Claymore (クレイモア Kureimoa?) is a dark fantasy manga series written and illustrated by Norihiro Yagi. The series initially premiered in the now defunct Monthly Shōnen Jump in the May 2001 issue. When the magazine was canceled in June 2007, the series was temporarily moved to Weekly Shōnen Jump. When Jump Square was introduced in November 2007, the series was moved to it and is still on-going. The individual chapters are published in tankōbon volumes by Shueisha, with 18 volumes released as of July 2, 2010.
Madhouse adapted the first eleven volumes of the series into a twenty-six episode anime series. Directed by Hiroyuki Tanaka the series premiered in Japan on NTV on April 3, 2007 and ran until September 25, 2007. A CD soundtrack for the anime series, and a CD of character songs using the anime voice actresses were released on July 25, 2007 and September 27, 2007, respectively.
The Claymore manga is licensed for an English language release in North America by Viz Media, which began serializing the title in its Shonen Jump manga anthology in the April 11, 2006 issue. It released the first volume of the series on April 4, 2006 and has released 16 volumes as of June 1, 2010. The anime adaptation is licensed for release in North America by Funimation Entertainment, which has released the first DVD for the series in Fall 2008 and released the entire series on Blu-ray in Spring 2010. Madman Entertainment has licensed the anime for release in Australia and New Zealand and the anime is sub-licenced by Manga Entertainment for UK distribution.
In a world where humans coexist with sentient monsters called Yoma (妖魔?) that feed on human innards, an organization has created an order of half-human, half-yoma warriors to protect humans from the yoma, for a large fee. The people of this world have dubbed these warriors "Claymores" based on their swords. They are also referred to as "Silver Eyed Witches", based on their appearance and seemingly cold nature toward others. Each Claymore has a rank number which is based on their strength and ability. There are 47 ranks corresponding to the number of regions of the land/world.
A Claymore known as Clare saves a small town by killing a Yoma living there, and meets Raki, a boy whose parents were killed by the Yoma. Out of gratitude, Raki ends up following Clare from town to town during her Yoma-killing jobs. The two travel together until they are separated when Clare is forced to battle a sadistic Claymore named Ophelia. Before parting, Clare promises to find him if she survives. The story becomes a tale of revenge, as Clare seeks to confront someone from her past.
- Clare (クレア Kurea?), the series' protagonist, is a distant and quiet Claymore, with an occasional impulsive side. At number 47, Clare is ranked as the lowest and weakest of all Claymores. Although she is the weakest Miria(6) says that when she first met her she felt that she was in the presence of the strongest Claymore. She has obtained the right arm of Irene, the Number 3 when Teresa of the Faint Smile still lived. She also has the ability to go over the limit of a normal Claymore, but cannot awaken because of Jean. During the invasion of Pieta Clare begins to awaken. Jean using the last of her yoki syncs her yoki with Clare's. When Jean dies her yoki is kept in Clare as a sort of mental block. After Teresa is killed, Clare asks the man in black to put Teresa`s flesh inside of her and become a claymore. Clare defeated Ophelia (Awakened) so she could have been rank number 4 if she didnt desert afterwards.
- Raki (ラキ Raki?) is a young boy whose family was murdered by a Yoma, which Clare subsequently slew. Raki was exiled from his village for being suspected as a Yoma and Clare allowed him to join her on her journey as the cook. Wanting to become strong enough to protect Clare, Raki trains under Isley. When Clare disappears for seven years, Raki begins traveling along the paths they once walked (strong enough to kill yoma) to meet up with her again, with Priscilla joining him.
- Priscilla (プリシラ Purishira?) was once the second ranked Claymore, who had the potential to rival Teresa for the first rank. She was one of the four Claymores sent to execute Teresa after she deserted the organization. During the attack, Priscilla's lack of experience caused her to become an "Awakened Being". She kills Teresa in front of Clare. But she leaves Clare alive, walking past her. Priscilla regresses to the mindset of a child and began rampaging in the northern lands, drawing the attention of Isley, the Abyssal One who rules there. When he attacks her, Priscilla completely overwhelms him, and he surrenders, swearing fealty to her, although he lets out that he defeated her. Priscilla goes on to travel with Raki. She refuses to eat any human meat while trying to regain her memories of the day she awakened. She is as of episode 103 the most powerful person in the manga, with only the Rafeala-Luciela monster to rival her. She claims that Teresa killed her father so it can be speculated that her father was one of the human bandits. She later claims that she sliced off her father's head while he was eating her brother, but for some reason blames Teresa for the death of her father. She kills Teresa unfairly, right after she asks to have her head removed. Since Teresa thinks shes given up she makes a dash outward slices off her hands and a second dash outward that slices off her head. She goes past her limits and turns into a Awakened Being, unable to revert to her human form. She also turns on her helper claymores and kills Irene,Sophia, and Noel. Irene (called Ilena in the manga) actually survives and helps Clare later on giving her what used to be her right arm because Clare's arm got chopped off.
