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bakagai: Claymore

Discussion in 'Reviews' started by bakagai, Jan 18, 2017.

  1. bakagai

    Jan 18, 2017
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    This review may be viewed in video format, with some notable inclusions, at

    Claymore belongs to a small group of media that is enjoyable to audience members who want to put a lot of thought into the implications of the story, and also to audience members who want to potato. The audience is free to choose if they want to focus on grills chopping up monsters, or focus on the more subtle aspects that are sprinkled into the events at hand. The audience is given the impression that much is not known in the world of Claymore, and even the wise exposition dumpers don’t know that much. In fact, they tend to be wrong when they do offer information. This aspect adds an air of mystery and excitement for the audience as they explore and discover the world. It also knows how to use unknown information to its advantage at numerous junctures.

    Claymore utilizes a speed and technique based combat style, that while difficult to pull off, inherently avoids the ‘my spirit bomb is bigger than yours because friends’ dilemma that many shounen entries struggle to overcome.

    Claymore proves that nobody is safe when it comes to the cast. This willingness to do away with important characters allows for real tension in combat sequences.

    The series forms a habit of creating rules and then later breaking those rules. Where this concept lends itself to plot convenience, Claymore is very careful to suggest that there is a tangible explanation for the inconsistency or that there is a hidden motive that is responsible for the rule. Does the shadowy shadow organization really care if humans are killed so long as there are no outside witnesses, or is it an excuse to excise potentially uncontrollable members of its flock? Well Ophelia chan does whatever the fook she wants, however she’s conveniently strong enough to be useful and weak enough to be rooted out if she ever poses an actual problem.

    Unfortunately, Claymore is not able to maintain this level of quality and thought throughout it’s entire run time. Several episodes could have been consolidated or removed altogether. A significant portion of the episodes could be summarized as ‘and then nothing important happened… very slowly’. Claymore is truly puzzling; it achieves so much so creatively, and in the same breath it produces cringe-inducing cheesy garbage.

    Claymore has a tendency to over explain itself, often in the form of tiresome exposition, which is odd because at other junctures it proves that it is more than capable of explaining complicated and subtle story elements through action rather than speech.

    Claymore has a bad habit of destroying its powerful forward momentum by interjecting the sentiments of it’s worst character. The ending is also aids. It breaks from the combat style based on technique and speed, and devolves into a repetitive and unengaging screaming match.

    The cardinal sin of characterization is to kill off characters and assume that the audience cares without developing them. Claymore has little if any problems with this concept. Claymore knows how to get the most out of it’s characters, for better or for worse. They are presented in a way where their principles and temperaments are made easily understandable to the audience. Not only are they presented and developed individually with great skill, but the way in which they are able to interact and grow from interactions with the other characters is also handled spectacularly.

    Teresa who is introduced in episode 5, and coincidentally the point where people start liking this series, is an extraordinary manifestation of fiction. Because of her apparent and overwhelming strength, she plays well with the plot concepts. She can generally make any situation pan out to her favor, but makes the conscious choice not to in many scenarios which illuminates facets of her character. An overwhelming nihilism, lack of purpose, and hopelessness radiates from her core, which is inherently odd for someone of her strength. Her interactions with this imoutochan are remarkable in that she is able to show the audience so much about herself and grow in front of their eyes.

    Despite the Claymore units being supposedly emotionless and cold, there are some really emotionally potent, electrically charged moments during the run time. The connections between the Claymore become very tangible. Clare is very much a self-loathing lightning rod, as she regularly gets severely injured during the events at hand. Ophelia is the manifestation of Claymore breaking it’s own rules. Claymore are supposed to be emotionless, obedient, lawful, quiet, and stable. She is very much the opposite, providing start contrast and infuses a lot of fun into the production.

    Where I understand that they tried to make the series more palatable to your Dragonball Z monkey, it is disappointing that they didn’t explore some of the more subtle aspects that could have pushed Claymore’s characterization quality into the stratosphere.

    Ah I almost forgot Raki(Kappa). This fargin icehole is supposed to the vehicle for the audience to relate to the proceedings. And he very nearly ruins the entire production. Raki is clearly a tacked-on afterthought and I can only imagine what the mangaka’s conversation with his editor must have been to spawn this garbage. Ahhhhh pretty good, but you know what be better? If we add a 12 year old with daddy problems and trust issues. Sooooooooooo more useless Shinji Ikari? He is supposed to provide an emotional foil, but winds up being an incessant, whiny 0interruption to the proceedings. I will say that he becomes more ignorable with repeated viewings.

