Clare on Claymore 1 tankōbon cover
|Genre||Dark fantasy, Action|
|Written by||Norihiro Yagi|
|Magazine||Monthly Shōnen Jump (former)
Weekly Shōnen Jump (former)
|Original run||May 2001 – December 4, 2014|
|Anime television series|
|Directed by||Hiroyuki Tanaka|
|Written by||Yasuko Kobayashi|
|Music by||Masanori Takumi|
|Original run||3 April 2007 – 25 September 2007|
|Claymore: Gingan no Majo|
|Developer||Digital Works Entertainment|
|Released||28 May 2009|
Claymore (クレイモア Kureimoa?) is a dark fantasy manga series written and illustrated by Norihiro Yagi. The series initially premiered in the now defunct Monthly Shōnen Jump in the May 2001 issue. When the magazine was canceled in June 2007, the series was temporarily moved to Weekly Shōnen Jump where it was published monthly. When Jump Square was introduced in November 2007, the series was moved to it. The individual chapters are published in tankōbon volumes by Shueisha, with 27 volumes released as of December 2014, concluding the main plot. The series draws many comparisons to Berserk.
Madhouse adapted the first eleven volumes of the series into a twenty-six episode anime series. Directed by Hiroyuki Tanaka, the series premiered in Japan on NTV on April 3, 2007 and ran until September 25, 2007. A CD soundtrack for the anime series and a CD of character songs using the anime voice actresses were released on July 25, 2007 and September 27, 2007, respectively.
The Claymore manga is licensed for an English language release in North America by Viz Media. It released the first volume of the series on April 4, 2006 and has released 26 volumes as of June 4, 2014. The anime adaptation is licensed for release in North America by Funimation Entertainment, which has released the first DVD for the series in Fall 2008 and released the entire series on Blu-ray in Spring 2010. Madman Entertainment has licensed the anime for release in Australia and New Zealand and the anime is sub-licensed by Manga Entertainment for UK distribution.
Series is set on a fictional medieval island where humans are plagued by Yoma (妖魔), humanoid shape-shifters that feed on humans. A mysterious group, known as The Organization, creates human-Yoma hybrids to kill Yoma for a fee. These female warriors wear armored uniforms. The public refer to them as "Claymores," alluding to their Claymore swords, or "Silver-eyed Witches," due to their silver eyes.
Yoma and Claymore warriors alike are powered by a demonic energy, Yoki, which allows shape-shifting and extreme strength. When warriors use too much Yoki, they "awaken," becoming a super-Yoma called an Awakened Being. The act of awakening is likened to the feeling of sexual climax, so while both male and female warriors existed in the past only the women proved to be successful warriors and so the creation of male Claymores stopped altogether.
The island world is divided into 47 districts, with one warrior assigned to each. Claymore warriors No. 1 through 47 are ranked on their baseline Yoki potential, strength, agility, intelligence, sensing and leadership. A warrior's rank rises and falls according to the warrior's strength in relation to other warriors. It is unclear whether the warriors strength comes from training/experience or if the potential lies within the warriors themselves.
In addition to all having different names, most warriors (usually high in rank) further their individuality by possessing a unique sword technique, fighting style, or yoki ability. The sword techniques are unique to the Claymores: yoma and awakened beings don't fight with swords and a normal human body couldn't perform them. Examples of sword techniques are: twisting the arm around and thrusting for a drill-like strike, unsheathing and re-sheathing the sword faster than the eye can see, or vibrating the sword so quickly the enemy cannot tell where the blade is coming from. A few fighting styles include: stretching the arm, fighting with two blades, and releasing a burst of yoki for a momentary burst of speed. For yoki ability, there are several Claymores who can sense yoki over vast distances and very accurately in close quarters. This appears to be, while not offensive, a very rare and valuable ability and the Claymores in the Organization with this ability are usually highly ranked. In addition, there are four Claymores that have offensive techniques that are yoki based. The first is Galatea's ability to control her opponents yoki for brief periods during battle, usually to cause the enemy's attack to miss. The second is Teresa's: her ability to sense yoki is so strong that she can sense it moving around her opponents body and can therefore sense how and when her enemy would attack next, a technique later copied by Clare. The third ability is that of Raftela who is able to manipulate the vision and movements of other Claymores. She is employed as an anti-training warrior.
