Claymore (Japan 2007)

Rating: ***
Review Date: 7/26/09

Divided into 26 episodes.

The Yoma are bloodthirsty demons that feast on humans and can assume human form. The only defense against the Yoma is a group of female warriors known as Claymores, who are half human, half Yoma, immensely strong, and incredibly skilled in combat. "Claymore" tells the sad tale of one such woman warrior named Clare, whose destiny is to slay Yoma until she herself becomes one. Early on she takes in an orphan boy named Raki, whose love, kindness, and faith may be the only thing that can save her soul.

It's been a while since I've seen a good female action series, and Clare definitely satisfies. There are just enough emotional hooks and character development to keep the series moving and evolving, but it's really all about watching her slay monsters. And in the medieval world of "Claymore," the preferred method of killing Yoma is to lop off both of their arms with a big-ass sword before finally taking their head, which offers plenty of opportunities to spray purple blood all over the place. The animation is good and the character design is excellent. Clare's cold and dispassionate voice perfectly complements her furrowed brow, tight jaw, and fiercely intense gaze, and she's all business. I could do without the annoying kid, but I can understand his role from a dramatic narrative standpoint. There's also conspiracy and dark machinations grinding around in the shadows, and despite their immense power, the Claymores are simply puppets in a much larger game. Every episode becomes more grim, tragic, and brutally violent, which pushes all of the characters to their breaking points.

I found "Claymore" to be a refreshing return to the kind of anime that I grew up with and enjoyed, and it's delightful to see the no-nonsense female warriors treated with fear and respect rather than ridicule and chauvinism. Good stuff.