After watching this episode, honestly, I felt a little disappointed.
After reading various comments, some spoilers, additional info, and the manga, I wasn’t impressed with this episode as I was with 20 or 21. That being said, this episode definitely isn’t bad by a long stretch; it’s just a little bit…cliched?
Things that I felt were consistent with regular shonen convention that appear during this episode:
1. Clare keeps on muttering how slow she is, and how she has to get faster – Check. I think Goku says that while fighting Freeza. Or just fighting just about anyone in DBZ for that matter.
2. Powering up beyond your previous limit after the enemy is too super strong and he beats the crap out of ya for the gadzillionth time – Check. I think Seiya did that against one of the 12 Golden Constellation Saint Fighters. Or against all his powerful opponents.
3. Ultra strong god-like enemy that doesn’t suspect a thing whatsoever that our hero (in this case heroine) could do any damage at all, and when he (she) does, the enemy looks briefly surprised but not much reaction (like, I don’t know, pain) beyond that – check. I think Cell did that when Vegeta blows half of his body off, and that’s more damage than what Clare gives to Ligardes.
4. Keeps on switching back and forth between the action scenes and talking scenes – A definite check. Not that it’s pointlessly abused in this episode like they do in Initial D and Dragon Ball Z. What happens in the non-action scene here actually serves a purpose. But the switching here happened so often that it got a little distracting for me.
So, let’s dissect this episode.
Ligardes proves to be impossible to beat. Nothing’s new here. This episode constantly switches back and forth between action and contemplation. The music helps in that regard by being urgent in the fighting scenes but not too terribly fast paced, and slower and more thoughtful in the non-action scenes. It’s the “move” VS the “still” that gives us the contrast here. To what end? I’m not sure.
What I’m sure here are two things: 1. Raki finally decides that he has to do something. His resolves becomes firmer after he sees Priscilla having her full course dinner minus the dessert, and after a push from Isley.
2. To show the audience how his decision is made under urgent conditions, though he’s not quite aware of that, and to let him lead us into the next phase of the battle.
(Also to make his hesitations and indecisiveness less boring to watch.)
I think what Madhouse does here is successfully making a not so popular character having enough weight and making enough impression on all of us. Some people hate him, some don’t. I’m rather touched by his determination, his bravery and guts after he begin to travel with Clare. I mean, dare I say it? He is MAN! Hear him ROAR! Among a bunch of super strong women!
Or hear him scream like a boy, but a brave boy nonetheless.
However, once again I question the plot involving him. Why is Isley helping him out with sword techniques? Why is it Isley telling him things that he finds helpful in living? When Isley says: “Being weak is a sin.” Raki strengthens his resolve and rides toward Pieta. So I guess in this case, what Isley says is helpful? Perhaps he wants Raki to see the cruel truth for himself and then laugh at him? But Isley doesn’t seem like that kind of character.
What I do know is that so far, whatever Raki can do and does do, doesn’t matter at this point.
Few reviews ago I talked about how similar this show is with some elements of LotR. Now I’m not so sure anymore. One of the things LotR emphasize is companionship; another is what seems small and weak can actually affect the greater whole. However, in the case of Claymore, there aren’t too much displays of companionship until recent episodes. In LotR, each companion contributes to something; in Claymore, Raki is pretty useless. As for “what seems small and weak can actually affect the greater whole”, well, Raki is small and weak, but here, I don’t see he has a real chance helping anyone. Clare, on the other hand, is seeming small and weak, but she may have a chance.
I finally figured out why in the manga, Clare and Flore actually fought without Jean coming out to stop them – It’s to tell the readers that Clare’s power is now as good as some people in the single digits, maybe not as good as people from 6 and above, but at least as good as number 8 Flora. In the manga, during the time Miria led Clare, Deneve, and Helene fought against that male awakened, Miria had already stated that the group including Clare but other than herself has the capability of single digit Claymores, save the top 4. This time, after Flora and Clare fought, Flora told Clare flat out that Clare’s skills are comparable with her own. However, in the anime, we never get to see that. What we do see is Clare keep on getting frustrated that she’s not strong enough, or she hasn’t grown enough, and in this episode, she mutters about not being fast enough.
What happens to Clare in the anime seems to build up her frustration about lack of strength, and it seems to build her frustration up to the end of this episode, where she finally snaps. Clare looks like she just broke through another level during an impossible battle.
This part definitely falls into the stereotypical shonen trope. This even happens in Sailor Moon – Sailor Stars.
Had I not read the manga, I’d be sitting here wondering how exactly Clare’s power raised so much that she can actually deal a significant damage to Ligardes.
But you know, if Ligardes grows his arm back like Cell does, or losing an arm doesn’t matter to him at all, and everyone looks stupefied with their mouths open and trembling while he flexes his new arm, then I could complete the “regular shonen convention” list I have above with entry number 5 – Our hero/heros perform a seemingly devastating attack that should work against the opponent, or at least works agains the scenery/surroundings (see DBZ), but besides some dust and scratches on the opponent’s body (and no need to photoshop that one out), the opponent is unscathed.
Even with my sarcasm, I’m still giving Claymore more points than other shonen shows, because it doesn’t fall helplessly into the mud puddle that we know as “typical shonen conventions”, and when it does fall near the puddle, it uses the mud to make something, and then get itself away from the puddle – I’m talking about the anime. As for the manga, I don’t have too much problem with it on using the typical shonen conventions, because it’s so tight and gritty that whatever happens just make so much sense to me. The anime does that well enough but it cuts out bits and piece of information that would make some perhaps minor things make more sense to the more discretionary viewers.
I’m currently wondering about one thing, will they be able to end the Northern Campaign conclusively on episode 26? In any case,
94% recommended for your daily anime diet. I’m not quite sure if the switching back and forth is a smart way of doing this episode or is simply being too conventional, and I did find this episode just a tiny bit flat for me.