The Claymore’s find themselves under a direct assault by the Awakened Beings while Raki discovers something that will shock Clare.
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.
Thus continues the twisting tale of Clare, one such sister of the sword driven by pain in both victory and defeat. War has been unleashed, and certain death looms, yet the silver-eyed soldiers harbor an even greater fear: the uncertain horror of Awakening. Rigaldo, a foe more force of nature than warrior, stands in the way of survival. But neither madness nor monster will sway Clare, not with vengeance so near.
Contains episodes 19-22:
The Carnage in the North II
The Carnage in the North III
Invasion of Pieta I
Invasion of Pieta II
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 very engaging piece where Clare is fighting against an Awakened Being while Miria is involved as well. The dynamic nature of it, combined with the foil that gives it so much more, really gives it a very powerful 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 the characters 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 short four minute light interview with the man being the background designs and overall art settings. There’s a lot of neat artwork to be seen here in the video, but it’s a short fluffy piece overall..
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
With the way that Claymore presents itself, each volume has a lot going on but it’s done in a way that’s somewhat slow and methodical as it puts all the pieces in play. With the series drawing closer to a close with this volume, some story elements from early on are being brought back up which brings things full circle, or at least starts to move in that direction. It is a bit predictable in a way, but it’s the execution hat makes it fun and the fact that the next set of episode will provide for some fun drama and surprised looks.
The first half of this disc brings the “Carnage of the North” storyline to a close as the first round of Awakened Beings arrive for the Claymore’s to deal with. There’s only a couple to start with since it’s essentially a reconnaissance group but it’s certainly something that a lot of the Claymore’s have issue with. With several of them having never seen such things before, there’s a good struggle to defeat them. The sequence does work out well overall as it gives the captains of each group an idea of what they need to work with and others the experience necessary to deal with the larger looming threat that’s yet to come. It also opens up some small areas of conversation among some of them as a couple of minor secrets are revealed. Undine’s revelation about her background is certainly intriguing but I liked the defense that Clare brought up when questioned about her arm that she has “on loan” as she put it.
The second half of the volume provides a lot of intriguing material, some of which creeps in before the arc starts. Raki has been missing in action for the most part for a bit now but he’s more prominent this time around as he runs across a young woman who doesn’t have much to say but is quite drawn to him. Upon meeting her guardian, a man named Isley, Raki learns that the girl is named Priscilla though he doesn’t recognize the significance of that name and who she is yet. Raki’s time with Priscilla and Isley, as well as the brief time with Rigaldo who is subservient to Isley, is fairly mild and without too many real revelations. That these men are Awakened Beings isn’t a surprise, but that they are as in control of themselves as they are is. It’s fascinating to watch this subplot play out as it starts to bring both Raki and Priscilla back to the main story – and I never really expected to see Priscilla again – but it does it in an understated way.
A good chunk of this second set of episodes does focus on the action, which is really quite exciting. With the attack on Pieta occurring, mostly with Rigaldo as the main focus, he provides something much different than the past Awakened Being’s we’ve seen because he’s far more in control of himself and generally nowhere near as arrogant. With his particular kind of transformation he also brings in something very different with the visuals and that has him giving off a different feeling during the attack sequence as well. There’s a certain intensity that comes from this segment with Rigaldo that hasn’t been there with the other fights even though he’s barely fleshed out. With the small sequences with him and Isley as well as Raki and Priscilla, he’s more human and more accessible than the vastly transformed males we’ve seen in the previous story arcs.
As the series inches closer to its conclusion, I find myself still in relatively the same position as I have been since the beginning. I like Claymore both for its story and its approach to it all with the execution and pacing, but it’s just not getting me in the same way as a few other very serious action shows have in the past. There’s something about the show that I haven’t been able to put my finger on that keeps me from really getting too terribly excited about it. It’s a show that I’d easily recommend to anyone looking for a solid fantasy style action epic with a lot of nuance to it. Perhaps the show would flow better for me if I was seeing it in half season sets as opposed to singles. Claymore is a good show, an engaging and well layered show, but it’s missing a spark for me even at this stage. I’m looking forward to the last volume though and it has me considering the manga to see what differences there are and to see how much further it goes.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Interview with Nobuto Sue, Cast Commentary (Episode 19: Caitlin Glass, Jamie Marchi), Clean Opening, Clean Closing
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.