Shounen-fighting series have never been my favourite series. As far as I can recall, I’ve seen only one of them that really managed to deliver something truly original and creative that captivated me: The Law of Ueki. While Claymore doesn’t come close to that level, it does give a nice attempt, though.
While the start of the anime is just like any other serious shounen-series, as the episodes progress, it becomes clear that Claymore knows what it’s doing. Characters have sufficient backgrounds and they get fleshed out well enough outside and sometimes even during the fighting. The setting is solid and well-explored and overall, it knows how to build up very well.
Claymore basically consists out of arcs with the length of three or four episodes, with each of these arcs being different enough for everything to remain fresh. An interesting phenomenon also showed up as I kept watching: every successive arc increases the quality of the series significantly. This series starts out mediocre, but as the episodes go on, it just gets better and better and better. Even if some introductions may be dull, the conclusions for each successive arc were impressive.
This continues up to episode 20, and then something strange happens: the creators of the anime divert from the manga this series is based on, and things immediately fall apart. After that, there are still a few good moments, but it’s clear that the writers of the anime just aren’t as good as those of the manga and the result is a string of boring and overblown battles that fail to capture interest. It’s such a shame, as this anime was heading in such a good direction.
Still, don’t let that last bit ruin your enjoyment of this series. The majority of Claymore is well-written and a compelling story. The production-values are pretty good, and the soundtrack is enough to give the fights that little extra edge they need to become exciting. It may have its flaws, it may drag on a bit too much at times, but it’s definitely one of the better shounen-fighting series out there.