Apr 7, 2015
phs_togusa (All reviews)
My friends... it has often been said that I like war. My friends, I like-wait, what do you mean the Major isn't in Hellsing? Oh wait, this is the 2001 version that doesn't follow the manga. You know, I'm not a huge fan of Hellsing 2001. It's not because I think that Hellsing 2001 is bad, but rather it's just so painfully mediocre (even for its time). Yes, Hellsing 2001 has a certain charm to it but it has NOT aged well at all and in comparison to Hellsing Ultimate, you'd have to be a madman to even want to consider giving this a shot.

Let's start off with the basics: Hellsing 2001 came out when the Hellsing manga was still in relative infancy. As a result, there wasn't a lot of story that could be adapted so Gonzo just decided to wing it and come up with a completely new story. The only problem? This adaptation of Hellsing was produced by Gonzo, a studio whose works tend to leave a sour taste in my mouth half the time. For the record, I don't really mind if a series branches off from its source material and in some cases, I'd quite enjoy it (ref: FMA 2003, Kuroshitsuji). However, Gonzo doesn't really have the sort of "talent" that Bones or even A-1 Pictures has when it comes down to writing up an original story. For one thing, we don't have Montana Max aka The Major as our main villain anymore.

The main villain of Hellsing is Incognito, a guy that I really just don't know how to feel about since I had no idea who the fuck he was. All I ever really got out of Incognito is the fact that he's working for a master and that's about it. Say what you will about Alois Trancy from Kuroshitsuji II or the Kakuzawas from Elfen Lied, but at least we had a good idea of who they are and what they were after, regardless of how much sense it made. But Incognito? Not so much as what kind of food he likes or what kind of women he goes after. Come on... Don't even get me started on how this show is 13 episodes long. A show like Hellsing needed double the length to even begin making sense.

Aside from Incognito, the character selection we have to put up with for Hellsing is pretty similar to the cast we have for Hellsing Ultimate (at least when it comes down to the Hellsing organisation). However, they all lack the charm that they had in the manga/Ultimate (with the exception of Alucard of course). For instance, while the story of Ultimate always focused on Seras to some degree in the manga/Ultimate, she wasn't the only focal point. Here, she's pretty much the only one we see a lot of and as much as I'd like to say that she's a badass gunslinging vampire girl... she just isn't here. She's pretty much just the fish out of water getting used to her new life and nothing more. The story puts far too much focus on her and not enough on other characters like Alucard or even Integra or Incognito even. After a while, it just gets annoying.

Moving away from story and characters, let's talk about Hellsing's production. Gonzo seriously has no sense of prioritising and it's quite obvious that Hellsing didn't really have much of a budget to work with from the start. How so? Well for one thing... the animation is almost non-existent in this show. There's almost no movement going on in the background and the action scenes are so few and far between. There's a distinct lack of any substantial blood/gore like in Berserk, which is rather irritating given that the manga and Ultimate are gratuitous gore festivals. However, I'm quite fond of the colour palette used for everything since it makes the entire show have have a rather uncanny feel. That sort of atmosphere fits well with a show like Hellsing which is partially horror-based. There are also some moments where the animation quality really picks up for certain scenes and it becomes rather fun to watch if only for an instant.

If this anime had to have a saving grace aside from Alucard, it would have to be a tie between the OST and the English dub. Hellsing's soundtrack has no shortage of jazz tracks, guitar tracks, and the like which all strangely fit the moment that they're being played in. If there's one thing that this show has over Ultimate, it's also the fact that it has a proper opening (and a damn good one). The song "Logos Naki World" by Yasushi Ishii is a rather catchy jazz/piano theme which pretty much coincides with how big of a badass Alucard is and if he didn't have one already, I'd imagine this song was his character theme.

In regard to the dub, Hellsing's dub was produced by Geneon Universal Entertainment and I have to say, this dub really makes the show 100x more watchable than it is subbed. What I really love about this dub is the fact that actual people of British descent like Steven Brand and Victoria Harwood were hired to do the voice acting for some of the characters. As for Alucard, he's voiced by the almighty Crispin Freeman: a man who definitely had a lot of fun while voicing this particular character. Like when you hear the inflections in his voice, that creepy but oh-so-delicious laugh, etc., you'd be more than likely to get sucked into his performance unless you viscerally hate dubs for whatever reason.

Is Hellsing 2001 worth watching? I'd usually say no to this one, but if you're completely new to Hellsing, I'd say yes. Why? For the sole reason that if you watch the 2001 show before watching Ultimate, you can properly appreciate just how much Madhouse spoiled Hellsing Ultimate in ways that Gonzo never did with the 2001 show. Other than that, I wouldn't really recommend it.