Claymore Anime

November 25th, 2007

I’m back from vacation, and lightly toasted marshmallow in color. I learned that if you have to order a drink by color, it’s not so good. I dubbed my purple drink the “Robitussin Colada.” But all the other colors were good. Orange was my favorite – they made a mean Tequila Sunset.

I want to be perfectly clear about today’s review. I am reviewing the Claymore anime because while appreciate everyone suggesting I watch it, I’m kind of tired explaining to people why I didn’t think it was all that, much less a bag of chips.

I was told by *many* people how awesome and win Claymore was before I watched it, but since I never really listen to anyone, I had no great expectations for it. I was not disappointed. I can only conjecture that the reason that so many people thought it was brilliant is that I am 20 year older than all of you and I was around for the great Fantasy wave of the 70s and 80s. There was nothing at all unique about Claymore that I could see. The territory it covered has been done many many times over. And more gay-ly too – see Mercedes Lackey’s books. Don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t awful. It just wasn’t “teh awesome.” If you weren’t around when every single author in the world was churning out long series of Sword-and-Sorcery, D&D-ish, Lord of the Rings-esque quest style books, then you will probably think it’s pretty cool.

Claymore is a sword-and-demon quest story. The great warriors are all female, all half-demon themselves, called by the uncommonly expository and helpfully prejudiced and hateful villagers “Claymores.” Which described their swords well enough. There are 47 Claymores at any one time, and their own organization also helpfully exploits and neglects them, so we have two quests for vengeance. Our protagonist, Clare, has a tragic backstory in which her family is slaughtered, her village rejects her and she becomes the protege of the coolest, most powerful Claymore extent, Teresa.

There’s pretty much no question that the Teresa/Clare arc is the best bit of the story. Teresa is undoubtedly cool. Clare grows less annoying as the arc goes on. It has to end tragically, of course. Duh. ^_^

So now we are supposed to understand why Clare picks up Raki, a kid with the same tragic backstory as her own. Unfortunately for us, Raki is also a huge whiner. Pretty much any scene without Raki was good.

The main theme of the anime is Clare’s quest to grow stronger to avenge Teresa. It’s a decent enough plot, completely with lots of power-ups, team-building and traveling – all the usual elements of a good D&D story. The voice actresses are good to excellent, with four of my top five getting significant roles, so that made me happy. The end of the anime, while in no way the end of the story, was pretty much as expected, so it worked for me. The music was very good in places, as well.

Because after the first few episodes, Serge and I realized that what other people saw as “awesome” we were seeing as “okay,” we started watching crappy anime first, in order to increase Claymore’s awesomeness. We watched Hitohira which we both thought was painfully awful so it worked well. And we tried Touka Gettan but that was SO bad it was funny and it became distracting, so it failed as a opening act. Each week we were so glad to be done with Hitohira, it did indeed help any scene without Raki to become better. Unfortunately, whenever he was on the screen, the level of good dropped significantly. I can’t think of a more sniveling whiner in any anime I’ve ever watched.

Yuri. Get ready to send in all your “You’re a moron” comments now. There was no Yuri in Claymore. Teresa and Clare did indeed have a deep love for one another. I do not doubt that. Their relationship was the high point of the series for me, as well anyone else. But were they “in love”? Did they want to be lovers? Unequivocally no. Sisters, guardian-ward, even mother-daughter. Yes.

This is a series full of deep battlefield emotions. Blood sisters, sword sisters. If the characters had been John Wayne as Teresa and some young strapping lad as Clare, you wouldn’t pair them up. It’s a battlefield buddy sort of story. People who happen to be women facing life and death situations together, relying upon one another to watch each other’s backs. And I see a lot of deep bonding there. But not that thing that *I* see as Yuri – two women who are drawn together by love and wanting to be lovers. Jeanne, for instance. She owed her life to Clare and wanted to repay that. She cetainly followed Clare, like a retainer follows a beloved lord, full of admiration, worship and yes, a kind of love. I didn’t see it as a desire for Clare or a desire to be with Clare in the sense of being girlfriends with Clare.

If you press me, I’d say that Helen and Deneve had the best, only, chance of becoming lovers of all the Claymores we saw. And only by the very end.

