Claymore Is the Best Shonen Manga You’ve Never Read

Claymore was once one of the more popular and well-known Shonen Jump manga but, over time, has faded into somewhat obscurity. The series ran for around 13 years of publication, earning an anime adaptation based on the first 11 volumes of the series. Its popularity would see it sell over eight million units in Japan, and it gained a decent international fanbase.

The series had a strong female cast, breathtaking and unique art and equally incredible fight scenes, making it a cut above most contemporary shonen of its time. Thankfully, it can now be enjoyed more easily than ever, allowing otaku in Western countries to appreciate the acclaimed series better.

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Claymore's Story

Claymore was written and illustrated by Norihiro Yagi, and the series would have a somewhat tumultuous publication history. From 2001 to 2007, it ran in Monthly Shonen Jump until that book was canceled. It temporarily ran in the more popular Weekly Shonen Jump before being transferred to Jump Square, where it ran for seven years until its conclusion in 2014.

The main character of the series is Clare, a young girl who was practically raised by a group of Yoma after one of their own had killed her family in the guise of her brother. She joins the Organization to get revenge on a woman named Priscilla for killing her friend Teresa. Due to her supposed weakness, she's classed as the lowest of the Claymore. She later saves a young boy named Raki, much in the same way Teresa had saved her. Priscilla remains one of the main antagonists throughout the series.

The title comes from Claymores, a class of warrior women who serve as the main focus of the series. Named due to their claymore swords, they are also known as "silver-eyed witches" due to their iris coloration. These armor-wearing warriors are a hybrid between humans and the monstrous Yoma -- a race of shape-shifters who plagued humanity. The mysterious "Organization" created the Claymores to defend the human race against the Yoma. Like their progenitors, the Claymores are powered by demonic energy known as Yoki.

When they use too much of this energy, they become an extremely powerful Awakened Being, which is essentially a more powerful version of a Yoma. The Claymores all have numbers by their names to signify their rank, based on actual skill or innate power.

Claymore's Strengths: Characters and Art

Shonen Manga Claymore Angel Fight

While one of the biggest draws for the series is its strong cast of female characters, it also features intricate and sometimes gory art that made it stand out among the more mainstream titles running in Shonen Jump. It even bears a slight resemblance to some of the horrific designs and characters seen in Attack on Titan -- given its similar premise, it may have inspired that series. There is also a wide diversity of monster designs, keeping the fights from seeming redundant.

The action and fights in Claymore are some of the genre's absolute best. These clashes are bolstered by a sense of organic scale that makes sense within the series, with powers and victories never feeling unearned or contrived. This maintains the series' dark and moody tone, keeping things from falling into the traps of most shonen titles.

Where to Read To Claymore

Thankfully for prospective fans and readers, the series can be enjoyed in a variety of legal means. For one, the individual manga volumes can be readily bought through online retailers such as Amazon and brick-and-mortar stores such as Barnes & Noble. Those who are digitally subscribed to Shonen Jump can also read the series through their app. This provides multiple methods to catch up with the somewhat forgotten classic.