In the fictional world of Claymore, yoma (妖魔 yōma?) are a species of humanoid monsters, believed by some to be a type of demon, that coexist with humans, feeding on their internal organs. Most are similar in size to humans, though some are noticeably larger and more heavily muscled. Most have rows of stubby spikes growing from their upper backs, with elongated limbs that end in clawed digits, large fang-filled jaws and pointed ears, giving them a bestial appearance,and some have bat-like wings, though this is rare amongst them. Yoma have greater strength, speed, and durability compared to humans, being capable of extending their limbs and digits, and are capable of both regenerating after being wounded and shape-shifting to appear completely human. Taken a step further, they can eat a human's brain to absorb their memories and completely replace them. Yoma are identified by their 'yoki' (妖気?), or "demon essence" (the first character means demon, and second character is the same as the Chinese word commonly known as "chi"), which can be sensed by other yoma and by Claymores.
Claymores are created by the Organization to fight the Yoma. By implanting Yoma flesh and blood into humans, they are able to create a hybrid that is faster than the source Yoma with their original human combat training and intelligence. It is unknown why Claymores are so overpoweringly powerful in comparison to Yoma despite only being half-Yoma. This hybridization process changes the human's hair to a light-blond or white, their eyes to silver, and sometimes they develop elf-like ears. Claymores are stronger than typical humans, have an enhanced healing ability, and some limited shape-shifting abilities. In battle, Claymores wield large claymore swords, hence their name. By drawing on the yoki within them, Claymores begin to undergo a physical transformation, beginning with their eyes, until they closely resemble yoma themselves. Claymores are in danger of losing control of their powers if they activate more than 80% of their demon strength, changing them into a form of yoma called an "Awakened Being". The majority of Claymores are female, as human males who are changed to hybrids tend to "awaken" more quickly due to the feeling of pleasure, akin to sexual ecstasy, during the process. In an attempt to avoid this fate, Claymores will ask a friend, usually another Claymore, to kill them if they begin to awaken. Some rare Claymores have been able to pass the 80% mark but avoid awakening, permanently increasing their strength. These Claymores' ability to surpass their limits and revert back to human form (most of the time), their lack of blood lust, and their increased strength are unknown to the Organization's leadership. This is due to the interference of enemy spies like Rubel within the Organization itself.
Similarly, their close cousins, Awakened Beings, retain their original memories and intelligence that they had as a Claymore, but in contrast gain the most basic bloodthirsty nature of a yoma. The "great shame" of the Organization, the true nature of Awakened Beings is kept from the public. Instead, they are called "voracious eaters" and are proclaimed to be particularly old yoma who have gained greater experience and an increased appetite due to their age. As they were originally humans made into Claymores, the Awakened Beings are as varied as their sources, with differing personalities and appearances. As Awakened Beings are more powerful than regular yoma, and generally as strong as or stronger than many Claymores, a team of at least four Claymores is typically necessary to deal with them, led by a single-digit ranked Claymore. It is originally believed that all Awakened Beings have lost their humanity, but as the series progresses, it is revealed that they do not always. The organization publicly denies this, while making use of such Awakened Beings in the war outside the island where the manga is set.
Before the time skip, the spies within the Organization attempt to use the sudden overabundance of Awakened Beings to attempt to dispose of troublesome, partially-awakened Claymores, beginning with Clare, Helen, Deneve and Miria. They do so fearing the possibility that the Organization might discover their partially awakened status, but fail to kill the four comrades. Using this half-way status as a foundation, they fear that the Organization would be able to create controllable Awakened Beings, a feat partially accomplished with Alicia and Beth. These would then be used outside the island (where the main events of the series take place), where a war is waged between Awakened Beings haphazardly unleashed by the Organization against a dragon-like species allied to their enemies.
Recently in the series, another 'species' has appeared, called Abyss Feeders, though they are often referred to as 'Demons'. The Abyss Feeders are females with light-blond or white hair, resembling Claymores, except that their mouths and eyes are sewn shut. It has been revealed that these 'Demons' were created by the Organization seven years ago, shortly after the Northern Campaign. Unlike Claymores, which are hybrids created by combining Yoma flesh with a human, the Abyss Feeders are hybrids created by using the corpses of Awakened Beings in place of regular Yoma. Abyss Feeders have been stripped of all emotion or conscious thought and are conditioned to have a single insatiable desire: to consume the flesh or blood of one that has been fed to them. Like Awakened Beings, Abyss Feeders can generate weapons from their own bodies and regenerate at a staggering rate, with only a direct blow to the head being fatal. While they are driven to seek out the one that they are looking for, they will also attack anything that makes a sudden movement and, according to Dietrich, whole towns have been wiped out by the 'Demons'. When infected by the parasitic spawn of the Destroyer, rather than being taken over the Abyss Feeders lose their inhibitions and devour anything they come across.