Ratings:

Art – 6
Story – 7 without Raki, 5 with
Characters – 8 except Raki who was a 4
Yuri – 1
Service – 5 +1 for the insistence on Yuri where it hath none

Overall – 6 +1 when watched after something that sucked massively

It’s a war story with swords instead of guns and Youma instead of Nazis. Not bad, but certainly not ground-breaking. Or Yuri.

Send to Kindle

20 Responses

  1. Adam says:

    If the characters had been John Wayne as Teresa and some young strapping lad as Clare, you wouldn’t pair them up.

    Oh really? Which Internet have you been living on all these years, Erica? ;)

  2. Crimsonlotus says:

    Great review! I adored Claymore, inasmuch as I am an inveterate sword-and-sorcery fan, though I fully agree with your assessment that it was in no way, shape or form Yuri. I suppose your analysis only leaves the question as to whether there can be female bonding on, as you rigtly put it, a surrogate sister/mother level which is not misconstrued as Yuri?

  3. crimsonlotus – I think you’ve hit the nail on the crumpet with that question. And I have to say that they answer is “probably not.” :-)

    Adam – you made me cry. Happy now?

  4. basic.syntax says:

    I agree: ‘ain’t teh greatest’ – I’m also over 30, so most readers here probably shouldn’t trust me, either.

    After his first few interactions with Claire, you can tell Raki is there to be her reminder of humanity and what she is fighting for. The whining didn’t bother me as much as some. He loves Claire and wants to somehow be able to defend her, but is reminded again and again of his inadequacy in the Claymore’s world of monsters; he is totally unmanned by displays of these women’s prowess.

    Unfortunately, Raki got the short stick when the writer was plotting out the lives of this huge Band of Sisters, such that when the time came to turn off Claire’s self-destruct switch, he was little more than a Macguffin. He was used in a way similar to the boring Rosenberg of El Cazador, a character visited from time to time, with little to do until the end.

    The enemy within is often more interesting than the enemy without; I wanted to see more into the mysteries surrounding “the organization” – the tidbits were tantalizing but all we got in this lengthy installment was a revenge story.

  5. Neon says:

    You forgot to mention that Ilene is gay as stick,

  6. Sara says:

    I loves this anime without Raki in it. There’s definitely no Yuri in Claymore. I only see sisterly love and friendship here.

  7. Lex says:

    All fair comments. I could see hints at a possible second season in which Raki has grown up a little ( boys shouldn’t cry that much, I think Clare found herself a sister ). There’s room there for development. The anime wasn’t lower than low awefull, in fact even with all the negative I’d still praise it highly.
    Trying not to be rude here – the Duke was paired up with a greenhorn in a few movies and sucess was made ( Alan Badillion Trahurn ? Knife throwing young lad who can’t shoot from El Dorado was the best ).

  8. Skotti says:

    THANK YOU!!

    I few guy friends of mine were going on about “oh Skotti, you’ll love this!! It’s Yuri, with swords!”.

    I watched the first DVD and about half of the second and realized, this was the most dull story….ever.

    And no Yuri.

  9. Anonymous says:

    i was wondering if anyone could tell me the approximate rating of this series. i would like to show it at my college’s Anime Society but we can’t show anything too graphic, gory, etc. so please, someone let me know. thanks.

  10. I am not sure how to rate this as Yuri but it does reflect in an interesting and accurate way the different way women who actually do combat and swordfighting act and interact with each other, with that mix of “show me” to “your not alone” all somehow mixed together. I could list names from the international epeeists who fit many of the different characters. It also goes into the different psych and motivation of fighters (though it missed the “I just do what my coach tells me”). And I enjoyed it probably more than I should have, though found the ending boring, the rest was in many ways Yuri in the way many traditional “male” sports are taken up by non-traditional women (epee was only added to the olympics for women 8 years ago, sabre 4 years ago). Are they lovers on screen. No, but there sure are a lot of dykes up there to watch.

    This is thankfully not the ill spew of Lackey (at least I don’t REMEMBER watching a scene with people making love while talking to thier horses?) If I had to compare to anyone it would be the writers Cole and Allen since both were “wet work” combat vets – and this is sort of a female version of that.

