A Look At The Claymore Manga Box Set: A Hidden Gem Or A Wasted Potential?

I first heard about Claymore” manga box set when my mind was still blown away by all the twists and turns of “Attack On Titan”. You can imagine how the story goes: I felt absolutely attacked when someone from SpaceBattles said that the warrior women known as Claymores from the manga of the same name would destroy the Titans with little effort. 

Rush to the next few days, I bumped into another comment on Twitter that said the gruesome fighting scenes, sad history, friendship, and plot twists – literally everything from AoT resembles Claymore. “Hajime Isayama’s work is a Claymore copycat, and even if it has a different take on the genre, it will never reach the same height,” the dude wrote. 

At that moment, my patience ran out. I spent the whole afternoon “examining” Claymore to see what it had that AoT didn’t, only to realize that 

it was a Shounen Jump classic of the early 2000s. Over time, the series has faded into somewhat obscurity, but its premise continues to inspire a new generation of manga and anime, AoT included. 

An Introduction To Claymore: A Story Of Hope And Despair

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Written and illustrated by Norihiro Yagi, Claymore had a somewhat tumultuous publication history. From 2001 to 2007, the series ran in Monthly Shounen Jump until the magazine was cancelled. It then continued in the more well-known Weekly Shounen Jump for a short time before being transferred to Jump Square, where it ran for another 7 years before wrapping up in 2014. 

Claymore is set in a medieval Europe-type land. Right off the bat, we readers are introduced to “Yoma” – a race of humanoid shape-shifters that feed on humans. One of them has infiltrated a village, and the dead begin to pile up, but since a Yoma can take on the appearances and memories of those it devours, there is no way to detect it. 

The villagers turn to “Claymores” – a class of warrior women named by the signature claymore swords they wield – for help. These young girls are also known as “silver-eyed witches” due to their pupils’ color. By taking on the flesh of the Yoma, they become a hybrid of humans and monsters.

Because of that, the Claymores are granted supernatural strength. Only these warriors can tell a Yoma apart from a human and slay these entities. That’s why the secret “organization” behind the Claymores gathers them all to protect the human race… but that comes with a hefty price.  

Claymore volume 1 cover
Claymore Manga Volume 1 Cover – Source: Amazon

As one would expect, the story centers on a Claymore called Clare as she travels from town to town hunting down Yoma. During her first mission, we also meet Raki, a boy whose life was saved by Clare after he a Yoma slaughtered his family. Having developed an affection for the girl who rescued him, Raki decides to embark on the journey with Clare, whether she wants him there or not.

And like that, accompanied by a human, Clare fights for her life in a world full of despair and the Yoma lurking in the dark, waiting for their chance to wipe out all human beings. 

My Claymore Review: Why Is The Series Not As Popular As Its Successors?

The premise is really the selling point of Claymore. Perhaps viewers nowadays are bored of the demon-slaying trend, but at the time of its publication, the idea of this manga truly stood out. Many questions will pop up in your mind right from the first chapter: Where do the Yoma come from? Who are the people behind the Claymores? These riddles keep you engaged and eager to explore the realm of Norihiro Yagi. 

The same mystery elements are behind Attack On Titan and Berserk’s colossal success. I’d actually agree that AoT took great inspiration from Claymore. However, despite a gripping plot, Claymore never reached the same height of reputation. Yes, it was relatively well-known and had gained for itself a loyal fanbase. Compared to other completed manga of the same genre, though, the manga’s achievements just seem so… humble. Even Claymore’s anime adaptation was cut short due to the drop in popularity, and until now, fans are still waiting in vain for a remake. 

Claymore anime adaptation
The Claymore anime only covers 49 chapters of the manga – Source: Myanimelist

Why is that, you might ask? As mentioned, the cancellation of Monthly Shounen Jump sent Claymore off to a rough start. Also, it was noted by manga readers to have the “slowest release pace ever”, with only 12 chapters being released per year. 

All of those made the series go almost under the radar. But, are they everything? Can we say that Claymore was just unfortunate, or did it just waste its potential and hence, fail to find its place in the manga world? 

We will see. 

World Building & Story 

Let’s begin this review with a compliment: Claymore’s universe is vast and well-developed. The story is set on a medieval European-type island divided into 47 cities. Each city somehow has its own characteristics and is ruled by a powerful being. This setting opens up endless mysteries and pushes readers here and there, making us feel like we are embarking on a real journey. There is a genuine effort to make every region feel unique in some ways, so you will have a hard time deciding your most favorite place. 

Claymore chapter 108
The medieval castles and architecture in the city of Rabona always fascinate me – Source: Mangareader

Speaking of which, the series is full of plot twists and revelations regarding the world, which have left me surprised on more than one occasion. Trust me when I say that the excitement will keep your eyes glued to the manga, and you will never know what to expect next. 

Nonetheless, with the pace of the Claymore, all those twists and turns might feel overwhelming at times. This is especially true when death creeps in. While the story’s first half is a bit too serene for a demon-slaying tale, the second half is filled with violence, gore, and characters losing their lives. As the series progresses, Claymore’s nature comes to light: A very brutal action story seamlessly woven into a fast-paced dynamic. 

Perhaps this is part of the reason Claymore never gets the spotlight it deserves, just as Redditor “Rei-Suissa” noted: 

“Maybe it’s just too dark for mainstream. Whenever you look for dark fantasy mangas, Berserk and Claymore are the first two mentions, followed by Attack on Titan being the closest there is. Still, AoT has much brighter tones, that’s why it is considered easily digestible for the general readers.”

