Claymore (TV Series 2007) Movie Review
Based on the manga by Norihiro Yagi, Claymore is the story of an organization of elite super-powered demon hunters (the series refers to demons as Yoma) that all happen to be blonde haired women. The primary hunter that the series follows is named Claire (voiced by Stephanie Young), a woman who is out for revenge and has a tremendous distrust of the organization that she works for. Of course, there’s plenty of hack and slash along the way as the character works towards her end game, but the story lacks the depth to make it truly great.
One of my biggest problems with Claymore is that it’s so damn hard to really connect with any of the characters. For one thing, all of the Claymores are fair skinned, blonde haired women with silver eyes. The most distinguishing traits they have is their varying haircuts. It’s a great way to make them seem like expendable, interchangeable faceless warriors, but it has the same effect on the viewer as well. Halfway through the series every time a character appeared, I literally had to stop and think if I had seen them before or hope that one of the other characters might clue me in. You could make the exception for the protagonist, but even then she doesn’t really stand out in a crowd and trust me there are a few episodes with a lot of Claymores in them.
On the surface, Claymore has a solid straightforward storyline. Warriors that turn out to have a dark secret behind their powers find demons and kill them upon the orders of the organization that gave them these powers. What kills me is that the big reveal is that all of these warriors made a deal with the devil to become human-Yoma hybrids, and afterward come to the conclusion that this organization might not be on the up and up. It’s mind-blowing that this is the big secret that drives the hero to try to stand against this organization, especially given her history before even joining them. Honestly, it’s almost insulting to not only the characters but the audience as well.
I had other issues with the series as well. The forced sexual overtones that seem like an attempt to be dark and edgy, but are more off-putting than anything else. The sloppy way Claymore tries to tie everything up at the end of the series, but just ends with more questions that seem more interesting than any of the ones they offered. In a way, it pulls a Full Metal Alchemist (the original not Brotherhood). I guess my biggest complaint is that Clymore looks so beautiful and interesting on the surface, but doesn’t have much depth to it at all.
Which does bring me to what I actually really liked about Claymore, it’s an absolutely beautiful anime. The art by Madhouse is splendid and the action sequences from director Hiroyuki Tanaka are everything you could want from an epic fantasy. Luckily, the series sticks to these strengths for the most part and never goes long without swords swinging and blood spraying. If nothing else, I can say that this is one of the best-looking anime I’ve seen in a long time.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t offer much more than a pretty face. Still, any fan of dark fantasy will be absolutely thrilled with Claymore. It seems to be created specifically for the likes of those that play Dragon Age and Diablo. It wasn’t exactly my cup of tea, but then again I can be critical when it comes to these sorts of things. Honestly, at 26 episodes it is a solid series to watch. My problem is that I was so excited at the beginning that my expectations rose too quickly for it. I wanted it to be this amazing anime with strong female characters, but that just let me down by turning them taking any identity from them and making them interchangeable. In fact, it was almost the exact opposite of empowering.
I do feel confident though that those geeks who love things like Dungeons & Dragons and other dark fantasies will adore this series. Most anime fans will probably like it as well since it does stick to many of the tropes we geeks have come to know and love. However, I will warn that Claymore is a pretty anime that should be taken at that. Attempts to find anything beneath the surface will find that these still waters aren’t much more than a puddle.