    I mean, seriously, if you aren’t willing to risk breaking a bone or ripping a muscle to make that point for the DE – you’re not going to get high enough to fight women with enough experience to actually HAVE nicknames. So yeah, enjoyed it immensely, and would recommend it to any martial woman, particularly a lesbian one.

  11. Anonymous says:

    u clearly dont know what the hell ur talkin bout then.
    the way u rate things is just fucking retarded
    how about a simple five point rating scale?
    or r u to fucked in the head to know what that is.

    besides this anime is nothing short of a 4 out of 5

  12. imwithstupid says:

    ok i think that anyone who says that this anime is Yuri should google that word. You have to be a moron or a 20 year old “monkey-spanker” to see Yuri in there.come on grow up a little bit! if you ask me it is a 4 over five, and believe me erica,as a former role player almost ringer, it’s not that bad, not the best but not bad at all. about raky, ok his a whiny pants, i thoght that he could get more mature along the anime, but ok we all make mistakes but if the second season (and i’m not saying that there’s a second season)comes out i hope we could see a better raky,i don´t know what you think but for me the character has great chances to become better in the future. AND FOR ALL THE FREAKY NOTGIRLFRIENDPORNADDICTUNDERWEARHOLIC PERVERTS WHO THINK CLAYMORE IS YURI, LET ME TELL YOU AGAIN, NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO

  13. Alex says:

    I think Claymore actually is a groundbreaking series. It’s different then the rest of the Panty-shot and boob jiggling series that you always see with women in it. The series is all serious and never differs from the original plotline. There isn’t even any filler, because all the battles are important and are connected in some way to making clare stronger or to discovering the mysteries of the organization and the world they are living on.
    And really I don’t think that you should EVEN THINK about Yuri while watching the show. The show is all SERIOUS and there is NO ROMANCE except maybe of that of clare and raki, Riful and Dauf, and Isley and Priscilla. BUT THATS IT, and you don’t always see it, its all in there and in very good taste. You shouldn’t think about pairings (But I must say…Jean and Clare are my faves ^_^ It will NEVER HAPPEN though)Read the manga too, its alot better then the anime and you can really get into the battles >-<
    Of course thats coming from a total claymore fangirl who watched both the anime, read the manga (Still reading) has 14 books and is ordering a t-shirt.
    o.O

  14. @Alex – If your personal history only goes back a few years, then yes, I’m sure it’s very exciting. If you’ve read *anything* older than Harry Potter, you’ll know that it’s pretty standard for Swords and Sorcery stories.

  15. Lemon Quat says:

    I really like your reviews, I feel you never pull any punches. I really love Yuri and your site is the only one that will straight up tell me if there is any. I hate wasting my time in a series only to find out nothing happens! So thank you Erica. Also, I found you through your Amazon review of Simoun :)

  16. Anonymous says:

    Okay, I know this is way old (saw Claymore a couple of years back) but I watched it again last week and decided to just find stuff about it.

    Hmm… Sure, it could easily have been a mother-daughter relationship, but you can’t dispute that if others would choose to see it as Yuri, I don’t think you could say it’s incorrect.

    I mean, Clare and Raki did have a, er, “unfamily” moment. When they said goodbye – Clare kissed him in a that could very well be interpreted as such despite the age difference.

    So yeah, given time, it could very well have been like that too for Teresa and Clare.

    *Sighs dreamily*

  17. Personally, I’d proofread better if I were to complain about someone’s art. That’s just me though.

  18. @SingletrackM1nd – This is a blog, not a corporate enterprise. There will be errors in my typing. Oh well.

    I’m kind of concerned with the reading comprehension level of readers of this post – I never complain. I don’t even say I don;t like it. I say it was all right. If that’s complaining to you, you’re extremely sensitive.

  19. @SingletrackM1nd “Teh awesome” and “evar” were not, as it happens, typos. They were what I wanted to say, as they were the slang of the time.

    I realize now that that sort of thing doesn’t survive the test of time, and no longer do that, but thanks for pointing out that pedantic people must simply find *something* to be superior about when they don’t agree with the content. ^_^

Leave a Reply