But Claymore’s real Achilles heel lies in the ending, which is a lot weaker than the story has built up to. Halfway through the journey, we finally learn about the secret behind the “organization” and the Yoma’s existence. Yet, the ending fails to explore this critical plot point. A lot of questions are left unanswered and, worst of all, were not even brought up toward the end. 

It is a shame that a world-building with a lot of potential didn’t have the opportunity to bloom in the narrative entirely. Still, 98% of the story was excellent, so if you are thinking of getting a Claymore manga box set, it will give you a wild ride. 

It is a shame that a world-building with a lot of potential didn’t have the opportunity to bloom in the narrative entirely
Well, as long as you can stand the gore – Source: Twitter

Characters 

At first glance, Clare seems mediocre: She is calm and vicious, showing no mercy to enemies. It does not take long to realize that she’s merely putting up a shell and bottling up her emotions within. Deep inside, she’s a kid who never grows up. 

Claymore protagonist
Claymore’s Clare – Source: Pinterest

Readers get to know Clare and her abilities in a strange way: At first, we follow this seemingly-invincible warrior on her exciting journey of hunting Yoma, only to realize that there are tons of hardships here and there. Then, when the truth is revealed, everything falls into place: There are 47 Claymores protecting 47 districts, and our heroine is the weakest among them. The reason for it lies in Clare’s backstory. Enough to pique your curiosity now? 

As the series progresses, Claymore opens up a lot about her past. By allowing us to peek at her childhood, the story explains why the silver-eyed witch chose to walk on the path of a warrior. Being able to understand her motivation makes the adventure a lot more enjoyable and relatable to us readers. 

For Raki – the boy who follows Clare on her journey – the author takes a different approach. Instead of digging into his past, Norihiro Yagi focuses more on his growth from a scaredy cat to a proper man. While this is a smart move, typical Shounen manga dudes with compassion and courage have never been my cup of tea. Raki does get his moment, but I just got tired of all the tropes and cliché I see in him. 

Claymore Raki grown up
Claymore Raki grown up is pretty cool though, I admit – Source: 64.media.tumblr.com

In fact, I think the story would still be complete without his character. And I have a reason to say so: The manga never gives much space for Clare to express her feelings toward someone other than Theresa – her savior. That’s why, to me, the romance between her and Raki in the end just feels so awkward. 

Rather than Raki, I find myself more emotionally invested in other Claymores. The power of each warrior is thoroughly explained, setting them apart from one another. There is no shallow character – all of them have backstories that form their personalities from the very get go. That’s a point in Claymore’s favor. 

Also incredibly well-written are the antagonists. The way their motives are depicted will make you question the boundary between good and evil, even though you already know who the enemies are. Villains are, without a doubt, one of Claymore’s greatest assets.

Art 

If you are new to Claymore, here is a warning: You must survive the first few volumes of mediocre art. 

Truth be told, this is why I almost dropped the series: I kept wondering who the heck this character was now because everyone looked exactly the same. To make it worse, what could have been a horrifying depiction of a shape-shifting, the man-eating monster turns out to be a picture of a human with tan and veiny faces. In other words, the designs of lower-rank Yoma are disappointingly flat. 

The art of Claymore gradually improves as the manga goes on. Take a look at this Awakened Being. It looks pretty breathtaking – you will agree with me on this: 

Claymore yoma
Awakened Being – Source: CLAYMORE 

I’m not lying when I say that the art gets better with time. The most intricate panels, some of which don’t even require dialogues to convey the characters’ feelings, can be found in the final chapters. This is a stellar example: 

Claymore art
Claymore’s art keeps getting more and more intricate toward the end – Source: Myanimelist

The art might be a turn-off at the beginning, but it’s worth struggling through the early volumes to witness Norihiro Yagi’s great strides. 

So, Is The Claymore Manga Box Set Worth Getting?

claymore box set
Claymore Complete Box Set: Volumes 1-27 With Premium Book – Source: Y2K SAVVY 

After going through all 155 chapters, now I can tell you with confidence: The Claymore manga box set absolutely worth your investment. The series still has some shortcomings, but overall, it’s a great read for any dark fantasy lovers out there. 

Hunting down each individual volume might be troublesome and costly. Hence, if you are a newcomer, this Claymore box set is a convenient way to catch up with the series: The collection, which includes all 27 volumes in a sturdy, gorgeous box, is much more cost-effective. There is a little surprise: It also comes with a booklet that contains extra illustrations!

The set will make a stunning display on your bookshelf, too: On the front, the box features the artwork of Clare holding her sword. This exclusive illustration will brighten up your room and blow your friends away, whether they are manga lovers or not. 

Claymore manga box set – Unboxing & Inside look

From The Manga Nostalgia Era…

The early 2000s saw tons of largely successful series that many have nothing but nostalgia for now. Claymore belongs to this golden era, and even though it didn’t take the manga world by storms like Naruto, Demon Slayer, or Gurren Lagann, the brilliant premise and world-building are still a huge inspiration for manga artists today. 

Packed with action, interesting character dynamics, and a solid story to keep you interested, it’s truly a thrilling ride. A Claymore manga box set is a must-have on the bookshelf of any Shounen manga lover, I’d say. 

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