Halloween Anime Review: Hellsing Ultimate

“The Bird of Hermes Is My Name – Eating My Wings To Make Me Tame”

For this week’s horror Anime review, we have a more… complete anime adaptation of Kouta Hirano’s macabre action horror manga. For purposes of this review, I watched the show dubbed, so I will be using the dub acting credits.

Cast & Crew

Crispin Freeman as Alucard
Gildart Jackson as Major/SS-Sturmbannführer Montana Max
K.T. Gray as Seras Victoria
Steven Brand as Alexander Anderson
Victoria Harwood as Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing

Doug Stone as Sir Hugh Islands
Helena Taylor as Zorin Blitz (ep 4)
JB Blanc as Enrico Maxwell
Josh Phillips as Jan Valentine
Karen Strassman as Heinkel Wulf
Kari Wahlgren as Rip Van Winkle
Laura Bailey as Schrödinger
Marcelo Tubert as Doc
Patrick Seitz as Luke Valentine
Rachel Robinson as Zorin Blitz (eps 5-7)
Ralph Lister as Walter C. Dornez
Siobhan Flynn as Yumie Takagi
Stuart McLean as Sir Shelby M. Penwood
Yuri Lowenthal as Pip Bernadotte

Directed by Hiroyuki Tanaka (Vol 5 onwards), Tomokazu Tokoro (eps 1-4), Yasuhiro Matsumura (ep 8)
Series Composition by Yousuke Kuroda
Script by Hideyuki Kurata (eps 2, 4-5, 8), Yousuke Kuroda (eps 1, 3, 6-7)
Music by Hayato Matsuo
Character Design by Ryoji Nakamori & Shinsuke Terasawa
Original Manga by Kouta Hirano

Animated by Satelight (along with a slew of other studios)

Available on DVD/Blu-Ray from Amazon.com (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3) & RightStuf.com (Part 1, Part 2, Part 3)

The Premise

The Hellsing Organization is covert branch of the British government, founded by Abraham Van Helsing, that specializes in hunting vampires, with their secret weapons being Alucard, a vampire under the organization’s control, and Seras Victoria, a policewoman turned to a vampire by Alucard after being mortally wounded in a vampire attack in the town of Cheddar. When the amount of vampire activity in the UK spikes dramatically, the Hellsing Organization – currently lead by Sir Integra Wingates Hellsing, finds its back to the wall, and also finds itself in conflict with the Vatican’s own monster hunting organization – Iscariot, a group so secret that not even the Pope knows of its existence.

The outbreaks were brought on by a secret Nazi organization, which has been holed up in Brazil since the end of World War II, building an army of artificially created vampires with which to destroy the Allies, and Alucard and the Hellsing organization in particular. Their plan will lead to a direct assault against London itself, and will push the abilities of Alucard and Seras to their limits.

Content Notes

Hellsing Ultimate has very graphic, bloody violence, profanity, and discussion of sexual assault. Parents should be advised before watching the show around children.

High Points

Hellsing Ultimate has what is possibly one of the Top 5 English dubs in anime, on par with Cowboy Bebop’s dub. The cast has some excellent performances and very strong writing, with most of the cast from the earlier anime series returning (with the most notable exception being W. Morgan Sheppard, who was doing voice work for Geneon when they released the original series, and apparently was unavailable). In particular, Crispin Freeman’s performance as Alucard is fantastic.

And then there’s Max’s “I Love War” speech. It does a fantastic job of bringing across who the character is, how incredibly horrible he is and how inhuman he has become, and in turn sets up the twist of the story incredibly well.

The action in the show is also very well done with fluid movements through the fight scenes (and in terms of the gallons of blood being shed)

Low Points

Japanese writers generally have about as much understanding of Catholicism as American writers know about Shinto. Hirano is one step ahead other writers by knowing that there is a difference between Catholics and Protestants and that once upon a time they didn’t get along, but his assumption is that the current status quo is that at best the global status quo is comparable to The Troubles, and at worst there is some sort of global secret Cold War going between the Roman Catholic Church and Protestants as a monolithic group. Which is not correct.

The Nazi’s dirigibles would likely have been shot down at some point over the Atlantic. Now, the vampires could still have just walked the rest of the way, which could have lead to a creepy visual, but still, it would have slowed them down.

The Scores

Originality: This is an adaptation, one which was aiming for faithfulness to the original source material, for better or for worse. 3/6

Animation: This show looks great. The action is tremendously fluid, and the characters are incredibly emotive. 5/6

Story: The story for the show is okay, though not without some very real issues, as mentioned under the low point. The plot fits within the semi-logic of the series, though there are a few plot holes that the writing excuses under the concept of “Rule of Cool”, to varying degrees of success. 4/6

Production: 5/6

Emotional Response: Hellsing Ultimate really does a good job getting a cross a sense of dramatic tension and suspense. That said, some of the comedic interludes end up leading to a real sense of whiplash, particularly when they’re combined with dramatic moments. As an example, one of the early episodes after the Nazi Vampires invade Britain has Alucard absent as he’s currently on his way back to the UK. Consequently, the episode opens with a 4th wall breaking interlude with Alucard complaining about how he doesn’t get to be in this episode, which leads to something of a sense of whiplash when we get to the heavy material afterwards. 4/6

Acting: See the high point. 6/6

Overall: This was an exciting and creepy show – though with some kinda dumb moments. 4/6

In Total, Hellsing Ultimate gets 31 out of 42.

Oct. 7: XX (2017) (JD)
Oct.14: Blade Runner 2049 (2017) (W. Blaine)
Professor Marston and the Wonder Women (2017) (JD)
Oct.21: Hellsing Ultimate (2006-2012) (Alex)
Oct.28: Hammer Horror Double-feature:
City of the Dead(1960) and The Devil’s Own (1966) (JD)
Oct. 31: Get Out (2017) (Brian)

5 replies on “Halloween Anime Review: Hellsing Ultimate”

  1. For the non-anime sort of viewer (I’ve watched Akira and Howl’s Moving Castle and some of Cowboy Bebop. But I’ve seen the start of other popular anime that just didn’t grab me at all) how does this play?

    • It’s pretty dark and really violent, to a more sustained degree than Akira. I wouldn’t particularly put this as something I’d show to someone new to Anime. I’d be more inclined to go with showing (to a new fan – based on those earlier works) – Moribito or Log Horizon (especially the latter if they’ve played MMOs).

      • I’m with JD. I’ve watch a little Anime here and there and none of it catches my fancy (though I can usually tolerate the Miyzaki films). Might be a good chance to write a “beginners guide to Anime” or something like that.

  2. It’s decent, but I’d be more inclined to call it an (dark) action comedy then a horror.
    If you’re looking for a vampire horror then I’d go for Blood: The Last Vampire (not the live action one). The Third story in Ayakashi – Samurai Horror Tales is also good (Bakeneko). Maybe Serial Experiments Lain, but that’s a bit more in the weird camp then horror.
    If you want something for a younger audience and you like Studio Ghibli (Howl’s Castle), then Spirited Away.

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