Years ago, before I seriously got into anime and kept up with shows on a weekly basis, I had little knowledge of anime outside of Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing and whatever FOXKids decided to show. There was a program called WINAMP which served as the basis for my media needs and also had a neat little function for internet streaming. Among the various streams, was an anime channel that had, you guessed it, Hellsing playing on repeat and that's how I got into this little show. Produced by Studio Gonzo in 2001, Hellsing would be the darkest and edgiest show that I have watched in the years leading up to my current watching habits.
Set in modern Britain, the Hellsing Organization, lead by Interga Hellsing who is a descendant of Van Hellsing, remains at the forefront of identifying and disposing supernatural enemies that threaten their nation. One night, a young policewomen, Seras Victora, is comes under a vampire's grasp during an operation inside a village that results in everyone else in her unit being turned into ghouls. Hellsing's top agent, another vampire, resolves the standoff with ease but ends up turning Seras into one of his familiars when she suffers a fatal wound. From then on, she is inducted into the Hellsing Organization where she comes to terms with her transition into a creature of the night while doing battle against monsters and demons.
Violence is something that Hellsing embraces fully with various firearms, melee weapons and physical attacks that has gore and body parts being thrown all over the screen. Lots of people die including innocent bystanders, human troops and horde of cannon fodder in the most terrible way possible. People and creature are impaled, have their bodies torn apart and eaten or even dragged into the harrowing abyss that is Alucard. Accompanying such brutality, is the mixture of gun and swordplay that is less about graceful fighting and more about who can inflict
The most glaring problem with Hellsing TV is that it was made before the manga had reached its conclusion and thus, it goes a different route from the source material at the midpoint of its run. Plot points like the freak chips behind instant vampires and the continuing conflict with the Catholic Church are dropped for dumber things like Integra's false sister and a villain that shows up at the very end. With the Hellsing train shifting tracks in the limited time of thirteen episodes that it has, the show derails before ending haphazardly in a unsatisfying finale where the viewers are left feeling confused and left hanging on what exactly was the point of Hellsing.
For actual characters, they prop up the entire show even though the plot fails to do them justice.
Alucard is as far you can get away from the romanticized version of vampires where they sparkle in the sunlight and have creepy stalker relationships with high school girls. He is overpowered. He is so overpowered that the viewers know he is going win no matter what, just like the Kritos and takuousa of Mahuka and Sword Art Online. The difference is that Alucard does it with style and flair that makes his powerful skills so awesome. Combined with his two signature hand cannons and combat style of luring his opponent into thinking they can beat him before taunting and beating their ass to a pulp, he is a flaming ungodly entity when compared to the cardboard cutouts of other male power fantasy shows. The only reason that anyone roots for Alucard is that everyone else is slightly worse off in their methods and reasoning and he is just so cool when he goes about wiping the floor with his foes. His red outfit, completed with a brim hat and trench coat, makes him one of the more visually unique anime characters that viewers will instantly recognize. In essence, the vampire of the Hellsing Organization is less of an anti-hero and more like a demonic monster, kept in check only by his master, Integra Hellsing.
The only two main character leads, which are female, do very well in keeping up with the overpowered vampire. At only twenty two years old, Integra Hellsing is one remarkable lady, being the head of an organization that specializes in taking down the undead and some very nasty creatures. She is rather cold and forceful in with dealing with Alucard and Seras, but that is expected of a person in her position. Seras, being a former police girl and newly inducted member of Hellsing, is the humanizing aspect of the show as Alucard and Interga operate on a completely different level from the common viewer. While she starts off as a very reluctant vampire, unsure of how to let go of her humanity, Seras' journey in embracing her supernatural is the focus of the television series. However, for much the show, she faintly clings on to her former life and instead of powering up like Alucard, it ends up dragging down the show, but not to the extent of the jumbled plot.
The best aspect and probably the most memorable part of the TV series was the soundtrack. With its jazzy style mixed with a bass guitar, piano and drums, it meshed perfectly with the British backdrops of dark seedy underworlds and very English architecture of castles and manors. If anything, the opening credits titled "The World Without Logos" serves as a perfect precursor for the what audience should expect from the audio department. It also helps that the opening has some pretty hardcore imagery that was grisly and awesome at the same time. One obvious point is to watch the dubs as the setting and characters are of a European background and the voice acting is done by some really talented actors
The visuals, for an anime airing in the early 2000s,is actually pretty good. The mixture of drab colors, like grey, black and brown, fits in with horror and bloody vibes that Hellsing goes for However, as the series worn on, Studio Gonzo's tendency to skimp out on the animation budget becomes noticeable and the overall product, already hurting from the sub-par story, suffers for it.
Despite all the flaws that turns a promising concept into a disappointment, I would still recommend watching this adaption, if only to enjoy the characters and music rather than focusing on the mishandled plot. It is a perfect way to be let down before moving on to its much superior successor done by a different studio and delivered in a much different format.