My third review of a 2007 anime, this one is for Claymore, and read on whether this one can usurp Nodame Cantabile’s provisional position as my Anime of the Year 2007. Do you see the background image of this semi-transparent blog? That comes from the manga version of this anime.
Disclaimer: I have read the manga before watching the anime.
Clare (no last name hahahaha) is a Claymore-wearing warrior whose job is to save townsfolk from demons in a medieval world setting in behalf of a mysterious organization. Sound innocent enough in a typical shounen anime setting, but she actually is searching for the killer of her benefactor that died a few years back.
The synopsis may seems lacking, but this anime have plenty of substance in it. She is involved in various situations while trying to find the object of her revenge, from doing covert operation in a hostile land to evading being killed by her own employer. She eventually find the one she wants to kill, but Clare let her away in anticipation of a second season.
This leads to my main complaint of this series. If a second season is in the planning, why the ending part of the anime is twisted heavily from the original storyline found in the manga? It would have been much better if the anime ends just the way the first part of the manga ends and that will build up anticipation for the second season. There is not even an original story at the ending, instead, the Northern Land arc (the ending of the first part manga storyline before the time jump) is completely butchered with major twists and a battle (and reunion) that should never have happened. If there are no plans for a second season, which is understandable because of the pacing of the manga releases, the villain should have been killed at the end. At it now stands, the anime series has no closure at all (a telltale of a impending second season) with almost no chance at all to follow the manga.
That issue above is the main reason why Nodame Cantabile will stay as my Anime of the Year 2007 winner, for now. Just like Claymore, Nodame Cantabile ends up (quite hurriedly) at the first part of the manga storyline, but the story remains faithful to the manga (despite some omissions) until to the end. Claymore is actually more faithful to the manga version compared to Nodame Cantabile, with no fillers at all, but the disastrous alteration of the last story arc ruins everything.
The main weakness of the manga version is that plenty of the characters looks way too similar. You have to reread some parts of the manga just to make out who is who. Even worse when it comes to action scenes, which this manga has a lot. This is why the anime is so refreshing because the problem that plagued the manga did not appear here. The design is not exactly that good but the originals found in the manga has been improved to help identification. Maybe it is the colours….
Just like Initial D, there are plenty of heavyweights in this anime. From Clare who is voiced by Houko Kuwashima up to Ayako Kawasumi who has only a few lines in the anime, voice acting in this anime are superb all around. Almost on par with Nodame Cantabile, and definitely a positive for this anime.
Unfortunately, this section is definitely inferior to Nodame Cantabile. While the OST and ED theme are decent, the OP is not.
Another major plus of the anime, and the only part that exceeds Nodame Cantabile (mainly because Nodame Cantabile does not have action scenes). The animation is fluid even in the fast scenes. And the choreography of the swordplay scenes is something else, especially between Claymore warriors. Those swordplays are the ones that you can only see from Fung Wan and the likes of it. Even the manga did not really depicts the intensity of the actions portrayed in the anime. Claymore is definitely one of the best sword-play anime I have seen, better than Rurouni Kenshin that is too technical or Samurai Deeper Kyo (which incidentally has the same problem as Claymore, but at least it has a closure).
The directing can’t have it easier, all the director do is to faithfully follow the superb manga storyline, up until the end. He/she can’t go against the producers anyway….
Despite the disastrous ending, I will still give this anime 9 out of 10. 1 point docked because of the ending. Claymore would have probably get a chance of getting the award if it follows the manga storyline to the end. Until today, I still did not get it why the Northern Land arc is twisted like that.