How did I get it: The library.
Why did I read it: I got to around vol. 9 in this series several years ago (thanks to The Hopeful Librarian) and then promptly forgot about it. Since I’m attempting to read more Horror this year, I figured this manga would be a great place to start since it also has some Fantasy elements to it. Not to mention a ton of action.
How I would rate it: 5 out of 5 stars.
Claymore – a female warrior named for the sword she carries – travels from medieval village to village to destroy Yoma, monsters who disguise themselves as humans and who are almost impossible to kill. Claymores are half-humans, half-demons who willingly transformed themselves by mixing their blood with monster’s blood. Clare is such a powerful Claymore, she can slay a Yoma using only one hand. But she must constantly struggle to keep from becoming a monster herself.
Review: I don’t know why I wasn’t as onboard with this manga the first time I attempted it, but this time? I could not put any volume of Claymore down for very long for the life of me.
As creepy as it is intense and inviting, the world Clare and the others live in is really fascinating. At first glance, it is also remarkably straightforward. Yoma are the bad guys, humans are the good guys, and Claymore straddle the gray line between them for the benefit of the good guys. But like so much of the manga I prefer, good or bad quickly becomes a matter of perception and even then it is impossible to tell who is right or wrong.
As each Claymore struggles to retain their humanity, they also have to face off against themselves, each others, and the people they are being paid to protect. They can’t really win for losing either as each time they battle a Yoma, they have to use their own demonic powers which slowly but surely turns them into the thing they want to destory… Except when it doesn’t. And then the results are incredibly, awesomely startling. I really loved not being able to anticipate what was going to happen next as well as having my mind blown by certain revelations.
Although Clare is a really great main character, my heart went out to nearly every warrior I was introduced to and even to the Yoma characters as well because mixed in with really unique battle sequences were plenty of quiet, reflective moments of backstory or warrior bonding. Nine times out of ten, these scenes were incredibly sad. Along those lines, I should warn potential readers that most of the characters die the second you become attached to them. Not only that but their endings are usually as gruesome and brutal as their sword techniques.
It is also worth nothing that there is plenty of violence and horror throughout the series. Even when sympathetic, the Yoma are nasty in terms of their attitudes, actions, and physical appearences. Most tend to take on guises that are fairly Giger-esque. Very few people, supernatural or otherwise, come out of any volume alive or even in tact. Some are even eaten alive, and, although many warriors are capable of regeneration, people lose a lot of limbs in virtually every volume. Not to mention the fact that the later volumes also contain some bizarre, disconcerting arrangements between certain characters that briefly took me aback. I would rather read something bizarre and original than deal with something banal and generic. And that preference is what brings me back to manga year after year. Yes, even in Claymore there were some panels I could have probably done without. Yes, sketchy things occasionally happened, but honestly none of that matters compared to what worked and what everything ultimately amounted to.
In conclusion, awesome. Definitely worth picking up if you enjoy Horror, Dark Fantasy, Action-centric Manga titles, or if you simply want to read about female characters being strong, competent, emotionally versatile, and kick-ass.