Hellsing is my favorite manga of all time. It combines a fun story, memorable characters, quirky humor, stylish art, and unrelenting gore and brutality all into one little paper back graphic novel.
So naturally, you'd think that the manga would make an awesome anime. Well, Chiaki J. Konaka and Umanosuke Iida thought so too and took it upon themselves to make an anime based off the popular series. In many ways, they succeeded. But they also failed...
The anime was released in 2001, long before the manga series would be complete. So they were forced to come up with their own story, completely unrelated to the manga (save for a few key plot points). This potentially is a pretty cool idea and allows room for originality, but the story in the anime is very hit and miss. There were times I was really enjoying the series and other times that I was flat out bored. I felt that the story just dragged and was often times pointless.
The story also lacks a key element that makes Hellsing so great, and that's the humor. This anime takes itself very seriously, but it loses heart doing so.
I've heard many times from fellow fans that the anime is just poor a fanfiction, and I can't say I disagree.
The animation is just plain ugly, even by TV anime standards. The characters are all poorly drawn, the colors are bland and ugly, and animation is smooth but suffers from choppiness. Visually, this is a lifeless anime. And that's all I can really say about it.
The soundtrack and voice acting is the anime's highlight. The soundtrack is nothing short of wonderful. The jazz tracks really set you in the mood for the series and I'd go as far as saying that the actual album is worth they buy. The voice acting was also very good. Crispin Freeman, K. T. Gray, Victoria Harwood, Steven Brand, Ralph Lister, and the rest of the cast did such an excellent job voicing their characters.
All the characters themselves were great, but the one character that truly stands out in the series is Seras. Her character is really fleshed out and you got to know her alot more then you did in the manga. Alucard was great, but he really becomes more of a prop in the background then anything else. The shows villain 'Incognito' was just... blah. He was kinda cool, but can't hold a candle to the manga's villain 'The Major'.
Overall, this is just simply an okay anime. Nothing rememberable or even exciting. It's not bad really, but it isn't great either. And to be perfectly blunt, this fails to live up to Kouta Hirano's vision. In recent years, they've rebooted the series with 'Hellsing Ultimate', an OVA series that is almost panel by panel like the manga's. I highly recommend you go see the OVA's, those did everything that the TV series couldn't.
If you consider yourself a Hellsing fan, then by all means go see this series. But if you're just entering the Hellsing universe, then I recommend you stay clear of this and go straight onto 'Hellsing Ultimate'.