Claymore 20

Norihiro Yagi – Viz – 2012 – 22+ volumes

Again, I’m currently reading this story from two different points. I’m up to volume 5 from the beginning, but I started reading the new volumes beginning with 14. I love what I’ve been reading from the beginning, and it’s helping to inform these later volumes, which are growing increasingly more… political might be the right word, since the Claymores are rebelling against the organization.

I regretted my choice a little bit when a huge plot reveal happened in this volume. I’m still a little confused about the inner workings of the organization, and now that I know more about it, I’m having a hard time remembering if certain facts had been revealed before this volume. But I don’t believe I was aware of the true nature of the yoma before it was discussed here. It’s truly a despicable thing. Even worse, the terrible beings they’ve been fighting lately… it probably was discussed some time ago, but I didn’t realize what those were until it came up here, either.

I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, in case this stuff really is new. But it’s pretty evil, and it’s interesting that it’s all out in the open here. There’s not really a good way for the rebelling Claymores to overcome these difficulties, other than forging on and fighting, so I’m curious to see where things go from here.

All the disparate narratives come together here as some monsters flow into the holy city of Rabona. All the characters I’ve been seeing since volume 14 come together here to fight, and they all head out for a common enemy afterwards.

And that’s all straightforward, and well and good. Lots of talking and major plot revelations happen amidst the fighting, and there’s lots of cutting back and forth between the organization and the Claymores. But really, the thing that will make me want volume 21 incredibly badly, is the last page of this volume. All of the Claymores still allied with the organization… turn and look.

It’s creepy. And amazing. I love this series. It’s an excellent fantasy, and there are very few that don’t turn episodic and repetitive this far in. I need to catch myself up with this all the way.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


Claymore 4

Norihiro Yagi – Viz – 2006 – 22+ volumes

I love this series way more with every volume I read. I think I might have… 20 or 21 to pick up, and I’m sure I’ll like that, but I’m really loving these early volumes. The story is pretty intense, and I’m able to root for the fights here, unlike the more complex character-driven ones in the later volumes. Perhaps I’ll like those more once I figure out who all the characters are, though.

This volume is all about Teresa of the Faint Smile, though. She has a traveling companion in the young human Clare, and her desire to protect her brings her against the Claymore organization. She breaks one of their most important rules, and we are introduced to the Claymore rank system as she is marked for execution.

But Teresa is the rank 1 Claymore, and not so easily taken down. We meet four of the other Claymore women, and learn a bit about them, and also what makes Teresa so strong.

Mostly, though, we learn about Teresa. It’s hard to explain, but this story manages to put a lot of character development in its fights, rather than through more shallow talking heads, and it benefits the characters quite a bit. I finished this volume loving Teresa, and knowing a lot more about her, and she has hardly any dialogue. To be fair, some of that was because of the Claymores that weren’t fighting her talking about her during their off-time, but the discussion gets put to use when the fight really begins, and it carries over into the next volume.

There’s a lot of action here, so I don’t have that much to say, but I feel like I’m really not doing this series justice. There’s an awful lot of action series, and Shounen Jump-esque fantasy series, but this is one of the better ones I’ve read. So far, it’s been worth the effort of tracking down the older volumes. I’m loving every page.


Claymore 3

Norihiro Yagi – Viz – 2006 – 21+ volumes

I’m so glad I picked up these early volumes! I happened to get them through happenstance at the store where I work, but I just placed an order for more. I have so much manga to read right now, but I need to read Claymore. It is absolutely worth it. Plus, Right Stuf is having a Viz studio sale right now, so I got them very cheap. I couldn’t say no.

