I’ll come right out and confess it; there is much to be excited about when an anime company like FUNimation decides to release a beloved franchise in a single complete collection box set. Not only does it save the buyer money but it makes a given property much more accessible to viewers who would otherwise be reluctant to track down half a dozen volumes to enjoy the show in it’s entirety. Enter Claymore the Complete Series, a property of which I’ve long been campaigning for a complete box set release. The show, which is really unlike any other anime series out there, has been released to the North American market thus far in a pace that could only be described as “trickling” as in six, 4-episode releases that each ran 95 minutes. I’ve got them all but won’t lie about waiting impatiently for each release to come out so that the story could continue.
Coming in at a total runtime of 650 minutes, Claymore The Complete Series release contains all 26 episodes across 6 discs housed in three thin packs. The set is housed in a cardboard outer slipcase that is minimally artistically decorated (as should be with a show this mysterious). The show wears a very appropriate TV MA (17+) rating due to some rough language, topless female nudity (or maybe topless monster nudity is more appropriate), and a near-endless succession of violent/gory sequences.
Language options are standard fair sub and dub, which of course means dialog presented in either original Japanese (Stereo) or an English dub in Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround. And, like always, the choice to run English subtitles exists for either spoken language option.
Extras are surprisingly robust and include a pair of nice 24-page full color books highlighting key characters from the series, six commentary tracks from some of the English voice actresses and creative staff, Japanese staff interviews, original TV commercials, cast audition reels, textless songs, and a crop of Funimation trailers scattered throughout.
The story could best be described as a sweeping supernatural epic set in a grim fantasy environment in which an order of pale, blonde-haired girls are humanity’s last hope in a struggle for survival against a race of beasts known as Yoma.
Yoma are incredibly powerful and twisted human/monster hybrids that come in many shapes and sizes and are driven by an endless appetite for consuming human innards.
The story primarily focuses on one of the Claymore sisters named Clare who sets off on a mission of bloody vengeance against the Yoma with hints of a disturbing and suffering-laden childhood popping up periodically along the way.
No ordinary pale girls, these Claymores, however as they are in fact only half-human and half Yoma themselves. Their beastie-half provides them with superhuman abilities (among them: strength, endurance, special attacks and healing capabilities), at the cost of a constant threat of accidentally "going too far" in a battle and hence allowing the Yoma portion of their being to forever consume them.
Should this happen, (a process called awakening here) the sister in question is to be slain by their own commanders-in-arms on the spot. As such the show presents a unique tension in the thralls of battle, as the temptation to push the limits of their fleeting humanity is a constant concern and more than a few Claymores will fall to the charms of the Yoma along the way.
Fighting the Yoma can best be described as a physically grueling hack-fest with blurring blades from multiple Claymores chipping away at the oftentimes massive forms of the flesh-eating monsters. The good news for the viewer is that this means some wickedly cool battle sequences where many (and I do mean many) lovely Claymores meet their gruesome demise in the hopes of taking down a few of the enemy with them.
Almost in a video game style of presentation, the show bides its time with the Claymore girls having to dispose of countless lesser beasts (such as the Abyss Feeders) while reserving the major player (think bosses) bad guy battles for the conclusion of the major story arcs. Among these is the wicked cool Silver Eyed Lion King (Rigardo), The White Silver King (Isley), and the Blood Soaked Warrior (Ophelia).
The show's art is fantastically appropriate with shadowy backgrounds, eerie lighting, and clear-cool skies that are sure to inspire a shiver. The character-model art is deliberately pale, bordering on black and white in fact, which goes a long way to provide an almost vampire-like appearance to the Claymore girls.
The soundtrack is made up of intense musical numbers and subtle stray electric guitar notes that are so well integrated that they tumble away into the creepy sounds of the night.
In all this is a must-have collection that will delight fans of most anime genres. Kudos to FUNimation for putting the fans first with a full boxset release at an asking price of little more than the 4-episode volumes have been going for until now.
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