Anime Review: Claymore Limited Blu-ray Collection (Lights, Camera, Action!)

By Drew Hurley 27.01.2017

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Claymore Limited Blu-ray Collection (UK Rating: 15)

Shonen series have always been one of the most prevalent and popular sub-genres for manga and anime, alike. They also often end up being the series that break through into the mainstream and attract Western audiences. Although they are often filled with battles and violence, they rarely contain much in the way of mature themes, such as nudity, sex, gore, or excessive profanity. These are the hallmarks of the seinen series, ones made for the later timeslots and the older viewers, with examples like Berserk and Hellsing. There are, however, the occasional series that falls somewhere between the shonen and seinen, such as Claymore. This complete collection comes courtesy of All the Anime and is out on 30th January.

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Claymore is a fantasy tale set in a world where demonic beings named Yoma hunt and devour humans. Able to take the form of humans, they live hidden amongst their prey. For a fee, these monsters are hunted and exterminated by "The Organisation," a clandestine institution that dispatches female warriors dubbed "Claymore" by the populous because of the enormous weapons they carry. These Claymore are half human, half Yoma killing machines with incredible power, but these powers come at a price - a corruption that means one day they will become something worse than what they hunt. The story follows one such Claymore, the one ranked as the weakest of their number, a Claymore named Clare. Clare may be working for the organisation and taking part in Yoma hunts across the land - indeed this is how she is introduced and how the initial episodes are spent - but Clare has a deeper calling in her heart as she is on a path of revenge. She was captured by a Yoma as a child and used as its plaything. Her saviour was a Claymore named Theresa; the two grew close until Theresa lost her life to a deadly enemy… an enemy Clare now hunts.

Those may be the major story beats but there is an excellent and sprawling story here with lots of layers. Throughout the series, creator Norihiro Agi does a marvellous job of subverting the audience's expectations, delivering some great twists and genuine surprises. There are also plenty of different story threads woven through the series. Clare ends up taking in a young boy named Raki and he slowly begins to bring her humanity back to the fore. Other Claymore are also often seen and each are very different, each with their own agendas. Their handlers at The Organisation appear occasionally to scream "Look at me! I'm a bad guy!" and then there are the Awakened Beings. All Claymore are warned not to use too much Yoma power or risk becoming an Awakened Being, something worse than a Yoma - gargantuan creatures with ridiculous amounts of power - since Claymore are ranked in strength, so just imagine if a single digit Claymore were to turn...

This complete collection is stacked with bonus features. Not just the usual "clean opening/closing and some trailers" - there are commentary tracks for numerous episodes, the original cast auditions from the English voice actors, and, best of all, are interviews with some of the Japanese production team. Series Director, Hiroyuki Tanaka, speaks about the challenges in bringing the story from manga to anime, his thoughts on the series as a whole, and some of his favourite aspects of the series. Then Sound Director Yasunori Honda discusses how to individualise each Claymore, along with how he crafted a soundtrack that would be unique and identifiable to the series. Finally, the artists get to weigh in with Art Director Manabu Otsuzuki and Art Settings Nobuhito Sue, who give a behind the scenes look at the art direction and design, along with a glimpse behind the curtains on the actual process of creating anime.

The series may be old now, but being a Madhouse creation, the quality still stands up today… well… some of it, anyway. The very opening scene to the series really captivates the audience, showing a showdown between Clare and a Yoma where a red light permeates over everything. It's stylish and fantastic. Sadly, this quality doesn't last throughout, and the animation of subsequent battles quickly goes downhill. The fights themselves are enjoyable enough, but the combat's animation just feels lazy. The character and Yoma designs are great, at least, practically jumping straight off the pages of the manga. On the audio front, this is a dual audio release and both casts deliver sterling performances. The opening theme will be familiar to Death Note fans, again from Visual Kei rockers Nightmare - Raison d'etre is a catchy J-Rock earworm.

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Although the manga series this was adapted from has now finished, when the anime was produced it was still being released monthly, and as such this series adapts the first eleven volumes and then creates its own ending to the story, one that really doesn't live up to the spectacular finale fans received in the manga. This is quite a common occurrence for anime adaptations and rarely does it pay off. The original ending crafted for Claymore is absolutely awful, taking some of the best elements of the manga and mashing them with a silly "boss battle" style ending that leaves the door open to continue with a second season if one were ever given the green light, yet also somehow delivers a showdown between Clare and her nemesis. Those who are hopeful for a second season to finish wrapping the next sixteen volumes of manga are unlikely to get it, considering the anime adaptation was announced 10 years ago this month, and the series finished in the tail end of 2007.

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10
These shows that fall somewhere outside of the shonen genre are rarely seen, but when they show up, they are often something worth taking note of. In the last few years, there have been series like Tokyo Ghoul and Attack on Titan kicking up a resurgence, with even Shonen Jump getting back into the habit recently with The Promised Neverland. While Claymore has its flaws - mostly the divergence from the original story - it has a superb premise, numerous compelling arcs, and plenty of memorable characters. Watch this and then go to read the manga for the real ending!

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