“Broads with swords. Really big swords. And monsters. There will be blood.”
You can almost imagine the trailer for this anime series being done by The Trailer Guy [y’know, who does all the voice-overs for Hollywood action flicks]: “In a world where demons stalked the land… One woman… Was humanity’s final hope…” The particular focus here is Clare (Kuwashima), one of 47 Claymores, an all-female sect of nomadic warriors who travel a fictional country, battling the flesh-eating Yoma, with combat abilities that border on the magical. But doing so requires them to unleash their own Yoma power, an act which runs the risk of them becoming what they hunt if they lose control. Clare rescues Raki (Takagi), who becomes her companion and cook, but out heroine has a mission of her own: hunting down and killing the Yoma who, years previously, killed her own mentor, Teresa of the Faint Smile.
This 26-episode show does not skimp on the violence, to say the least, with limb-lopping and arterial spray, both human and demonic. the order of the day, and the style is nicely mature (I’m no fan of the huge eye approach so often seen in anime, which inevitably makes me think the show is aimed at 11-year-old girls. Sailor Moon has a lot to answer for). But what worked best for me was the characterization: it’s a neat role reversal, with the taciturn warrior being female, and the clingy tag-along, male. The other members of the organization, when we meet them, are also well-drawn, with their own back stories and motivations, as well as abilities. The interplay among them is fascinating, with a strict hierarchy, which Clare threatens to up-end, due to how she became one of them.
Two-thirds through, this was poised on the edge of greatness, but it ended up falling short. The sub-plot involving her splitting from Raki, and their subsequent reunion, is poorly handled, and the series topples over into repetitious battles, with the final few 25-minute episodes little more than two long fights, with a brief pause between them. One wonders if this might have worked better in a longer format: by the time you lop off opening and closing credits and the “story so far” sequence, there isn’t a lot of room to move the story on and provide the necessary quota of action. Do not expect any resolution either: the series ends in a way that requires a second season, which hasn’t happened at this point (the manga is ongoing, I think). Still, even as someone who is nowhere near as much an anime fan as I used to be, this was not unimpressive stuff, and definitely didn’t leave me feeling like I had wasted my time.
Dir: Hiroyuki Tanaka
Star: (voice) Houko Kuwashima, Motoki Takagi, Aya Hisakawa, Hana Takeda