Claymore: The Complete Series (a J!-ENT Anime Blu-ray Disc Review)
February 17, 2010 by Dennis Amith
“Claymore” is a violent, dark fantasy anime series that is gripping, action-packed, well-animated and well-written. I was totally engrossed by the whole series from beginning to end. Based on the popular ongoing manga series, if you want a solid and well-done anime series, let alone a solid Blu-ray release, look no further… “Claymore” is a series you definitely want to own on Blu-ray!
Image courtesy of © Norihiro Yagi/Shueisha. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Claymore – The Complete Series
DURATION: 26 Episodes (625 minutes)
BLU-RAY INFORMATION: 1080i High Definition 16×9, Dolby True HD English 5.1 Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0
COMPANY: Madhouse Studios/FUNimation Entertainment
RATED: TV MA
Originally created by Norihiro Yagi
Directed by Hiroyuki Tanaka
Series Composition by Yasuko Kobayashi
Storyboards by Yuto Sato
Music by Masanori Takumi
Character Design by Takahiro Umehara
Art Director: Manabu Otsuzuki
Art Design by Nobuto Sue
Sound Director by Yasunori Honda
Produced by Manabu Tamura, Masao Maruyama and Toshio Nakatani
Animation by Madhouse Studios
Featuring the following voice talent:
Houko Kuwashima/Stephanie Young as Clare
Motoki Takagi/Todd Haberkorn as Raki
Aya Hisakawa/Brina Palencia as Priscilla
Hana Takeda/Caitlin Glass as Deneve
Hiroaki Hirata/R Bruce Elliott as Rubel
Kikuko Inoue/Monica Rial as Miria
Koji Yusa/John Swasey as Isley
Miho Miyagawa/Anastasia Munoz as Cynthia
Miki Nagasawa/Jamie Marchi as Helen
Nana Mizuki/Brittney Karbowski as Riful
Romi Paku/Christine Auten as Teresa
Ai Orikasa/Colleen Clinkenbeard as Galatea
Akeno Watanabe as Veronica
Akira Ishida as Zaki
Ayako Kawasumi/Wendy Powell as Elena
Cho as Ermita
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 begins the twisting tale of Clare, one such sister of the sword driven by pain in both victory and defeat. A child silent and suffering hidden in her past, Clare’s march toward vengeance unfolds along a path marked by violence, solitude and scorn. In a land where even the predator is prey, the haunted hearts of hunter and hunted alike wear the scars of the age.
Definitely one of the best anime series I have watched in 2009 thus far. “Claymore” is a violent, dark fantasy anime series that is gripping, action-packed, well-animated and well-written. I was totally engrossed by the whole series from beginning to end. Based on the popular ongoing manga series, if you want a solid and well-done anime series, look no further… “Claymore” is fantastic!
In 2001, the manga series “Claymore” debuted on Monthly Shonen Jump. The popular series created by award-winning mangaka Norihiro Yagi (“Undeadman”, “Angel Densetsu”).
The series has remained popular and is still ongoing in Japan via Jump Square. Animation studio Madhouse adapted the first eleven volumes of the manga series in the 26-episode anime series “Claymore” which debuted on NTV in 2007. The DVD’s were released separately in individual volumes and a complete series box set by FUNimation Entertainment in 2009 and in 2010, here we are with a Blu-ray High Definition release of “Claymore: The Complete Series”.
“Claymore” takes place during a time where monsters known as yoma have lived in villages, disguising themselves as human. They feed on humans and when things get to the point where countless murders are happening in a village, a mysterious organization sends a Claymore to dispose of the Yoma.
The Claymore are humans that are half-human and half-yoma. They are the only ones that are capable of defeating yoma and are primarily female, blonde and have silver eyes. They carry with them a sword and some have supernatural abilities.
Upon defeating the yoma, someone in black collects the money for them. If a village does not pay, a Claymore will no longer defend the city. Claymore also have a rule that they can not kill any humans and also, as a Claymore tries to keep their humanity, by using their supernatural talent, they unleash their own personal yoma but each time they do that, they lose part of their humanity.
The animated series focuses on the Claymore known as Clare. She comes to a village who has been terrorized by a yoma and defeats it. But a boy named Raki becomes attached to Clare and will follow her everywhere to become close to her.