This volume finishes up Clare’s fight in the church, and it is epic stuff. She starts the fight wounded after the monster gets the jump on her, and he’s more than a match for Clare. She has to use too much of her yoma side in the battle against him, so once that’s over, there’s the very real possibility that she will also turn into a monster. However, she is unable to kill herself, and she can’t let others kill her when Raki begs for her to live. The inner struggle, and what it means to the normally stoic Clare, is wonderful stuff. This is primarily why I like this series so much. Not only are the battles great, but the writing also does a good job of balancing the Claymore characters, job-wise and personality-wise. And the Claymores do make for an interesting study. Half monster, they are to have been basically brainwashed out of all human emotion and live outside society, as benevolent monsters. Yet, there’s Clare and Raki.

We see another such pair in the second half of this volume, when a young girl named Clare and a Claymore named Teresa. Teresa is even more intimidating than the emotionless Claymore Clare, as she goes about her work with a smile on her face and isn’t at all concerned whether the townspeople love her or hate her. In a village she helps, Teresa slays a yoma who was beating up a young mute child. When the child tries to follow Teresa out of town, Teresa beats the child up several times to prevent her from following, in full view of the townsfolk. But the child follows anyway, and nothing that Teresa does can deter her, so Teresa begins keeping her as a “pet.” Their travels are interrupted a couple times by human bandits, who Teresa is forbidden from injuring.

Teresa also presents a fact about the Claymores I was unaware of. Apparently their bodies are horribly mangled? It’s alluded to here, but it’s clear that this information will come up later. My money is on a story about a Claymore that still has an attachment to a human from her old life.

I do like that the Claymore, though emotionless, are still so individualistic. In the later volumes I’ve read, it’s clear they care about one another, so it’s extremely fascinating to see the face they show to all the non-Claymores in these early volumes. Clare was stoic, and kept all unnecessary opinions to herself and only stated what was necessary. Teresa seems to take pleasure in slaying yoma, and… while her actions can be seen as simply acting on all her warnings, everything she does gives people a bad impression of her, whereas that was not the case with Clare.

I’m interested to see more about Clare, and I’m dying to read more of these little stories about the early public faces of the Claymores, before it gets into the more serious story I’ve already read. And, of course, I love these saving-the-townspeople yoma battles. I prefer them, a bit, to the epic yoma slaying going on in volume 19. Thankfully, I’ve got the next few volumes headed my way.


Claymore 2

Norihiro Yagi – Viz – 2006 – 20+ volumes

I’m still thoroughly enjoying the early volumes of this series. I can see the story easing us into the more complicated stuff here, too. This volume is one ongoing storyline, with Clare hunting a yoma in a town that forbids anything unnatural, including the human/yoma hybrid Claymores. She has to be very discreet, and do her investigations undercover and under the influence of a drug that makes her look like a regular girl and dampens her Claymore powers.

Raki is a major part of this mission, since it would be suspicious for a young girl to be traveling alone, but a brother and sister together raises less eyebrows.

This story was a good fit in this series. While most of the yoma battles I’ve read have been mostly about brute force, with some strategy, this one is more of a puzzle. Clare can’t detect the demon’s presence, and she has to figure out how to spot it without being caught herself. It’s someone in the city’s main church, too, which is a hornet’s nest of problems to investigate. It’s either masquerading as one of the country’s religious leaders, one of the soldiers that’s guarding the cathedral, or… well, something else entirely.

There’s still emotional conflict involved with the story, as well. Clare might still be struggling with feelings for Raki, though she denies this herself and it’s hard to tell. Perhaps I’m reading too much into that. But then again, it seems like how human the Claymores are is a point of contention in this series, so it seems like it really should be an issue. Either way, it is sweet of her to see that the boy is looked after. Raki, too, is growing more attached to Clare the more time passes.

Really. I need to see what happens to Raki. I’ve only got volume three left currently, but this might be the thing that prompts me to buy more volumes of Claymore. Every volume that passes where he’s still alive, I just foresee a more gristly death for him down the road.

But these early volumes of Claymore really are a treat. I love fantasy comics like this, and it’s nice to get away from the shoujo approach every once in awhile. I do like the female protagonists in Claymore, too, though the gender isn’t such an issue in the volumes I’ve read. Still, it’s a nice touch.


