Hellsing Ultimate – Series Review

You know what they say about anime, the more interested you’re in a series, the more likely the ending is going to leave you in a rage.  That should suffice if you don’t feel like reading the rest of this, but if you do, let us continue.  Hellsing, as the original series is known for English-language audiences, was awesome.  Entirely awesome.  It involved a secret order of supernatural hunters dating back to the original Dr. Abraham Van Helsing of Dracula fame, led by their remaining prodigy, Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing.  Under her organization’s control is the legendary vampire Alucard, whose powers assist the Protestant Knights in their quest to hunt vampires and the like.  The great thing about it was it actually diverged from the manga, creating its own direction.  Some people scoff at such an idea, but sometimes it’s nice to be surprised and find something new instead of expecting every single plot angle if you’ve read the manga.  Plus, the original Hellsing had a flair to it.  It took itself seriously, it was something like Sin City but with vampires, intrigues, and great characters with awesome animation, an awesome soundtrack, and a slow, but steady progression that left you satisfied by the end in spite of the summary sentence that could have been at least ten more episodes.  After the wife and I finished that one, we were excited to tackle what is known in English-speaking countries as Hellsing Ultimate, the series that came after and just ended in 2012, and which more closely follows the manga, almost exactly in fact.  To be honest, it started out extremely promising, but like 70% of anime out there fell on its face about halfway through, but in this case not because it diverged, it’s because it followed the manga so closely.  Hmm, how is that possible?



Depressing, because this is such an awesome story.  Since Cartoon Network decided to air this particular series in its Toonami scheduling block (at a laughable 3AM), we figured we’d lay it all out here.  First off, don’t be a tool, anyone who’s anyone in anime fandom knows you can watch the entire stinking series in sub or dub for free on any number of sites, but we recommend Soul-Anime (aside from the last episode, which they don’t have posted on there, check Youtube).  Anyway, now what we got the nuubs out of the way, what’s the good about this one?  Hellsing Ultimate follows the original manga almost exactly, which many hardcore fans are always ready to orgasm over.  It’s understandable, if you like something as it was, you don’t want to see it become something else.  We get that, but let’s move on.  The animation style is awesome, highly artistic at times, and by that we mean significantly weird, always a plus.  When Alucard goes into full vampire-mode the frameworks are impressive and simply beautiful.  Plus, this time around it’s more graphic, including gore and sexuality that was barely present in the original series (we’ll see what Toonami does with it, like the corpse rape scene) and it gets progressively worse as the movies continue (they’re OVAs).  It also features great dialog, some great character development, and though this reviewer personally finds the plot concept somewhat inane (keep reading), it’s not a simple action series, so that’s always appreciated.  Now, let’s move on to why it’s not really worth your time.


Hellsing Ultimate‘s main failure is its delivery.  The first two episodes of this series, if you’ve seen the original, essentially summarize about the first 7 episodes.  With the updated  animation it’s simply breathtaking.  Alucard has more development this time around and Seras Victoria is less of a lapdog and more of a fledgling vampire, and they get it perfect.  But by about episode 4 or 5 things begin to degrade for reasons highly unusual.  Typically when an anime fails it’s because budget constraints, lack of interest, or the like, cause it to end before it fully completes itself.  Think of The Twelve Kingdoms, for example (though they chose a good spot to stop).  Not in the case of Hellsing Ultimate, because they actually finish it out as intended.  So that’s the big thing about the series, in following the manga so exactly it loses itself when visually translated.  That’s a shame, because this reviewer loves things of the weird, but this verges on WTF one too many times where the animation becomes way too bizarre, abstract, or stylized.  The plot has several moments that could have been tweaked for a better flow to accommodate this.  In addition, the humor present in this series is almost entirely absent in the original.  Oddity for laughs can sometimes work, but one of the things that made the original so awesome, in spite of its shying away from the manga, was how serious it took itself.  Hellsing Ultimate doesn’t take itself serious enough, and when you’re trying to get into a serious plot, to only be treated with humor akin to Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo, it causes the viewer to lose appreciation for what is a rather heady concept.  Its direction is lacking ironically because Hellsing Ultimate actually follows the manga.  There’s something about the translation from paper to screen that causes a collapse in the idea.  One of these things is the speed of it matches the manga, but unlike reading where you can stop and think before you continue, it just keeps going, and some of the plot is lost to the viewer if they’re not familiar enough with it, especially in later episodes.  A second watch can correct that.  But it’s biggest flaw is it doesn’t take itself serious enough.  If you’re looking for an accurate adaptation, look no further, this has all of that.  However, in this reviewer’s opinion, aside from a summary ending, the original is the way to go.


Written by Stanley Stepanic

Hellsing Ultimate
3 / 5