Monday, September 24, 2012

Rosy's scrawled manga recommendation: Claymore by Norihiro Yagi

Norihiro Yagi

In a medieval world, villages are being attacked by the youma, demons that can take the appearance of their victim. The only people who can stop them are the Claymore, a group of young women named for the swords they use. They are half-human, half-demons who, mostly unwillingly, became Claymore.

Alternative names


Manga reader sites (free)
Manga Reader, Manga Fox

Rosy's scrawling's on Claymore
This story is brutal. There is some variance in just how much blood and gore is shown at particular times but this isn't where the brutality ultimately lies. Where it does is in the endless churn of Claymore's meeting their deaths all because their own commanders in the organisation order them to their deaths. The series of girls generally don't know just who they really are, what their purpose is and what the grand scheme and greater world is about. They are trained from birth or early childhood to become Claymores and they are single-minded in their loyalty to the organisation. Until a few have some enlightening moments and break away to live life for their own purposes. They are warriors though and remain so no matter how much any try to return to or gain a normal life. Trying to achieve anything but what the organisation wants means being hunted down by other Claymores and killed so all are inevitably drawn back into their Claymore lives, if they manage to live at all.
By and large the story follows Clare (pictured above) from her early beginnings as a loyal Claymore to a half-awakened and rebellious one. Through a couple of stories that track other characters in earlier years you find out how Clare came to be a Claymore and just what she's seeking. Lives are destroyed along the way, with the death rate almost as high as expected in a war-zone. Limbs are cut off and regenerated or swapped. Skills are obtained and lost while souls are absorbed and minds destroyed. The destruction is never-ending.
Of interest to many, this manga is one where the vast majority of main characters are girls or women. There are male roles, even amongst the fighters but there are few who have any enhancements at all and even fewer who've managed to become incredibly powerful as awakened demons. At first there seems to be some sexualising in their outfits but this isn't the case when it comes to the plot line. Apparently they are physically deformed enough that humans aren't interested in them in such a way once they see the deformity and none of the girls or women attempt proper romantic relationships with anyone. Instead they find simple friendship challenging enough, as their emotions were severely stunted due to their intense training. So pleasant figures and appearances are just that and are superfluous to the characters and the story. Their good looks are purely for you, the reader, so that you have some pretty images to look at amongst all the death, demonic and torture scenes.
The art of Claymore improves greatly as the story progresses. At the beginning you will have to ignore too large foreheads and eyes space uncomfortably far apart. Almost none of the characters are pretty to begin with, good or bad ones, but they all gain beauty as Norihiro Yagi's skills build. Soon enough though, you'll find yourself entranced by beautifully portrayed awakened forms that look like anything from centaurs to lion-men to centipede women. Nakedness increases too but the naked form is more a way of creating smooth lines and creating continuity when it comes to form changes. The foreheads and eyes become more visually acceptable although there are, at times, such characters as the one with the skull partially revealed and popping eyeball sitting next to one safely enclosed by eyelids. All in all, the art not only improves to acceptable but to beautiful and striking, particularly during action scenes. There remains too much stillness in many of the conversation and plotting scenes but they do provide nice breaks or breather spaces.

I'd recommend this manga to: women in search of some action heroines (there are plenty), those in search of a brutal demon story and those interested in war-based secret societies doing nasty business.

Notes on manga reader sites
The quality of manga readers can vary. The uploads are often done cheaply or as a serious hobby by a collective. Be aware that sometimes licence hasn't been given but the sites noted above, Manga Fox in particular, are extremely careful about adding and pulling mangas according to license agreements. So you shouldn't have to worry too much about the material being pirated. There are also translated works and non-translated. Amongst the translated works you will find that the quality of translation may vary according to the skills of the translators. Usually the works are perfectly readable anyway, with only a few added or dropped words or a word in the incorrect tense or with/out plurals. But sometimes the text becomes gobbledygook. In which case, either seek another version or give up and buy an official copy once a printed translation comes out. The other issue of note is you may need to expand the screen to read the text easily as sometimes the scans are minimised a little.
I find that if a page doesn't download properly or some other issue occurs (too slow or someone ordered the pages incorrectly etc.) with one reader then skipping across to another reader and picking up where I was is quite easy and rarely annoying.
Otherwise, enjoy and watch out you don't get too addicted you forget about the necessary things in life.

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