Japanese Title: Hellsing Ultimate
Related: Hellsing (original version)
Similar: Trinity Blood
Watched in: Japanese & English
Length: 10 episodes (50 minutes each)
- Alucard, more twisted than before, is one anti-heroic vampire.
- Fixed many problems in the original Hellsing.
- The Nazi Major, who leads the Nazi vampires, is a riot with his dark humour.
- Intense, stylised action and visuals.
- Fantastic English voice track.
- Seras still sounds weak, though she doesn’t say much.
- CG stands out at times.
- Some poorly timed humour with Seras.
I have often talked about series or games having potential for greatness, but ultimately falling flat. Hellsing Ultimate is one of those rare instances where artists get a second chance to realise that potential. With new directors and writers on the team, the Hellsing franchise went from decent to great.
The story starts in the same place as the original with Seras and her police unit sent to deal with a vampire priest. She fails, the Hellsing Organisation tasks their secret weapon, vampire Alucard, to handle the situation, and he turns Seras into a vampire. The first two episodes retell the original Hellsing, which should indicate how slow the original was; thirteen episodes retold in half the airtime, only losing one minor subplot (covering up a vampire attack in public).
Characters, usually Integra, do talk to camera too much for exposition about vampires and the organisation while, at the very same time, showing us this exposition anyway – poor writing, but it isn’t a major issue. They drop Seras’s hesitation in killing ghouls, making her a more useful player from the beginning. After these two episodes, it’s new territory. And that’s when Ultimate takes it to another level. Human mercenaries, Vatican armies, and Nazi vampires enter the fray, and all hell breaks loose – quite literally, in Alucard’s case.
The biggest tension killers in Hellsing were the slow editing and Alucard’s invulnerability. I am pleased to say, that both are largely fixed. The cinematography is more engaging with a greater variety of angles and compositions, which makes for a more visually appealing experience. No longer does it feel like characters are stopping to remember the next part of the script. The new director eradicated that beat-too-long editing style from the original.
To give Alucard a tougher challenge, all enemies have had an upgrade, most notably Paladin Anderson, who is crazier and has new powers to fight the undead. He also plays a significant role in the narrative, giving him more time to develop into a memorable character. The Protestant versus Catholic conflict reaches new heights of savagery; throw in Nazis, and the fight becomes rather bloody – Hellsing Ultimate is very gory. The inclusion of new human allies and bigger roles for Integra and Seras against a wide array of enemies creates more tension, as while Alucard is powerful, he cannot be everywhere at once. Alucard is an absolute badass with his broad, twisted grin and a teeming mass of eyes, blood, darkness, and millipedes in his powers. His ultimate ability is one of the coolest I have seen; I am amazed that Warhammer didn’t use it first with their Vampire Counts.
Hellsing Ultimate is tenser, more brutal, and more British (“You’re too loud Police Girl. I don’t care if you are a vampire; you’re still English. Have some manners.” – Integra). And I love it.
Art – Very High
Faster, intense action shot through superior cinematography than the original. Even more stylised than before, if you can believe it – glasses reflected in the darkness, while it makes no sense, is damn cool. Alucard’s powers are phenomenal in design, animation, and creativity. Visual quality drops significantly for Seras’s comedic moments; they don’t look bad, just noticeable in contrast. Out of place CG, on occasion.
Sound – High
Many of the voice actors return, several of which have improved in skill with age. The English track is better than Japanese because of the accents and nuance in the personalities – the fat Nazi leader is priceless. Only Seras still wanes in English. When terrified, she sounds mildly surprised; her effort sounds have, well, no effort – least enthusiastic reactions imaginable (think Troll 2 “They’re eating her…and then they’re going to eat me…oh my gaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad”). Love the orchestral and choir pieces. They are tense, set up dread, drama, and darkness in the narrative. There are even a few Nazi songs.
Story – High
England versus the Vatican versus Nazi vampires makes for an excellent conflict. Giving Alucard stronger foes to fight creates tension that the original lacked.
Overall Quality – High
Recommendation: Hellsing Ultimate took a series with potential and turned it into one of the greats. Alucard is now worthy of mention in the best of vampires from any medium. Even if you didn’t like the original, Hellsing Ultimate is one to watch. Have you seen a Nazi vampire eat a baby?
Awards: (hover mouse over each award to see descriptions; click award for more recipients)