Claymore: Protection in a Dangerous World

Claymore Recap: Clare has completed her duty to her childhood friend Elena and now receives a new assignment from the Organization -- she is to secretly infiltrate a holy city where Claymores are banned and destroy a massive Yoma that has gone on a rampage within the city cathedral.

Claymore, Episode 3: The Darkness in Paradise

Episode 3 brings a new assignment to Clare: the holy city of Rabona has been infiltrated by a large and powerful yoma, and priests and guards within the cathedral are being massacred nightly at an alarming rate. The head priest has contacted the Organization for a contract of a single Claymore to be dispatched to the city to save the humans from their monster.

This assignment is particularly unusual and dangerous because Clare will be forced to face the powerful yoma alone and with her powers suppressed and disguised -- the "holy city" of Rabona forbids Claymore from entering the city limits, as they are considered unholy perversions of human nature, and if Clare is discovered in the course of her job, she will be put to death by the cathedral guards. Her client, the head priest, refuses to relax the rule against Claymores in order to accommodate her passage into the city; he steadfastly insists that her mission must be cloaked in the utmost secrecy, as people would "lose faith" if they knew that priests were no more safe from yoma than anyone else.

Once again, the sub-narrative turns to the question of what constitutes humanity, and what drives a Claymore to protect the weak. Clare is initially frustrated at the confines of her contract; the drugs that will allow her to keep her identity a secret will greatly weaken her powers and will make it harder for her to survive her encounter with the yoma. It's one thing to fight a deadly foe alone and in a weakened state when circumstances demand it; it's quite another to artificially impose handicaps in a fight when the only "benefit" is to allow a religion to falsely save face and a people to remain comfortable in their prejudices. Clare protests; if the people of Rabona are so adamant that their god will save them without the intervention of Claymore, then why should the organization not leave them to their fate?

A contract is a contract, though, and once Clare's handler from the Organization gives her the assignment, her mind is set on the protection of the humans within the city -- even if they are creatures that would normally shun and kill her, given the opportunity. And, too, her mind is set on the protection of Raki: if she falls in this difficult battle, she can't count on the Organization for taking care of him. She will have to make her own private arrangements for his safety. 

Once inside the holy city of Rabona, Clare quietly seeks out her contact at the church, the head priest. He advises her to sneak back to the cathedral at night for further information and instructions -- he doesn't dare spend time briefing her on her mission during the day hours, lest the other pilgrims notice his odd behavior and determine that something is wrong in the cathedral. Clare obediently obeys his wishes; at great personal risk to herself, she sneaks out after the city curfew and runs silently over the rooftops to meet her employer within the church tower.

When Clare arrives, the man is already worked up into a state of near panic. His faith is shaken, and all he can feel is his fear. When he insists that the yoma should not be able to prey up on the priests in the temple, Clare quietly chides him: the yoma doesn't care if a victim is a saint or a sinner; all humans are the same to a monster. Clare shakes the priest out of his fearful reverie -- she will fight the yoma, but the battle will be dangerous and her life may be lost. If she does die in battle, will the priests take Raki in and care for him? She assures the priest that Raki is just a normal human traveling with her, and does not have the yoma taint of either monster or Claymore.

The priest is taken aback, and then ashamed by Clare's request. While he has been spending each night locked in darkness and fear, this 'inhuman' Claymore has been risking her life to protect others: first this boy Raki, and now the citizens of the very city that forbids her presence. Humbly, he acquiesces: Raki may have a home in Rabona for as long as he might choose to stay; Clare is satisfied and visibly relieved.

Episode 3 is very interesting as it illustrates a very real internal tension within Clare as regards the presence of Raki -- Clare is constantly waging an internal debate within herself as to whether to continue her travels with Raki or to instead travel far away from the human boy forever, for both their sakes.

In Episode 1, Clare was careful to explain to Raki that she is no savior and was not hired to protect him; she is merely a monster hunter doing her job, and not a hero-figure to cling to. Nevertheless, before the end of the episode she did save him -- twice -- and does take him in when no one else will keep him. In Episode 2, Clare allows him to witness the death of Elena and explains to him the cold truth, that she is destined to fight a life of battle, with no hope for a peaceful life or a calm death; she will live forever until she dies in battle, either as a Claymore or as a yoma. Nevertheless, even knowing that she has no hope for peace, she still travels with him and carves out some semblance of a normal life with him between her assignments.

