REVIEW BY RYO DARK
Form of Anime: Series/Manga
Released in the U.S.: Yes
This anime is ill. In the 80's-term good way. A very dark Vampire series, the main premise centers around the Hellsing Organization, a group dedicated to terminating evil "instant" Vampires. The Hellsing Organization is led by Sir Integra (or Integral) Hellsing, one of the most masculine female characters in anime. Integra (who looks and acts and sounds like a guy save the long hair) calls most of the shots. Hellsingís coolest member, however, serves Integra. This is Alucard (or Arucard). Alucard (not incidentally this is Dracula spelled backwards) is the coolest Vampire next to D. Of course, most Draculas are cool, collected, and in control, and Alucard here is no exception. In fact, Iíd say that Alucard is one of the best portrayals of the Vampire King. He is infinitely coolÖWhere was I? Oh yes, so Hellsing (located in England where for some reason everyone speaks Japanese) is dedicated to wiping out the "bad" Vampires that kill humans. So, on one of the missions, in the first episode, we meet Selas Victoria, the blonde-haired, blue-eyed, big-breasted police girl. Stuff happens and Alucard is forced to turn her into a Vampire to save her life. So now Selas is a member of Hellsing too (not incidentally, Hellsing refers to the Van Helsing family of the original Dracula tales). So anyway, this short series tracks Selas (as she is supposed to be the main character, though Alucard is infinitely cooler) and her job hunting down Vampires with Hellsing. Thatís the series in a nutshell.
Donít get me wrong, although my summary was good, it is uh, vague, and in no way takes the place of this cool anime. Let me get to the goodies! First, the animation. This animation style is unlike any Iíve seen before it. Aside from being very unique, I am obsessed with the way they shade. This sounds like a minor detail, but I assure you, you will notice a difference between the normal soft shading of most animes, and the repeated jagged shading of this anime. It really adds a bite to the style. Youíll notice a ton of reds and blacks throughout the series, used to emphasize blood and darkness. This is a dark anime, and it adds a lot to the mood. I really like the art style, even for Selas, whoís big boobs are way-overdone in anime; itís kinda funny and appropriate for a ditz like her. My main point is, the style suits the atmosphere of the anime.
Moving on, there is next to no humor in this anime, except when Selas is acting blonde. Instead, the anime stays consistent with its dark themes. Itís perfect for a Vampire anime of its caliber, and Iím glad they chose to avoid, for example, the cute anime mascot thatís seen in so many other series. It just wouldnít have fit in this case. The music also really helps to set the mood. The opening is one of my favorite anime songs, and even if you canít understand a word of the lyrics (lord knows I canít), the tune really fits, not to mentions itís extremely catchy. The rest of the BGMís are also really great as an addition to the dark tone. You can even find a song straight out of the horror classic, The Omen. I liked the unusual music style so much that I went and bought the soundtrack. Itís not for everyone, but I do recommend it. However, if you prefer fluffy and/or hyper shoujo anime music, this soundtrack probably isnít for you.
Which brings me to my next point. If you prefer fluffy and/or hyper shoujo anime, you probably wonít like this series. If you have a wide range of anime genres that you like, then try it out. I like shoujo and I still like this series, you just have to keep an open mind, as with any new anime. This series is definitely not for kids and teens with a mental age of less than thirteen. Itís chock-full of sex, blood, shooting, and gore (although not nearly as much as Kite [see review for details] plus this series does have more of a plotline). If you can handle that much, then by all means, watch it. . Of course, it helps if you already love horror movies. ^.~
Despite all my hype, this series does have its flaws. One of the big problems is how short the series is. It is much shorter than most animes (as opposed to the normal 26 episodes), and so the animators much squish more action into fewer episodes, which seems to cut back on plot a bit. In the long run, it moves really fast, which can be good or bad. On the pro side, it doesnít drag, and thereís never a dull moment. On the con side, you may not be able to follow everything on the first watch, and some things might be left unexplained.
The weakest part of the series is character history. Character development is great, as you really get a great sense of the personality (i.e. quirks, behavior) of the main characters, but you donít understand so much as to WHY they act the way they do (itís definitely not Evangelion, for example). The big exception for this is Integra. There is a whole episode dedicated to her mysterious past and why she looks and acts like a male (i.e. a cold-ass bitch). Alucard, of course, is supposed to be mysterious, so itís ok if we donít know his past; itís all interpretable given the last episode. The last episode is awesome. I donít want to say anything, but letís just say itís action-packed and leaves you pondering.
So overall, this anime is not for everyone. As I explained the themes and plot may be too horror-esque and choppy for some, but I would still recommend it. Itís a great movie to watch at a Halloween horror-anime fest (as I did), or if your in a good Vampire mood (as I was this weekend). Gotta love them vampies! Oh and watch out for those dudes at the Vatican, they really know how to kick some ass. "Jesus Christ is in Heaven." Amen to that!
Music: 4.5 stars out of 5 (Unique style, good tone-setter)
Animation: 4.5 stars out of 5 (Pretty sweet, *love* the shading and characters)
Plot: 4 stars out of 5 (Good, but could use some deepening)
Character Development: 4 stars out of 5 (Naisu! Nice!)
Overall: 4.5 stars out of 5 (Yay, you can't go wrong with a spooky, dark night and a good Vampire anime!)