This is a show I’ve been meaning to get to for a long time, and I’ve finally finished it. Another entry in what can be considered one of those ‘landmark series’. If you watched anime during the fan-sub era then you’ve come across this show. Is it worth it though, or has time been too kind to this show? Well after the cut let’s take a dive into Hellsing Ultimate and find out!
If you read my blog on my potential ‘great works’ of anime, you know that I considered Hellsing to be on the list of shows that could be considered a ‘great work’ of its genre. That was several years ago and to be honest, it had been a very long time since I had watched the show. I had forgotten a lot of what happened, my mind only focusing on the big moments that everyone remembers. The result is that I might have to walk back that statement on Hellsing, because this show is…something?
Bad? Oh hell no. If anything, Hellsing slides very easily into the same category that Mirai Nikki does. A show that almost perfectly encapsulates everything a young anime fan would want. Over the top violence? Check. Fountains and fountains of blood? Check. Overly long monologues that people might think are deep and meaningful? Check. Swearing, guns, and even more blood? Check, check and check. This is a show that feels like ID personified, destined to scratch an itch that all anime fans end up having. Nothing deep, nothing special, just over the top violence. Seeing this show again, long after having that own ‘id’ scratched I could easily see an fourteen or fifteen year old absolutely loving this show, and claiming it to be the best thing over.
But I was also surprised at just how fucking campy it was at times.
I’m of two mind of this. On one hand, Hellsing’s humor often times I found did not work, with moments of comedy intersected with the drama that often pulled me out of the story for little real point. It felt like the author was trying to mash two different genres together and while he absolutely nailed the grind-horror, but stumbled on trying to deliver the comedy. Yet on the other hand, I understand that need to try and ‘pull back’ from the over the top violence at times, allowing the viewer to take a breathe and relax before the next onslaught. And while I did not think the humor worked for me personally, I can’t deny that it did help give a bit more personality and depth to the cast. That cast of course is one of the main draws of Hellsing. Alucard remains anime’s best vampire, a bloodthirsty, expertly designed character who rips through his enemies like paper, but has moments of grief and remorse that humanize him. A monster that traded his humanity for power may be able to slaughter humans easily, but deep down respects ther ability to die so easily. It’s stuff that has been done many times in media, but Hellsing is able to balance the melodrama and awesomeness quite well.
The other characters fare very well too. Seras remains a great vehicle for the audience, and her journey to becoming a vampire is given enough room to breathe and stand on its own feet. Father Anderson is a great rival, Integra Hellsing balances rigid confidence with a youthful hesitance that great humanizes her, and The Major is a over the top villain who loves war as much as he loves his monologues, and god damn does he a fucking lot of those. I thought Unlimited Blade Works got a little long in the tooth with its speeches, but Hellsing puts it to damn shame. That remains probably the biggest issue with the series, even more so then the campiness, it just doesn’t know when to shut up.
The Hellsing Ultimate OVAs will always remain a show of great fondness for those who grew up in the fan-sub generation. It is violent, messy, over the top, and so very bloody. But it is a show that doesn’t try to be anything else. It’s a grindhouse splatter fest full of badass moments, but also a few that may leave you scratching your head. I have no doubt that if you grew up in that era you either were, or knew someone who worshipped this show. If you haven’t, then why not give it a shot and see what you think, you might just become a fan, or you’ll just wish that these vampires were more shoujo.