    Usually the more intense and screamy performances, particularly from female actors, come from the Japanese dubs. Fortunately, the large list of women in the English dub cast went really really hard during their performances. They must have been inspired by either the content, the chance to play a darker and more serious womanly role, or each other in order to produce a dub of this quality. Brina Palencia is able to balance Priscilla’s naive nature with her thirst for recognition and maturity. Caitlyn Glass’s Deneve and Jamie Marchi’s Helen are able to balance each other, while Monica Rial’s Miria is focused and authoritative. Laura Bailey is able to highlight Jeans vulnerable tendencies next to her rigid and principled exterior.

    The dub has the dubious honor of being directed by more than half a dozen people. It is nothing short of miraculous that the performances and vision stayed consistent throughout. Christine Auten must have had a natural affinity to playing a character like Teresa, because she pops off early and hard as Teresa. Her performance is lacking the playful element that both Romi Park’s and the manga detailed, however she proves that Teresa’s potential playfulness is extraneous. She sells Teresa’s nihilistic and beaten down pride admirably. Her performance during scenes where Teresa is emotionally detached and emotionally present are both remarkable. Luci Christian also happens to pop off in her role as Ophelia, bringing sadism to a boil and mirth to a cynical climax. She is able to transition from anger, excitement, cruel glee, stark arrogance, and despair at the drop of a hat which was instrumental in the realization of Ophelia.

    The English dub features a layering technique for the youma and awakened being’s monster dialogue rather than pitching down normal lalllly dialogue. It gives the monsters a very distinct sound and also allows the director to bring the human or monster aspects of the voices to the forefront for dramatic effect. This offers the audience additional insight into the character’s thoughts.

    The Japanese dub feels a little over directed and unfocused in spite of a laundry list of extremely talented seiyuu. The result isn’t bad, but it is stiffer and less colorful.

    The music is remarkably effective at creating tension and lending significance to the events at hand. It is helpful in allowing the production to change gears fluidly, as the sequence of events can rapidly change from exposition, to a tearful character interaction, to a rage-induced brawl. It is a little repetitive, particularly during the earlier stages of the production, however it is very accurately utilized and is so effective at illuminating and exfoliating the proceedings. The tender segments are hearttouching, the exciting segments are riveting, and the uncertain segments have an air of mystery and desperation. The music offers insight into the mind of the warriors, which is a lovely touch since they are so stoicly presented.

    A medley of instrumentation is used, but it all manages to fit into the fantastical medeval world that Claymore inhabits. It jumps around from slow and soulful piano pieces, to distorted guitar riffs, and even bagpipes(bagpipes).

    The OP Raison D’etre presents the audience with a ragged pursuit for purpose in one’s existence and poses that perhaps it is the relationships that we form rather than our goals that are meaningful to our existence. The ED Guilty Skies is a soulful rendition that focuses on the concept of loss and the persistence of human memory.

    Moreover, the musical score has a certain polish to it that nearly every production lacks. This is an example of a highly impactful score that is nearly flawless.

    The background art of this show is nothing short of spectacular.

    The environments include copious amounts of detail, are influential to the tone of the scenes, and are quite varied. Easily amongst the best in anime. The color palate used is largely neutral and dark. The reasoning for employing such a color palate is typically to invoke a sense of atmosphere or to provide an opportunity for contrast. Claymore is a master of contrast in that it dramatizes both lighting and blood against the dark backdrop.

    A lot of attention was put into identifying light sources and not only making the animation consistent around that light source, but also dramatizing the effect(fire)(shadow wall noel)(reflection sword)(light after almost awaken youma).

    The cinematography is beyond creative. I haven’t ever seen a production that has been this decadent in the amount of nor varied selection of camera angles and camera motion. It goes a long way towards adding some sort of motion to the otherwise immobile proceedings. The motion tunnels and delayed cuts go a long way towards making the combat exciting and invigorating in spite of the very quick-paced nature.

    So this is like some of the best animation of all time right? Why doesn’t it look like it? Wellllll that’s because the character designs are very rudimentry and lacking in detail. Even the hair, which tends to be their only outward defining trait, is lifeless and again lacking in detail. I get it, the exterior supposed to be a metaphor for their unemotional interior - washed out. But at some point you have to give the audience something to look at. Most of your audience cares about what the babes look like, not how detailed your wall is. There were also some painfully obvious spots where the budget and or time ran thin.

    All said, Claymore gets almost all of the small stuff right and stumbles over some big stuff, namely consistency. Claymore earns an 8 out of ten.

    Plot: 5

    Characters: 8

    Vocal Performance: 8

    Music: 10

    Animation: 8

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