The Vampire Cat of Nabéshima

There is a tradition in the Nabéshima family that, many years ago, the Prince of Hizen was bewitched and cursed by a cat that had been kept by one of his retainers. This prince had in his house a lady of rare beauty, called O Toyo: amongst all his ladies she was the favourite, and there was none who could rival her charms and accomplishments. One day the Prince went out into the garden with O Toyo, and remained enjoying the fragrance of the flowers until sunset, when they returned to the palace, never noticing that they were being followed by a large cat. Having parted with her lord, O Toyo retired to her own room and went to bed. At midnight she awoke with a start, and became aware of a huge cat that crouched watching her; and when she cried out, the beast sprang on her, and, fixing its cruel teeth in her delicate throat, throttled her to death. What a piteous end for so fair a dame, the darling of her prince’s heart, to die suddenly, bitten to death by a cat! Then the cat, having scratched out a grave under the verandah, buried the corpse of O Toyo, and assuming her form, began to bewitch the Prince.

Vampire Cat of Nabéshima

But my lord the Prince knew nothing of all this, and little thought that the beautiful creature who caressed and fondled him was an impish and foul beast that had slain his mistress and assumed her shape in order to drain out his life’s blood. Day by day, as time went on, the Prince’s strength dwindled away; the colour of his face was changed, and became pale and livid; and he was as a man suffering from a deadly sickness. Seeing this, his councilors and his wife became greatly alarmed; so they summoned the physicians, who prescribed various remedies for him; but the more medicine he took, the more serious did his illness appear, and no treatment was of any avail. But most of all did he suffer in the night-time, when his sleep would be troubled and disturbed by hideous dreams. In consequence of this, his councilors nightly appointed a hundred of his retainers to sit up and watch over him; but, strange to say, towards ten o’clock on the very first night that the watch was set, the guard were seized with a sudden and unaccountable drowsiness, which they could not resist, until one by one every man had fallen asleep. Then the false O Toyo came in and harassed the Prince until morning. The following night the same thing occurred, and the Prince was subjected to the imp’s tyranny,  while his guards slept helplessly around him. Night after night this was repeated, until at last three of the Prince’s councilors determined themselves to sit up on guard, and see whether they could overcome this mysterious drowsiness; but they fared no better than the others, and by ten o’clock were fast asleep. The next day the three councilors held a solemn conclave, and their chief, one Isahaya Buzen, said—

“This is a marvelous thing, that a guard of a hundred men should thus be overcome by sleep. Of a surety, the spell that is upon my lord and upon his guard must be the work of witchcraft. Now, as all our efforts are of no avail, let us seek out Ruiten, the chief priest of the temple called Miyô In, and beseech him to put up prayers for the recovery of my lord.”

And the other councilors approving what Isahaya Buzen had said, they went to the priest Ruiten and engaged him to recite litanies that the Prince might be restored to health.

So it came to pass that Ruiten, the chief priest of Miyô In, offered up prayers nightly for the Prince. One night, at the ninth hour (midnight), when he had finished his religious exercises and was preparing to lie down to sleep, he fancied that he heard a noise outside in the garden, as if some one were washing himself at the well. Deeming this passing strange, he looked down from the window; and there in the moonlight he saw a handsome young soldier, some twenty-four years of age, washing himself, who, when he had finished cleaning himself and had put on his clothes, stood before the figure of Buddha and prayed fervently for the recovery of my lord the Prince. Ruiten looked on with admiration; and the young man, when he had made an end of his prayer, was going away; but the priest stopped him, calling out to him—

“Sir, I pray you to tarry a little: I have something to say to you.”

“At your reverence’s service. What may you please to want?”

“Pray be so good as to step up here, and have a little talk.”

“By your reverence’s leave;” and with this he went upstairs.

Then Ruiten said—

“Sir, I cannot conceal my admiration that you, being so young a man, should have so loyal a spirit. I am Ruiten, the chief priest of this temple, who am engaged in praying for the recovery of my lord. Pray what is your name?”

