Hellsing Ultimate is a reboot of the Hellsing show from 2003 which was an adaptation of the Hellsing manga series. It is very accessible to both newcomers and veterans of the series as you do not need to watch the show beforehand. It is set after World War 2 and focuses on a vampire hunter Alucard who is also a vampire. He works for a vampire hunting organization Hellsing that hunts down supernatural and other undead forces.
The story focuses on hunting down a surviving mysterious Nazi group known as Millennium. Millennium is focused on continuing the Nazi’s goals and they have an army of assorted supernatural creatures at their disposal. While the Hellsing Organization is small, their operatives are highly skilled with a high success rate of tracking and executing their targets. However, the clandestine Millennium Organization has increased the frequency and scale of their attacks the Hellsing group starts to find out more to Millinenium’s real objectives.
It has a very dark visual and coloring design in addition to a its mixture of horror and 1940s WW2 era design. The art direction and updated character designs are all very highly detailed and fitting for the show. The world design looks pretty grim and brutal and I also liked the design of the supernatural creatures as well. The voice actors reprise their roles and are excellent.
The characters in the story are morally grey and their goals never really seem all that clear or noble. Anybody could betray or manipulate others to further their own agendas. They are all deadly dangerous with unique skills and talents all directed to efficient execution of the enemy. Alucard has a very intimidating and brutal presence. His methods are more than often always extremely violent and chaotic. As a hunter, he is extremely ruthless and bloodthirsty and he can be very sadistic and vengeful. His main goal is to serve as Integra Hellsing’s personal executioner. His skills as a vampire include going through walls, heightened senses, telepathy, agility and being able to use the darkness to his own advantage all aid him during missions. It is also very hard to kill him since he can easily regenerate from seemingly fatal wounds. He does not just kill the target and be done, he hurts them until they cannot move and their deaths are always painful and cruel and excruciatingly slow. Even innocents are not safe from him as he would dispatch them without blinking an eye.
Despite his cold hearted and grim demeanor, he has great respect toward humans and is often in conflict with his nature as a vampire at times. One reason he is a vampire hunter is that he hates other vampires who kills humans just for fun. He even hopes to find a worthy opponent to one day put him out of his misery. He also likes the thrill of the hunt and the danger of fighting deadly opponents who could easily kill him.
Integra Hellsing is the leader of the organization Hellsing, a family run group of vampire hunters and supernatural exterminators. As a leader she is very charismatic and intimidating force that drives her organization. Many fear her and what she is capable off. She has zero tolerance for failure in any form especially in herself and her perfectionist nature is one of her most notable traits. Her loyalty is to herself and to the U.K. Integra is one of very few who can withstand Alucard’s presence and she makes sure that he follows her wishes to the letter.
Seras Victoria is the newest member of the Hellsing group after Alucard. While on a mission, she is caught in the crossfire between Alucard and some supernatural enemies and is critically wounded. She was left barely alive and the only to save her was by becoming a vampire. She is very ditzy and clumsy and she really is not comfortable with her nature as a vampire. Her relationship with the members of the Hellsing Organization is complicated. She and Integra cannot get along due to their different beliefs, morals and goals initially. Eventually, their relationship becomes very close and goes above master and servant.
Seras relationship with Alucard in particular is not an easy one as she often makes really dumb mistakes that almost gets her colleagues killed. Alucard has an intense interest in her as a teacher and he wants her to achieve her true potential as a vampire rather than end up as the ones they hunt. Her naivety is one of biggest flaws as she often is dragged along and never questions anything or ask for a reason.
Millennium is not the only group that the Hellsing Organization has to fight against. There is a group for the Vatican called “Iscariot” which serves as the rivals of the Hellsing Organization. Iscariot is the opposite in terms of goals and moral system of the Hellsing Organization. The members dedicate themselves to destroying all things considered “unholy” especially vampires or anything supernatural. One such member is Alexander Anderson who is a complete religious fanatic and his combat skills is on par with Alucard. Behind his devotion to the Catholic Church he is cold, sadistic and just as bloodthirsty and vicious as the monsters he hunts. He himself has his own supernatural powers he is what to referred as a “regenerator” meaning that even after a limb is removed it is still able to reformat back to its original form. This makes him a very powerful and deadly foe. To him, the ends justify the means and in reality, Iscariot is actually just as bad as the monsters they hunt and are just self serving hypocrites.
The relationship between Hellsing and Iscariot is dynamic and theirintense rivarly is compelling but there is also a sense of mutual respect between them. They both dedicate a lot of time trying to find a way to exploit a weakness and to try and kill each other.
The characters in the show are very complex and multilayered and the idea of villain vs villain was pretty unique as there was no good guys to root for. None of the characters are really redeemable in a moral perspective as in reality they are just monstrous creatures.
Episodes are pretty lengthy as it is in an ova format. There are about 10 episodes in the series each of it is an adaptation of the story arc during Hellsings manga run. The pacing is very fast showing one fight to the next with no room for filler and they still manage to fit in exposition scenes. The story and characters is more accurate to the original manga series then in the previous show. The dialogue is grim and direct. There are small moments of humor in the show that provides a brief respite from the tension.
The shows were ultra violent with fast paced action. Characters are killed in stylish and brutal ways from decapitations to bullets piercing out body parts. The body count in the episodes is pretty high and the stakes are always dangerous with over the top scenarios. Action sequences in Hellsing Ultimate have also very slick editing and camera techniques. The atmosphere is bloody, stylish and grim and no fight ever feels stale.
There are some special features to look at like being able to change to English or Japanese with English subtitles anytime you like and some commentary tracks.
The music fits in perfectly well and the opening and closing scenes of the show were superb and memorable. The story can be style over substance at times as much of the backstory takes a backseat to the action. There is plenty of mystery that remains unsolved in the like how Millennium can use humans to become supernatural monsters. Its plot is something that can be seen in other WW2 related horror films but what works is the twist in the formula as the good guys have no place here.
Hellsing Ultimate was animated by 3 different studios during its production run: Madhouse, Satelight and Graphinca. This led to some inconsistency as the quality changes from one studio to the other. Sometimes the CGI stood out from the animation while on some episodes, it blends seamlessly into the overall production. This appears a lot more frequently during the later episodes.
This is one of the most stylish and violent anime I have seen and is definitely one of the best vampire anime stories out there. It was enjoyable and never boring.
It gets 4 out 5 stars.
Horror and action fans are going to really like this series.