The manga by Kouta Hirano in the late 1990’s was so well-received that of course as with any other manga series that achieves success, it has been adapted into an anime series even when the manga itself had not been concluded at the time. Such was the case with the original “Hellsing” anime series, it diverted from the original story of the manga in certain significant narrative aspects that it sparked some controversy. Well, Geneon and Madhouse animation studios then came out with a new anime series of OVA’s in the form of “Hellsing Ultimate” to fix the issues and to address the mistakes made in the first anime series, and continues on what was not published in the manga. It was not as if the first anime series was bad, it was just a lot less faithful to the tone, mood and plot of its source material.
This collection which comes in a Bluray/Dvd combo pack contains the first 4 volumes of the series OVAs re-introduces the main characters in a way that the original series did not. In the form of back stories and presented into its narrative, we find a back story to the Hellsing Organization’s head, Integra Hellsing (Yoshiko Sakakibaba). The first episode shows as to how she had been pursued by her uncle that she had to resort to going into the castle’s darkest dungeon to free the vampire Alucard (Johji Nakata) to protect her. Now, fast forward to her as an adult, Integra is now the sole ruler of the organization and she dispatches Alucard to engage a vampire attack in a small town. Here, Alucard comes across a mortally wounded female cop named Seras Victoria (Fumiko Orikasa) which he then proceeds to turn her into a low level vampire. It seems like there is something much more evil and cunning at work, as an old foe had seemingly risen to plague England and are poised to use their unholy powers against humanity. This group led by the ex-Nazi Major (Nobuo Tobita) intend to plunge the world into another war. Alucard, together with Seras and Walter (Motomu Kiyokawa) must fight back even when a rival Catholic group with their head killer Anderson (Norio Wakamoto) has different things on their agenda.
I have to say, I am somewhat stunned to see the name “Alucard” in the end credits, even pronounced as “Alucard” in the English dubbing and yet the subtitles and the original language pronounces the lead character’s name as “Arucard”. I am not going to dwell on the reasons why, but it is clear that “Alucard” is “Dracula” spelled backwards. I guess this will remain as one of anime’s puzzling questions, but let’s not dwell on that shall we? I have no idea why this is so, that “L“ is pronounced as “R“. (I have a guess but I’d rather not talk about it)
I suppose what really made the OVA’s work for me is the collection of interesting villains. It makes for a very odd and yet intriguing world. I liked the fact that the Protestants and the Catholics appear to have some sort of rivalry as to who is truly the hunters of evil. Anderson is one interesting character that we’d only come to scratch his surface in these first few volumes. It was an intriguing concept to find a man of the cloth to be the bad guy while a creature of the night is the good guy. I thought that the way the vampires behaved in the series were also imaginative. A virgin bitten by a vampire will be turned into a low-level vampire while those who have had sex will become some kind of zombie-like ghouls at the command of whoever had bitten them. Perhaps there is a theme that speaks for the grey areas in existence, that not all are who they appear to be, and that something that is supposed to be a virtue can become a curse.
This is Japanese anime after all, and the story’s development are driven by its characters while their back story is driven by flashbacks and through dialogue. Alucard is one monstrous creature. He likes to kill and yet, it remains a mystery (in this collection) as to why he is a servant to Integra, that he fights other vampires. There was a moment of dramatic moral crisis, as Alucard even taunts Integra into giving a kill order. I guess, in this world, only a monster can fight a war against monsters; monsters are defined by action, humans and vampires and demons alike can play the part of a murderous creature. Alucard’s motivations may remain unclear, despite several subtle hints, the OVA’s were able to tease and perhaps draw in the viewer in its narrative. His powers were definitely frightening both to vampires and humans alike, Alucard is on another level, and the animation work does not hold back in the gory and bloody details.
Yes, if you want action and blood, this anime has them by the bucket loads. Decapitation, dismemberment, a lot of slicing, bodies torn apart and eaten; you name it, “Hellsing Ultimate” has them all. The graphics and the animation looked very cool and can even be scary at times. The dialogue is also pretty mature and does not hold back in profanity and the expression of depraved behavior; rape, torture and murder are all in the minds of our villains here, and the writing does not relent in their presentation. What also helped the series along was its collection of colorful characters; Jan and Luke Valentines are vampires who seek to bring down Alucard and Integra, The “Dandy Man” and “Rip Van Winkle” were all worthy adversaries to our charmingly scary Alucard, and catching a glance of what is in store, Alucard is in for more of a fight against the forces of the Major (who himself is some kind of sick Hitler). Supporting characters such as Walter the butler or the “Dark Angel” also give the series more personality which in turn gives it flamboyance.
“Hellsing Ultimate” is one handsome anime series. It looks very cool, the character designs were creative and interesting, and the action is bloody disgustingly awesome. I suppose, that if one can find flaws in the series is that it does suffer from ‘under-editing’ that it dragged in some areas. I also thought that the attempts to inject humor with the use of funny graphics in Seras’ case felt a out of place in the series’ dark tempo. I am not sure yet as to how this will all round up, I liked what I saw in the first 4 volumes and I have to decide on its overall quality and how much I like the series after I see the final volumes (5-8) next weekend. Still, this collection has loads of features and information that any fan of the “Hellsing” series would be glad to own. Well, this first volumes are brimming with blood, gore and cool action with some sick humor injected into them. It is not for the squeamish and that just makes it more delightful for me to watch