oyceter: man*ga [mahng' guh] n. Japanese comics. synonym: CRACK (manga is crack)
[personal profile] oyceter
This is so sad. It hasn't been very long at all since I last read vols. 1-8, and I've already forgotten who half the Claymores are, what they do, and what's going on.

Sadly, volume 9 picks up from a dungeon arc; i.e. Clare and other people are in some cave or something somewhere duking it out with giant yoma. Although there is some payoff at the end of it that leads back to the larger plot, I got a little bored with the hack-and-slash "how to best kill yoma" sections. But the end of volume 11 promises a very cool plot development indeed, and I am hoping the next few will have much more about the Claymores and less yoma-fighting strategizing.

Spoilers

I have to say, I don't miss Raki at all, so when he showed back up in the North and took up sword training with Isley, I rolled my eyes a little. I hope he will stay more damsel in distress and less plucky sidekick, since almost all of the women in shounen end up as damsel and not plucky sidekick—I'm defining these by who gets the power-up fight training sequences and who doesn't (seriously, why were the training scenes in Kenshin all about Sano and Yahiko and not Kaoru and Misao? And I won't even start with Bleach). On the other hand, there is the promise that Raki will be used for Evil Purposes by Isley and a strangely human and/or de-aged and/or disguised Priscilla. Still, I was very disturbed by the sexualization of Raki and his relationship with Clare and Priscilla, as indicated by Clare kissing him on the mouth before leaving him and his memories of being squashed against her breasts, along with Priscilla constantly curling up in his bed with his head pillowed against her chest.

I mostly yawned during the fight with Riful.

But when the Claymores started gathering up north, that was awesome! I love being able to see more of them and to see how their stories are similar or different, how almost all of them seem to have lost family members to yoma, leading to their decisions to become Claymores. I also loved Undine's story and was sad when she died.

Speaking of dying, I thought I was getting used to all the flying body parts, but the bisection and chopping into pieces of various Claymores is still extremely disturbing! And the reveal about Alicia and Beth was also fittingly creepy. But mostly, I felt like these three volumes were in a bit of a holding pattern to set up for grander revelations. (Why does my library not have volumes past 11?)

End spoilers

I also want to formulate some sort of thesis about monstrous bodies and strength in shounen: how strength is directly tied to monstrosity, particularly in the villains, but how even heroic strength is frequently tied in with bodily abuse or breaking down your body to build it up again (an extended metaphor of how we build muscle?). It's particularly interesting in Claymore, because the division between the monsters and the heroes is very thin indeed, and because I feel female characters rarely get this sort of monstrous strength. More often than not, if women's bodies are changed, it's to exaggerate them sexually and to create femme fatales with vagina dentata, but in Claymore, even though the Claymores' bodies are monstrous, they're monstrous in a way that is much more in line with shounen tropes in terms of how they push the limits of what their bodies can do and frequently draw on non-physical attributes to help with the physical (ex. ninja jutsu, shinigami strength/bankai, channeling yoma energy). The trope of the Claymores struggling with how much yoma energy to use and how far they should push their bodies is one that I rarely get to see with women.

I don't really have any conclusions, just thoughts about female physicality and strength and how some of the strongest women I've seen so far in shounen are tied to monstrosity directly. I don't think this is necessarily negative, since many other shounen heroes' strength is also tied to monstrosity and/or bodies that go beyond nature, and because all strength in the Claymore universe seems to be monstrous. It'd be interesting to see Yagi write about human men and women and to see how that measure of strength changes (or doesn't).

In conclusion, maybe I should suggest a Shounen Bodies panel to accompany the one on shoujo bodies last year! Except the focus would still be on women, only in shounen manga, not shoujo.
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Oyceter

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