- Genre: Horror, action, comedy, drama
- Episodes: 10
- Studio: Satelight (1–4); Madhouse (5–7); Graphinica & Kelmadick (8–10)
The Hellsing organisation is back… or rehere…rebooted. You know it’s Hellsing again. Yadda yadda vampires, yadda yadda freak microchips yadda yadda OMG that is soooo much blood. Only this time there’s Nazis. And also a coherent narrative with a complete arc that includes a beginning, a middle and an end. And a cat boy! I think I’ve made my point here. Synopsis accomplished!
So maybe some of you know that a few weeks ago I watched Hellsing, the original 2001 series (I shall call it Hellsing Sr.) and something happened to me. Something that has led me to wallpaper my entire life with Integra Hellsing fan art. Seriously folks, if you show me where I can get and Integra body pillow I will put you in my will.
As soon as I mentioned that I was going to watch Hellsing, several people helpfully told me that I should enjoy it since it’s from the good folks that brought us Drifters. I am very grateful to those people since my general lack of awareness would normally lead me to miss things like that but this time, even I caught on. Hellsing Ultimate looks so similar to Drifters that scenes from one could easily be spliced into the other without any noticeable change in aesthetic. In case you don’t know, this is basically one of the biggest compliments I can give the visuals. Distinctive, impactful, beautiful without being pretty. The visual are also surprisingly consistent when you consider this was made y 3 different studios over the course of 6 years. If I were forced to find a weak point, I would say the colour palette is a bit bland but honestly, I don’t care.
The animation is spectacular. Without exaggeration, this show would be impressive today but considering it came out over a decade ago, it’s downright mind-blowing. Yes Drifters does beat it out a bit on technical aspects, it does benefit from 10 years of industry progres after all, but really not by much and that show has some of the best animation I’ve seen all year. I **would** recommend you watch Hellsing Ulimate for the visuals alone but since those visuals are more often than not detailed, bloody carnage, I guess maybe it’s not for everyone…
The designs are largely unchanged from Hellsing Sr but have all been adapted to the new art style. It took me a while to adjust to how fanservicy Seras’ character is in this iteration but it worked out, and the character itself remains fantastic. The voice acting and general sound design was really improved. They really cast some attractive voices, not sure if this is an established form of fanservice but it should be. To describe this in anymore detail would require a NSFW tag so I’ll leave it at, I enjoyed the voice acting. I also really enjoyed the soundtrack. If you are so inclined I recommend finding it. I particularly enjoying the in show characters signing. Van winkle has an absolutely beautiful voice and I also really liked the major’s rendition of ‘Tough Boy’ from ‘Hokuto no Ken’.
Hellsing Ultimate starts out by recapping the early events of Hellsing Sr. The first 2 episodes are basically a retelling of the earlier show but the storyline starts to veer off at episode 3. When you see both shows, you can’t help but realize just how unfinished Hellsing Sr. is. So many story lines that were dropped are now completed, characters are properly fleshed out and lore is actually explained. It did move awfully fast though and I wonder how easy it would be to follow if you are a complete newcomer to the series.
The new storyline, which is apparently faithful to the original manga, is not bad but I think we can all agree that by this point Nazis are overplayed. Not that it mattered that much. The iconography was used extensively but otherwise references to WW2 were at a strict minimum and the alternative history of Hellsing isn’t really recognizable in any way.
I liked all the new characters but aside from the delightful Bernadotte, who seems to be an early Toyohisa prototype, none of them really stood out. Quite a few are dispatched too quickly to allow for any significant development and their impact on the story is minimal.
On the other hand, returning characters were for the most part significantly expanded on and I found these version to be an improvement on their predecessors, across the board. Well with one exception. One character was impossible to improve on. Personally, I really enjoyed Walter and Anderson here and I’m happy they were given a chance to stand in the spotlight.
When watching Drifters, I found myself wondering if the outdated gender normative views expressed in the show were a very logical part of the characterisation of ancient warriors or an exaggeration of the author’s own beliefs. I was happy to find out that it’s clearly not the latter. The ladies of Hellsing remain just as powerful and unapologetic as in the first series, and the show clearly adores them for it. You know who else adores them?
A less enjoyable element was The Major, by extension the Doctor. In a series like Hellsing, villains are the lifeblood of the narrative, they can make or break the entire experience. The Major was not a particularly bad character but as an antagonist he fell short of providing the necessary threat to be credible. His motives were questionable and a little boring and the loyalty he seemed to inspire stretched believability. Anderson was really much better suited to the role. The conflict between the Vatican and Protestant England was also simply more interesting in my book. I would have done away with Millenium and concentrated on that instead.
It would also have made for better visuals. The fight scenes throughout are something to behold but those between Anderson and Arucard erred on the side of breathtaking. That is when anyone actually got around to fighting… Boy do these people enjoy a good battleground monologue. I fully believe everyone is able to recover from horrendous injuries simply because they have several twenty minute speeches in the middle of fights to catch their breaths. And none of it is expositional or anything, they just wax philosophical as people bleed out around them and their opponents politely wait.
Unfortunately, due to this tendency, I found that scenes often went on for a beat or two too long. If you took out all those useless pieces of monologue which served no purpose to the story, you could probably shave off an entire episode (and these are an hour long).
Viewers should also be warned that the series does occasionally take on a more serious tone. Some scenes were difficult to watch even for me and others were surprisingly moving. I cried a few times.
Everything up to this point is just filler. We both know it. The art of Hellsing Ultimate was too beautiful for me to not give you a good look at it but make no mistake, in my heart these are still all pics of Integra. The head of the Hellsing organisation shown in Ultimate is not exactly the same woman I’ve come to passionately worship. I’m a little at a loss as to how to feel. I was sad to see that she is a more sentimental creature here, showing traces of doubt, dare I say weakness and even losing her temper at times. On the other hand she has some undeniable epic badass moments that thrilled me to my core. Her actual role was somewhat downgraded from lead character to primary supporting which is terrible. But then again a single scene gave us a touch of yuri which was majorly swoon worthy… I guess what I’m saying is Integra is everything that’s good about the world and she can do no wrong.
Do you read my reviews to find out about the shows? If so, are they helpful? I highly doubt it. Hellsing Ultimate is a better written more fully developed story than Hellsing Sr and the production is much more polished but in the trade off, the B movie campy fun of the original was lost. It is still a funny show but the humour here is clearly intentional. So just like every real review has already told you, if you liked Drifters, you’ll probably like this too.
…I preferred Drifters tho…
Favorite character: 🙂
What this anime taught me: Cat boys aren’t always the most interesting thing in a story
It’s a night to remember, if you can remember it…
Suggested drink: Blood Joseph
- Every time Arucard lets his hair down – drink
- Every time Seras’ eyes go red – drink
Every time anyone speaks in English – drink
- in German – drink water
- Every time we see a red moon – drink
- For some reason eyes – drink
- Every time Integra gets called a bitch or whore – defend her honor
- Every time Seras has an art fail – drink
- Every time Arucard says “master” – drink
- Every time we see a swastika – stretch
- Every time anyone throws papers/pages around – drink
- Every time Arucard sports an awesome stach – cheers