Claymore: Tunnel Vision

Claymore Recap: Teresa has died at Priscilla's hand, and thus ends the flashback arc. We return to Claymore Clare, all grown up and no longer the frightened little girl who traveled with Teresa -- and now completely bent on revenge against Priscilla.

Claymore, Episode 9: Those Who Rend Asunder, Part 1

Episode 9 begins with a final glimpse at our flashback arc before propelling us back into the "present day" where we left Clare and Raki so long ago. Young Clare mournfully carries Teresa's head into the nearby village. The townspeople shy away from her in understandable terror, but Clare is able to accost the Man In Black from the Organization. "Put Teresa's flesh and blood inside me!" she cries, and we understand that Clare is to be inducted into the ranks of Claymore.

Back in the "present day", Clare rashly takes on a group of suspected Voracious Eaters and when she is later chastened for her behavior by her Organization contact, he reveals the truth: Clare has not now and has very before faced a true Voracious Eater. Every yoma she has faced to this point -- including the one in the cathedral -- was simply a normal yoma. True Voracious Eaters -- or "Awakened Beings" as the Organization calls them -- are not yoma at all: they are ex-Claymores who have given in to their yoma power. They are, in essence, the Organization's failures. Though these powerful monsters -- half-human, half-yoma -- are the inadvertent creations of the Organization, no real effort is made in tracking them down. They are treated like any other monster; the Organization only seeks them out if someone pays to place a contract on the creatures.

The Man in Black reveals to Clare that he knows why she is so anxious to face an Awakened Being: she wants to kill Priscilla and avenge Teresa's death. He warns her that she is far too weak too attempt this -- Priscilla is an incredibly strong example of an Awakened Being -- but if she's really so keen to practice, Clare can be assigned to a group tasked to hunt an Awakened Being in the near future. Clare is surprised at the offer, but leaps at the chance -- this could be crucial practice for her planned confrontation with Priscilla.

When Clare arrives in town to present herself to the group, the other three Claymore -- Miria, Deneve, and Helen -- are frustrated at Clare's late arrival. (We recall that Clare travels slowly since Raki cannot match her Claymore endurance.) They take the opportunity to tease Clare, by implying that Raki is her lover, and by explaining to Raki that Clare -- whose rank is revealed to be Number 47 -- is the weakest of all Claymore in the region.

Episode 9 isn't going to go very far until the final reveal, so instead we'll have to focus on this rank of Clare's and what it will mean moving forward. We know that Claymores are ranked according to the Organization by combat prowess, and it seems reasonable to assume that at least some of that ranking would come from observance of their actual job successes, but we also know that a lot -- maybe most -- of the number is based in Claymore duels and deliberate rank striving. If Clare is uninterested in rank striving -- and it would appear she's not -- then it stands to reason that she might be ranked artificially low, simply because she doesn't engage in Claymore duels and rank battles.

Then, too, Clare holds -- as we will see -- a deep-seated mistrust and dislike of the Organization, probably in part because of her history with Teresa. After all, the Organization are the people who tortured Teresa, and then had her hunted down and killed for saving Clare, and then were happy enough to turn around and torture Clare (granted, at her request). And, oh surprise, all Voracious Eaters / Awakened Beings are ex-Claymore that the Organization doesn't feel the need to take care of unless there's a paycheck involved. If Clare is contemplating disobedience against the Organization (like, say, to run off and take out Priscilla against orders), it seems reasonable that Clare would want to stay ranked artificially low, so that whoever they send out to kill her isn't strong enough to complete the job. After all, she's experienced how that can turn out firsthand.

So the question remains: Is Clare really as weak as she purports to be?

Miria, the tactician of the group, doesn't think so. She challenges Clare to a duel, saying that she finds her ranking questionable: she claims that when she first saw Clare, she had the impression that Clare was the most powerful being she'd ever met. In their duel, however, Clare fails to distinguish herself as anything other than dreadful, and Miria turns away in disgust, leaving Clare to lie exhausted in the rain for the rest of the night.

Is Clare deliberately holding back? It's difficult to say. If she is, she's certainly very good at holding her feelings close to the vest -- certainly much better at self-restraint than she was earlier when she drew a sword on her fellow warriors in defense of Raki's honor.

On the other hand, it would be reasonable for Clare to be a weak Claymore -- she's the only Claymore to be created not with the flesh and blood of a yoma, but rather with the flesh and blood of another Claymore. Unlike her fellows, she's not half-human, half-yoma (assuming the Claymore process really results in a half-and-half mixture), but rather three-quarters-human, quarter-yoma. She's an experiment -- and, according to the Organization, a failed one.