“My name, sir, is Itô Sôda, and I am serving in the infantry of Nabéshima. Since my lord has been sick, my one desire has been to assist in nursing him; but, being only a simple soldier, I am not of sufficient rank to come into his presence, so I have no resource but to pray to the gods of the country and to Buddha that my lord may regain his health.”

When Ruiten heard this, he shed tears in admiration of the fidelity of Itô Sôda, and said—

“Your purpose is, indeed, a good one; but what a strange  sickness this is that my lord is afflicted with! Every night he suffers from horrible dreams; and the retainers who sit up with him are all seized with a mysterious sleep, so that not one can keep awake. It is very wonderful.”

“Yes,” replied Sôda, after a moment’s reflection, “this certainly must be witchcraft. If I could but obtain leave to sit up one night with the Prince, I would fain see whether I could not resist this drowsiness and detect the goblin.”

At last the priest said, “I am in relations of friendship with Isahaya Buzen, the chief councilor of the Prince. I will speak to him of you and of your loyalty, and will intercede with him that you may attain your wish.”

“Indeed, sir, I am most thankful. I am not prompted by any vain thought of self-advancement, should I succeed: all I wish for is the recovery of my lord. I commend myself to your kind favour.”

“Well, then, to-morrow night I will take you with me to the councillor’s house.”

“Thank you, sir, and farewell.” And so they parted.

On the following evening Itô Sôda returned to the temple Miyô In, and having found Ruiten, accompanied him to the house of Isahaya Buzen: then the priest, leaving Sôda outside, went in to converse with the councilor, and inquire after the Prince’s health.

“And pray, sir, how is my lord? Is he in any better condition since I have been offering up prayers for him?”

“Indeed, no; his illness is very severe. We are certain that he must be the victim of some foul sorcery; but as there are no means of keeping a guard awake after ten o’clock, we cannot catch a sight of the goblin, so we are in the greatest trouble.”

“I feel deeply for you: it must be most distressing. However, I have something to tell you. I think that I have found a man who will detect the goblin; and I have brought him with me.”

Capturing the Vampire Cat

“Indeed! who is the man?”

“Well, he is one of my lord’s foot-soldiers, named Itô Sôda, a faithful fellow, and I trust that you will grant his request to be permitted to sit up with my lord.”

“Certainly, it is wonderful to find so much loyalty and zeal in a common soldier,” replied Isahaya Buzen, after a moment’s reflection; “still it is impossible to allow a man of such low rank to perform the office of watching over my lord.”

“It is true that he is but a common soldier,” urged the priest; “but why not raise his rank in consideration of his fidelity, and then let him mount guard?”

“It would be time enough to promote him after my lord’s recovery. But come, let me see this Itô Sôda, that I may know what manner of man he is: if he pleases me, I will consult with the other councilors, and perhaps we may grant his request.”

“I will bring him in forthwith,” replied Ruiten, who thereupon went out to fetch the young man.

When he returned, the priest presented Itô Sôda to the councillor, who looked at him attentively, and, being pleased with his comely and gentle appearance, said—

“So I hear that you are anxious to be permitted to mount guard in my lord’s room at night. Well, I must consult with the other councilors, and we will see what can be done for you.”

When the young soldier heard this he was greatly elated, and took his leave, after warmly thanking Buiten, who had helped him to gain his object. The next day the councilors held a meeting, and sent for Itô Sôda, and told him that he might keep watch with the other retainers that very night. So he went his way in high spirits, and at nightfall, having made all his preparations, took his place among the hundred gentlemen who were on duty in the prince’s bed-room.

