If you haven't checked out Claymore by now then you're missing out on one of FUNimation's best new releases. The show channels Berserk in just about every way. Its dark fantasy setting is incredible, the action is nice and bloody, and all around the characters and plot are quite deep. This is definitely a show that's worthy of your "must see anime list" and considering we're looking at the fifth volume today, I hope you already know what I'm talking about.
Rather than drone on regarding the details about this show I'm going to direct you to a previous review for another volume in case you haven't seen the series yet. Quite honestly there's no point in recanting everything that has transpired or filling you in on the basics if you've been collecting these volumes all along. With that in mind let's get on with the show, shall we?
Four more episodes await you in this installment of Claymore. The first two pick up right where the previous volume left off with the two-part conclusion of "The Carnage in the North". With a title such as that you simply know that you're not signing on for a ride at Disney. At any rate, Clare and the rest of the Claymores are well on their way to the Northern lands where the Awakened Ones are causing all kinds of problems. With the way the first episode of this storyline ended you really got the sense that something epic was on the horizon and thankfully the show follows through with that promise. There are some really intense battles here, there's a lot of blood spilt, and there are quite a few surprises in store with regards to plot developments.
The whole thing with the Awakened Ones is that they are former Claymores who have given into their bestial side. Then again, if you've watched the show you know that already. You'd also know that Raki has been away from Clare for some time, and wouldn't you just know that he turns up in this volume with a pair of Awakened Ones who are orchestrating quite a few of the events that unfold here. The sense of impending danger for poor Raki is constant and you really feel the building of some tension there.
The other two episodes on this disc, "Invasion of Pieta Parts 1 & 2", take place after the events in "The Carnage in the North". Well, it's not so much a follow-up of that storyline, but rather a continuation. The massive battle in the city of Pieta carries on with the Claymores sort of taking the upper hand. It's the Awakened Ones' turn to attempt to turn the tide of battle. A guy named Rigaldo steps forward and gives the Claymores a run for their money here, but wouldn't you know that Clare seems to have become Awakened somewhat to gain the upper hand in her fight. Just imagine the ramifications this will have for the story in Claymore and I can honestly say that I'm really looking forward to seeing the next volume to see how things turn out.
Claymore has been one hell of a ride. The show has balls and its over-the-top violence really sets it apart from many other fantasy series out there. Clare's story is a fascinating one and her relationship with the other Claymores has been very well developed throughout the show. Raki doesn't play a major role this time around, but he's hanging out and gives us plenty of time to learn about Clare's foes and how they came to be what they are. One thing is for sure though, no matter what happens in the next installment there's going to be lots of blood and knowing how this show is, someone is probably going to die. If you haven't watched Claymore yet then you're missing out on one of the hardest hitting fantasy anime to come along since Berserk. Consider it highly recommended!
Presented with its original 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen aspect ratio, Claymore is a nice little treat on DVD. The artwork, design, and animation from Madhouse Studios are incredible, though I will say that some of the styles are a little generic. As far as the transfer here is concerned, the video quality holds up decently, but it's not flawless in its presentation. The picture is grainy (some parts are worse than others), there's some slight aliasing in parts, and the image isn't quite as sharp as it could have been. Otherwise compression artifacts aren't really an issue, and the colors appear natural and vibrant. This is a nice looking show, but it could have been spruced up just a little more.
Claymore hits DVD with English 5.1 and Japanese 2.0 language tracks. As far as the dubbing quality is concerned I found that the Japanese selection definitely was the better of the two. Some of the English voice actors just don't present well, or capture the feel of the characters quite right. The Japanese language, however, does just that and hits all the right dramatic notes. Technically speaking, the 5.1 Dolby Digital track is much more robust than the 2.0 offering thanks to a better sense of immersion during battle sequences. Whichever you're looking for, voice quality or sound quality, each track has something different to offer.
For volume five of Claymore FUNimation has included a familiar set of bonus features. This installment brings an English audio commentary for "The Carnage in the North Part 2", an interview with Nobukito Sue (Kusanagi) about the art settings, Textless songs, and some trailers. The commentary, with Caitlin Glass and Jamie Marchi, is solid enough and worth watching mostly because of the way Caitlin and Jamie interact. They bring a lot of energy to the commentary and it's quite entertaining listening to them talk about the show. The interview is informative about the art direction, so if you're interested in the many trappings of the series you'll definitely want to check it out.
Claymore just gets better and better with each episode. This particular one tends to focus more on the action than story, but there're still plenty of plot and character developments to be had. This has been one of the most unique shows I've seen in a while and it's definitely one of the bloodiest. If you enjoy action-packed fantasy mixed with awesome art direction and a rich story you simply have to watch this one. I can't wait for the final installment, but until then you should consider this one highly recommended!
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