Claymore 1

Norihiro Yagi – Viz – 2006 – 19+ volumes

Hey, look what I got in at work. Someone sold us the first three volumes, so I thought I would give this a try from the beginning.

I’ve always liked this series, but I feel a little lost since I started around halfway through. Reading volume one now is a little strange, since the plot of the series has nothing to do with what’s going on here. And I like it a lot this way. That’s not to say I’m not into what’s happening later, but there’s something very simple and elegant about the demon slaying that’s happening in this volume.

A small town is being terrorized by yoma, and they hire a Claymore to take care of the monster. Only a Claymore, a half human/yoma hybrid, has the strength to slay it. Clare shows up in town, and the villagers are not pleased to see her despite the fact she’s there to kill the monster that’s terrorizing them. But one small boy, named Raki, takes an interest in Clare. Where everyone else avoids her, Raki opens up to her, thanks her for coming, and reveals that the yoma has slayed everyone in his family except his older brother.

I was not expecting Raki to be a main character. Clare keeps her distance from the reader, and it’s a mystery why she’s allowing Raki to follow her until another character warns her away from the bond towards the end of the book. Clare and Raki make for an odd pair, but I like the simple device of harsh Clare having a soft spot for the boy. And Raki’s fairly easy to like, too.

And her soft spot contrasts sharply with her fighting style. I’ve seen the best/worst Clare can offer in a fight, and the later volumes are much more brutal than what’s going on here. Still, the savage battles are presented in such a stark manner that it’s still rather shocking. The story does a good job of making Clare very, very scary.

I’m glad I had an opportunity to pick up some of the early volumes, because I like the series even better now. I’m interested to see the world-building in these early volumes, and I’m curious about how long Raki sticks around.


Claymore 19

Norihiro Yagi – Viz – 2011 – 21+ volumes

I don’t have a whole lot to say about this volume, since the bulk of what happens here is a rather lengthy fight scene. On the plus side, two of the story threads converge towards the end of the fight scene. Unfortunately, the fight is still ongoing as of the end of this volume.

Briefly, the action switches over to Miria and her forward progress in confronting the organization. Her fight is with twin trainees while high-ranking members of the organization look on. They offer commentary about Miria’s strengths and the twins’ weaknesses, but reveal their trump card at the very end of the volume. It seems like a bit of a low blow in a series that seems all about physical strength, but I suppose you have to shake things up every now and again.

The larger fight is with the mess in the forest and… uh, Clare’s opponent from last volume (who may be spoiler-y, but I also can’t remember her name, and they don’t mention it here). Deneve and Helen do successfully take Clare out of the fight she can’t hope to win, but her opponent begins chasing them, then turns her sights on the monument in the forest that seems to be wreaking unbeatable havoc. This goes all sorts of wrong, and Deneve and Helen basically take a backseat as a massive, bizarre biomass fight takes place. It’s pretty epic, but it also means the volume moves very fast without advancing the story much. Still, the art is quite good, and the fight is really worth looking at.

Yuma, Cynthia, and the third Claymore in their group join up with Deneve and Helen at ground zero, but that’s where that storyline leaves off for next time.

I know I say this every time, but I do enjoy this sort of slow-paced sword and sorcery comic, and I really need to go back and start with volume one. I haven’t had any trouble following the story for the last six or so volumes I’ve been reading, but with the disparate storylines going on, I have a hard time distinguishing between anyone who isn’t Clare or Miria, since character development has taken a backseat to the fight scenes that (eventually) advance the plot. I’d love to go back and find out what makes them tick, and the significance of the numbers they all had. Claymore is good stuff, and it deserves that.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


Claymore 18

Norihiro Yagi – Viz – 2011 – 21+ volumes

Unfortunately, I skipped a volume. I didn’t realize this until after I had finished this one. This may account for my slight disorientation.

I’ve liked this series pretty well so far, despite jumping in about five volumes ago. This volume gave me a little trouble, though, but I think it’s only partially because I skipped the last one.

