Claymore vol 1 (Ongoing Series)

Distributor:  VIZ Media

Author:  Norihiro Yagi

Suggested Retail Price (SRP):  5.99

Number of Pages:  208

ISBN:  978-1421506180

Reviewed:  26th April 2008

Reviewer:  Rich (Webmaster)


Having been watching MVM's DVD release of Berserk recently, I've been in the mood for a bit more hack n' slash adventure.  Therefore I was quite intrigued by Claymore, which promised more sword-swinging femme fatales and demonic hordes than you can shake a stick at.

The story starts in a village with a problem.  A series of horrific murders has taken place, in each case the victim has had their internal organs eaten out of their body and the villagers know the cause - a Yoma.  Yoma are demons that are powerful, fast and have voracious appetites, they disguise themselves as humans and hide amongst them, feeding at will.  When hidden humans can't find them, and when facing them a human stands no chance.  But all is not lost.  An organisation exists which combats Yoma, it has no name, and neither do its agents, but humans call them Silver Eyed Witches or simply, Claymores.  Claymores are women who have taken in the blood and flesh of Yoma, giving them the speed and strength of a demon and making them the only thing that can combat Yoma on an even footing.  Despite their tireless protection of humanity the inhuman Claymores are feared almost as much as Yoma, but such is the need that the village hires one.  The villagers may fear her, but for Raki she is a saviour.  Raki's parents were the first victims of the village's Yoma, and for him anyone who kills it is worthy of praise rather than fear.  However, there's more to Claymores than meet the eye, the power of a Yoma doesn't come without a price, and the fear people feel for them isn't completely unfounded.  Raki may want to get close to them, but he may be in for more than he bargained for...

With the medieval setting, demonic foes and unfeasibly large swords, Claymore appears to have everything you expect from a serious fantasy manga.  There's no messing about with comedy sidekicks or mascot characters, there's no focus on teamwork and the power of friendship.  There's just action and drama with added helpings of blood, gore and hot demon women with big swords.

Claymore is a pure, old-fashioned fantasy actioner that would appeal to fans of Berserk and, err, Red Sonya.  The basic plot follows a Claymore called Clare as she visits various villages to hunt Yoma.  After each mission she meets a shady man in a black suit who gives her the

details of her next mission and collects the payment for her services from the village she has left.  The first village she visits in the manga is Raki's and afterwards he follows her and tries to be her friend.  It seems pretty straightforward, and it is.  In this volume the plot largely consists of Clare hunting one Yoma after another, there's little sense of an overarching story and so it's down to the characters and action scenes to carry it through.  To start with though Clare is almost robot-like as she goes about her task, but as the volume progresses her interactions with Raki start to bring a bit more depth to her character.  Raki is a pretty standard earnest young man who's pretty only there to give Clare a reason to explain things about Claymores, but because of the human interaction we start to see changes to Clare's character by the end of the book.

It's a good job too, because although there's plenty of decent and action as Clare goes around lopping limbs off Yoma, the story is pretty shallow.  The artwork isn't too much to write home about either, it's not bad but it's often very simplistic and the backgrounds generally lack detail.  The action is well drawn, but the character's look a bit odd.  The artist draws the eyes very far apart and has a habit of drawing big foreheads, which works ok for the female characters but for male characters it makes them look a bit childlike and strange.  The Yoma look rubbish too.  Plot-wise the

action and dramatic standoffs make Claymore quite exciting to start with, but start to wear thin before some interesting ideas begin to pick things up again.  Towards the end of the volume we start to learn more about the Claymores and their powers, and also the terrible curse this power brings.  When it starts to concentrate on what the Claymores are and how they became what they are things get interesting, but the lack of any real direction to the story does leave it feeling a bit disjointed.

To be honest intelligent plotting and deep emotional analysis is not what this kind of story is about, but whilst it's action packed and gets better as it goes on, it does lack something.  For me that something is the lack of a goal.  Although it's early days there's no evil overlord to defeat or goal for Clare to achieve, at the moment she gets given orders and she executes them.  Although each mini-story is quite exciting and has some great fight scenes, there is little variety in them save the number of enemies or their intelligence.  Clare fights alone so no bond of respect is established with another character, and she always seems to fight within her abilities.  Because of this it's only when she has to face another Claymore late in the volume that you get the impression that the story has anything more to offer.

Claymore vol 1 is a decent enough action title which is refreshingly mature in its approach.  It's serious and fast paced with some great fight scenes, and Clare becomes an increasingly interesting character as it progresses.  However, at the moment the story is aimless and for the most part pretty predictable.  There are few twists and its hard to identify with a cast that - despite the improvements to Clare - remains underdeveloped.  At the end of the day it's a solid start, but the premise promises better.  It'll be interesting to see what volume 2 has to offer, but Claymore volume 1 is pretty average.


 The barest minimum - a next volume preview and a (very short) author biography and a handful of ads.  Very poor.


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