Now the Prince slept in the centre of the room, and the hundred guards around him sat keeping themselves awake with entertaining conversation and pleasant conceits. But, as ten o’clock approached, they began to doze off as they sat; and in spite of all their endeavours to keep one another awake, by degrees they all fell asleep. Itô Sôda all this while felt an irresistible desire to sleep creeping over him, and, though he tried by all sorts of ways to rouse himself, he saw that there was no help for it, but by resorting to an extreme measure, for which he had already made his preparations. Drawing out a piece of oil paper which he had brought with him, and spreading it over the mats, he sat down upon it; then he took the small knife which he carried in the sheath of his dirk, and stuck it into his own thigh. For awhile the pain of the wound kept him awake; but as the slumber by which he was assailed was the work of sorcery, little by little he became drowsy again. Then he twisted the knife round and round in his thigh, so that the pain becoming very violent, he was proof against the feeling of sleepiness, and kept a faithful watch. Now the oil paper which he had spread under his legs was in order to prevent the blood, which might spurt from his wound, from defiling the mats.

So Itô Sôda remained awake, but the rest of the guard slept; and as he watched, suddenly the sliding-doors of the Prince’s room were drawn open, and he saw a figure coming in stealthily, and, as it drew nearer, the form was that of a marvelously beautiful woman some twenty-three years of age. Cautiously she looked around her; and when she saw that all the guard were asleep, she smiled an ominous smile, and was going up to the Prince’s bedside, when she perceived that in one corner of the room there was a man yet awake. This seemed to startle her, but she went up to Sôda and said—

“I am not used to seeing you here. Who are you?”

“My name is Itô Sôda, and this is the first night that I have been on guard.”

“A troublesome office, truly! Why, here are all the rest of the guard asleep. How is it that you alone are awake? You are a trusty watchman.”

“There is nothing to boast about. I’m asleep myself, fast and sound.”

“What is that wound on your knee? It is all red with blood.”

“Oh! I felt very sleepy; so I stuck my knife into my thigh, and the pain of it has kept me awake.”

“What wondrous loyalty!” said the lady.

“Is it not the duty of a retainer to lay down his life for his master? Is such a scratch as this worth thinking about?”

Then the lady went up to the sleeping prince and said, “How fares it with my lord to-night?” But the Prince, worn out with sickness, made no reply. But Sôda was watching her eagerly, and guessed that it was O Toyo, and made up his mind that if she attempted to harass the Prince he would kill her on the spot. The goblin, however, which in the form of O Toyo had been tormenting the Prince every night, and had come again that night for no other purpose, was defeated by the watchfulness of Itô Sôda; for whenever she drew near to the sick man, thinking to put her spells upon him, she would turn and look behind her, and there she saw Itô Sôda glaring at her; so she had no help for it but to go away again, and leave the Prince undisturbed.

At last the day broke, and the other officers, when they awoke and opened their eyes, saw that Itô Sôda had kept awake by stabbing himself in the thigh; and they were greatly ashamed, and went home crestfallen.

That morning Itô Sôda went to the house of Isahaya Buzen, and told him all that had occurred the previous night. The councilors were all loud in their praises of Itô Sôda’s behaviour, and ordered him to keep watch again that night. At the same hour, the false O Toyo came and looked all round the room, and all the guard were asleep, excepting Itô Sôda, who was wide awake; and so, being again frustrated, she returned to her own apartments.

Now as since Sôda had been on guard the Prince had passed quiet nights, his sickness began to get better, and there was great joy in the palace, and Sôda was promoted and rewarded with an estate. In the meanwhile O Toyo, seeing that her nightly visits bore no fruits, kept away; and from that time forth the night-guard were no longer subject to fits of drowsiness. This coincidence struck Sôda as very strange, so he went to Isahaya Buzen and told him that of a certainty this O Toyo was no other than a goblin. Isahaya Buzen reflected for a while, and said—

“Well, then, how shall we kill the foul thing?”

“I will go to the creature’s room, as if nothing were the matter, and try to kill her; but in case she should try to escape, I will beg you to order eight men to stop outside and lie in wait for her.”

