I generally have two kinds of experiences when reviewing a series I’ve already had under way. Experience #1 is, I put the disc in and for some reason have the worst time even watching a single episode all the way through. I eventually make it through to the DVD production credits and sit down to bash out the copy, but the whole experience has the aura of a chore. Experience #2 is, I put the disc in and after what feels like fifteen minutes I’m pasting the text into the CMS.
You get no prizes for guessing which of these two buckets Claymore falls into. It’s been said that no good show is too long and no bad show is too short. We have only one volume of this series left to go, and I’m dreading it being over so soon — although given that the manga is still an ongoing property, that doesn’t rule out there being another season. Please, let it be so.
The fifth volume continues, but far from concludes, the plot arc involving the Claymores being summoned to a village far in the north — the sardonically-named Pieta (“Pity”) — to stave off an attack of Awakened Beings. Those of you who have been following along so far will know that Awakened Beings and Claymore are in fact one and the same, just at different points in their respective careers. The fight proves incredibly brutal, with many key members of the team — commanders and sisters alike — dying horribly. Their chances of survival, as explained in one of the episode teasers, is zero. Such wretched odds never stopped Claire before, and she steps up to the plate to give as good as she gets. She gives quite a lot indeed. Maybe a little too much, as the last shots of the last episode on the disc imply.
All this is contrasted against and intertwined with a parallel plot involving someone we haven’t seen in a long time: Raki, Claire’s sidekick and maybe a lot more than that. He’s spared from what might be a very frigid death by a fellow who calls himself Isley. Tall, handsome in an androgynous way, he actually brings to mind Griffith from Berserk — and from what hints we have in this volume, the comparison is more than superficial. His skill with a sword galvanizes Raki into wanting to learn said art from him, and much to his surprise, Isley agrees. What Raki doesn’t understand, and what he learns only too late, is that Isley is the one responsible for this congregation of monsters in the north — and that the young girl he has under his wing is in fact a youma-in-training.
What I’ve consistently liked about Claymore — all elements that were in the manga as well, so the anime is simply making good things better — is how it starts with tropes that all too often just turn into the usual programmatic fodder and leaps over them. E.g.: “I need to be stronger!” A cigar goes to any anime fan who doesn’t wince whenever they hear that line. But when it comes out of the mouth of someone you care about, someone whose strength matters to you emotionally, it’s not a cliché anymore. We’ve watched Claire throw all of what she is into the struggles in her way, it’s hard to imagine where she might go from here. The answer, unfortunately, might well just be down.