THE BLUE HORROR IS BACK!!! I have come to reign terror in….Oh……Halloween is over. But you know what? I’m still going as this because this has been a review coming for a long time, and by that, I mean when they were going to eventually wrap this up.
Yes, I’m talking about Hellsing Ultimate, the long-running OVA series reboot of the series based off the manga by Kouta Hirano and all of 10 episodes have finally been completed (in 2012 but dubbed this year) and here’s a little refresher to what Hellsing is all about.
Vampires exist. It is the duty of Hellsing, a secret organization sponsored by the British government, to hide that frightening fact and protect the blissfully unaware populace. Along with its own personal army, Hellsing has secret weapons. Alucard, an incredibly powerful vampire, has been controlled by Hellsing for years. It is unclear how he feels about being a servant to the Hellsing family, but he certainly enjoys his job as a vampire exterminator. Seras is a fledgling vampire and former police woman. Although reluctant to embrace her new self, she is a valued member of the organization. Integra Hellsing, the current leader, is usually fully capable of fulfilling her duty, but lately, vampire activity has been on the rise. Unfortunately, the cause is more alarming than anything she could have imagined. A group long thought dead has been plotting in secret since their apparent destruction over 50 years ago. Plotting to plunge England, and perhaps the entire world, into war.
And now, here’s the question that’s burning everyone’s ears. Is this adaptation superior to the TV ser—OK, of course, this is vastly superior to the TV series by a long mile and faithful to the manga as well and comparing the manga, the 2001 TV series and the OVAs….I say going to the TV series would be a waste but I’m not saying Ultimate’s better just because it’s faithful to the manga. As its own entity, it’s stylish, over-the-top, ridiculous and….mostly what the TV series was in a way for most of their time but in here, it’s less disorderly and more well-thought-out. Sure, the story overall for the series isn’t exactly known for its writing but we got from it was some balls-out action and gruesome horror that will make you have nightmares for almost a week. No, really, the horror element is about as blatant as you imagine it and that’s a plus. I know I have been complaining about overly excessive gore and violence in horror anime recently but in here, it doesn’t feel out-of-place or distorts the tone it has already.
Character development is a plenty throughout the series from the awesomeness of Alucard, the fierceness of Integra, the sheer brilliance in badas that is Seras and it does help that every episode of the series is either 40 min-1 hour runtime to cover that. To be honestly fair, every character does have their moment to shine in the show from the supporting characters like Walter and Pip, to the villains like The Major and Alexander Anderson and especially the villains that you really love to hate like The Valentine Brothers, Rip Van Winkle, Zorin Blitz, and even Schrödinger (and no, not his cat.) as they are often the highlights even in only a single episode.
The animation…..for one thing, yes, this is a better effort than what Gonzo did for the TV and while the animation is better here, it does varies from episode to episode as the OVA has 3-4 animation studios doing the animation production and those studios are Satelight (1-4), Madhouse (5-7) and Graphinica/Kelmadick (8-10, and yes, the actual name of that studio is Kelmadick). If I had to rank what studio had the best animation throughout the OVAs, Madhouse would be first, followed by Satelight and Graphinica/Kelmadick being last. The action animation was stellar throughout the whole series although it wasn’t as flawless as most people think it is, especially during episodes 9 and 10 where I do see some noticeable flaws in there but never enough to distract the experience.
Musically, you got the whole orchestra layout for the dramatic and epic scenes with some electronic sounds wired in there but yet there is the only factor that the TV series is superior to the OVA. Some ending songs captured my attention in most of the episodes but not enough to bring a quick memory of it. Some of them ranges from dramatic/serious to playful in some aspects and also having some aspects of the TV series in there.
And now we get to the English dub….and guess what? IT IS AMAZING!!! They used the original dub cast back when Geneon was still in business with New Generation Pictures and thankfully while Geneon went out of business at the time it was still recording and FUNimation rescued it, they brought back the same cast and this was one of the few smart moves FUNi did for the release. But what’s left to say about it? Crispin Freeman owns the character of Alucard in sound, body and spirit; K.T. Gray and Victoria Harwood still owns it as Seras & Integra, respectively. Gildart Jackson got the insanely evil angle down as The Major. Steven Brand is terrific as Alexander Anderson and for Walter, all credit for his role goes to three people: Ralph Lister, Liam O’Brien (as a young adult) and Jessica Stone (as Young Walter). Other performances I give credit from Yuri Lowenthal as Pip, Patrick Seitz and Josh Phillips as the Valentine Brothers, Kari Wahlgren as Rip Van Winkle, Rachel Robinson (and also Hellena Taylor for one episode) as Zorin Blitz, Laura Bailey as Schrodinger and various VAs from Kyle Hebert, Todd Haberkorn, Travis Willingham, Karen Strassman among others.
FINAL VERDICT: All-in-all, for those that felt cheated or wronged by the TV Series, this is the definitive version of Hellsing that fans have been waiting for as this is completely faithful to the source and a fun ride even as a standalone series. Granted, it isn’t a grand overarching tale in the first place but yet you really don’t care about that as you really get into the series. Hellsing Ultimate is highly recommended for a fan of action and horror….just don’t show it to any of your kids. Really. Don’t show it to them.
And does Hellsing still got some bite in it? HELL YES!!
Planet Tyro rating: FIRST CLASS
HELLSING ULTIMATE is available on DVD/Blu-ray via FUNimation Entertainment with all the episodes. Streaming options are available on FUNimation.com EVS and Hulu. Also, the series has been previously aired on Adult Swim’s Toonami block.
Oh yeah, one more thing…….you should definitely watch Hellsing Ultimate Abridged by Takahata101 / Team FourStar. Why? Because it’s funny as hell and it’s one of the few abridged series I’d recommend to people.
Plus, Jessica Calvello definitely killed it as Rip Van Winkle in the abridged version.
Now then, stay tuned for later weeks as the finale of Anime Discovery for the year will come this month….or within a few weeks ahead.
So, until then, The Hybrid of the Blue is my name, eating my wings to make me tame.
HELLSING ULTIMATE – animation by SATELIGHT / MADHOUSE / GRAPHINICA / KELMADICK and licensed by FUNimation Entertainment (formerly Geneon)