Story and art by Norihigo Yagi
Published by Viz in 2006 (27 volumes)
In a world where monsters prey on humans in disguise, the only hope for humanity are the “Claymores”. A new type of warrior, half human, half monster, that are able to see through the Yoga’s disguise, as they co-exist among humans. Despite their superhuman abilities, they are condemned by not only savage internal impulses, but the humans who rely on them so much.
To be honest, Claymore does not possess the most unique story imaginable. It takes the classic shonen “warrior vs. monster” plot line and combined it with gender specific classes to create a fairly used idea. However, I suspect Claymore was not created in order to present complex philosophical issues, but rather to engross the reader in an expansive universe filled with interesting characters and creatures. Claymore delivers on this.
In many gender specific fighting stories, the female body is sexualised more than it needs to be, sometimes turning what could have been a story of female empowerment into pointless belittling.
In Claymore, women are portrayed as both elegant and powerful, a testament to the author and his perception of women. The characters in this manga were exceptional: they were all unique in their own way. I love the trope of having multiple ranked enemies in an evil organisation, and Claymore did not disrespect this shonen tradition. While many of them only developed through fighting, I was surprised at the amount of depth some of the warriors had, with multiple flashbacks linking characters together and creating emotional attachment for the readers. There was a weak theme of discrimination within the piece, as the Claymores were always villainised for their link to the yoma, but it was undeveloped, and ultimately, ineffective in producing any form of effect.
The art was also fantastic. The unique personalities and abilities of the Claymore’s were further emphasised with their creative designs, which really furthered its effect. The designs for the monsters were very cool, except for the basic yoma. I know they had to be simple, but ones that were a tad more unique would have made it much scarier, and considering how frequently they appeared in the manga, it would have made the stakes feel a lot higher.
Unfortunately, the storyline can be too simple at some points and at others too complex. There is one point where the reader is alerted to an incredibly important revelation that effects the entire universe that Yagi’s created. It’s super confusing, and once it’s revealed it’s never touched on again, adding nothing to the overarching story, and just making the quality of this manga inconsistent. Towards the end of the piece, Claymore also begins to lose some steam, falling into repetitive traps that is inevitable for a manga of that length. However, I commend Yagi for ending his manga series soon after, as opposed to riding the popularity train through another twenty volumes of the same thing. In this sense, the ending itself is more satisfying, and ultimately leaves the reader on a high.
Overall, Claymore achieves what a good shonen manga should; it provides us with an expansive world filled with many interesting and well designed characters. However, its convoluted plot and standard narrative hinders its ability to provide a compelling story. It is very much a shonen manga, not challenging any of the negative traits within the genre nor adding anything unique to solve them. It’s a fun and addictive read nonetheless.
I would recommend Claymore to all manga readers, particularly those who enjoy the shonen genre, including all of its tropes and archetypes. Because of this, Claymore is an excellent introduction to manga, as it maintains a classic structure synonymous with medium. If you are looking for a manga that’s going to make you think about the intricacies of the universe, I’d put this on the back burner until you’re in the mood for exciting action.
Art – 9
Story – 7
Writing – 8
Overall – 8/10
Image sources: http://www.nerdophiles.com/2015/04/14/meas-thoughts-on-claymore/, https://www.reddit.com/r/manga/comments/2mso7q/tried_my_best_at_turning_claymore_155_p3_into_a/, http://claymore.wikia.com/wiki/File:Claymore_Chapter_34_Cover.jpg