When it comes to manga, one series continually leaves powerful impressions on me, volume after volume. Claymore, Norihiro Yagi’s violent fantasy series about demon-hunting women who are part demon themselves, is an epic series in terms of its scope, multiple story lines, and sheer number of characters. Among the most important characters is Phantom Miria, once a high ranking claymore and now the leader of the rebels who survived the northern campaign.
Even before the survivors began to grow in their strength, Miria was a powerful fighter. Ranked number six among claymore, Miria’s “Phantom” nickname grew out of her frightening speed that left behind after-images that confused her opponents. Long suspicious of the Organization, the body that “creates” and deploys claymore, Miria approaches the rebellion with a plan. Perhaps this is no surprise for any who would have investigated the origin of her name – the Claymore Wiki suggests she is named for Abraham’s sister, Miriam, whose name is Hebrew means “rebellion.”
But it’s a different biblical allusion I’m making today – that of Jesus Christ.
While there are a few comparisons that can be made between Miria’s characteristics and those of Christ (I’ll allude to these in the paragraphs below), the main similarities are in how these two move others. Miria is clearly a leader from the beginning, initiating the conversation between Clare, Helen, and Deneve that will bring them (and later others) together in a pact. Eventually she leaves the group to attack the Organization alone – leaving their world for another and bringing to mind Jesus’ statement to Peter that He will go where the latter cannot follow (John 13:36).
The story lines in the manga split at this point, as do the biblical allusions. Warning: there are major spoilers ahead. Miria is absent for long stretches of the manga – she is invisible to her followers, reminiscent of Christ’s physical absence after ascending at the beginning of Acts. But before I go there, I want to emphasize an allusion to the two’s deaths. Note that both are solitary in fighting evil (The Organization and Satan, respectively) – both by choice, with Miria leaving the group behind and Jesus deciding to follow His Father’s will rather than fighting back with a legion of angels. Jesus is killed and Miria is brought to the brink of death in horrific fashions, leaving brutal scars that remain after their executions, and done at the hands of those that they are trying to save.
The allusion now jumps to a more spiritual level. As I mentioned, Miria is invisible to her followers (Helen, Deneve, etc.), as Christ’s actions in Heaven are unseen to us. Jesus is often referred to as the commander of the LORD’s army and the Bible makes clear that there are physical battles occurring in the spiritual realms (Daniel 10:13). Each figure is seen fighting a battle unknown to their adherents.
However, it’s also the actions of others, in the flip side of the split story line, which help demonstrate the connection between Miria and Christ. For the claymore, their change of life is drastic. They go from being tools of an organization they do not question to rebels fighting against it. They approach with some hesitation, but the evidence to them is overwhelming. For Christians, a similar path is followed. The world is considered to be ruled by the “Evil One” and to follow Christ is to abandon the ways of the world. It’s a drastic change to up heave one’s comfortable lifestyle, but if we believe that Christ’s ways are true, then it’s a change we’re compelled to make. And certainly for the early Christians and for those today living in nations without religious freedom, the cost is often also our lives. The claymore, too, are willing to die for their new found ideas. The impact of Miria and Jesus on their followers is immense and thorough.
On a final note, I find it interesting that the fad of wearing bracelets that remind Christians to wonder, “What Would Jesus Do?” mirrors statements made by those Miria left behind, as they fight with a sort of mantra, commenting that their actions are what “Miria would have done.”
Though ultimately our (forgotten?) heroine, Clare, may make a clearer Christ figure, for now it is Miria who stands out – and it is her time to shine in the manga.
- Finding the Invisible God in Claymore (Teresa of the Faint Smile)
- Claymore 18 (slightlybiasedmanga.com)