My very favorite manga is the violent series, Claymore, about women who are half-demon (yoma), engineered to destroy other demons. It may seem an odd pick for me, but the last few years I’ve been engrossed in it like I’ve been with few other manga. But it wasn’t until recently that I decided to march through the entire anime series on which it is based. And although I previously noticed Teresa’s similarity to John the Baptist and Phantom Miria’s to Jesus, it also wasn’t until now that I saw additional spiritual connections, thematically and symbolically.
In episodes three and four, Clare is dispatched to the holy city of Rabona, where claymores, among others, are too impure to enter. There, she must fight a yoma who has been killing priests and guards within the city’s cathedral. As she battles the yoma alongside two distrustful guards, Clare exhibits characteristics of Christ, particularly when she falls to the enemy at the end of episode three. The director of the show purposely makes this connection as Clare is pierced, panning to stain glass depicting Jesus being pierced in His side as well.
And why does Clare get injured? She’s hurt while saving the two guards. They represents sinners – the spunky, knife-wielding one had earlier called her a monster and is constantly derogatory in his comments about Clare. It isn’t until she saves their lives that he and the other, nobler guard realize that Clare is righteous in what she does. But nonetheless, their “sins” are the reason for Clare’s supposed death at the end of episode three. This matches the idea that all of us – not just the Romans or the Pharisees – were responsible for Jesus’ death, since He came to atone for our sins. Despite all of Mel Gibson’s misdeeds, I like how he represented this idea in The Passion of the Christ by being the one to nail Jim Caviezel’s Christ to the cross in the film.
Clare’s sacrifice is valiant – by laying down her own life, she tries to save Rabona’s humans, all of whom have, at the minimum, treated her with distrust and at most with contempt. Earlier in the episode, Father Vincent, who originally called for the Claymores, notes this dichotomy. He admits that he was only looking out for his own safety rather than thinking of others, like Clare does. In doing so, Vincent shows his hypocrisy, a characteristic most all of us possess in some measure, whether clergy, layperson, or non-believer. But like a a repentant Christian, he attempts to move his heart in a better direction, which is also evidenced by his later appearances in the manga.
In episode four, the audience sees that Clare is indeed alive – raised from the dead as it were. And like Christ, she leaves the holy city having changed the lives she encountered: they and we are never the same.
- Review: Claymore vol. 1-17 by Norihiro Yagi (csilibrarian.wordpress.com)
- Claymore 19 (slightlybiasedmanga.com)
- Claymore (2007) (http://animemidwesterner.wordpress.com)