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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Claymore: The Point of No Return, v.2
Claymore: The Point of No Return, v.2
FUNimation // Unrated // December 16, 2008
List Price: $29.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Todd Douglass Jr. | posted December 21, 2008 | E-mail the Author
Buy from Amazon.com
C O N T E N T
V I D E O
A U D I O
E X T R A S
R E P L A Y
A D V I C E
Highly Recommended
E - M A I L
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P R I N T
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The Show:

When FUNimation announced that it acquired the rights to Claymore the hardcore anime community cheered, but avid otaku didn't really know how to react. It's not a massively popular brand, and it's definitely far from mainstream franchises that typically catch the average anime viewer's attention (in other words anything that appears on Cartoon Network). However, those who knew Claymore was something special hit it right on the nose. The series came out here in the States not too long ago and the first volume was a big success.

Originally airing in Japan during 2007, Claymore is a 26 episode series that stemmed from a manga of the same name, which began in 2001. The show features some intense action coupled with fantasy elements, an interesting concept, well-developed characters, and a dark edge with lots of gore. Each of these components comes together to set Claymore apart from the rest of the current market. It's a throwback to darker series of the past and its approach is very reminiscent of Berserk. I'd go further to say that if you've seen that classic and enjoyed it, then stop reading this review and pick this one up post-haste. It's very similar in many ways.

In the first installment of Claymore we were introduced to the world full of Yoma, humans, and half-breeds known as Claymores. Basically, what you've got with this series is a world in which monster known as Yoma roam the land and feed on humans. These beasts can take human shape and have no souls, morals, or remorse. They are very adept at blending in and eat humans whenever they feel like. At least, the Yoma are a threat as long as there isn't a Claymore around.

The Claymore is a warrior from a secret organization whose mission is to protect humanity for a price and defeat the Yoma. That's fine and dandy, but these Claymore are just as feared as the monsters they are hired to kill due to their half-human, half-Yoma nature. In addition to being half-breeds, the Claymores are also made up of only women and each of these ladies are given rank based on their powers. It's an interesting and involved secret society, with rules, expectations, and a lot of history for the show to explore.

Last time around we met a young Claymore named Clare who happened to be out hunting Yoma when she came across a young boy named Raki while passing through town. Raki's family was slaughtered by the Yoma Clare vanquished and as a debt of gratitude, not to mention the fact that the rest of the townsfolk were afraid he'd turn out to be a Yoma as well, he decided to travel with Clare. The two formed an unlikely pair and during their trek we got to see some of Clare's powers and had a few breadcrumbs dropped on our plate as far as what the Claymores are all about. It was fascinating stuff, but just as we were getting to know Clare and Raki well enough the series shifted over to focus on another Claymore named Teresa to give us some insight on the past.

This installment picks up right where the first left off with the flashback about Teresa's life and how she came to meet Clare. In the final episode last time around we learned that Teresa met Clare after the dispatching of some Yoma and the troubled youth took it upon herself to follow the beautiful Claymore, much in the same way Raki follows Clare in the current timeline. Teresa gave Clare her name, but above all else she wanted the child to have a chance at being human. Since Teresa lost her humanity by becoming a Claymore she lives that aspect vicariously through Clare and this story arc follows that.

It's interesting to note that Teresa is regarded as the number one Claymore, meaning she's the most powerful of them all. When she decides to defect from the organization of Claymores this makes her a target, since like the mob you simply don't quit from a position in the Claymore club. Other Claymores are sent after her and they pose a serious threat when they unleash the extent of their power. This puts Teresa on the defensive as she must fight to protect herself and Clare. It's very interesting how it plays out and it's a set of episodes that gives some background on what an "Awakened One" is. After the Teresa arc is brought to a close the show shifts its attention back to present time and we pick up where we left off with Clare, who has fully healed from her wounds and ready to track down a rumored Awakened One.

All in all this second volume of Claymore is every bit as engaging and captivating as the first. This is an anime with a robust world, well-developed characters, and a high level of intrigue. The abundance of action doesn't hurt matters either and there really isn't a dull moment here. If you enjoyed the first installment you'll go gaga for this one and if you haven't seen the series yet you should consider it highly recommended, especially if you enjoyed Berserk.

The DVD:

Video:

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.

Audio:

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.

Extras:

The second volume of Claymore offers some clean animations and trailers as you'd expect, but some other material rises above the standard feature set. For starters there is an interview with Director Hiroyuki Tanaka who goes into some fantastic detail regarding the creation of the show. Some discussion about how faithful the anime is to the source material is brought up as well but I found Tanaka's thoughts on the series to be the most interesting aspect about the interview. The remaining feature on this disc is an audio commentary for the eighth episode with two English voice actresses. The quality of the commentary is about what you'd expect from English cast members but for the most part the two don't goof around or make jokes through the whole episode. That aspect was kind of refreshing even if their commentary had more to do with their experiences than the actual episode or show.

Final Thoughts:

I can't tell you how thrilled I am that the second volume of Claymore lived up to my expectations. This is a series I have high hopes for and so far I've loved what I've seen. The five episodes here all have something to offer and they up the ante even further than we saw with the first volume. The dark tone and serious nature combined with the fantasy setting make this a very alluring series and if you've been holding off until now, consider this installment's high recommendation another reason to pick it up. This is turning into a great show and I can't wait to see where it goes.


Check out more of my reviews here. Head on over to my anime blog as well for random musings and reviews of anime, manga, and stuff from Japan!

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