Clare is warned not to have a human close to her but for some reason, she allows him to be close to her and also feels protective over him. Over the course of the series, we learn about Clare’s history and why she is protective of Raki. We also learn what happens to Claymore who overuse their yoma energy and when they become the “awakened” and much, much more.
The main characters of “Claymore” are:
Clare – The protagonist of the story. A Claymore who may be low-ranked Claymore but she is more powerful than most. At times, reserved and emotionless, her life is changed when she meets a human named Raki.
Raki – A boy who’s family was murdered by the yoma. When he first meets Clare, he is the first and only person to welcome her and now wants to be by her side.
Teresa – A woman important in Clare’s life. Known as “Teresa with the Faint Smile”, once was the #1 Claymore and is the most powerful Claymore who is emotionless but that was until she came across a human girl named Clare.
Priscilla – A true believer of the laws of the Organization, she has a tremendous amount of power but has not been trained to utilize it quite well. Priscilla uses a lot of her yoma energy that changes her life completely.
Miria – Phantom Miria known for her tremendous speed. Suspects that the Organization is up to no good and although a Claymore, uses her position to investigate the Organization of any wrongdoing.
Ilena – A Claymore from Clare’s past who is known for her “Quick Sword Technique” and returns back to Clare’s life to give her another chance in achieving her goal.
The following 26-episodes are featured on three Blu-ray discs. Here is a spoiler-less summary of each episode of “Claymore”:
- EPISODE 1 – Great Sword – The introduction of Clare and Raki.
- EPISODE 2 – The Black Card – Clare receives a black card and that means that they must terminate one of their own. But what happens when Clare discovers that the Claymore she must defeat is her closest friend.
- EPISODE 3 – The Darkness in Paradise – Clare must take on a “Voracious Eater” but the problem is the city doesn’t allow Claymores.
- EPISODE 4 – Clare’s Awakening – Clare takes on the “Voracious Eater”.
- EPISODE 5 – Teresa of the Faint Smile – We learn about Clare’s past and how she attached herself to a Claymore named Teresa, the #1 Claymore in the organization.
- EPISODE 6 – Teresa and Clare – We learn of how Teresa became fond of Clare and has protected her. But when bandits murder innocents in a town and intend to kill Clare, Teresa makes a decision that will alter her status as a Claymore.
- EPISODE 7 – Marked for Death – With Teresa making a decision to defy the organization in order to protect Clare, Claymores #2-#5 must kill her.
- EPISODE 8 – Awakening – The episode that introduces to how Clare became a Claymore.
- EPISODE 9 – Those Who Rend Asunder I – Clare is assigned to take on an “awakened beings” and is teamed up with Miria, Helen and Deneve.
- EPISODE 10 – Those Who Rend Asunder II – Part two of four Claymores taking on the awakened beast.
- EPISODE 11 – Those who Rend Asunder III – Deneve reveals to the other three Claymores of why she thinks the three of them were assigned the suicide mission.
- EPISODE 12 -The Endless Gravestones I – Clare is assigned to go on another mission against another awakened beast but this time, she meets her partner…the bloodthirsty #4 Claymore Ophelia who is intent on murdering Clare and Raki. Clare vs. Ophelia and a mysterious person from the past shows up unexpectedly.
- EPISODE 13 – The Endless Gravestones II – Irene trains Clare the “Quick Sword Technique”.
- EPISODE 14 – To Be Qualified to Fight – Clare takes on the awakened Ophelia.
- EPISODE 15 – The Witch’s Maw I – The organization sends Galatea to hunt after Clare since Clare has not reported in for three months. As for Clare, she sees a Claymore that looks as if she was mauled and goes to check on the other Claymores.
- EPISODE 16 – The Witch’s Maw II – When Clare tries to check on the other Claymore’s she runs into two Awakened Beings – The “Abyssal One” (Riful of the West) and Dauf.
- EPISODE 17 – The Witch’s Maw III – In order to beat Dauf, the Claymores need Jean’s special ability to defeat Dauf.
- EPISODE 18 – The Carnage In the North I – Clare and Jean meet up with 23 other Claymore’s in the North to prepare to fight a horde of Awakened Beings.
- EPISODE 19 – The Carnage in the North II – While the Claymores take on the awakened beings, Raki ends up in a village where he meets Priscilla who takes him to a man named Isley.
- EPISODE 20 – The Carnage in the North III – The Claymores talk about their fight after the awakened beings, meanwhile Raki asks Isley to train him on how to use a sword.