Relation to Medieval Europe
The setting of Claymore is fascinating because it has close ties to medieval Europe, but contains key differences as well. One of the biggest references to medieval times in the series is the holy city of Rabona, which contains a magnificent cathedral resembling the historical Chartres Cathedral, a paragon of the Gothic architecture of medieval France. On a side note, the humans of Claymore look and dress like their counterparts in the past. Further connections with medieval times can be seen in the title of the series. The warriors called Claymores all wield claymores, which is a type of medieval two-handed longsword. This sword has become famous as a symbol of the dangers of European life only a few centuries ago, when such massive swords were wielded to protect nations, homes, and cultures. Thus, the use of claymores in the anime series serves as another reference to the dark medieval period, where death was common, and could come from anywhere.
The Black Death, or the bubonic plague, was a truly terrifying epidemic. You could never be sure where the next outbreak would occur—your own loved ones might be the cause of your infection and eventual death. In Claymore, the threat of the Yoma epitomizes this terrible anxiety. Unseen, undetectable monsters that hunger for human flesh—the Yoma truly represent the deepest fears of human beings. The harsh reality of life in medieval Europe is reflected in the fictional detail of the Organization's greediness. It charges exorbitant fees to send Claymores to eradicate Yoma, which many villages cannot afford to pay. Much like in medieval times, the poor of Claymore often must face the prospect of a gruesome death without any outside assistance.
The eponymous half-human, half-Yoma warriors of the series also have their basis in medieval superstitions. Known as "Silver-Eyed Witches", they are viewed with suspicion and fear by most humans, which parallels medieval notions of the supernatural. In the Middle Ages, the persecution of witchcraft was a widespread phenomenon, since magic, particularly black magic, was associated with the devil. Most of those accused of being a witch were women, and they were indiscriminately hanged or burned at the stake.
The first arc introduces the protagonist of the series: No. 47, Clare, who saves a young boy, Raki, from a Yoma. The next arc flashes back to the time of Teresa, warrior No. 1 of her era. And the young girl she saves from Yoma—Clare. The arc ends with their tragic encounter with Priscilla.
Flashing forward to Clare's time, the Slashers arc introduces Miria (No. 6), Deneve (No. 15), Helen (No. 22) and Galatea (No. 3). The Gravestones arc introduces Ophelia (No. 4). The Witch's Maw arc introduces Jean (No. 9), Riful and Dauf. The Northern Campaign arc introduces Flora (No. 8), Undine (No. 11), Isley and Rigaldo. Raki and Priscilla reappear here.
Written and drawn by Norihiro Yagi, the individual chapters of Claymore began serialization in Shueisha's Monthly Shōnen Jump in 2001. After the magazine was discontinued, the series was moved to Weekly Shōnen Jump, where it still was appearing once a month. On November 2, 2007, serialization was moved to Jump Square, Shueisha's replacement for the original Monthly Shōnen Jump. The individual chapters are published in tankōbon volumes by Shueisha, which released the first volume on January 5, 2002. As of December 4, 2014, the series has concluded in Japan with 27 volumes and 154 chapters (plus epilogue).
On July 18, 2006, Viz Media announced the serialization of the Claymore manga in North America in its Shonen Jump manga anthology. The first chapter of the English adaptation appeared in the April 11, 2006 issue and continued serialization only until the entire first volume was released. Viz released the first volume of the series on April 4, 2006, and with 25 volumes released as of November 4, 2014.
The series is also being released in English in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment. It is licensed for regional language releases in Russia by Comix-ART, in France by Glenat, Spain by Glenat and later Norma Editorial, in Mexico by Grupo Editorial Vid, in Italy by Star Comics, in Brazil by Panini Comics and in Germany by Tokyopop Germany.
Madhouse produced a twenty-six episode anime series based on the manga series. Directed by Hiroyuki Tanaka, the series aired between April 2007 and September 2007 in Japan on Nippon Television. The series adapts the first eleven volumes of its source material over the first 24 episodes, then uses an alternate ending for its final two episodes. It is speculated by many that this is the probable reason for the lack of a second season.
