Thursday, June 25, 2009

Claymore Volume 1 by Norihiro Yagi

There's a graphic novel series at our library that's flying off the shelves. Or doing what passes for "flying off the shelves" for manga in a small conservative town. I thought I'd better check it out.

Claymore Volume 1 is centred around the itinerant warrior Clare, a woman who looks entirely human except for her silver eyes. She is a "silver-eyed witch," a "claymore" -- half-human, half-yoma. The yoma are monsters that can take human forms, preying on humans; up until the claymores were created, humans had no defence. Clare and her claymore sisters are able to fight back, and they are both needed and feared by the humans they protect.

The first volume introduces Clare, the concept of the claymores, the concept of the yoma, and Raki, a human boy whose family is killed by the yoma and to whom Clare seems to take a liking. I say "seems" because Clare is very closed, calm, and unemotional -- but in Raki's case, her actions speak louder than her words or facial expressions.

The art is mostly well-done, and the action, plot and concept is very easy to follow. Norihiro Yagi does a great job of balancing exposition with action with character development, so that by the end of the first volume the reader is emotionally invested. We begin to understand what's at stake, even though we don't know the full picture yet. We do know that it's going to be big. Epic, even. There are 15 volumes in English in this series so far and it's ongoing.

I did really like this manga, and the concept and the characters; and I would follow it, I think -- except that it's so dark. It's unrelentingly serious, a true drama, and therefore not really my kind of thing. I want my serious leavened with a bit of humour here and there, and there was next-to-none to be found in the first volume. I don't think I can go through 15 volumes of blood, pain, heartache and sorrow, even though I know it would be really good. I suspect, although I don't know, that it gets better as it goes along.

But that's just me. It's a very well-done manga, with a deep plot and fascinating, sympathetic characters and I'd encourage people to check it out. Even beginners to manga will find this one relatively easy to get into.

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