Having agreed upon this plan, Sôda went at nightfall to O Toyo’s apartment, pretending to have been sent with a message from the Prince. When she saw him arrive, she said—

“What message have you brought me from my lord?”

“Oh! nothing in particular. Be so look as to look at this letter;” and as he spoke, he drew near to her, and suddenly drawing his dirk cut at her; but the goblin, springing back, seized a halberd, and glaring fiercely at Sôda, said—

“How dare you behave like this to one of your lord’s ladies? I will have you dismissed;” and she tried to strike Sôda with the halberd. But Sôda fought desperately with his dirk; and the goblin, seeing that she was no match for him, threw away the halberd, and from a beautiful woman became suddenly transformed into a cat, which, springing up the sides of the room, jumped on to the roof. Isahaya Buzen and his eight men who were watching outside shot at the cat, but missed it, and the beast made good its escape.

So the cat fled to the mountains, and did much mischief among the surrounding people, until at last the Prince of Hizen ordered a great hunt, and the beast was killed.

But the Prince recovered from his sickness; and Itô Sôda was richly rewarded.

This story emphasizes the idea of loyalty and vigilance samurai needed to aspire toward. Sôda is willing to risk bleeding to death or becoming crippled in order to protect his lord. Stabbing himself in the thigh in order to stay awake is a drastic measure in a time period where wounds had the real danger of becoming infected. The story is also a commentary on the mysteriousness of cats. After all, they seem to disappear and reappear. They are also nocturnal. In our age of artificial light, we can’t really understand just how threatening night was in the past. Candles and lanterns gave little light. Vast swaths of land went black when the sun went down. Anything could lurk in such darkness.

The story also points to women as being suspect. After all, the vampire cat took the from of a woman. Keep in mind that Japan was a patriarchal society. Women are often portrayed as vain, untrustworthy, and suspect.

The story mostly focuses upon how a samurai is supposed to behave: putting his lord’s welfare and life ahead of his own.  Sôda , however,, isn’t a samurai. He is an ashigaru, or peasant soldier. Despite his low rank in the military, he has the soul of a samurai. This may involve killing oneself for one’s lord or almost doing so as in Soda’s case.

[They] saw that Itô Sôda had kept awake by stabbing himself in the thigh; and they were greatly ashamed, and went home crestfallen.

The samurai were ashamed by the superior vigilance and dedication of an ashigaru. Shame is deeper than emotion. it involves a loss of honor and status. Sôda  is promoted to the samurai class, which in feudal Japan is rare. This story opens an interesting window to feudal Japan’s concerns and hopes. A peasant who becomes an ashigaru is better off than the serf. The ashigaru who is elevated to samurai safeguards not only his lifestyle, but he also changes the fortunes of his entire family.

And all thanks to a cat.

References

Milford, A. (1871). Tales of Old Japan. http://ftp.utexas.edu/projectgutenberg/1/3/0/1/13015/13015-h/13015-h.htm

Fate/Zero

fate-zeroFate/Zero has a completely different angle on the old quest for the Holy Grail. Every so often mages of talent are selected by the Holy Grail to battle for the right to use it. Each mage is granted a Servant: a hero from history. Each hero has a class much like in a video game. You have the archer, swordsman, berserker, caster, lancer, rider, and assassin. The classical idea of the Holy Grail felt odd with the video game-style ideas.

