Directors - Tomakazu Tokoro
Cast - Crispin Freeman, K.T. Gray
Country of Origin - Japan
Discs - 5
Distributor - Funimation
Reviewer - Scott MacDonald
The Anime (5/5)
HELLSING ULTIMATE (1-4, This will be updated for 5-8)
When I was getting into anime after a surprise run in with Akira in the early 2000's a friend gave me a list of titles to check out. This is a list I am still going through to this day, but one of the titles that immediately jumped out at me as a horror fiend, was Hellsing. I was working at a bookstore for very little money at the time, and after falling in love with the first volume of the original OVA, decided to drop what was a lot of money for me at the time on the other 3 volumes. I enjoyed these for what they were, but for all the action, excitement, and atmospheric horror they provided the OVA felt it lacked a story.
After completing those 13 episodes I approached that same friend with that complaint, and he pointed out that the OVA only used elements from the Manga title it was based off of, and as such, did not feature much of the story as it was (the Manga was not complete at the time). A few months down the road, I began to hear rumblings about Hellsing Ultimate, but as I had just spent much of my heard earned salary on the originals, I couldn't justify the purchase.
Now a few years down the line, and a few format we have Hellsing Ultimate 1-4 (and coming very soon 5-8) on the new superior format Blu-ray, and I feel justified in my waiting. In preparation I watched the original Hellsing OVA, and I must say everything I loved about the original was vastly improved upon in this initial 4 volumes, and all my complaints (and probably most of fandoms) were addressed. The wonderful gothic atmosphere that permeates the original title, is vastly increased the violence is more in the Grand Guignol vein, and practically non-stop. Also, there appears to be more background story in the initial episodes (such as Integra's inheritance of the Hellsing Organization in the first episode), and more of a complete story all around.
The story for those unaware involve an organization of vampire hunters known as Royal Order of Protestant Knights (or the Hellsing Organization). This group is led by Sir Integra Van Hellsing, their sole mission is to protect the British Isles from undead freaks (vampires), they do this with a semi-military-esque force and also with the assistance of the Vampire Alucard (Arucard in the phonetic translations both in the subtitles and dub). Going in that's what you need to know, if you haven't seen Hellsing this is a great way to start. If your like me, and seen the original, this is the time to start to check out the Ultimates.
Hellsing Ultimate (1-4)
Hellsing Ultimate Comes to Blu-ray in a completely solid 1:78:1 1080p AVC encoded transfer that preserves the original aspect ratio of the original title. This release looks absolutely fantastic for the most part with detail being strong, black levels being solid, and colors being very vibrant. There is some minor softness throughout the transfer, however.
Funimation have presented Hellsing Ultimate 1-4 with 2 completely solid audio options a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track in both English and Japanese. Any longtime readers of this site know I am an audio purist, so I stuck to the Japanese language track for much of my viewing, but dipped into the English track for the purpose of my review. Both tracks are completely solid with Dialogue being being clean, precise, and clear throughout. The music, and effects are mixed well, and nothing appears on the track such as pops, cracks, or hissing.
Hellsing Ultimate (1-4)
I remember the OVA DVD's being pretty darn barebones, so I was actually quite excited to see Funimation including some extras at all with this set. Each of the 4 episodes comes with a commentary track. The first episode with Crispin Freeman and Talisin Jaffe (Alucard, and the voice director). The second also features Jaffe with Josh Phillips and Patrick Seitz who voice Jan and Luke Valentine. The third episode again features Jaffe (He's on all these folks) with J.B. Blank (Enrico Maxwell) and Victoria Harwood (Sir Integra Hellsing). The fourth episode features commentary by Jaffe with Kari Wahlgren (Rip Van Winkle) and Ralph Lister (Walter). These commentaries are followed with substantial interviews the first being with Jaffe and Crispin Freeman it runs just slightly over half an hour. The 2nd is Jaffe with Patric Seitz and Josh Phillips, and is 24 minutes in length. We then have a panel at the Anime Expo 2007, that runs 42 minutes, and features pretty much everyone in the commentary track, and Jonathan Klein. There is also a 2 minute featurette at the Geneon Booth. The disc is wrapped up with a series or promo videos, textless songs, Japanese TV commercials, the Japanese ending for episode IV. There is also a Karaoke of the Major's speech, and trailers for other Funimation titles).
Hellsing Ultimate (1-4) simply put rocks. This anime is everything a good horror anime should be violent, atmospheric, action packed, and with enough a story to keep things flowing. The A/V on this title is quite excellent, and the extras are both informative and entertaining. Hellsing Ultimate 1-4 Comes HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.