The time for Halloween is upon us, as dictated with the special tag ‘Spooky October Special.’ It’s a time for terror, for screams, for the darkest part of our imaginations to take root into our reality. One of the most popular of these ‘darkest parts of our minds’ is the classic, blood thirsting vampire. No, I’m not talking about those horrible sparkling ones that almost ruined the entire mythical race, but the vampires that’ll rip out your throat because they had a case of the munchies.
One of the most popular and beloved depictions of vampires in the anime world is that of Alucard, the main….err…protagonist, I guess you could say, of Hellsing and it’s recent remake, Hellsing Ultimate (I’ll be reviewing this one, since I haven’t seen the original Hellsing.) Both of these get down to the nitty gritty of what vampires are about: Blood drinking, causing mayhem against innocent people, and Nazis….wait, what?
But enough exposition, let’s sink our teeth into Hellsing Ultimate!
Hellsing Ultimate takes place in Great Britain, following the story of a secret organization know as Hellsing. The Hellsing Organization specializes in the extermination of vampires for the protection of the crown…because….you know…screw every other common citizen. As long as Kate Middleton and Prince William lives, right?
You’re probably asking, how do they get rid of these vampire pests? Stakes to the heart? Garlic? Crosses? Salt on the doorway? Sunlight? No, how about another vampire? This isn’t just any vampire, this is THEE vampire. The most powerful vampire in the entire Hellsing Universe, who kills off vampires like raccoons that found their way inside of your house. I’m referring to none other than Crispin Freeman…I mean Alucard!
On one such mission, which is really just a massacre of the undead for Alucard, our hero comes across another main character, Seras Victoria who is otherwise known as ‘Police Girl’. She and some other officers had been called to a village because of rumors of a homicidal priest, who turned out to be a vampire. After being held hostage by the vampire priest, Alucard ends up shooting her through the chest so that he could end up killing the vampire priest. As she’s dying, bleeding out onto the ground, Alucard, for some unexplained reason, decides to take pity on her and converts her into a vampire.
Eventually, we’re introduced to more organizations, like Iscariot (Enforcers of the Vatican) and Millennium (New age Nazi’s) to mix things up, changing the show from pretty awesomely gruesome battles to full on genocidal war.
Being everyone’s favorite vampire, Alucard is the main protagonist of both Hellsing and Hellsing: Ultimate. Not to mention he’s one of the most overpowered characters ever conceived on paper, only second to any comic book character and Tenchi Misaki from Tenchi Muyo. Seriously, with this guy, it gets to the point where one even wonders why there’s any problems to begin with in this universe, since his guns are so powerful it makes a regular person’s head just explode.
Anyway, the only reason why Alucard isn’t burning the entire world down is simply because he’s kind of like a pet on a leash. The person who holds this leash is the leader of the Hellsing organization, Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing. Integra is the descendant of THEE Arthur Van Hellsing, the very one from Bram Stoker’s “Dracula” whom defeated the titular vampire. Arthur had defeated Alucard, and basically made him serve the Hellsing name. Because who wouldn’t want a murderous vampire in your pocket?
Now, Alucard isn’t the strongest of characters…I mean, he’s strong in the sense that he’ll kill you 5 times to Sunday, but his story isn’t compelling in the sense of Hellsing Ultimate. He doesn’t have that much character development, aside for when a person he quite respected died and during his final duel.
But that’s quite forgivable in 10 episodes, since you have a lot of action and warfare to fit in. Especially forgivable when you have one of the most entertaining characters on screen. His ego is just…yes. He has so much confidence, he ends up mocking every person he fights until he brutally murders them in quite bloody fashions. Alucard also has this spark of pure ferocity when he fights, like a wolf trying to tear a person limb from limb. Trust me, it feels great when someone becomes a puddle of red stuff just because they decided to piss off this monster.
If we were to talk about who the strongest character was in Hellsing Ultimate, that honor would go to this girl here.
Seras was your average police woman, fresh out of the academy. However, having a very bad day, she was taken hostage by vampires and was killed because that’s how Alucard rolls. Since Alucard decided that this girl was…special, in some way, he turns her into a vampire. In this universe, only virgins are allowed to become vampires. Luckily Seras was, in fact, a virgin, and became the protege to the strongest vampire in pop culture history.
Even though I said she’s one of the strongest characters in the series, she’s not…you know, perfect. They set up a perfect dynamic for her trying to cope with her new vampire identity, especially in the beginning, where she would have these random outbursts of violence due to her nature as a vampire. She would then realize what she had done, and would feel absolutely horrible about herself. This! This is what should have been done in order to capture her struggle with being a vampire! Being a vampire suddenly would come as a bit of a shock to anyone, and would end in a climatic scene of acceptance…followed by everything in the room promptly dying.
But that’s not what happened. Eventually, for some reason that isn’t fully explained, she just becomes used to it, and starts dual-wielding anti-zeppelin guns later in the series. Such potential lost…even though she does become amazing like her master at the end of the series.