Fate/Zero has some cool things going for it, but it fails to focus on some of the more interesting storylines. It is an action anime at its core. So I guess that explains why it drops the ball here and there with story. Some of the heroes were strange as well. Alexander the Great has the most screen time of all the heroes. His happy-go-lucky attitude doesn’t strike me as Alexandrian, but he has an insatiable desire to know about the modern world he found himself in. This is within the character of the actual historical figure. Alexander was taught by Aristotle, after all.

fate-zero-alexanderKing Arthur is the most interesting and tormented hero. She (yes she) has a surprisingly low amount of screen time compared to Alexander. Her master, the tormented protagonist, doesn’t make much in the way of appearances until a flashback about his childhood. Well, I guess his lack of screen time makes sense because the guy is a mage assassin. Assassins are not exactly the type to be seen. The series makes a fuss about how Arturia is a poor match as a servant, but at their cores both her master and Arturia are similar. Arturia is tormented by her failure as a king. We all know the story: Camelot falls apart because of Lancelot and Guinevere’s love affair. Only King Arthur married Guinevere to keep her male disguise from being discovered. This makes the tragedy all the more tragic. Unfortunately, Fate/Zero does not develop Arthur as much as I would have liked. Alexander was likable, but Arthur’s history and conflict resonated with me more. It also fit the feel the anime established.

What I liked most about this series was the maturity. This is not a high school anime. It did feel uneven at times. One of the characters, Caster,  is a nut that liked to crucify children. Yep, it got that dark. But whiplash that with Alexander wanting to play video games.  The comedy feels a little over extended considering the dark themes the anime plays around with. It would be better if the comedy was dropped.

fate-zero-16-saber-lancerOne irritation I had was the whole chivalry idea. It was overdone, to the point where the enemy heroes all sat down with each other and enjoyed wine together. They were civilized, which makes sense to a certain degree, but it become too much of a focus. Alexander, for example, was a military mind. He wasn’t one to fight duels or want to fight people at their full strength. He worked to take out the enemy at the least risk to his troops. In other words, attack when the enemy is weak and disadvantaged. Now, he did have a battle lust the anime captured well. Generally, the shonen style fights felt odd with the exception of Arturia and the knights like Lancer. In that regard, it made sense.

But it is an anime.

The animation stays consistent throughout. Battles are well done. There is some CG that stands out against the rest of the show, but that is pretty normal.  I found the music forgettable.

Fate/Zero is not bad. It is also not great. It isn’t a high school anime, which is a plus in my book. High school is a tired trope. I enjoyed the show enough to watch all 25 episodes. If you enjoy interesting fights and dark themes gives this one a try. It is an different take on historical and legendary figures.

Red Data Girl: RDG

Red Data Girl IzumikoIzumiko Suzuhara has a knack for destroying everything electronic. If she just touches a cell phone it sputters and turns into a plastic and metal brick. Growing up at the Kumano Shrine is quite different from the city life the shy Izumiko wants to experience. Her long, twin braids and her lack of basic texting skills makes her the oddball in her high school.

If only her fellow students knew the truth of how odd she really is.

Yukimasa Sagara is a reluctant guardian for the awkward girl in pigtails. He is a monk in training and sworn to protect Izumiko. Never mind the fact she has no clue what she truly is and the havoc she can cause.

Red Data Girl is a fairly typical high school fantasy love story.  The story has some pacing issues; it feels a little rushed at times. There are identical triplets in the story (Mayura, Manastu, and Masami) that often swap places with each other. Sometimes this is rather confusing; Masami is a spirit his sister and brother summons to help them fight spirits.

RDG SagaraThe characters are interesting and show drastic personality changes over the course of the story. Izumiko and Yukimasa show the most pronounced changes. Red Data Girl is an interesting twist on the rather tired high school coming of age story. It is steeped in Shinto folklore and feels very Japanese. Some Western watchers new to anime and Shinto folklore may feel confused and lost. The manga was featured in Shonen Ace, but the story has a shojo feel to it. Most of the story is from Izumiko’s perspective.

So what is my weigh in? RDG is enjoyable enough to hold my attention for the duration of its 12 episodes.  The Shinto folklore kept my interest peaked. The characters were interesting if stereotypical. The high school setting negated the sense of danger the story tried to convey. There was far less threat to the characters from my perspective than the story tried to suggest. Much of the conflict felt like a soap opera rather than a serious confrontation between forces. This is mainly because the conflict was framed by high school concerns: student council maneuvers, student festivals, plays, and the like. The “villains” were far from sinister. They were teens after all.

