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"Claymore" Chapters 2 & 3: Bloody Good

Claymore Chapter 2: The Point of No Return includes episodes 6 through 10, with the initial three episodes picking up where the fifth left off. Clare, revealed to be the little girl from the end of the first disc, continues her journey with Teresa, the Claymore who saved her. After Teresa sacrifices her title of Claymore to kill bandits endangering Clare, the Organization unleashes their wrath on Teresa, sending those ranked 2-5 after their former prized number 1.

In the other two episodes of the second volume and the first on Claymore Chapter 3 (covering episodes 11-14), the narrative returns to the present, as Clare, accompanied by Raki, continues slaying Yôma. She and three other Claymore are sent to deal with a male awakened-being—a Claymore who has lost himself to his Yôma half—and by the end conclude that the four of them have been assigned because they all have become “partial awakened beings”, making them dangerous for having breached their limits.

In the final of the three major plot lines included on these two volumes, Ophelia, a bloodthirsty Claymore bent on slaying all Yôma—even be they “partially awakened”—sets her sights on Clare. Can Clare and Raki reunite after a mutual tactical split, or will the deadly fourth-ranked Ophelia cut their bond short?

Honestly, I’m coming into this review a little stunned. Claymore has changed so much that the first four episodes seem like an entirely different series. The flashback arc completely redefines Clare, giving this basic “hot chick who kicks ass” archetype a depth that will certainly disrupt any major attempts one has made to refrain from buying copious amounts of tissue. It’s frustratingly difficult to give more details without spoiling much bone-rattlingly good drama. But if your perspective of the series is based on my review of the first chapter, and if it stopped you from buying even the first volume, then may I implore you to reconsider. These two volumes set up what are unquestionably the major driving forces of the series and its protagonist.

In my previous review I described the relationship between Clare and Raki as a somewhat annoying brother-sister bond. But creator Norihiro Yagi gives one of our two leads a move that changes the entire landscape of their relationship. And for the sake of spoilers, that’s all I have to say about that.

As the series progresses and the animation teams find their groove, the battle scenes begin to improve. I can still complain about the somewhat bland character models, though. With a reported forty-seven Claymores (and with a good dozen appearing throughout these nine episodes), design work could use a little more distinctiveness. While each character is kept relatively distinguishable by their voices and personalities, the visual representations are often so similar one loses track of who is who. Thankfully, major characters like Clare, Elena, Teresa, Ophelia and Priscilla are kept quite distinct

FUNimation’s extras maintain some continuity with the first chapter. The second volume comes with an audio commentary on episode eight by English voice-cast members Brina Palencia and Wendy Powell. In addition to the FUNimation staples (trailers and textless songs) they’ve also include an interview with series director Hiroyuki Tanaka. The third volumes comes with an interview with the director of sound, Yasunori Honda, and an audio commentary on episode eleven with voice actors Colleen Clinkenbeard (who additionally acts as line producer for the dub) and Monica Rial.

I want to warn our readers that, as with the previous volume, Claymore is rated TV-MA, and this volume truly earns it. Heads, hands, legs and all are lopped off, like soft butter meeting hot knives. Also, please note these volumes contain discussion of and attempted rape as well as highly coarse language. In the English version a character drops numerous f-bombs in rapid succession. This is truly not a series for the kiddies.

Claymore is appropriately on track to becoming an unforgettable series. If you’ve got the money, pick up Claymore. You won’t be disappointed.

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