Claymore, Episodes 3 and 4: Sinners and Saints in the Holy City

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.


10 thoughts on “Claymore, Episodes 3 and 4: Sinners and Saints in the Holy City

  1. It’s been a long while since I watched Claymore, having also never read the manga, but your recap of these episodes’ events refreshed my memory a bit. I’m surprised that I never noticed the connection to Christianity before; you laid out the similarities so clearly. I’ll be curious to read any further religious comparisons, particularly a speculation about the symbolic role of Raki.

  2. Do they actually get it right about the cathedral thing? I know this is soooo minor, but often they’re called “Cathedrals” just because they’re big churches. A cathedral is where the bishop’s chair is, duh!

    1. That could be my error – I can’t remember if they called the building a cathedral. Regardless, it wouldn’t even be a cathedral in the traditional sense of the word – I don’t believe the faith represented is Christian in nature, despite outward appearances.

      1. just started this series. I’m loving it and it does have a lot of Christian symbolism.

        Yes, they do call it a cathedral in the english dub at least. The weird “baptism” scene makes its orthodoxy obviously suspect, as well as the lack of cross imagery (though there is an attempt to portray the fall of lucifer at the hands of Michael in one of the stained glass windows), but the way the priest describes morality and such sounds Christian, and there seems to be a strong belief in the power of prayer in episode 4.

        I’m not trying to force it to be Christian because it seems to syncretize paganism and is henotheistic because Claire is asked who her god is upon being baptized, but perhaps he was meaning to ask her, “Who was your God?” Since she is now baptized and converted.

        The baptism also was not Trinitarian but “in the name of Jesus! (he actually said “Our Lord and Saviour”) which is more like Oneness Pentecostals or Jehovah’s witnesses, but could be Japanese misunderstandings of the prooftexts in Acts where Peter tells people to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins.

        Finally, yes! They did get it right. In episode 4 the bishop appears as one of the clergyman who is investigated for being a yoma.

        1. The series is terrific (mostly), and I’m glad you’re enjoying it! Thanks for adding so much context to the conversation.

  3. I just watched these two episodes now, and I really enjoyed it!

    The spiritual themes you saw in it were quite interesting, but for me, I saw a glimpse of God in these two eps another way. You have a city, that claims to be holy, and yet when you think about it, they’re very judgemental. Not letting certain people in because they are considered to be “impure”? Imagine if a church were like that, not letting certain people in—if the church is a hospital, you need sick people to heal. And not letting “the sick” so to speak enter, well, how can they be “healed”?

    We have Clare, despite what she is, there to help them. She’s willing to risk her own life, even for people who hate Claymore because that is her job–to destroy Yoma. What I loved about these episodes most is the end of the fourth one, when Clare was about to become a full yoma. Raki didn’t want to live without her, and was even willing to die with her if there was no other way to change her back. Miraculously, Clare is able to revert back because of the love that Raki had for her (and though she doesn’t openly admit it much, it’s obvious Clare feels for this boy, since she can relate to what happened to him).

    I guess the spiritual theme I saw the most in here is loving kindness. It’s not always strength and power, it’s love that truly defeats evil, and we see that here when Clare was able to revert back to a human mind. In a sense, the “evil” in her (the yoma blood) was defeated by how much Raki cared about her.

    My 2 cents! I think it’s always interesting how we see a glimpse of God in our own personal way. ^.^ I really did like your analysis, and didn’t notice that myself until you pointed it out, so it’s another spiritual theme to see in addition to what I saw.

    1. Great insight, as always! Yeah, I agree totally with what you wrote – those are wonderful things to take away from these episodes.

      Your words also make me think more upon the state of churches in America. I think that many are not as open to the sick as they think they are.

    2. I thought that was interesting too. They don’t let anyone unseemly into the city. I could try to defend them though, and I would say that sick people also have to desire to be healed. The ones in the city that go to church probably are aware that they are sinners and they go there to be healed. The people who are kicked out of the city are perhaps unrepentant and don’t care to better, and it could be a state matter rather than a necessarily purely religious one.

      It does seem hypocritical, so you’re right. I think it is cool that the archpriest clearly saw that Clare modeled the values of his religion more than any fully human person he knew, and declared her to be a shining example and inspiration to the people of Rabona.

      1. oh and I quickly want to note that this is opinion, and arguing about a fake society like this is just conjecture and kind of silly, but I still wanted to say that maybe they aren’t as judgmental as the seem (but in all likelihood, ones who aren’t judgmental/hypocritical are probably the exception. This is the case in real life too!).

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