Requires Only That You Hate has a nice article about the feminism of Claymore, noting that it’s “more feminist than [works by] Joss Wheadon, Neil Gaiman, Saladin Ahmed, etc.”
Most notably, writer acrackedmoon singles out the use of inhumanity in the feminist space:
…Normal humans are naturally quite outclassed even by the weakest warrior. Their attitude toward powerful male monsters is identical to their attitude toward powerful female ones. The male, in another word, asserts no power over the women of Claymore. There’s no romantic pull, no sexual pull, no anything. The male is incidental. It’s there. But nobody gives a fuck.
As well, she talks about the character design and aesthetics of the manga:
It’s not obvious here, but she actually has proportionate thighs to go with the rest of her . . . This is more than most artists ever do with female characters.
Deneve bares that one boob for the following two chapters or so, but no panel ever zooms in on it. She’s not embarrassed, she doesn’t blush or try to cover it up. The boob is just bit of fat attached to her chest, and that’s about it. Nudity partial or otherwise does not equal vulnerability.
And she analyzes the parallelisms of Claymore’s setting and story:
Much of the negative stuff is driven by the organization and its ranking system, which drives the warriors to compete with each other (sometimes viciously, and murderously): it’s a surprisingly useful analogue for patriarchy–and then, of course, Miria ups and beheads the grand patriarch.
All in all, it’s a great read, and got me thinking:
While there is a male swordsman protagonist in the story, and he gets skilled with a blade, he is no match for any serious warriors, and utterly trivial in the grand scheme of things. His main contribution is to humanize a female monster he travels with. It’s a nice inversion from the normal situation where men do all the heavy lifting and a woman can only hope to affect the story through affecting male morale.
Also – could it be that Claymore fails the inverse Bechdel test? I don’t believe two male characters ever have a conversation in which they fail to talk about a woman, because women warriors are the dominant ones in that society. I’m not sure that this says great things about the work – women should be capable of being strong without requiring men to be toned down to being virtually absent – but at least it’s consistent with the setting.