A few episodes from here, we'll see another hypothesis regarding Clare's strength: that she's deliberately neglected all other combat techniques in favor of perfecting Teresa's most valuable skill, the ability to sense yoma energy in battle and thereby gain a certain precognition in battle. Since Awakened Beings and Claymores (when they're really trying to fight) use yoma to direct their movements in battle, Clare will be uniquely suited to predict and avoid their movements. The downside to this one-trick pony is that Clare is a pretty poor fighter against anyone who isn't using yoma power at that moment -- such as Miria in their polite sparring match.

This is an aspect of Claymore that I like, even if the anime doesn't focus on it as much as I might hope: Clare is (supposedly) not a God Mode Sue character like Teresa who is just deliberately holding back her essential awesomeness because of the need for intrigue. She's instead a focused character who has settled on a goal (revenge against Priscilla) and honed her body and skills in anticipation of that one goal. Given the choice between being a decent fighter and a really crummy fighter, she's swallowed her pride and gone for the latter because the latter choice allowed her to hone the one trick that will give her an edge against her one intended opponent. It's not a strategy that will bring her fame or recognition, and it's not even a good survival strategy -- it's just a strategy to put the odds on Clare's side in the only battle she cares about winning. Anything after that is moot, because she doesn't really seem to care about life after her revenge.

Is this a healthy way to live life, with this constant tunnel vision towards revenge? No. That's really the point of Raki's travels with Clare -- he is there to get her to realize that there is a worthwhile life available to her, a life that revolves around more than avenging a past she cannot change. But at the same time, I love that Clare as a character does have that tunnel vision -- that her life essentially froze the day Teresa died and everything since then has been a slow build-up to correcting that one day in the only way she knows how. In a way, I think that most Claymores have that tunnel vision of needing to correct and focus on the past, simply because they haven't been given the possibility for a better future.


Gelliebean said...

I'm gonna hafta stop reading these, because I really want to see the series now and haven't been able to get it yet. :-p I suspect that once I do have it, I'll be coming back to read all of your posts at once....

Ana Mardoll said...

Ah! Sad to see you stop reading, happy to have you join in the official watching, hopefully soon! :)

Ana Mardoll said...

I don't really see Raki in that role, largely because 100% of the literary portions of my brain are taken up with seeing him as a foil for Young Claire. Teresa/Old Claire both take in an orphan who has been emotionally and physically abused by a yoma. The orphan inadvertently helps them to reconnect with their humanity while at the same time placing them in deadly opposition to the powerful Organization.

Raki and Young Claire both vow to become stronger in order to protect themselves and not continue to be a burden on their caretaker. Young Claire does this essentially after Teresa is dead and takes the only route reasonably available to her: she joins the Claymores. Raki, being male, doesn't have that option available which means that he ends up kind of playing *outside* the system, which allows him to be a sort of Claymore/Awakened Being ambassador to a certain extent -- he's fond of both Priscilla and Claire.

And this last point highlights the similarities between Claire and Priscilla: they're in many ways the same girl in different circumstances. Priscilla wasn't "lucky" enough to be abused by a yoma repeatedly until saved by a Claymore who finds her humanity reawakened by the young girl. Instead, she was taken into the Claymore Organization immediately after she becomes an orphan, rises quickly to the top, and is shoved over into an Awakened state due to never working through the trauma of her childhood. Claire could easily have been Priscilla if Teresa had hauled her back to the Organization and put her in Claymore training. Raki recognizes that in a way that Claire and Priscilla can't and won't.

If we look at it from the Dour Man / Cheerful Girl angle, I don't see a lot of similarities. Claire smiles for Raki fairly frequently (all things considered) and is always excessively polite and kind to him. Her one moment of apparent coolness is when she tells Raki in Rabona to not bite off more than he can chew in the way of fights because she won't intervene to save him from humans -- once we understand Claire's past with Teresa, this statement is imminently sensible: intervention can ruin lives, Raki's included.

The other aspect I like in the relationship is that Raki realizes after their encounter with Ophelia that he is a huge liability to Claire and he's going to accidentally get her killed; they part for a short time with Raki intending to (and eventually does) get stronger. I can't really think of a Dour Guy / Cheerful Girl pairing where that occurs, but I could be lacking data points.

Bificommander said...

