Now that all is said and done, the whole of Claymore (or atleast its first season) has been a journey towards a single smile.Beyond the bloodshed and severed limbs and all the torment endured byeveryone, especially Claire, there’s one moment when that woman finallyallows herself a smile not only for having survived but for havingfound something she hadn’t even set out to look for in the first place.Her original mission was to take vengeance upon Priscilla, the AwakenedBeing who killed Claire’s big-sister mentor Teresa—but a funny thinghappened on the way to the battlefield, and at the end she’s gratefulthere is now something else in her world other than the prospect ofendless bloodshed.
No ongoing manga can be adapted into a TV show without at least some level of compromise. And the ending of Claymore as a show—first season or only season—doesdeviate from the way the same plotlines have been concluded in themanga. They may not keep the same sequence of events, but what theyhave reproduces the same kinds of emotional significance for everyoneinvolved. I know people who were upset at the changes, but I’m not oneof them. What we see in the show works on its own terms.
The last disc is little more than two extended battle scenes, in whicha partly-awakened Claire first battles and defeats the leonine Rigaldo(albeit with a little help from her sister Claymores). The battlescenes are a machine-gun attack on the senses; blink and you willmiss something. Then comes her battle with Priscilla, now in Isley’scare. Priscilla alternates between childlike innocence and murderousmalevolence, sometimes right in the same sentence.
The end result is not the rocks-fall-everyone-dies conclusion wemight have expected, but instead a stalemate: Claire goes a notch toofar in her Awakening, and Priscilla is reverted back to her vulnerable,de-powered form—but then Raki, who has always served as the voice forClaire’s human side, intercedes on both of their behalves. He’sseen Claire’s more human side, and Priscilla’s as well; he has morepity than hatred in his heart for the latter, and too much love for theformer to just let her throw her life away.
This is the partthat wasn’t in the manga: the duel with Priscilla, and Raki’sintervention. For perspective I went back and read the relevant volumesof the manga and saw how even for volumes after that point, Raki andClaire haven’t even met back up again; years go by, and all during thattime he’s ostensibly still in the care of Isley, honing his fightingtechnique. I was actually grateful they didn’t take the low road andhave him pop back out of nowhere after Taking A Level In Badass™ (thankyou, TVTropes) and rescue Claire by whacking off Priscilla’s head withone blow. I think I might have broken the DVD across my knee if they’dpulled something like that. But they didn’t; they stuck with what theshow is really about, not just what it looks like it’s about.
I suspect the choices they made for the conclusion of Claymore willsit better with people once they have a chance to digest the seriesfront-to-back in a single dose—e.g., when the inevitable season set isreleased this October.
So maybe the ending we get is a bit moregratuitous than it needs to be. Maybe a final battle with Priscilla wasone more climax than this show needed. But they got the right thingsout of the ending they picked for it, and on the whole this remains oneof the very best shows to hit these shores in quite some time.