The action jumps between three different groups here. In one, a man named “Lord Dae,” who is probably a bad guy, is admiring a terrible creature (apparently “The Destroyer”) that seems to be annihilating all life in the vicinity. He’s very interested in getting a sample for himself. Nearby, Claire is with Helen and Deneve, fighting things coming from “The Destroyer.” During this fight, a character that appears to be rooted very firmly in Claire’s past shows up. In fact, this seems to be the character she’s been trying to fight all series, and the battle is pretty epic. Elsewhere, Cynthia and Uma are fooled by a monster, and are engaged in a battle where each tries to sacrifice themselves for the other. Both get holes blown in them, but keep fighting. Another battle somewhere else covers Riful and Dauf, a doomed couple that appear to be engaging yet another Claymore. Parallel to this is a battle where a dark-haired girl is fighting a monster rather successfully. These two battles merge, and the dark-haired girl fights two monsters while the victims from the Claymore fight only watch. Later, the dark-haired girl finds Clare.

To be fair, the Lord Dae scene is brief. But my main problem with this volume was that there was so much fighting going on, jumping from scene to scene, and little in the way of story. I had trouble telling the characters and fights apart, and the fights meant very little to me, save for the final one with Clare, which was explained. And yes, part of this is my ignorance of most of the series, but I also tend to hate these types of volumes in fighting manga, with lots of fights with many different characters that don’t really mean anything.

All the same, I suspect the Dauf/Riful fight was some sort of climax, and I did wind up enjoying the fight with Clare at the very end. I can’t really appreciate all the story behind it (there’s obviously at least two former storylines that have a direct bearing on this fight), but I loved Clare’s character transformation here, and the fight itself was very good.

Even with this volume not playing as well for me as the others, I still want to pick up past volumes of the series. I need to finish up at least a couple of my current series, but I do intend to go back for this. It seems very much worth it.

I’m not sure why, but I really love the cover to this volume, too.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


Claymore 16

Norihiro Yagi – Viz – 2010 – 17+ volumes

I know I say this every time I get a new volume of this series, but even without knowing anything about what’s going on, even jumping in the middle of a plot-heavy shounen series, Claymore is great stuff.  I still really need to go back and start from the first volume, and I will.  With six months between new books (I assume we’re caught up with Japan), hopefully I’ll be able to pick up at least a few volumes before 17 comes out in January.

The hardest part for me is that the story jumps around to different groups of characters, but all of them have an interesting story, so I’m not all that lost.  Or rather, I am lost, but I’m enjoying the ride enough that I don’t care.

This volume opens with exposition, an old man explaining to a group of three women what’s up with… what appears to be the villain.  We see the villain, along with a woman she’s kidnapped, and learn that what she has planned is bad for the world indeed.  Another big clue that she was evil was the fact she had cut off the captive woman’s arms and legs and was making her do some sort of reading without them.  So… I’m pretty sure I was right on that one.

Elsewhere, we meet up with a group of two women traveling south.  They meet up with a Claymore who explains the southern situation to her, how she wouldn’t advise they go any farther, et cetera.  They ignore her, and engage in what is a pretty awesome fight scene, made even better by indestructible zombie dolls programmed to eat demon flesh.  This scene (which I’m pretty sure I’m missing the nuances on, the zombie dolls are probably really awful in a way I’m not getting) was great, not only as a way to break up all the exposition, but also just as an action scene as well.  It had interesting enemies and the fight itself was great, made even better by the fact we got to skip over the boring parts where the zombies were killed again and again as they wore their enemy down.

Now, this review isn’t useful to anyone who actually reads the series, since I’m not familiar with any of the characters or creatures.  But from an outsider’s perspective, the volume’s great, and that’s an impressive feat from a shounen series sixteen volumes in.  Even if it’s taken a dip in quality in the recent volumes, I don’t really care, because I’m ready to start at the beginning and be taken on an epic action fantasy ride.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


Claymore 15

Norihiro Yagi – Viz – 2009 – 16+ volumes

I thought this was a weekly Shounen Jump series (and it was, at one point, but now it is Monthly Jump Square), so I was a little surprised that the volumes were coming out in English so slowly.  I’m thankful that I read two back to back, though, since I got to see just how good the story is here.