Written and drawn by Norihiro Yagi, the individual chapters of Claymore began serialization in Shueisha's Monthly Shōnen Jump in 2001. After the magazine was discontinued, the series moved to Weekly Shōnen Jump where it is appeared monthly rather than weekly. On November 2, 2007, it moved to Jump Square, Shueisha's replacement for the original Monthly Shōnen Jump, where it continues serialization. The individual chapters are published in tankōbon volumes by Shueisha, which released the first volume on January 5, 2002. As of May 13, 2009, 16 volumes have been released.
On July 18, 2006, Viz Media announced the serialization of the Claymore manga in North America in its Shonen Jump manga anthology. The first chapter of the English adaptation appeared in the April 11, 2006 issue and continued serialization only until the entire first volume was released. Viz released the first volume of the series on April 4, 2006, and as of June 1, 2010 has released 16 volumes.
The series is also being released in English in Australia and New Zealand by Madman Entertainment. It is licensed for regional language releases in Russia by Comix-art, in France and Spain by Glenat, in Mexico by Grupo Editorial Vid, in Italy by Star Comics, in Brazil by Panini Comics and in Germany by Tokyopop Germany.
Madhouse produced a twenty-six episode anime series based on the manga series. Directed by Hiroyuki Tanaka, the series aired between April 2007 and September 2007 in Japan on Nippon Television. The series adapts the first eleven volumes of its source material over the first 24 episodes, then uses an alternate ending for its final two episodes.
As of February 2008, seven DVD volumes, each containing three episodes of the anime, have been released in Japan by Avex Trax. In addition, four limited edition sets have been released. The first limited edition set contains the first DVD volume, while the other three sets each contain two DVD volumes. The latest limited edition set and volumes were released on January 30, 2008. Two more DVD volumes and one more limited edition set are planned for release on March 26, 2008. On February 15, 2008, Funimation announced that it has acquired the Region 1 DVD and broadcast licenses for the anime, and released the first DVD in North America on October 14, 2008; as of February 2009, three volumes have been released. On February 16, 2010, Funimation released a boxed set containing the complete series in Blu-ray format. Madman Entertainment has licensed the series and Volume 1 will be release early 2009.
Two pieces of theme music are used for the episodes: one opening theme and one ending theme. The opening theme is "Raison d’être" (レゾンデートル?, lit. Reason for being) by Nightmare. The ending theme is J-pop singer Riyu Kosaka's single, "Danzai no Hana~Guilty Sky" (断罪の花 ~Guilty Sky~?, lit. Flower of Conviction~Guilty Sky). These two themes are used in all twenty-six episodes.
Two CDs have been released for the Claymore. Claymore TV Animation O.S.T., the soundtrack for the anime series, was released on July 25, 2007 with instrumental compositions by Masanori Takumi. Spanning 32 tracks, the soundtrack includes the television-sized versions of the opening and ending themes. This Soundtrack is not a complete collection of the tracks of the anime, though (for example the track in episode 17, at 1:55 is missing).
A CD of character songs, Claymore Intimate Persona: Character Song Shuu (CLAYMORE INTIMATE PERSONA~キャラクターソング集~?) was released on September 27, 2007. It contains ten tracks, one each for ten characters from the series, featuring songs performed by the character voice actresses from the anime adaptation.
A Claymore video game for the Nintendo DS was released in Japan on May 28, 2009. The game is titled Claymore: Gingan no Majo and was released by Digital Works Entertainment. In the game, the player controls Clare in a similar fashion to the Castlevania games. She can alter the amount of her Yoma Power by using the touch screen and stylus.
In his review of volume seven, Carlo Santos of Anime News Network says about Clare's action scenes ‘Clare's fights are nothing short of eye-popping, with page layouts designed for maximum dramatic effect’. About the drama he says ‘Even the occasional attempts at drama feel oddly distant’ and about the part when Clare and Raki split up, he states ‘it's more like "Leave now because that's the obvious next step in the plot’. Volume seven art is rated A, story C+ and overall B.
Theron Martin also of Anime News Network says in his review of volume fourteen ‘the series has lost some of its luster’. and ‘it seems like less and less is actually happening with each volume’. About the action scenes he says ‘the actual fights lack some of the dynamism seen in earlier volumes’ And about the art he states ‘As has been true in the past, Yagi's artistry lacks for nothing’. He rates the art A- in his reviews for volume eleven, twelve and fourteen.
Theron Martin also gave his thoughts on the first five dub episode of the anime. He stated ‘While not without some flaws, the first five episodes generally get the series off to a strong start, practically assuring that Funimation has a solid hit on their hands’. The rating he gave for the anime were: overall (dub) A-, overall (sub) A-, story A-, animation B+, art A- and music A. In ICv2's list of "Top 50 Manga - Summer 2008", Claymore placed 42nd.
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- Official Shueisha Claymore manga website (Japanese)
- Official Shueisha Claymore anime website (Japanese)
- Official NTV Claymore anime website (Japanese)
- Official Funimation Claymore anime website
- Claymore (manga) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
- Claymore (anime) at Anime News Network's Encyclopedia
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