- EPISODE 21 – Invasion of Pieta I – The Claymores go on to their next major battle against the awakened beings.
- EPISODE 22 – Invasion of Pieta II – The Claymores take on Rigardo.
- EPISODE 23 – Critical Point I – Clare takes on Rigardo but uses too much yoma energy which can make her become an awakened being.
- EPISODE 24 – Critical Point II – Clare has pushed herself to far using Yoma energy and is unable to revert back to human form. Will the Claymores slay her?
- EPISODE 25 – For Whose Sake – Clare’s long time dream of fighting against Priscilla (to avenge the death of Teresa) finally comes true.
- EPISODE 26 – To the Successors – The final episode featuring Clare (in awakened form) vs. Priscilla (who is unaware that she is an awakened being).
“Claymore: The Complete Series” is featured in 1080i High Definition (16×9). It’s important to know that this is not in 1080p and it is an upconvert. I ran comparisons between both the Blu-ray its DVD counterpart and picture quality wise, there is a difference.
In the DVD, you can easily see the compression artifacts, you can see the edge enhancement on the DVD especially on the edges of the characters. But in the Blu-ray version, it’s much more detailed around the edges. The backgrounds and the characters definitely give this dark fantasy atmosphere to the series. You see much more detail in the backgrounds, especially in the darker scenes. Colors and lighting play a big part in the series and there is a special feature in which this is discussed. Also, compared to the previous FUNimation Entertainment release, I didn’t notice that much discoloration as well. In fact, there was nothing that jumped out on me during the closeups of a character that were evident in “Basilik” and “Samurai Champloo”.
But let me just say that this film is not vibrant in colors. “Claymore: The Complete Series” uses a lot of grays and brownish, earthtone colors throughout the series. But for the most part, the animation and character designs really capture your attention. The scenes are action-packed and the fighting sequences and swordfighting are well done. “Claymore” definitely features solid animation from what one can expect from a television series but it’s important to note that videophiles expecting vibrant colors and 1080p might be annoyed that this is an upconvert. But personally, if you have wanted “Claymore, this version is much better than its DVD counterpart.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
As for audio, the lossless audio is presented in Dolby TrueHD English 5.1 and Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0. I definitely noticed a major difference audio-wise versus the DVD’s Dolby Digital 5.1. Originally, for a more immersive soundscape, on the DVD I selected stereo on all channels which for me was a better choice audio-wise. For the Blu-ray, the lossless audio seemed more alive and crystal clear with a good amount of audio usage in the surrounds. The soundtrack is not as ambitious as I would have liked. I didn’t notice any major use of LFE or my subwoofer being utilized as much. But audio coming from the front, center and surround channels were pretty good during the action sequences. The music was also nice and clear.
For the most part, voice acting is well done and the fact that there are so many characters in this series, both fans of English voice dubs and Japanese voice acting for anime series can expect some of their favorites involved in this series. Although I tend to watch a lot of anime series with the Japanese voice dub, for “Claymore”, I enjoyed the voice dub for the series because it was more mature in dialogue. For example, the character of Ophelia is one deadly woman and when you see her in pain, she’s cussing up a storm. And this is one of the few times where I felt the “F-word” and profanity was well utilized in an anime series (thus the TV MA rating). There’s no hiding from the pain a lot of these women must endure and so I felt that the dialogue for the English dub was well done and well-written and much more mature than its Japanese counterpart.
Subtitles are in English only.
“Claymore – The Complete Series” comes with the following special features in 480i Standard Definition, Dolby Digital Japanese 2.0 (note: commentary is in English) and English subtitles:
- Episode 1 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by voice actress Stephanie Young (who does the voice of Claire), Director and voice actor Todd Habekorn (who does the voice of Raki).
- Episode 8 Commentary – Audio commentary featuring voice actress Brina Palencia (who plays Priscilla) and voice actress Wendy Powell (who plays Elena).
- Episode 11 Commentary – Audio commentary by line producer and voice actress Colleen Clinkenbeard (who plays Galatea) and voice actress Monica Rial (who plays Miria).
- Episode 16 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by voice actress Laura Bailey (Jean) and Director Leslie Patrick.
- Episode 19 Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by Caitlyn Glass (voice of Deneve) and Jamie Marchi (voice of Helen).
- Episode 26 Commentary – Audio commentary featuring voice actresses Brina Palencia (who does the voice of Priscilla) and Stephanie Young (who does the voice of Clare).