Now, in Episode 3, she is faced with the possibility that she may die and Raki may end up in the same situation he was in before -- alone, suspected as a stranger, and without hope of succor. She carefully and deliberately sets up a safety net for him: if she dies on assignment in Rabona, then he will be safe with the priests. And yet, she has to wonder if she will henceforth need to make similar arrangements on every assignment, and in every town. "This is Raki, he is human; if I die, take care of him." Clare is like a parent who lives a life of constant battle while fearing for the helpless child she may leave behind, and though she enjoys having the company and humanity of Raki near her, she is burdened by the fear and guilt that by letting Raki stay close to her, she may not be doing the best thing for either of them in the long run. This theme will return heavily in just a few short episodes, and it is not a coincidence that it is foreshadowed here: no matter how much Clare protects Raki, it remains true that they would perhaps both be safer far away from each other. 

When the temple guard burst in on Clare and Raki in the morning, convinced that Clare might be the shadowy figure glimpsed on the rooftops the night before, Clare is the soul of submission, even as Raki defies the soldiers and verbally defends Clare's character and honor. When the soldiers leave, Clare turns angrily on Raki: she is not kind, she cannot protect him, and if he had incited the guards to attack him, she would not have been able to interfere. With mounting frustration, Clare realizes that even when she has made arrangements for Raki in the event of her death, she still cannot keep him safe. Her growing attachment to the boy creates a new weakness that her enemies can exploit; his very proximity to her puts him in danger of being hurt by humans and yoma alike.

The theme of loved ones and their protection is incredibly common in fiction, particularly any fiction involving superhuman warriors who serve humanity. More often than not, the warriors will attempt to hide their attachments, as with the superhero whose "unassuming alter ego" is created so they can be affectionate to friends and family without fear that they will be targeted by the villains. Other times, the warriors may attempt to avoid attachments entirely, with the rather suspect assumption that affectionate company is something best avoided when one is a powerful superhuman constantly beset by enemies in a dark and dangerous world. Though I remain skeptical about the wisdom of isolating oneself from calming, humanizing influences, still I recognize that this plan is rooted in good intentions: if the superhero avoids them, those loved ones can perhaps have a safe, normal life.

The world of Claymore, however, isn't a cheerful comic book world. There are no villains intent on world domination who battle out their ideological differences with the heroes high above a glittering cityscape with the only casualties, if any, being a handful of anonymous city residents. There is very little chance for anyone to have a "safe, normal life". The world of Claymore is a world of monsters that live among humans in disguise, and the only thing they want is to murder the weak and the unsuspecting for food and fun. Clare knows this, she's been raised with it and seen it first-hand, and she knows that nowhere -- not one place on earth -- is truly safe from these monsters. 

Ultimately, Clare has a decision to make. She can choose to keep Raki with her and expose him to dangers as she travels. As her cook and her friend, he will be taken into dangerous situations and terrifying battlefields. He'll spend his entire life moving towards monsters, instead of away from them, and her enemies will threaten him in an attempt to distract and hurt her. On the other hand, she can walk away from him -- she can leave him in a village and walk away forever, hoping for the best: that the odds will be in his favor and he'll win the random chance of a happy life and a peaceful death. But she can't be sure that random chance won't hit him hard from the other direction and make him lunch for a yoma five minutes after she walked away.

The incredible difficulties inherent in this choice will soon be explored, brutally, with Teresa in Episode 5.


Dav said...

I've been watching this on your rec, and it's good.  (Netflix has the whole dubbed series, as far as I can tell, available for instant watching.)  Even the dub is less horrific than usual, although I wish they'd offer original soundtrack with subs.  

I think, too, you have to take into account Raki's choice.  I'm not a huge fan of the whole "hurting someone to protect them" trope: breaking up with someone for their own good, abandoning someone because they might be hurt later, etc.  I understand there's serious, legitimate concerns about Raki's safety, but it's worth considering that he makes, and reaffirms, his choice every time they leave a settlement.

Ana Mardoll said...


I think that's a great point -- generally speaking, I HATE the "I'm leaving you for your own good" trope. I hesitate a little over Raki because it's unclear how old he's supposed to be at this point, and at a certain (young) age, children can't really be counted upon to decide what is safest for themselves, but I do agree that it's good that Clare is giving Raki the choice to stay or go.

I'm so thrilled you can get these through Netflix -- that's awesome!

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