Slaying demons and holding on to one’s humanity

Claire is never welcome in the villages and towns she visits. While the people fear her and don’t think twice about saying insulting things as she walks by, they also need her services to survive.
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The silver-eyed woman who carries a big sword and usually talks like all emotion has been drained out of her voice is a Claymore. Claire is a demon/human hybrid created to kill the shape-shifting demons called Youma who prey on humans. Hers is a harsh existence. Claymores must fight to keep their demon side at bay because once they lose their human will, the organization they work for will hunt them down using other Claymores.

“Claymore” is one of the new shows this season and is based on a manga by the same name. But I’ve learned my lesson. I’m not going to read the manga until I finish the anime. That’s how my interest flagged in “Death Note” and “Bleach”. Keeping up with both the manga and anime storylines were just too exhausting. Well, it’s not as if these are the only shows I watch.

So back to “Claymore”. It’s an intense series which I doubt will have any characters around just for comedy relief. The main protagonist is Claire whose past hints of the reason why she decided to become a Claymore. The viewer is introduced to her as she goes to one of her assignments. A demon has been terrorizing a village and its desperate inhabitants hired a Claymore to slay the demon. Claire arrives and is met with both dismay and relief. Only one boy in the village seems to express genuine interest and admiration for her. Raki’s parents were killed by the demon which resulted in him and his older brother living with their uncle’s family.

Fate doesn’t smile on the boy.

SPOILER ALERT. DON’T READ BEYOND THIS POINT IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW THE REST OF EPISODE ONE PLUS PARTS OF EPISODE THREE AND FOUR.

The boy comes home to find his relatives slaughtered by the fiend who was pretending to be his brother. His older brother was slain along with his parents but Raki never knew that since the demon assumed the form of his sibling. Youmas aren’t dumb demons. They can assume the memories and forms of the people they killed and devoured. Claire dispatches the demon soon enough and tells the others that she followed Raki because the scent of demon lingered on him. She tells the semi-grateful villagers that someone from her organization will come by to pick up the payment then she departs.

Raki, the sole survivor of his unfortunate family, is soon cast out of the village by the others who fear he might become a demon too. He wanders without food and water but stumbles upon Claire. She takes him in as her traveling companion after he admits what the villagers did to him. She tells him he can cook for her but the boy later finds out she requires very little food and can last without food or water for days. From flashbacks, we see that Claire went through the same thing Raki did and this may have led to her decision to take in the orphan boy.

Episodes three and four are equally sad and poignant. Raki asks Claire at one point why she would lead such a life after she kills a fellow Claymore and friend who is becoming a demon. The friend, Elena, sent Claire a request to kill her. Claymores who reach their limit can ask a specific colleague to slay them by sending a black note with the symbol of their name. Elena sends such a note to Claire.

Claire and Raki later pose as siblings when they enter a holy town where a demon is killing/eating priests and guards. No “unnatural being” is allowed by law into the holy city so Claire takes pills that change her eye color and has the unfortunate side effect of damping down some of her senses. She cannot sense the demon and gets severely injured during a fight against this strong and wily opponent. She resorts to relying a lot more on her demon powers and realizes after she finally kills the demon that she will soon lose her human consciousness. She asks one of the guards to kill her before then and tells Raki farewell. She had earlier requested from their priest client that the church take in Raki if she gets killed.

Raki flings himself on Claire and tells her she was the kindest person he’s met. If she dies, then he dies with her too. I got such a headache afterward from all the crying I did watching this episode. Of course they didn’t die. Otherwise this would have been the shortest show this season.

Honestly, I didn’t think I’d be watching this show when the lineup for the fall anime season came out. I decided to give “Claymore” a look after “Darker than Black” left me cold. I had expected to follow that show this season but the first three episodes disappointed me.

However, Claire and the gang impressed me and now I’m hooked. Hooked I tell ya! Hooked like a fish pulled from a lazy river and tossed into the bottom of a rickety wooden boat crammed with beer-guzzling pals out for the day. I think you get my drift.

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