RDG isn’t a show to go out of your way to see or avoid. It is enjoyable and entertaining, but it isn’t all the memorable.

11 Eyes

11 EyesThis high school fantasy anime had some interesting RPG-like moments, but 11 Eyes ultimately fell on its face. The story revolves around 6 high school students who are drawn into the “Red Night,” an alternate realm populated by larvae like creatures and Black Knights. The Black Knights are bent on killing the high-school students. The students each have special powers that are unlocked by their efforts to survive the Red Night and return to their own world.

Kakeru Satsuki and Yuka Minase are orphans who have known each other since childhood. Kakeru wears an eyepatch to cover his discolored and blind eye. Yuka tries to keep a bubbly attitude for Kakeru’s sake. He has been depressed since his sister committed suicide. Kakeru and Yuka are drawn into the Red Night and meet Misuzu Kusakabe, an red-haired swordsman one year ahead of them in school. Kakeru quickly tires of being chased and seeing Yuka in danger. In typical shonen fashion, he decides he must protect her at all costs, including his own soul.

11 Eye Red NightThe music is well done and contributes to the atmosphere, but the anime itself feels disjointed and rushed. The reasons behind the conflict are not very well developed, and all of the characters fall into stereotypes. The ending felt rushed and unsatisfying. The ending undoes what the anime attempts to do.

Some of the distorted feel has to do with the powers the students have. Many of the fight in the series feel like a pale attempt at animating a fight from Final Fantasy. Kakeru, Yuka, and Misuza are the main protagonists but are not that well developed. Kakeru isn’t all that likeable; Yuka is clingy and Misuza is a bit too stereotypical. Although Misuza does offer some moments of weakness that help push her character to the audience better than the one sided Yuka.

11 Eyes Yukiko Takahisa

11 Eyes attempts at humor fall flat and feel forced against the dark backdrop of the story it tries to weave. The humor is typical high school fair: Kakeru’s arm crushed between Yuka’s breasts and the like. There is some fan service (upskirt shots) of Yuka scattered throughout. The fan service hurts Yuka’s character.

11 Eyes might have fared better if it was longer than 13 episodes. The characters had the potential to be interesting. The fragile love triangle between Yuka, Kakeru, and Misuza needed more development for it to feel strained and a part of the overarching conflict.

11 Eyes isn’t something to go out of your way to watch. It has some decent moments and an interesting twist near the end, but these moments are few and far between. It is unfortunate to see another anime fail to reach its potential.

Drifters

On a whim, I started reading the manga Drifters from Kouta Hirano (author/artist of Hellsing). I rather enjoyed reading Hellsing, and I liked the anime version of it as well. So, I figured I would enjoy Drifters as well. As of now, there are 35 chapters released, and after all these chapters I am still on the fence about the series.

Drifters_manga_cover

You can really tell it’s a manga from Hirano

Drifters is based around a world where two characters, an old man named Murasaki and a black haired woman named Easy, bring historical soldiers to an alternate world in order to fight a war against each other. The reasoning behind why Murasaki and Easy are at odds with each other has not been discussed in the series yet. The alternate world the soldiers are transported is heavily influenced by western fantasy as the world is inhabited by humans, and fantasy creatures such as dwarves, elves and hobbits. Even the hatred/rivalry between the elves and dwarves is present. Murasaki seemingly brings historical figures and soldiers alive, these characters are called the Drifters, while Easy seemingly brings figures and soldiers from throughout history that died tragic deaths, called Ends.

Oda

Oda Nobunaga

Examples of soldiers from throughout history include Joan of Arc, who is an End as she was executed tragically, and Oda Nobunaga, who is a drifter. Some liberties are taken with the Drifters’ backstories however. For example, Nobunaga, who in our history was killed in 1582, was actually transported to this alternate world by Murasaki and was only thought to be killed. What I find interesting about the characters is how the Drifters are normal humans while the Ends seem to have supernatural powers based on their lives and deaths (Joan of Arc seems to have powers of flames based on her execution by burning).

