The motivations and origin of Clare comes to a relative conclusion and the focus shifts back to a strong present day storyline.
What They Say
A brutal scourge stalks the land. Yoma, monsters driven by a hunger satisfied by only one quarry: Humanity. The dark breed knows but a singular foe: Claymore. Human-Yoma hybrids of extraordinary strength and cunning, the Claymores roam from skirmish to skirmish delivering salvation by the edge of a blade... for a fee.
Thus continues the twisting tale of Clare, one such sister of the sword driven by pain in both victory and defeat. A disturbing glance into the past reveals the forces which molded an orphan into a warrior, where monsters come in all shapes and heroes sometimes hide their greatest glories. Lore tells of twin goddesses, worshipped for their boundless grace - two angels of light called Teresa and Clare.
Contains episodes 6-10.
FUNimation’s release of Claymore is spot on as it’s one of the few releases that they’ve made the bump up to a 5.1 mix for with the English side. The English language track gets a solid 448kbps 5.1 mix that has some solid moments throughout, more from overall impact than directionality, with the opening and closing sequences being the strongest. The action scenes make out rather well also and it helps to give it a decent boost over the Japanese track. The original Japanese stereo mix, at 192kbps, is no slouch as it serves the material well and is problem free, but it lacks some of the impact with the sound effects and music that the 5.1 mix provides.
Originally airing throughout 2007, the transfer for this TV series is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. FUNimation’s encode here is rather solid as it spends most of its bandwidth in the sevens through nines and these episodes fare a bit better than the first volume did. Colors look a bit stronger and not quite so plastic like and the grain comes across as reduced. It also helps that there wasn’t any really big red scene sequences here that are difficult to work with. Though the first volume left me feeling rather disappointed, this one comes across a fair bit stronger and more pleasing overall.
The keepcase for this release is once again really nicely done and quite appealing. The front cover has a strong piece with Teresa looking serene as she fights while a Yoma is lurching alongside her. The foil aspect is well used here to give it a lot more impact and to also give it something of an otherworldly feeling. The logo is provided in two forms, one in its English language version that’s seen on the manga along the upper right which is pretty small. The other is the larger logo that’s done sideways in silver and red foil along the left which stands out a lot more and is far more appealing. The back cover is done in a soft white with a few shots from the show that uses the foil paper to good effect. The summary is well done in covering what this volume is about without giving away too much. The discs extras are all clearly listed as are the episode numbers and titles. The rest is rounded out with the standard production information and a very small technical grid that covers the very basics. No show related inserts are included nor is there a reversible cover.
The menu design for Claymore takes its cues from the cover artwork which is a real positive. The use of Teresa from the cover in the standard colors is really appealing as it has a certain vibrancy to it that doesn’t feel overly done. Combined with the dark background and the instrumental music used with it, it sets the mood nicely, even if it is a bit busy. The navigation along the bottom is standard design for FUNimation and the submenus load quickly and without problem. The disc doesn’t read our players’ language presets though and defaults to English language with no subtitles. While not a standout design, it’s one that takes some good elements from the cover design and incorporates it well.
This release has a couple of English language oriented extras to it as well as the standard inclusion of the clean opening and closing sequence. The single episode commentary included on this volume is actually located in the extras section which is nice to see. For Japanese language fans, we get an extra this time around as well with a nearly seven minute light interview with the series director where he talks about how he got drawn into the series and some of the difficulties in adapting the manga to this form.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Settling into the second volume of Claymore is a little awkward at first, especially if you only have a faint memory of the first. As events play out, if you’ve forgotten that this was all flashback, you may get a sense of surprise as the cast starts getting whittled down. Otherwise, you’re simply watching a good origin story here that expands nicely on what the world of Claymore is like as it details a lot of little things about the way they operate, exist and the dangers they face.
The origin story of Clare as she travels with Teresa has grown more interesting with this volume as more Claymore’s begin to interact with them. While there is some good moments to be had with the two traveling together, and the way that Clare steadfastly refuses to leave Teresa’s side, it can go on for only so long before it gets uninteresting. Teresa recognizes the problem but insists that Clare has to stay in the town where she just finished her job. Her life isn’t where Clare needs to be and she’s able to get through to the young woman. Events end up forcing things however when a group of bandits strike at a town where she just eliminated a Yoma at, which is admittedly a smart thing for bandits to do.
The problem comes when the bandits end up slaughtering practically everyone and even Teresa is slated for death here as the town burns around her. The connection that Teresa has made with Clare overpowers her and she actually deals in the death of humans through this. Though she does try to paint it as a less than strict rule, it does set into motion events that has the Organization sending off its next four most powerful Claymore’s to take her down and behead her. But that’s not something that Teresa will let stand because she has to insure that Clare is safe after all that she’s been through.
Having the next four most powerful enter the picture is really something to see, as they all have very different personalities and quirks. Most amusing however is Priscilla, a recent novice who has already ascending to the number two position because of her skill and the sheer number of kills. The picture that’s painted through her actions gives rise to the idea that the world is heavily infested with these things and she’s got a childlike innocence about her even as she dispatches them. Meeting Teresa however sets off a new chain of events that gives rise to the storyline in the present, as we first see how Clare’s mindset is shattered and then she finds the resolve to pick up the pieces to become who she is now.
And that person in the now is really a lot more engaging to see after going through the background side of her in the last few episodes. Once the motivation is clear as to why Clare become a Claymore and what it is she’s really after, seeing her going through the motions with normal Yoma takes on new meaning. The way she’s even more distant with other Claymore’s is also all the more telling now, especially when she runs into a mixed group here and then later finds herself part of a team with them again, this time in pursuit of an Awakened Being that’s holed up in the mountains. One that has easily defeated Claymore’s sent to hunt it in the past.
All of this paints a very different picture of Clare than what we got in those first episodes when she took Raki under her care and began to figure out what her real path may be. There are obviously similarities to her own past, but the path is certainly different. Teresa was a Claymore through and through and intent only on eliminating the things she was sent to destroy. Clare on the other hand performs her duties, but she’s looking for someone specific and she’s honing all of her skills to deal with these creatures that add a new level of menace to the story. This gets examined through the eyes of others during this encounter, but watching the lead-up to it and how the others with higher ranks deal with Clare is rather amusing since the reality is so different. But even that reality has limits, and those limits that we see in the battle are what helps to make Clare interesting since she’s not near the pinnacle of where she needs to be.
After the first volume of Claymore with the uneven feel of it and the extensive flashback material that was being presented, I wasn’t exactly enamored with it. This set of five episodes helps to move us along a path that is certainly interesting, provides more motivation and background for Clare and sets out some actively achievable goals. Goals that in the end may have a lot more behind them and lead to even more interesting things. Claymore is still very much a big sword swinging action show, and I’m still uncertain about the visual design of the characters and the overall drab nature, but this second volume has really gotten my interest in seeing where it goes from here now that we have several new revelations and a place to go. I’d still like to see Raki get the boot however and to follow a tough as nails Clare down the path without humanity tugging on her cape.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Actor Commentary, Director Interview
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.