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Claymore #3
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Written by maehara   
Wednesday, 09 July 2008 16:00
ClaymoreAfter tying up the loose ends from last volume, this edition of Claymore takes a trip into the past, with a look at the similarities between the stories of Raki and Clare. It seems Raki's not the only person who turned to a Claymore after their life was destroyed by a Yoma...

10 - Darkness in Paradise, Part VI
With the Yoma finally located, it's time for Clare to join battle with it again - but as she's already carrying injuries from their last meeting, she's at an instant disadvantage. Forced to fight beyond her usual limits, she tries to go for the quick kill, knowing that she'll not survive a drawn-out fight - but the Yoma has the measure of her tactics. It falls to Galk to come to her aid and give her the opportunity to strike the killing blow. But the Yoma has a few tricks in store yet...

11 - Darkness in Paradise, Part VII
Having landed many blows but so far failed to inflict any real damage, Clare finally manages to find the Yoma's weak spot, ending the battle. But in doing so she's lost a lot of blood, more than she can really bear, and in her weakened state her own Yoma nature begins to take control. While she still has her own mind, she determines that it's time to take her own life, to stop the transformation completing. But Raki's not willing to accept that his time with Clare is over...

12 - Teresa of the Faint Smile, Part I
Another town, another Yoma, another Claymore. This one's named Teresa, and along with being as efficient a killer as any Claymore, she also has a twisted and perhaps cruel sense of humour. She's unusual in one way, though: no matter how hard she fights or how many Yoma she kills, she never seems to use any of her Yoma power. She's the strongest of the Claymores, and that gives her a certain confidence, and a certain faint smile. Her latest assignment has taken her to Teo village - on her arrival she senses the presence of seven Claymores, and she's soon knee-deep in their blood...

13 - Teresa of the Faint Smile, Part II
Like everyone else who becomes a Claymore, Teresa never chose to join the Orgnisation - an abandoned child, she was left with a stark choice between losing her humanity or dying as a beggar on the streets. To this day, she remembers what she lost by becoming a Claymore, and she carries more than a little bitterness at that. When a young girl she saved from a Yoma becomes attached to her, Teresa's bitterness and lonesome nature means she doesn't take the girl's attempts to befriend her well...

14 - Teresa of the Faint Smile, Part III
No matter what she does, Teresa can't persuade the girl to stop following her - even jumping over a cliff, something that a Claymore can withstand but that a normal human would have problems with, only results in small injuries to the girl, and no change in her determination. Against her better judgement, Teresa finds herself warming to the girl, and eventually decides to lead her safely to the next village and try to arrange for someone to care for her there. In the meantime, she has to give her a name: Clare...

15 - Teresa of the Faint Smile, Part IV
One of the bandits that Teresa had run into earlier has been following her and Clare. Angry at the injury Teresa had inflicted on him, he's looking for revenge - after waiting until night when Clare is asleep, he takes his chance and attacks. But Clare, having heard the commotion, comes to Teresa's rescue...

Ah, the power of love. It's what keeps Clare from succumbing to her Yoma nature towards the beginning of the volume, and in the later chapters is what keeps her from being abandoned to her fate - not that Teresa would even use such a word for the feeling she develops for her young follower.

It took me a while to figure out what was happening with Teresa's story - there's no indication given that it's a flashback story, and no sign that the other girl is Clare until Teresa first gives her the name. At that point the story becomes even more poignant, as it suddenly clicks as to why Clare has been so tolerant towards Raki - yes, after he saved her from losing her humanity there's going to be a real bond between them, but until now it was never entirely believeable that Clare would put up with the problems that having a kid in tow would bring. But having been that child herself puts the situation in a whole new light.

There are a few other points of interest, by way of hints that the process of becoming a Claymore makes greater physical changes to the women than are immediately visible, and the code of honour that they must follow to ensure that 'pure' humans can trust them. It's useful background information and adds to the atmosphere around the Claymores that, for all the use they can be, they're complete outcasts from 'normal' society - and with very few Claymores having chosen their life entirely through choice, that makes them all the more tragic as characters.

It's good to see that Claymore isn't just about the fighting - I do like to see the characters grow and develop as well as just swing their swords and do the slice'n'dice thing, and this volume nicely balances out the action-heavy second volume. No word yet on when Viz will get around to releasing the next volume, but I'm already looking forward to it.

Rating - ****

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