TV Series; 13 Episodes
Aired: Oct 11, 2001 to Jan 17, 2002
Genres: Action, Mystery, Drama, Horror, Super Power, Vampire, Seinen
Original Creator: Kouta Hirano
Production Studio: Gonzo, PIONEER LDC
Director: Manabu Ono
Music Composition: Yasushi Ishii
London is burning. The metaphorical mouth of hell has yawned open letting Vampires, affectionately reffered to as freaks, run amok on the streets to desecrate the sanctity of humans. They pillage and plunder about in the wake of blood, bathing in the high it gives them. Sometimes all one can do is let the Vampire's dagger-like fangs penetrate his or her rosy flesh, letting their souls and bodies become twisted images of man, ghouls, the mindless servants of the children of the night.
London is burning... is there no one to protect us from the darkness? Hellsing follows the story of Nosferatu Alucard and Seras Victoria, his newly minted vampire slave and their servitude to the Hellsing Organization. The Organization has one purpose, to eliminate the freaks in the name of God and the Her Majesty, the Queen of England.
The story shows potential in the first few episodes but ultimately does actualize any much of it. The story becomes unfulfilling, leaving you dumbfounded in front of your television. As I looked into the black pit of my dimmed screen I imagined how much more could have been there.
None of the stories presented are completely explored. There is a whole conflict between the Hellsing Organization and the Vatican that is built up to a single underwhelming fight and completely forgotten for the rest of the shows run. It would have been nice to see more as the religious tension between Protestants and Roman Catholics was interesting, considering the actual history between the Church of England and Rome.
Hellsing painted shades of intrigue. At one point there seemed to be some political conflict dressed with conspiracy. There is tons of juicy stuff if explored, but the entire story is concluded in two screens of "Times New Roman".
The character's don't save the show either. Most of them seem to be cardboard. Alucard seems to be an attractive anti-hero at first, looking for a good fight. You never really get a glimpse past the violent visage, his overpowering ability consuming everything. Integral is portrayed as the stoic leader of Hellsing, her faith in god and country unshakable. The most well developed character is Seras Victoria. Her struggle to come to terms with the curse of her Vampirism is compelling. I would have appreciated both Alucard and Seras more if their whole slave-master relationship was examined. An opportunity unexploited.
Incognito was as cliched as antagonists come. He is power hungry, driven mad by blood lust and carried a huge gun. He has about 15 lines in the entire show, making his character tissue paper from a creative level. I would have liked to see more back story to him to give just a slice depth.
All these issues could have been solved if the series had some more breathing room. Thirteen episodes can't contain a series that is trying to do as much as Hellsing is trying to do. Stories could have been realized and the many actors could have more 'alone-time' with the audience to grow and develop. Possibly amazing actions scenes were shrunk into mere minutes, some conflicts resolved in seconds.
The art in Hellsing has it's moments. The art style is comic-like, models outlined in dark thick lines. It would have worked if the animation were not so uneven and the characters did not have such blocky body structures. Seras in particular was poorly drawn, having comparatively large head and breasts with square shoulders and rectangular legs.
The scenery is done well though. The mute palette fills the atmosphere perfectly. I love the wash of crimson that fills the landscape when Alucard enters the scene.
The sound is magnificent. The soundtrack is varied yet appropriate, scaling from upbeat to morose. The real star of the production is the voice work. Alucard's voice is deep, emanating from the depths of bosom and exuding power. Integral voice grows sharp with her dutiful conviction. The rest of the cast do an exceptional job. It sad that they didn't have a better script to work with.
Watchability and Enjoyment
Hellsing is definitely watchable, but for the wrong reasons. It's quite short, thirteen episodes, and nothing is quite revolting. I finished it about three sessions. Some of the action is merits watching and the music is worth listening to. My enjoyment was hindered by the fact the plot lines were largely incomplete. I felt unfulfilled, that there should have been seven or eight more episodes afterward.
Hellsing manages to deal with a few themes across the small series. Seras Victoria, upon being turned into a vampire, fights of the beast beating against her rib cage. Two halves of her battle one another, one side hanging onto her former humanity the other side embracing the monster that was borne in her. Integral has a similar struggle of identity that is hinted at. She lives to become a reflection of her father, whose portrait hangs in her room. She lives to fill his shadow, and die with an untarnished dignity and pride. Both of these ideas helped prevent Hellsing from being completely shallow.
Hellsing could have been excellent but was crippled by its own length. It's big ideas were shaved down to size and stuffed into thirteen episodes. Hellsing could have solved this easily, by being longer or by trying to do less. If your looking for an anime about vampire's with some substance, Hellsing should be a pass for you.