True, when I reviewed the first 4 volumes of “Hellsing Ultimate” (click on link to see review) last week, I really wasn’t sure where and how it was going. There was a lot of foreshadowing as to the origins of Alucard and I questioned as to how everything would wrap itself up. The last episode of the first collection ended with a scene that showed the forces of the Major about to drop into London and what results in this collection is possibly one of the most visually arresting displays of violence and horrifying details that had been shown in the world of animation. I guess you may ask, does grisly imagery or violence become much more acceptable when done in animation? I suppose this is where its sly humor and somewhat “looney tunes” like comedy occasionally comes in. But I have to say, the series had gone to a very dark path even when Alucard displays his twisted, monstrous side in a bizarre yet, charming way.
Note: This may be one of the rare times that I enjoyed watching an anime in the English dub since it gave the characters much more defining personalities than the original Japanese language (albeit with a slightly more over-the-top tone)
As I have talked about in my review of the first four volumes, the series does have a long developing storyline. The full 8 episodes collected in this two collections have the original intent and narrative of the manga series, and this next 4 episodes (or volumes) pick off where it had left off with an army of Nazi vampires led by the Major (Gildart Jackson) who are about to lay siege on London and everything it holds dear. The Hellsing organization or the Holy Order of Protestant Knights led by Integra Hellsing (Victoria Harwood) are about to make their last stand as she becomes hunted by a vampire horde and her mansion is being overrun by the vampire Nazis. Seras Victoria (Katherine Gray) and a mercenary named Barnadotte (Yuri Lowenthal) take their stand against Zorin Blitz (Rachel Robinson) and her forces, while the Catholic crusaders led by a religious zealot called Maxwell (JB Blanc) rise to destroy both humans and vampires alike. War has indeed broken out, as all sides are fighting in more than two fronts, that even the Iscariots led by Anderson (Steven Brand) find themselves at a cross roads. Desperation leads Integra to command Alucard (Crispin Freeman) into the fray one last time, freed of all restraints to unleash his full power….the mystery behind Alucard is finally revealed.
The first episodes in the first collection caused me to ask a lot of questions; it even caused me some transitional issues and shifts in tone that I did not particularly enjoy but understood. While the next few episodes of “Hellsing Ultimate” may still have its touches of sly humor and wildly otaku-like animated comedy, the series have become much darker, more violent and if at all possible, much more graphic in its grand displays of violence. While the first collection introduced several cool characters, this one brings those characters into center stage, as Alucard was only shown briefly in episode 5 before he takes the lead in episode 8. This time, Seras Victoria, Bernadotte and Integra are put into its central focus as they try to define the values of humanity as well as how a vampire TRULY becomes a vampire. Things such as why Seras did not wish to drink of Alucard’s blood and as to what happens when someone offers their blood of their own free will. I suppose while I do have to admit that the series did have its rough spots, I appreciated the thought and effort it had gone through to develop its characters through visions and flashbacks.
The more vital part of this series would be to know just who was Alucard and this 4 volumes does do so with a vengeance. We all knew that he was “Dracula” (or Drakul) or if you really wish to read between the lines, he is Vlad the Impaler, the murderer of thousands. The display of his full power may be the series’ main draw, as I have said, it became one of the more visually arresting moments of violence to be displayed in anime. Alucard’s origins would come as no surprise with those who Dracula’s iconic reputation. But it is not to say that the rest of the series was a slouch, the battle between Zorin’s forces and Seras with the mercenaries were also one for the record books. Vivisection, blood sucking, limbs being torn from bodies, bodies shredded into pieces, and much more gore pop up in episodes 6 and 7. The assault in London and the Hellsing mansion took for a lot of action and brutality, which made this collection much more exciting than the previous one. It was nice to see just how much of a bad-ass Seras could really be, and as to why Integra could become Alucard’s mistress since, well, she is pretty tough as nails. Episode 7 also gets a little more darker and even raunchy, as it had a scene of necrophilia in the purpose of developing the Seras Victoria character.
The Vatican side as well as the Paladin Iscariots also become more fleshed out with the appearance of two new characters in support of Anderson. Yumie and Heinkel Wolf (Siobhan Flynn and Karen Starassman) provided more areas to expand on and we get to see the reasons why the Catholic section are at odds with the Protestant Knights. I am not sure, but they seem to be an expression of blind righteous faith against tempered faith driven by intellect, but I suppose we’ll have to wait and see in the next episodes (if there are more, I am uncertain of its release date at this time).
I guess that is all we could ask for in an anime series and “Hellsing Ultimate” 5-8 does answer a lot of questions. But It also introduces some new twists and surprises that I am hoping for a few more episodes. I know, I noticed that the battle in Hellsing mansion took a little too long despite its necessity, I thought that the story-telling could’ve used more smoothing over. The Major’s role felt more for the purpose of theatrics and the issue with Walter the butler and his opponent could’ve been more fleshed out at this time. Still, “Hellsing Ultimate” Volumes 5-8 is deliciously entertaining. Gory, brutal and visually impressive, with a storyline that channeled exactly what it is supposed to, I found this series worthy of its reputation. I just felt a little bummed that it ended in a cliffhanger, but the following editions have been announced and on its way. I am in for the next new “Hellsing”. I’d like to see more of this undead dude.
Recommended! [4 Out of 5 Stars]
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