Anime fans that have been around for a while may remember an incredibly gory anime out there called Berserk. Berserk as a series is still going even today, with a Dreamcast game a while ago and a manga that has been going for two decades now as of 2010. Extremely violent fantasy anime is certainly a niche market yet also it is something that has not been catered to for a while. That said, as one of the earlier Blu-Ray launches by Madman, Claymore was released as a full collection produced by Madhouse (Record of Lodoss War, Chobits, Death Note among many others).
Claymore tells a story from two perspectives, one from a half-human, half-demon (Yoma) Clare and the other from a child Clare runs into early on in the story named Rocky (Raki in the Japanese version). Clare is referred to as a ‘Claymore’ with her role being to exterminate the Yoma that coexist with humanity funded by a nameless organisation. Along the way other Claymores are met setting a simple yet extremely heartfelt and enjoyable story practically oozing raw emotion. The pace behind Claymore is just right, not quite fast enough to confuse yet not too slow that it drags its feet. Those who have read the manga of Claymore should expect something different also as they differ quite greatly with a few major changes, ultimately throwing the story in a completely different direction.
A slight difference in the animation style behind Claymore is the Korean animation team and it really shows. Character design (especially face structure) is quite different to the standard fare one normally sees and the framerate behind most animations is superb. Characters constantly have muscle and body structure changes from strength increases to limbs falling off and even in that regard it’s quite obvious that the entire drawing style is different from the norm. Footage is very rarely reused and it’s extremely obvious how much work has gone into the appearance. Backgrounds are also drawn with great attention to detail and it really shows on the Blu-Ray format.
When it’s not just the sound of blood spraying or Yoma screaming, the voice acting is of a very high standard in both Japanese and English. Given the extremely cold nature of the Claymores in general hearing the emotion in their voices when it is needed really hits hard and has passion and once again raw emotion behind it. Claymore being the extra violent anime that it is expresses much mental and physical anguish as well as desperation, you can really feel it when it is screamed out combined with the over-the-top graphical style. Music has its moments and certainly fits the series yet sadly isn’t up to the same quality of the voice acting so it leaves a good soundtrack sounding mediocre.
Special features aren’t exactly a major focus in the Blu-Ray collection, yet it certainly has a few that are worth looking at such as the voice actor commentary as well as director interviews. You’ll also find a few character auditions as well as the usual textless opening and closing sequences.
Berserk fans will naturally love this as well as anyone who wants a violent anime series. Additionally, those who want something to watch with a lot of raw power behind it as well as a strong story although simple will also get a good kick out of Claymore. Extra violent would certainly be an understatement, if you’re one to be squeamish or get attached to characters way too easily stay well clear.
Image Content: ©Norihiro Yagi / Shueisha © DNDP, VAP, avex entertainment, Madhouse