consider as real friends and comrades (yes, she’s friends with Miria, Deneve, and Helene, but they officially fight as real friends in the Northern Campaign).
The fruits from all that: 1. A Claymore can learn, or rather, Clare learns rather well, though not in the beginning, that awakening body parts with a strong will in control helps raising her overall ability in battles. 2. reading the direction of anything that attacks with yoki. She can even read the yoki attached to opponents’ projectiles. 3. A strong will overcomes.
However, there are dangers with her new found powers. There’s always the threat of her will slipping away. The yoki in her body could potentially be out of control. Perhaps her anger and her hate may lead her astray one day. These are the dark fruits of her journey.
Everything leads up to her battle with Ligardes.
Her journey has come to a impossibly big obstacle.
It’s the third time she has to face a really hopeless situation.
All her disappointments, all the deaths and grave injuries to her family, friends, comrades lead to this climax. And she’s really, really angry. Angry enough to be consumed by her own powers, which has increased dramatically on the account of her anger.
Why couldn’t she do anything? If only she could do something.
Raki has also asked about “why” before.
The future is on the other side, but Ligardes, Priscilla, and Isley stand in the way.
She just have to fight through them all. But there is one more enemy.
The power of awakening.
(The quotes used are all from Lord of the Ring Trilogy.)