I like fantasy stories, and I like them even more when they stay relatively straight-faced.  Claymore has no humor, and this volume reveals just what the scope of the series really is.  There is a huge reveal here, and I was quite impressed that it was completely understandable and worked so well as a turnabout to everything even for a new reader like me.  I do think I’ll go back to the beginning of this series eventually, but I think I’ll read a few more volumes first just to make sure all the elements are working how I think they are.

Most of all, I enjoy the warrior system that has been established.  It’s explained further here when everything is unveiled, but I just like that there’s a special class of women that slay monsters and can be saviors or pariahs depending on the town.  I also like that there are further subdivisions.  The women are half-human and half-monster, but it seems like there are (of course) more variations on this, and I’m interested in a character from Clare’s past who seems to have joined up with the story in this volume.

There are a lot of characters here, and I’m a little bummed that so many warriors suddenly joined the main cast.  I’m also a little put out that the two main characters from the last volume don’t seem to be players in the story at all.  But Clare is the main character, and she takes the story over again after the leader of the warriors explains the situation to everyone.  The other warriors remain relatively faceless, which I appreciate, because I just don’t want to follow that many people, and I like when secondary cast stays low key.

The next volume comes out in June.  I may pick up some additional volumes before then, or I may wait until I’ve read one more volume, but I know for sure I’ll be reading more.  It does have a little bit of a vanilla taste to it, but I can’t help but like series like this.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


Claymore 14

Within the first few pages, this series struck me as Berserk-lite, and that impression just stuck with me for the rest of the volume, much to the benefit of this story.  They’re fighting demons with swords, they do insane things like blind themselves to escape detection, there’s a naked woman bathing herself in blood… even the art is pretty detailed for a Jump series, though nowhere near as insane nice as it is in Berserk.

The plot seemed pretty straightforward.  Unlike some of the other shounen series I’ve been jumping into lately, which required explanations of factions and mafia babies and demon heierarchy and special powers and whatnot, this seems like a simple story about a race of ladies that kill monsters with their big claymores.  Admittedly, I was a little confused when I got to the bonus content since it had nothing to do with what appeared to be the two main characters in this volume, but it didn’t detract from the story in any way.

I actually liked the simplicity of the story a lot.  There weren’t a lot of pretexts.  Two girls show up in town where they’re not supposed to (apparently Claymores aren’t allowed in this town?), then they find out the town is being haunted by a demon.  Except… well, they didn’t come to kill a demon, they came to hunt down some sort of rogue agent.  One of the two girls is a leader and the other one seems to be a fighter with some sort of mental handicap, she calls the other girl “mamma” and doesn’t speak or do much for herself.  She does manage to dispatch everything that needs dispatching though, so I guess that’s just how those two roll.

The two find the rogue agent pretty easily and the fight begins, which is then interrupted by the demon.  The rogue agent starts to fight the demon so it will stop murdering the townspeople, except… the pair of agents aren’t there to slay the demon, they’re there to kill the agent.  Hm.  See?  Very simple.  I like it.  Lots of swordplay, demons, blood and guts, etc.  Not something I have to think a lot about, but I prefer it over the convoluted fights and power structures you find elsewhere.

There are two side stories in the back that just make me want to read this series even more.  The last one is probably about the main character of the series, though she isn’t even referenced in the main story here.

I think this is the first time I’ve ever read a random volume of a series that made me really, really want to go back to the beginning.  It’s not a must-read-fantastic-story, not the part I read at least, but I’d be willing to believe there’s a lot more going on than what I saw here, and I like the premise and simplicity enough that I know I would love it if  went back to the beginning.  Simple stuff, but it knows how to do simple shounen, which is more than what can be said for a lot of other action series.

This was a review copy provided by Viz.


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