by Jeremiah Fajardo | staff writer
Who doesn’t enjoy a good vampire story? Now, how about a tale about a vampire that hunts other vampires? If that’s the brand of storytelling you’re looking for, then Hellsing Ultimate is your best bet! Incredibly violent and profanity-ridden, the series revolves around a legendary vampire doing what he does best: killing anything that gets in his way. Quite entertaining, Hellsing Ultimate keeps you interested through its stylized violence and over-the-top characters. However, the series isn’t without its handful of flaws.
Distributed by Funimation Entertainment, Hellsing Ultimate is an OVA series of the well known Hellsing franchise. The animation done for the series has been handled by a number of studios, including Satelight and MADHOUSE. Staying fairly faithful to the original manga by Kouta Hirano, Hellsing Ultimate chronicles the exploits of Alucard, a vampire in the employ of the Hellsing Organization. Taking orders from Integra Hellsing, he is frequently tasked with eliminating any supernatural threat, particularly vampires, for the greater security of England. Starting in the British Isles, the plot ultimately branches out into other parts of the globe, mashing together elements of vampire legend with ideas relating back to Nazi conspiracy theories and religious folklore.
If I were to describe the series in a single phrase it would be “A Tribute to Excess,” especially in consideration of the battle scenes. The animators truly cut no corners when it came to gory violence; one can expect inordinate amounts of blood to spout from wounds and hunks of flesh to fly off with each attack. This aspect of the OVA alone sets it apart from the original anime series, which was far tamer in comparison. However, I must say that the fighting never became bland or repetitive. There was careful consideration put into each fight, ensuring to highlight the unique abilities of Alucard and his foes. Any fan of brilliantly animated combat, or those who wanted a bloodier Hellsing, can look forward to sinking their teeth into this OVA reboot.
Animation aesthetics aside, the OVA’s plot was a bit more difficult to swallow. While the amount of detail put into the lore surrounding the story is impressive, one can easily get lost among the flood of exposition and detail. Between the allusions to Bram Stoker’s Dracula and notions of post-World War II Nazism, one can lose sight of the overarching plot. However, this may be a purely personal complaint. I love it when a story is complex, but with such a short series it’s hard to effectively explicate so much detail. There was also the series’ unfortunate tendency to break away from its serious nature with random, ill-placed spurts of humor. The comedic relief was often accompanied with a dramatic shift in animation style, accenting the jarring disconnect. These sparse moments made it rather hard to take the show seriously at times.
An aspect of the show that carried me through the schizophrenic plot, aside from the animation, was the voice work. I’m a huge fan of Crispin Freeman’s work and his voicing of Alucard is superb. His tone and intonation match the character’s personality perfectly, from dialogue to battle cries. I will admit that there were times when I kept watching to simply listen to him talk! The voice work done for Integra Hellsing was of equal caliber; Victoria Harwood’s ability to truly convey Integra’s authority and dominance were both impressive and thrilling to hear.
As a whole, Hellsing Ultimate delivers a thrilling, gore filled story with beautifully animated fights. Every ounce of violence will keep action fans glued to their seats as they watch Alucard rip apart his foes in a myriad of ways. However, some may find the overarching plot a bit convoluted and occasionally hard to take seriously. Fortunately, this complaint is minor and wouldn’t deter me from recommending the OVA to anyone looking for a bloody vampire story. Plus, who wouldn’t want more Crispin Freeman?
Review Score: 4 out of 5
[NOTE: The opinions expressed here are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the SPJA.]