UK RELEASE: 29TH JULY 2013
PUBLISHED BY MANGA UK
“The rogue vampire Alucard is the Hellsing Organization’s deadliest instrument in its mission to protect the British Empire from satanic ghouls and Nazi freaks. He is not alone in his assault on the occult; the master has a servant. Policewoman Seras Victoria accepted Alucard’s gift of dark salvation after falling in the line of duty, and now the remnants of her human soul struggle against her growing vampire urges. Together, they haunt the shadows as a sinister force of good – and tonight the foggy streets of England shall flow with the blood of their evil prey.”
Episode One serves as a sufficient introduction to the world of Hellsing and the characters. We see Alucard, a near immortal vampire, save Seras Victorica, Special Forces soldier, from certain death. He does this by killing the vampire who threatened to rape Seras then turns her into a vampire herself. The two, along with a few others, make up Hellsing, which is an organisation with the philosophy of hunting down and killing every vampire in existence. Funny how most of the members are vampires. Though maybe humans, no matter how strong or elite, are no match for rampant vampires.
In the first episode of this OVA series, Alucard is clearing out a church full of disruptive vampires. We’re told that only humans with virgin blood are turned into vampires when bitten. Otherwise the host is destined to metamorphose into a ghoul. These are the vampiric equivalent to zombies; they are slow and dumb, at the command of the vampire who attempted to turn them, and feast on the flesh of mortals. I enjoyed this addition to the undead ranks in an Anime about vampires. It’s innovative – they have taken something known and changed it to make it seem new. It adds a sense of fear when battles are fought (the thought of being munched to death by, what are essentially, zombies is horrifying).
Somewhere in the midst of battle Anderson makes his entrance. He belongs to a religious organisation with the prime objective to dissipate vampires from existence. Naturally they feel angered when Alucard is doing their job and also happens to be the most powerful vampire around. Anderson cannot miss this opportunity. This was where, I felt, the series stood at its strongest. Everything seemed to make sense, as if the writers and animators, even voice actors, put more passion into what they were doing when Alucard and Anderson face off. It was the most compelling point in the whole first part (episode 1 – 4). I wish they explored it more (although they may do in part 2).
Episode Two and Three just whizzed right past me in an unmemorable blur. I believe this was due to the story being barely progressed. Episode Two sees a pair of brothers infiltrate the Hellsing residents. One of them is very crude, making sexually aggressive jokes which I found quite off-putting. It was simply tasteless. However, maybe that was the reaction the creators were going for. Either way these next two episodes are about three things: Expressing the main characters more; exposing more information on the religious organisation, which Anderson works for; introducing another organisation. As far as I’m concerned all of this is executed quite poorly.
It’s safe to say Alucard is meant to be the main attraction in Hellsing. The powers he possesses are extraordinary. When used, I couldn’t stop myself from smiling in awe. His attitude is quite serious and sadistic too, which intrigued me; I want to know more about him, I want to see him do more. However, after a while the same routine is witnessed. Enter a battle full of human soldiers, get shot down (which is sometimes unintentionally comical), revive self, use mystical powers to intimidate enemies, slaughter everyone until the battle has been won.
The character of Alucard never really goes beyond that seen in the first episode. This is the dilemma: Do we focus more on characters (Bleach and Trigun are series where the characters are extremely lovable and unique) or do we focus more on the story where the characters are simply there to experience it? Eden of the East and Darker than Black come to mind, where contractors and the crisis in Japan (accordingly) are more important than the characters. Hellsing Ultimate does neither. As a result, it is stuck in between with limited character development and slow story progression which isn’t explained efficiently to the audience. This is an OVA series (a spin off to the original material) so I can’t slate it too much for not expressing the characters enough. However, it starts at the beginning – introducing the characters, organisation, etc. – so one would assume this is friendly to newcomers.
I think the difference is the storyline, which I will explain next. Exploring the original series first is probably best. That way the characters are already imprinted on you, allowing you to focus purely on the story of this OVA series.
The last episode of the first part of Hellsing Ultimate is where the major storyline is explained. This explanation along with a very interesting character is what saved part 1 for me; it was enough to keep me intrigued and anticipating part 2. There are some awesome fight scenes and some gory moments but the best part is when the story that is trying to be put across is actually explained. It does seem a bit lazy, on the writers’ part, for this explanation to be given through calm conversations between characters. They failed to explain things over the past three episodes (and it wasn’t exactly a massive reveal in the fourth).
We were sent the Blu-ray version of Hellsing Ultimate, so the quality of the picture and sound was impeccable. The actual artwork is very unique. It has a gothic feel to it which I haven’t seen in Anime before (although I am limited to the series’ I’ve watched). The way the characters move and how the camera moves with them is very clever as it adds drama, tension, and almost horror to the episodes. So the animation is fantastic too. Apart from that the music was sometimes the only thing keeping me watching and the voice acting is very professional. The only annoyance was when some cutesy, childlike animation would cut in and ruin the mood of various scenes.
Overall, the people who will get the most from Hellsing Ultimate are those who have seen the original series. That way the world and characters have already been introduced, so this can simply be a spin off to enjoy. That said the story wasn’t interesting enough. The characters could have saved this but they didn’t have enough impact. The quality of the artwork, animation, and audio is fantastic and buyers do get a whole separate disc with extras. However, it seems a bit costly to separate this OVA series into two parts. Watch the original series, and then if you feel like watching this, do so.