Other characters in the series are historical figures who are noted for their violence such as Butch Cassidy, The Sundance Kid, and Adolf Hitler.  There are also other organizations involved such as the Octobrists, who are people tasked with gathering and protecting the Drifters, and the Orte Empire, a tyrannical human empire who enslave the fantasy races.

Joan_of_Arc

Joan of Arc

As of Chapter 35, the Drifters and the Ends have not fought each other, but the battle lines are starting to be drawn and armies created. The soldier Shimazu Toyohisa is so far leading the Drifters and fantasy creatures as a budding army with Nobunaga as an advisor, while the Ends are being led by a character named The Black King whose true identity isn’t known yet. All that’s known about the Black King is that he once tried to save humans but they rejected him, causing him to decide to form an army with “evil” fantasy creatures like ogres and dragons, and to eradicate all humans. This has led some fans and readers of the series to speculate that The Black King is actually a religious icon such as Jesus Christ.

The Black King

King looks like the Reaper hmm?

While the series is supposed to be serious, there are times where I find it very hard to take it that way. Some parts are blatant comic relief. Then you have the scenes where events are intense, and in the middle of a serious conversation Oda Nobunaga is making jokes about a female character’s breasts. It gets really old, even for a pervert fan like me.

There are also a few historical inaccuracies like Nobunaga making gunpowder from corpses and salt, even though this method of making gunpowder wasn’t introduced to Japan until after his death. The story is a little confusing with people from different time periods being transported into a single location together. At one point the reader finds out that Adolf Hitler was transported to this world as Drifter 50 years prior to the series start, and yet we have Japanese samurai from the 1500s and before being transported.

All in all, the series is enjoyable so far. The art is solid and any fans of Hellsing or other pieces of Hirano’s work will recognize his style instantly. As I said before, so far only 35 chapters are out online, and 3 volumes released in English. The publisher is slow releasing volumes and I’m not quite sure why. However, it is definitely something to look into reading.

Claymore

Most anime has the main character driven by the desire to protect their friends. Claymore’s main character is driven by vengeance.

Clare is a Claymore. A Claymore is a half human, half yoma warrior that protects humanity from the yoma threat. Yoma are essentially demons that feed on humans. Claymores can tap into the strength and power of their yoma side but at a cost to their humanity. If they draw too hard they become an “Awakened Being” which makes them lose their humanity.  However, a few rare Claymores can move from this “awakened” state and back to human.

The story of Claymore is pretty simple: Clare wants revenge on an Awakened Being named Priscilla that killed a Claymore become a mother figure. The sub-character, Raki , is a human Clare rescues that falls in love with her and acts as a check when Clare’s yoma side gets out of hand. That’s pretty much it. There are a host of other Claymores, all driven by revenge in one way or another. However, Claymore does let the individual personality of each Claymore shine through with their actions.

The story would've been better if Clare just finished Raki here

Clare does show compassion, but generally she is driven by revenge. Claymore really focuses on vengeance up until the end.

Claymore gets the action right. There isn’t any Bleach and Dragonball Z-esque yammering. The action is sudden, violent, and bloody.

The series is dark and monochromatic. The art reminded me of some of the Renaissance paintings of the Arthurian legends…outside the skin tight clothing the women wore. The artist just painted clothing on their bodies.

Claymore isn’t the best anime I’ve seen. The story lacks depth, but it is solid. The characters are well developed (Raki got freakin’ annoying with all his whining and crying. Man up already.) but not enthralling. The action was generally well done. The pacing of the series a bit odd. Several episodes in you are thrust into backstory without any lead and left wondering what the hell is going on. Other than that, the story is well paced.

Claymore is a good romp if you like violent action and dark fantasy.