Claymore: Love and Loyalty

Content Note: Violence, Partial Nudity

Claymore Recap: Clare has partially awakened in order to defeat the Awakened Being Rigaldo and save her friends.

Claymore, Episode 24: Critical Point, Part 2

Episode 24 starts with a feeling of jubilation. Clare has defeated Rigaldo; the Claymore are safe for the moment. Helen runs to inform the wounded of Clare's awesomeness and everyone breathes a sigh of relief. But out in the snow, Clare writhes in pain as she fights for control of her body.

Helen finally senses her struggles and confronts her. "Clare, that's enough!" she tells her, hoping that her voice will get through to her friend and that Clare will rein in her yoma aura. Clare lashes out at her, and tells Helen to stay back: "This body is no longer under my conscious control!"

Clare begs Helen to forgive her, and tells her that she awakened too far to revert. She explains that she has just enough will to hold her body steady so that Helen can deliver the killing blow without being harmed in the process. Clare asks for an honorable death, before she can lose control and kill the people she loves.

Helen is characteristically hurt and angry. They've come so far together, and here Clare has just saved all their lives. This should be a time of celebration, and not one of more death. And Helen shouldn't have this burden laid upon her. She argues with Clare, but Clare shoots back: "I can tell for myself, better than anyway, that I can't revert back." She apologizes to Helen... and to Raki.

While Clare struggles with her awakening, her aura exudes over the city. Her aura -- which is itself an extension of Teresa's aura -- reaches Priscilla on the outskirts of town. Priscilla goes into a panic and flashes back to a false memory of her childhood: a memory where the yoma who killed her family carried the face of her enemy, Teresa. She awakens into her horned-monster form and circles the air over the city looking to kill Clare. Clare, realizing that her revenge is close at hand, abandons her request for an honorable death and soars off into the air after her opponent. Both women -- each emotionally damaged, each hurting inside -- vow that they will never forgive the other.

The survivors in town are left to decide how to respond to this. Deneve takes the fallen Undine's sword and she, Helen, and Miria take off at a fast run over the mountains, determined to protect their friend or die trying. They meet Galatea -- one of the strongest Claymore remaining alive -- and tell her they will fight her if they must, but they will not give up on Clare.

Galatea has been sent by the Organization to monitor the situation, after being harshly punished for her willingness to let Clare go after their encounter with Riful, the Creature of the Abyss. Galatea has no real reason to be loyal to Clare; they only fought a single battle together, and then only because Galatea had been sent to retrieve Clare as an assignment. And yet, she risks her life by defying the Organization again: letting the three friends on their way to help Clare, and filling them in on the story of Teresa, Priscilla, and Clare before they go. Galatea does not go with them to help them, but in her own way she has chosen to be loyal to Clare over the Organization.

Back in Pieta, a severely wounded Jean gently confronts an emotionally troubled Raki. "I know you want to help your friend," Jean says, "but crying isn't going to solve anything. If we don't hurry, Clare will most certainly die. And that's something neither of us want." Raki wallows in his sadness a little longer: "In the end, I was all talk."

He's right, and he's wrong. Clare has saved his life, has taken care of him numerous times. And he hasn't been able to take care of her in the same way. He's given her an emotional connection to cling to, and a piece of balance and stability in a world where the Claymore are expected to cut all ties. But he never has and never will be able to run in, sword drawn, and cut down every opponent who faces Clare. He can't.

He shouldn't feel guilty about that, but he does. He shouldn't buy into the idea that the only worth is that which is wrapped up in battle prowess, but he does. He shouldn't belittle his own value because he's a kind loving soul who cooks yummy food rather than a silver-eyed emotionless warrior, but he does. Like Deneve and Undine and Helen and almost every other Claymore in this series, he feels guilty for being afraid and for wanting to live.

It takes Jean to convince him otherwise. Jean who is the physically strongest of all the Claymore, and yet has known a moment of weakness that most have not. Jean is is, at the moment, mortally wounded and barely able to stand. Jean, who starts the long walk up the mountain to save her friend Clare.

Raki can't yet envision how he can help Clare, who is so far away -- both physically and emotionally. But he can help Jean walk up the mountain. And so he does.

Claymore is an anime with warriors in it. But it's not an anime that glorifies battle. The characters who are the physically strongest are the characters who are cut down (Teresa and Ilena), or help only furtively (Galatea), or they actively hinder (Rafaela and Ophelia) the protagonists. The characters who are the physically weakest are the ones who are willing and able to put their lives on the line to help their friends, even when the fight seems hopeless.

Miria, Helen, Deneve, Jean, and Raki do not expect to reach Clare and win the day. They don't expect to be able to defeat Priscilla, or bring Clare back from her awakened state, or really do much of anything expect bear witness to the slaughter. I'd like to think they hope to be able to help, but I don't think they are motivated by a belief that they stand a chance. They're going to Clare because they love her, and because if there is even the smallest thing they can do to help her, they will -- just as Clare has done, and would do, for them. This isn't a story of battle, it's a story of love.

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