Original Run: October 11, 2001 - January 17, 2002. Number of Episodes: 13 Genre: Action, Horror, Supernatural Based on the Series Created By: Kouta Hirano
***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Hellsing. Reader discretion is advised.***
On the shores of Great Britain, there are creatures that lurk in the night and seek fresh blood to drink. Vampires and ghouls threaten the peaceful and pious lives of this ancient land, and it falls to the Hellsing Organization to exterminate these evils. Although made up of Britain’s most elite soldiers, sometimes the Hellsing Organization needs to pull out its most terrifying weapon, the immortal vampire Alucard (voiced by Jouji Nakata).
Summoning the strength of demons and nightmares, Alucard’s very presence stews fear in those foolish enough to cross him. Still, he is the Hellsing Organization’s most loyal operative.
Alucard waits patiently for a foe that will allow him to unleash his most brutal powers. Until then, he will stalk the shadows for his next meal.
There was one aspect of Hellsing that I remembered from the first time I watched it. I was unable to recall the nitty-gritty details of them, but I found the last few episodes of this series to be bland, rushed, underwhelming, and not at all fun. Although I wouldn’t want to hint at something that might come up later in the review, we will return to that point.
Before that, though, a much more positive note.
I had forgotten how phenomenally entertaining and enjoyable the majority of this show was. Age has done wonders for Hellsing, but admittedly, if it were to be released today (2020), I’d probably have accused it of trying much too hard to be “badass.” However, if anything, it was this series that was one of the forebears of that stereotype. Where other stories might be trying to emulate what worked before, Hellsing was what originally worked.
Well, either that or series creator Kouta Hirano knows how to add the right sort of flare to the design. The visuals for this show were outstanding. And to think, they would eventually be outdone by Hellsing Unlimited. I don’t think I have ever seen a show that was as exciting as it was unnervingly creepy as this one was.
Aside from the art style, which – and I have to emphasize this – allowed for some truly excellent fight sequences, the thing that allowed Hellsing to become a classic was its characters.
Then again, when I say characters, I mean Alucard. Don’t get me wrong; others had their moments. Walter C. Dornez and Father Anderson (voiced respectively by Motomu Kiyokawa and Nachi Nozawa) were undoubtedly epic and were not people you wanted to cross. Still, they were only given moments and limitations (the latter quality would then be rectified in Ultimate). Alucard, on the other hand, was never in slow-down mode. For him, he would vary between stages of base awesomeness to levels of delightful insanity.
In many ways, when Alucard was out on a mission, he was like a cat with a grasshopper. The cat could instantly kill and eat the grasshopper, but if it did that, then there would no longer be anything to play with, and in terms of Hellsing, Alucard the Cat was always looking for a good time. Without question, my favorite moment of the series was Alucard’s fight with Luke Valentine (voiced by Takehito Koyasu).
The best part about this scene came after Valentine acted like this big-shot, holier than thou, son of a bitch who thought he was on par with Alucard. At the start of the fight, Valentine was “dominating.” He kept countering everything Alucard threw at him, and thus, he thought he was the hottest s@#$. Then Alucard decided it was time to demonstrate how a real f@&#ing fought. The resulting bloodbath was both terrifying and satisfying.
It wasn’t so much that Alucard was always in control of a situation, which he was; he was more like a kid looking for someone who could match his energy level, and no one could.
It really is amazing how much a single character can add to a series that is clearly being held back.
I should say this now. I actually do not like Hellsing Ultimate. To me, the original Hellsing was much better. Ultimate just had far better visuals and was willing to go much crazier. However, both shows ran into the same problem. The endings were not good.
Still, the original Hellsing was smart enough to keep Alucard for the entire series.
In this original series, it was obvious that the story had used up the source material early on, and thus, had to fill the blanks itself. And the choices it made were not the best.
The villain for Hellsing was forgettable and uninteresting. It also didn’t help that he came after Anderson, who came with nearly impossible shoes to fill. As a result of all this, the final climax was sporadic, confusing, and tried to rely on more flash than substance. Too bad the flash itself was equally subpar when compared to the rest of the show.
While that was disappointing, the most consistent disappointment with this series was Integra Hellsing (voiced by Yoshiko Sakakibara). Now, I wanted to like her, and I wanted to think she was a strong, cool character, but she wasn’t. She was far too prideful, and there was no outlet for it. Therefore, when she spoke, she sounded more arrogant and unjustifiably overconfident.
I will admit that Hellsing Ultimate would go on to correct many of the stumbles of its predecessor. Nevertheless, the original Hellsing managed to hold onto a real sense of intrigue that its successor would go on to lose in exchange for greater insanity.
I’m the end, Hellsing, as a classic, has only solidified its status over time.
It was like re-discovering this series. I had only remembered the negative aspects of it. So, it was thrilling to be reminded of how good this series was.
Even though the animation is nearly twenty years old (as of this post going live), it still looks terrific. The action in this series was as frightening as it was thrilling. Plus, we were given one of the most iconic anime characters of all time.
Maybe I’ll have a similar experience with the next series, but for now, Hellsing has earned a recommendation.
But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Hellsing? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.
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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.