Claymore Vol. #3 (of 6) (

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Friday, February 27, 2009
Release Date: Tuesday, February 03, 2009

The challenges that the Claymores and Clare face become more pronounced as the reality of their situation is revealed.

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. Whispers of conspiracy fill the air, but the gravest peril is not hidden. Enter Ophelia, a Claymore of joyful cruelty with a zealot’s devotion to the massacre of all who have Awakened. And Clare will suffer as her prey. Flesh will fall from bone, but there will be no rest until Teresa is avenged.

The Review!
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 with water splashing all around them. 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 nearly nine minute light interview with the Yasunori Honda, the sound director. He’s actually amusing to listen to as he talks up the series as something he hasn’t seen before in terms of how it looks visually between the characters and settings. Considering how many shows Honda works on (Seemingly the bulk of them!), it’s the kind of statement that doesn’t really seem to hold much weight.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Claymore moves past the halfway mark with this volume and it introduces some rather interesting changes to the show. The structure of Claymore hasn’t been all that unusual, but it’s one that you don’t see often as it’s done a sizeable flashback already and now has pulled the rug out from under several of the characters as well as really roughing up the lead in a way that wasn’t expected. The viciousness of the series isn’t lost by this point and it seems to almost revel in it in a way, though it does it in a way that feels like it’s restraining itself with a wicked grin.

Surprisingly, the fight against the male Awakened Being is over rather quickly here considering how it was playing out in the last volume. That’s not a bad thing however as it sets a very different stage afterwards. The four Claymores, one of which is passed out from the fight, are surprised by everything they’ve learned here but they’re in store for more. Posed as a theory, but one with a lot of weight to it, Miria begins to explain to the others that something is definitely up as all of them are apparently troublemakers and all of them have been riding the edge of becoming an Awakened Being. In fact, depending on how you classify an Awakened Being, all of them could be called that, or at least Half Awakened. This puts a new spin on events as their fight against the supposedly unkillable male Awakened Being is a way for the Organization to eliminate troublemaking Claymores.

While everything remains a theory, a sound one at that, Miria and the others agree that there’s enough there to warrant being careful. And a lot of that caution has to deal with making sure they avoid some of the best of the best of the Organization, namely the top five. With all of them smelling like Awakened Beings to some extent, the more sensitive members of the Organization like the top five would take them down in a heartbeat. So it’s really little surprise that Clare ends up running into one on her next assignment as she deals with Ophelia, possibly the worst of the bunch. Ophelia doesn’t have a nickname like the rest as people haven’t lived to tell the tale of her special move. She’s an interesting sort in that she approaches her job with zeal but has the kind of cool nature that almost all the Claymore’s seemingly have.

This encounter covers quite a bit of material in this volume as it pushes Clare – and Ophelia – in directions that weren’t entirely expected from the start. The brutality of the fights has been evident from the start but it seems to find new ways of upping it as it goes along. The fight with the male Awakened Being had some really strong moments to it, moments that also showcased the tricky ways that the Claymores can defend themselves, but it was the brutality and viciousness of a lot of it that was really surprising. It’s a definite positive in the show and it does reinforce that whole “Berserk with female leads” tagline that has come with the show. Yet it has managed to very well carve out its own identity so it doesn’t come across as just a carbon copy of that show but with different characters. Claymore hasn’t really full captured my attention because it has only danced around the edges of the storyline it wants to tell, but it does keep me coming back to see what else they’ll do.

In Summary:
As much as I’ve been enjoying Claymore, it hasn’t given me that one really big hook to make me really fall in love with it. It’s an engaging show, though I’m still thrown off by the character designs and I dislike Raki, because in part of its cruel and brutal nature and the way it’s building up the world it plays in. But the coolness of the characters, their almost otherworldly nature and such, keeps you from connecting with them and the journey that they’re all on. Some of this is made better by the extended flashback we had before for Clare, but at the same time she’s become a character that you can understand but can’t connect with because of how she is now. Not that she was a charming little girl either. All in all, Claymore is an engaging feast of potential with lots of bloodshed and body parts flying about to keep you entertained at the least.

Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, Clean Opening, Clean Closing, Commentary Track, Sound Director Interview

Review Equipment
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.

Mania Grade: B
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: B
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: B
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 13 and Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: FUNimation Entertainment, Ltd.
MSRP: 29.98
Running time: 100
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Disc Resolution: 480i/p
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Claymore