I'll admit it's been a while since I saw the series, and I don't recall the part where Raki tries training up a bit. Of course, there's only so much that'll accomplish in this setting of superpowered soldiers, but hey, points for effort. I just remember liking the Teressa-Clair dynamic better than the Clair-Raki dynamic. Teressa really changed (and eventually lost) her life because of Clair, and it was rather clear she accepted that. Raki, in my memory was just... sorta there. Giving Clair a hug to turn her back human on several occasions... that's about all I remember him doing. I can understand Clair not making the same mistakes Teressa did, plus she had one particular fight she still wanted to have before even thinking of retiring. But all in all, I just didn't feel Raki did anything usefull, which is a feeling I get from a lot of girls in stereotypical roles in similar stories.

My impression could be partly because my memory or understanding of the series is incomplete. Then again, it's a bad sign that I forgot anything relevant the guy did. All I remember from his scenes with Priscilla is feeling annoyed at how long it took him to get a clue. Again, I might have been approaching it from the wrong mindset, that I was looking for the wrong kind of actions from Raki so that I missed the things he did do. Hey, that's what this review is for, right?

Ana Mardoll said...

I agree that the Priscilla reveal takes forever when the viewer already knows what is going on and there's more exciting action happening elsewhere. I think an essential part of Raki's character is his belief that everything has humanity. His first introduction to us in the anime is him telling Claire that she doesn't look scary, right after several characters have commented on how she barely seems human. I think Raki is responding the same way to Priscilla: she looks human, she behaves kindly, and thus he sees her as human. He's probably the last person on earth to classify her as human, in fact.

Of course, she's not human. The problem with the yoma is they can't go the "vegetarian vampire" route -- they (apparently) need human entrails in order to survive. They're the Always Chaotic Evil race who simply can't change their diet. Raki has to come face to face with the fact that Priscilla is a Monster even if she's not overtly monstrous. And then he uses that knowledge to realize that Claire may be monstrous (in her partially awakened form) but she is not a Monster.

Since I view the series as about humanity vs. monstrosity, I see Raki more as The Outsider than, say, The Shallow Love Interest. But that's just my perspective -- I think yours is equally valid. :)

Anthony Rosa said...

I wanted to say that I'm really happy this has become A Thing. The Claymore thing, I mean. You've told me things about the series, and certain theories in this particular post, that I hadn't thought of in regards to this series yet. (Then again, I'm not much farther than this in the actual anime.) The tunnel vision idea about Claire... great stuff. I need to watch the show again and think about it from that perspective.

I know you don't get nearly as many comments about this as you do about Twilight and other things... but keep it up! I know I look forward to reading it, at least.

Ana Mardoll said...

Thank you, Anthony! I always treasure the Claymore comments, since they're sort of my little pet deconstruction. 50% less vitriol! :D

Anthony Rosa said...

Indeed. It's actually a good series.

Also, just an fyi for anyone who has Netflix: Claymore is on Netflix. Yay.

dm said...

I have a couple of comments about Claymore episodes 9 through 11. I'd like to get your feedback on this, Ana.

In the rainstorm the night before their big fight, Miria tells Clare that she thought Clare was "the strongest" and then proceeds to school Clare in their sparring match. Clare passes out and dreams about Teresa--at least it seems like Teresa. I think this marks the beginning of Clare actualizing her true power. Miria, as any good captain would, merely prods her in the right direction via their sparring match, so that Clare begins that process. Clare's yoki reading ability turns out to be critical to the next day's fight.

After the fight with the awakened being, Clare senses Galatea lurking at a distance that was out of Clare's range earlier that day. Miria assures Clare that there isn't anyone nearby, but Galatea knows she's been "seen" and is surprised. Galaea is re-assured by the fact that Clare is uncertain that she's seen anything. This means that Clare's yoki reading ability is greater than that of No. 6, Miria, and less than that of No. 3 "God-eye" Galatea. It also means that Clare has only just tapped into this latent ability. Again, prodded along by Miria's leadership and her own recent combat experience, Clare is gradually maturing as a Claymore who excels at yoki reading.

Bificommander said...

I've seen this series some time ago. It was okay, but I don't remember being personally impressed by it too much. There wasn't anything particularly wrong with it, it just didn't really speak to me, and ended rather suddenly. Still, it's nice to read about it here.

Now, I don't know if you treated this in a previous episode, if you did I apologize, but I do want to ask one thing to Ana. What's your opinion on the Claire-Raki dynamic and that it is pretty much a gender-swap away from a very, very common dynamic between the brooding, powerfull anti-hero and the innocent, naive girl that warms his heart, right down to the Cooldown Hug that brings the hero back to humanity. I found that pretty amusing when I saw the anime, but I'm wondering how you feel about it, and if you think the change adds anything to the old formula which I suspect you'd rip to shreds if the genders hadn't been swapped (correct me if I'm wrong about that assumption).

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