The end of the series has arrived and it’s a fairly solid bloodbath that ties up some loose ends.
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 ends the twisting tale of Clare, one such sister of the sword driven by pain in both victory and defeat. Final vengeance is at hand, but what becomes of a life bent on revenge when the reality of retribution finally dawns? Wounds will cease to ache through healing or through death. All of the ghosts have gathered, be they in body or spirit, to behold the last stand of the Claymore known as Clare.
Contains episodes 23-26.
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 early volumes 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 final cover is really quite vivid in a way that I don’t think previous ones have been. The front cover has a very engaging piece with Clare and Priscilla being the central characters to it with great upper body shots along the top half and a silhouetted piece along the bottom of the two of them in a fierce fight. 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.
Unlike previous volumes, this one does get a show related insert. Or rather, a twenty-four page booklet about the show. The booklet is really quite wonderful in its simplicity as it’s filled mostly with character designs and basic details about their look and identifying aspects. What makes it more is that each character has a paragraph from the character design talking of the approach used in translating it to the anime and how it worked. Some are more interesting than others, but they’re filled with interesting little insights. Add in a couple of full color splash pages of artwork and an “art and settings” section towards the end and it’s a really wonderful little piece to add on to the series at the end.
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 seven minute section devoted to how the series was done for commercials in Japan.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
At the end of Claymore, it’s really little surprise that in a way it’s not a terribly satisfying finale. There’s a lot to like here, particularly for fans of the bloody violence, but with the manga ongoing there’s only going to be so much resolution to be had here. The story arc that has mostly dominated this series is dealt with rather well though and we do get some good revelations along the way which may have been obvious to some but not others. It makes sense at the end and explains a lot and Claymore ends in a way that does make you want to see more of it.
The final four episodes are pretty well split in terms of the kind of story it wants to tell. The opening story, which doesn’t last all that long when you get down to it, involves the fight that the Claymore’s are in against Rigaldo. The male Awakened Being is proving to be quite the challenge for them and they’re all getting quite bloodied up by it as it progresses. Rigaldo has a very different feel from some of the previous Awakened Beings, partially because he’s being overseen by Isley and there’s a bit of intensity about him that hasn’t translated to the others. For the most part though, his story here is really minimal as it’s all about the brutal action. The violence still feels like it pales next to the series its often compared to, but there are some wickedly delightful moments as the Claymore’s do their best to take him down.
Where the bulk of these last episodes play their best cards is with regards to Priscilla. As she’s Awakened herself and is disconnected from reality in a way, she’s proving to be an incredibly difficult opponent. She was already incredibly powerful, the number two of the Organization, but with her Yoma power unleashed she’s even more difficult to handle. To make matters worse, Clare is beside herself with wanting to take her down because she was the one that had killed Teresa several years prior and there’s a thirst for revenge that must be slaked. Clare has always been fascinating to watch as she copes with her power levels and trying to remain somewhat human while accessing her power, but with a primal need in her now, she straddles the edge like never before and it provides several very powerful moments.
What made me appreciate these episodes all the more is that they do manage to tie up a decent chunk of storyline without having it seem like it’s a cliffhanger. So much of it does feel like it’s the end of a first chapter which leaves you wanting more. At the end, when the sun shines through, the characters all look very different and almost colorful, which is saying a lot since they’re often cast in such bland colors at best. For Clare, she does have her moment of choice where she has to decide between revenge and maintaining some amount of humanity, and as much as I hate to admit it, they finally found a decent use for Raki in all of this. I’ve despised his character early on even though I knew he was going to be an anchor point for this somewhere in the series, but they did it nicely enough even though I think it would have been more powerful from a Claymore who was finding their own way. Jean’s moment alone should have been enough without having to bring Raki into it first.
The surprise, for me at least, was the little revelation along the way of the process that Clare went through in order to become a Claymore. Since it has been so long since the origin story and that period of time in her life, I can’t recall if it was ever truly hinted at, but having the information out there at the end in such a clear manner is really a big appealing point to these last episodes. Clare’s ties to Teresa have always been clear, but with the Organization trying this new experiment with Clare, we get a better understanding of just how twisted a group they really are. It was more and more apparent as time went on and as several of the Claymores began to figure it out and form their own cabal to find out what the reality was, but this little hint adds a whole new level of disturbing.
Claymore was an interesting series that had some intriguing hype by being called Berserk with women. I think that’s an unfair comparison since the two have very different approaches and even the violence and brutality isn’t the same. There were some awkward moments created by the format of the series, one where I think this may have flowed better either seen weekly or in two half sized collections, because of all the flashback material towards the first third of the series. That said, at the end, it was an interesting show that has a lot of room to grow and work with that I suspect will keep the manga running for a long time. It has me at this point wanting to see more of it animated, but it hasn’t spurred me to check out the manga in the slightest. There’s a lot to like here but I suspect a good number of people are holding out for the collected form of it. It’s fun, violent and definitely a good show for a bulk of US audiences, but it didn’t enrapture me.
Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles, 24pg Booklet, English Language Commentary, TV Commrcials, 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.