- Interview with Director Hiroyuki Tanaka – (7:00) Director Hirouki Tanaka talks about his impressions of the manga when he first read it and then being assigned to the series and the challenges he encountered on the series.
- Interview with Sound Director Yasunori Honda – (8:37) Yasunori talks about his responsibilities for the series are for the anime series. Also, his responsible of working with the many voice talent on the series.
- Interview with Art Director Manabu Otsuzaki (Kusanagi) – (6:30) Otsuzaki talks about the use of color in the anime series and what his responsibilities are.
- Interview with Art Setting Nobuhito Sue (Kusanagi) – (4:14) Nobuhito Sue talks about his responsibilities for the anime series. Shading of sketches on the computer and creating the guidelines for the animators.
- Cast Auditions – Featuring the audio cast auditions for Clare, Teresa, Rubel, Sid and Yomi.
- Original TV Commercials – (4:21) Featuring the original Japanese TV commercials.
- Textless OP & ED Songs – Textless OP song “Raison d’Etre” and Textless ED song “Danzai no Hana”.
- Trailer – FUNimation Entertainment trailers
Also, included is a 48-page booklet. Featuring a character guide plus a staff interview with Hiroyuki Tanaka (Director) and Ryohei Takahashi (Animation Producer). Plus another interview with Yasunori Honda (Claymore Sound Director), Houko Kuwashima (Voice of Clare) and Motoki Takagi (Voice of Raki) plus illustrations and artwork.
My first impression after watching “Claymore” was “WOW!”.
The series reminded me of what I enjoyed with classic anime series such as “Hokuto no Ken” (Fist of the Northstar) and “JoJo’s Bizarre Adventures” in which villages are being terrorized by evil beings and hopes for a hero to come and save them. But instead of male characters that kick butt, “Claymore” features a storyline about a group of female warriors that take down the evil monsters. So, that was pretty cool to see in this anime series!
With “Claymore”, what’s interesting is how this dark fantasy manages to capture your attention through the action but also character development and its character designs. The Claymore women (and there are many of them) have each been given a sort of personality that makes them unique in their own way. For the most part, their character designs and their supernatural abilities are very cool and exciting to watch but the fact that these women can easily turn on each other and their certain attitude is quite refreshing to see in an animated series.
This is one of the few anime series that I have seen back in 2009 where I literally watched one after the other in a marathon-like setting because the story was so captivating and you just wondered what was going to happen next. Granted, there are a lot of action-based anime series on television right now with a large cast of characters but the fact that “Claymore” is much darker, takes place in a fantasy type of world and the fact that the main protagonists can easily be the antagonist is very different.
Just watching how the story arcs are developed with Clare and Raki in the beginning, to Teresa and Clare right after and then back again to see Clare vs. Ophelia and various storylines of multiple Claymores and how violent the series can get but yet maintaining a well-paced, action-packed storyline featuring cool characters is a plus. Typically in an anime series, when a character doesn’t show up that much, you don’t really care for them but somehow the writers managed to make you care about the various Claymore warriors that you wonder when you will see them again.
And I’ve been asked quite a few times about the character of Raki and if I found this young boy hanging around with Clare to be very annoying and my answer is that I tend to measure my annoyance of a character alongside “Neon Genesis Evangelion” character Shinji, so in that case, Raki was not as annoying to me. Fortunately, he’s not seen in every episode either.
The manga series is still ongoing in Japan but I just hope that Madhouse Studios continues to make another Claymore series and cover more of the chapters from the manga because for a TV series, I was literally captivated by it. I just find the concept of all-female warriors (who happen to be all blonde albeit half monster) to be quite interesting and to see how violent this series is.
“Claymore: The Complete Series” is a more mature, dark and violent anime series. Granted, it was a TV series, but expect to see a lot of blood and severed limbs from time to time. It’s not disgusting at all but I know some anime viewers may be sensitive to those type of scenes. But some of those fight scenes are entertaining but a few that may be a bit twisted for some.
Overall, “Claymore: The Complete Series” on Blu-ray is an awesome release from FUNimation Entertainment. Is it the best in PQ and AQ, definitely not but for a release, “Claymore” has a solid storyline, cool characters, plenty of special features included plus a 48-page booklet included. I was very impressed by the presentation of content and of course, the quality of this television series.
“Claymore: The Complete Series” is highly recommended!
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