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.
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.