There’s a lot of a characters that should have been covered, such as Integra, Father Anderson, Bernadotte, even Walter could have been talked about. It is also very rare that I ever talk about the main antagonist in my reviews. The thing is, it’s the season for evil, and this man…this man is the very dictionary definition of the word evil. No, evil is too light for this man. Sinister, diabolical, sadistic, heinous, sadistic, malevolent, vile. Take a pick at your adjective, people.
This is the Major, the leader of Millennium, which I have explained are the New-Age Nazi’s in this universe. He essentially creates an entire army of synthetic vampires. For what purpose, one might ask? World domination? Genocide? Rebuilding the Nazi empire? No. All the Major wants is a war. (He explains what he wants here. Most epic speech of anime history.) He just wants chaos, which is a simple and SURPRISINGLY refreshing course of action. Seriously, so many antagonists nowadays have some ulterior motive, like world peace.
I found myself smiling when the Major was on screen, not because he could drop a great speech or because he was so evil, but because he was just so much fun. Seriously, he adds a bit of a joyful art as the ‘grand war’ is raging beneath his giant zeppelin. He eats dinner, taunts people on the ground, acts like he’s conducting the flow of the battle like it’s a symphony, he’s just a big bundle of joy…who likes war.
Fiery, bloody war.
Hellsing Ultimate is an action series, which it does with flying colors. It has explosions, fire, gas stations amounts of blood, guns, swords, it has everything you could possibly want to get your heart pumping. What Hellsing does really well in this regard is pacing. A lot action shows, anime, and manga jump right into the carnage of a full on death match or start out EXTREMELY slow. What Hellsing Ultimate does, which should be common, is give you a little bit of gore in the beginning. Maybe, 5-7 bodies. But as the series progresses, the body count goes up and up, and the intensity and scale of the battles become greater and greater, until we went from 7 corpses to an entire city painted red. It starts out teasing you, and by the end of the series, gives you the kind of unadulterated violence one would come to expect from vampires.
The animation, for being worked out for multiple production studios, was stellar. It felt like I was watching a series of Ghibili grade films…but…you know…not for kids. All of the animation feels clean, with a heavy accent on the color red. Whether it be Alucard’s pimp getup, fire, or all of the blood, it’s just there. Another thing I have to mention is the eyes. They’re different for every series, and Hellsing Ultimate is no different. The way they’re animated makes it feel kinda 3D. It’s hard to explain, trust me, but they’re so piercing. Kind of like those pictures where the eyes follow you, but infinitely less creepy.
Probably the biggest point that Hellsing Ultimate whiffs it on is the characters. None of the characters are properly developed, Alucard only getting a little bit of development when he defeats a…respected adversary. Integra, Walter, Anderson, ever Bernadotte receive little to no character development, and they’re some of the main characters. The only character that even so much as gets a decent chuck on development is Seras, with the siege of Hellsing mansion. We learn about her past and such, but even that is a little okay at best.
The story is also a little simple and sometimes predictable. There’s a couple of minor plot twists thrown in that one wouldn’t be able to predict, such as a certain person’s turncoat because they never GIVE any indication that it is happening. I mean, it was pretty cool and leads to an amazing fight, but it was so weird and unpredictable. With these kind of things, I want them to be difficult enough to where you wouldn’t guess it if you weren’t looking, but also have it be there in the first place. If Hellsing Ultimate decided to suddenly take place inside a universe of killer snowmen, then I probably wouldn’t be able to predict that. That doesn’t make it a good plot twist, because it doesn’t make sense AND there was nothing to even HINT at it.
Oh, Jesus Christ, I’m ranting.
There are some major things that I feel hold back Hellsing Ultimate’s story, but the random plot twists for the sake of plot twists kinda hurt it a bit.
And as a note that some viewers may not like, there’s a lot of graphic material. I mean, a lot. Seriously, I had to use a gas station as a unit of measurement earlier.
The Final Verdict and Rating
Hellsing Ultimate does a lot right, and quite a bit wrong. We have great action, but are given characters that are as stiff as boards. There’s stunningly gorgeous, movie quality animation…with a pretty simple plot. However, that doesn’t make Hellsing Ultimate a bad series. Every anime series has it’s flaws, and this one is simply substance issues.
Now, weighing in the good and the bad and compounding the results only to find out that my hometown was being attacked by vampire Nazis, and am now inside a bunker with an army of zombies knocking on my quickly breaking door…
I can award Hellsing Ultimate a 7/10, with a certified ‘Check it out if you’d like.’ It’s definitely worth checking out if you want a really good action series and don’t mind a lot of gore, but if you’re looking for something with substance, this isn’t for you.
Leave a like if you enjoyed this review, and tell me your personal likes and dislikes about Hellsing Ultimate in the comments below. But until next time, this has been the Anime Analyst. Zachary, out.
Disclaimer: I nor and of the members of UnimeTV own the rights to the pictures in this article. They are all screenshots of Hellsing Ultimate, and is licensed in America by Funimation Entertainment. Please don’t sue us.