Monday, October 28, 2013

Review #27: Hellsing Ultimate (+Hellsing Ultimate: The Dawn)


This review will be a little shorter than others, but not by much. First thing's first; Hellsing Ultimate is a "Re-make" of the original Hellsing, but in a rather loose sense. The first few episodes will be familiar enough to anyone who's watched the original, but after that, things change quite dramatically. Alucard, Seras, Integra and Walter are all back and all main characters, but the plot that they get involved in and the villains they must get rid of are different by a wide margin. Where the original had vampires as the main opponent of the Hellsing organization, Hellsing Ultimate makes a larger role for the Vatican, as well as adding in Nazi.

Yes, the villains in Hellsing Ultimate are the Nazis.

When Hellsing first came out, it was a hallmark of how bloody an anime could be. Hellsing Ultimate takes that and runs with it even harder, using it's stepped up production value to make the blood and gore even more visceral. The scope grows from small areas of combat into all out war, with an entire city burning and millions dying. The series still has vampires, but on a different scale, with different combat situations.

The anime is only 8 episodes, but each episode is about an hour long. This ends up making the series longer than the original, despite being less episodes. The increased length allows for more character development from all the characters, and Ultimate even includes an extra called The Dawn that is 3 episodes that look back at a few of the characters during World War II. Seras gets more development of her own, though in a lot different path. Where the original had Seras mostly facing the demon of becoming a Vampire and losing her humanity, Seras in Ultimate starts torn but grows past that and becomes a stronger character for it. Even Integra gets more into the action, being more than a distant figure.

There are a lot of things about the anime that are fairly ridiculous. Hellsing Ultimate takes nothing halfway, never makes logical explanations for the crazy things it adds in, and the nature of some of the action seems to be wild and unbelievable just for bad-ass sake. It mostly works for Hellsing Ultimate though since it never relents with its pace and action, in a way being similar to Gurren Lagann (which I promise to review one day). For a lot of the series, I found myself shaking my head in disbelieving, but I was never bored. The original lacked a sense of quickness and pulse pounding action, and Ultimate answers that call with more gusto than nearly any anime I can think of.

At the time of writing this, Hellsing Ultimate has only Episodes 1-6 available on DVD/Blu-Ray, as well as only the first episode of The Dawn. I ended up having to watch the last two episodes of each online, with no word on when Funimation will work out the licensing. That said, the first 6 episodes are worth the price of buying, and the moment the last 2 come out, I'll get that disc as well. The blu-ray is wonderful, the graphics on both versions are a vast improvement over the original Hellsing, and the soundtrack is movie quality, epic in scale.

I went into Hellsing Ultimate expecting the same story as Hellsing with more flash and bling, What I got was something ENTIRELY different, and one of the most memorable anime I've seen in some time.
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