Alucard is a vampire serving the Hellsing organisation and pretty much eliminating other undead and things. This is a review of the 2002 anime series, not Hellsing Ultimate.
Seriously, this show sounds like it should be right up my ally. We’ve got vampires, horror, violence, secret organisations, it should be a blast. That said, I put off watching this for a fair while because I’d previously watched the first episode and was left feeling pretty meh about the entire series. However, this one came around on my list of watched and dropped anime to give a second go to and so I did.
For an anime made in 2002, this already looks kind of dated. Alucard of course looks amazing as the creature of the night and his Japanese voice (from Jouji Nakata) really suits him sounding both menacing and seductive.
Outside of Alucard, the other character designs are all kind of flat when they aren’t outright ugly. They serve their purpose but they are hardly something to draw you in to the story. Similarly, the occasional setting will grab your attention but too often we’re in generic hallway A, or walking past generic building B. Visually it just isn’t a very appealing show and this is a show that splashes around copious amounts of my very favourite colour and it still didn’t manage to appeal.
If I get over the fact that this looks its age and focus on the story, the issues actually get worse. While there is an ongoing narrative around an unusual number of vampires showing up and some chip creating vampires that they are investigating, mostly it feels like freak of the week shows up, the expendable human characters get expended (why were there even humans still working for these organisations), and then the vampire/s go in and clean up the mess. There’s the occasional point of interest with conspiracies and media interaction, but mostly its just a by the numbers set up and deliver kind of story.
All of this is fine for a horror really. Low budget horror movies have kind of made me immune to poor visuals and generic storylines that aren’t that engaging, but there still needs to be some hook. Are the characters interacting well? Is there some sort of twist or surprise? Do we just deliver the same old horror with a lot of energy? Hellsing kind of doesn’t achieve any of these.
Seras Victoria is about the only other character I vaguely cared about outside of Alucard, and she was still incredibly boring as she transitioned from human to vampire. Integra, as the leader of Hellsing, was probably my least favourite character and more than once I found myself wishing something would bite her, which given her limited screen time was impressive that she managed to irk me that much.
Basically, this was my own fault. The first episode of this didn’t grab me the first time I watched it. Even this time, I wasn’t really keen on it and yet I just kind of pushed through. I became increasingly distracted during the watch and started making excuses to delay the next episode. That’s probably why my review is light on details. I wasn’t paying enough attention after about episode 4 so maybe it has some amazing plot twist that just went straight over my head.
At some point, I do want to check out Hellsing Ultimate, but I’m not going back to this series again. I’ve made it to the end, it is watchable, but ultimately I just don’t see that this is really worth the time investment when there are more interesting stories out there.
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24 thoughts on “Hellsing Series Review”
Ultimate is a favorite of mine
I found the music and voice acting (in either English or Japanese) appealing but that’s really it. It didn’t really have much of a story to tell and it looked rather ugly telling it. They were only working with a quarter of the original manga’s material at the time and failed to fill in the rest of adaptation with compelling material, hence why Hellsing Ultimate is the definitive adaptation
When I saw the original Hellsing, I just felt it was kind of flat. Not bad, just unremarkable. Couldn’t help but compare it to D. I guess everything would pale in comparison to that.
But I just bookmarked Ultimate to put it into my rotation. Only place i could find it was Hulu. Google said Netflix had it but it wasn’t there when I looked.
I have watched the first 3 episodes and it is light-years ahead of the plot of the first Hellsing. For one thing, I actually have a clue about what is going on.
That’s always a help.
I tried to watch this last year and made it to the end of episode 2. This should have been an easy win but it was unbearable. Glad I walked away when I did.
I still need to try ultimate. As you said, conceptually this should have been an easy win but it just didn’t work for me.
I actually really enjoyed this version, but I understand peoples’ preference for Ultimate. Admittedly it is much better on nearly all accounts. Still nothing compared to Hellsing Ultimate Abridged though!
I definitely had similar reactions to Hellsing. In many ways it seemed like a series that had such great potential, which it never managed to understand or approach. Of course I also heard somewhere that the original plan for this series had been to do a longer run, but halfway through money was cut and they had to salvage “an” ending, so it may be that money was an issue from day one.
I think after watching this, Hellsing Ultimate looks better by comparison, but that might be it’s biggest advantage.
Sometimes things don’t click with people, even things you should love on paper. Honestly, this is one of those animes that has been on my to-watch list for a while because of its horror influence, but it does look kind of dated. Its not the a deal breaker for me, but its look has put me off a bit…
Yeah, dated wouldn’t be a deal breaker if it gave me something else ot distract me. The issue was I was so bored with the characters and story I had more than enough time to notic how dated it looked.
This used to be one of my favorite, I miss it
“this show sounds like it should be right up my ally” describes my feelings on Hellsing Ultimate quite well, or at least what I saw of its first epiosde.
I was interested in this series for a while because it’s one of the vampire anime everyone recs and I do love me some vampires. Skipped this and went right on to Ultimate because I’d heard that it’s the same story revamped (hah!). But I just couldn’t get into it. I was thinking of giving this a go and seeing if it’s any better but your review has erased that idea thoroughly.
Interesting that Ultimate didn’t work for you given most people seem to think it is pretty good. Will be interested to see what I think of it when I get around to it.
It does seem highly regarded in general and I was honestly expecting to love it but nope. Didn’t even make it past episode 1.
Phew …I nearly bought this one at Animecon this year, but after reading this I am very glad that I did not 😊 I also usually like stories like this, and I don’t really mind that it is a bit dated (I watch a lot of old anime), but I guess it kind of missed the point. Shame. I ended up buying Corpse Princess instead of this one, and guess I don’t have to have any regrets 😊
Let me know how Corpse Princess goes because I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to give that a go later in the year.
I have now reached the second disc, so watched about 8 episodes and so far it is quite entertaining. There is plenty of action, a pretty cool story, and the humor that is included works well. And that is from someone that really usually doesn’t really enjoy humor. So don’t know if it will continue like this, but so far so good 😊
Sounds like I will have to get around to it later in the year. Thanks.
I am in the same boat. I honestly by all standards should have fully enjoyed Hellsing but some part of me was being held back and didn’t fully enjoy it in the end. Now Ultimate fixed pretty much all those problems I had, specifically the seriously dated look you brought up, and I fully enjoyed that one.
Out of the two, I opted to watch Ultimate because I’d read the story was more concise without sacrificing character dev and the visuals were ten times better. I was still on the fence about watching this version, but based on your review I don’t think I need to even bother now.
I can’t think of any reason why you would need to watch this if you’ve already watched another version of the story (that from what everyone is saying is much better).
As a fan of the Manga, and Ultimate, this adaptation is pretty… Bad.
As you said, even by 2002’s standards, it’s pretty dated and the storyline and characters are hardly engaging either, especially since it doesn’t follow the Manga’s storyline which, while nothing amazing, does a far better job.
Ultimate not only follows the Manga perfectly, but also has some of the best looking visuals out there, and definitely fleshes out Seras more as a character, while also looking into Alucard from a more humanising perspective as well.
Good post. I do hope you check out Ultimate at some point.
It was just kind of a let down because I’m not that picky about horror and vampire stories and yet I still could not get into this.