As of February 2008, seven DVD volumes, each containing three episodes of the anime, have been released in Japan by Avex Trax. In addition, four limited edition sets have been released. The first limited edition set contains the first DVD volume, while the other three sets each contain two DVD volumes. The latest limited edition set and volumes were released on January 30, 2008. Two more DVD volumes and one more limited edition set are planned for release on March 26, 2008. On February 15, 2008, Funimation announced that it has acquired the Region 1 DVD and broadcast licenses for the anime, and released the first DVD in North America on October 14, 2008: as of February 2009, three volumes have been released. On February 16, 2010, Funimation released a boxed set containing the complete series in Blu-ray format. Madman Entertainment has licensed the series and Volume 1 released early 2009.
The series made its North American television debut when it started airing on the FUNimation Channel September 6, 2010. Netflix also made Claymore available for streaming, but the series has been removed as of April 2012. All 26 episodes are available on Hulu, however, and Funimation via their streaming video service and DVD.
Two pieces of theme music are used for the episodes: one opening theme and one ending theme. The opening theme is "Raison d'être" (レゾンデートル?, lit. Reason for being) by visual kei rock band Nightmare. The ending theme is J-pop singer Riyu Kosaka's single, "Danzai no Hana~Guilty Sky" (断罪の花 ~Guilty Sky~?, lit. Flower of Conviction~Guilty Sky). These two themes are used in all twenty-six episodes.
Two CDs have been released for the Claymore. The first soundtrack entitled Claymore TV Animation O.S.T. contained tracks from the anime series and was released on July 25, 2007 with instrumental compositions by Masanori Takumi. Spanning 32 tracks, the soundtrack includes the television-sized versions of the opening and ending themes.
A second soundtrack entitled Claymore Intimate Persona: Character Song Shuu (CLAYMORE INTIMATE PERSONA~キャラクターソング集~?) was released on 27 September 2007. It contains ten tracks, one each for ten characters from the series, featuring songs performed by the character voice actresses from the anime adaptation. These songs do not appear in anime.
Claymore: Gingan no Majo (CLAYMORE ～銀眼の魔女～?, lit. Claymore: The Witch of the Silver Eyes) was released by Digital Works Entertainment, 28 May 2009, in Japan. In this Nintendo DS game, the player controls Clare in a similar fashion to side-scrolling Castlevania and Metroid games. Player can alter the strength of Clare's Yoki by using the touch screen and stylus.
In his review of volume 7, Carlo Santos of Anime News Network says about Clare's action scenes that "Clare's fights are nothing short of eye-popping, with page layouts designed for maximum dramatic effect." About the drama, he says that "even the occasional attempts at drama feel oddly distant." About the part in the story where Raki and Clare are separated, he states that it's more like "leave now because that's the obvious next step in the plot." The art of volume 7 is rated A, story C+, and overall B.
Theron Martin, also of Anime News Network, says in his review of volume 14 that "the series has lost some of its luster, and it seems like less and less is actually happening with each volume." About the action scenes, he says that "the actual fights lack some of the dynamism seen in earlier volumes." As for the art, he states that "as has been true in the past, Yagi's artistry lacks for nothing." He rates the art A- in his reviews for volume eleven, twelve and fourteen. However, in his review of volume sixteen, Theron Marton says that "Yagi is back on track," and that "he provides a good mix of old friends popping back up, new allies, startling revelations, dire threats, and of course good-ol' beatdown action, in the process returning the series to arguably its strongest level since volume 12."
Theron Martin also gave his thoughts on the first five episodes of the anime. He stated that "while not without some flaws, the first five episodes generally get the series off to a strong start, practically assuring that Funimation has a solid hit on their hands." The rating he gave for the anime is: story A-, animation B+, art A-, music A, and overall A-. In ICv2's list of "Top 50 Manga - Summer 2008", which subjectively ranks manga based on sales and perceived popularity, Claymore placed 42nd.
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- Official Shueisha Claymore manga website (ja)
- Official Shueisha Claymore anime website (ja)
- Official NTV Claymore anime website (ja)
- Official FUNimation Claymore anime website (en-us)
- Claymore (manga) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia (en-us)
- Claymore (anime) at Anime News Network's encyclopedia (en-us)
- TV Tropes on Claymore (en-us)