Shin

Hellsing volume 1

Creator: Kohta Hirano
Publisher: Dark Horse
First Released: December 2003
Number of Volumes: 3 at the moment (June 2004)
Genre: Horror, Action/Adventure

Hellsing took a lot of flack from people accusing it of unravelling by the time that the final anime episode rolled around. As some of you may know, the TV show was produced before the manga was completed, so eventually things began to move out of alignment from each other between the two. I personally enjoyed the show.

But I like the book better already.

The Hellsing organization is a family-led group that protects the crown of England against supernatural threats. Led by the stalwart Sir Integral Hellsing, the group’s greatest weapon against the children of the night is Alucard, a vampire of tremendous power. While the explanation of why he works for Hellsing has yet to be revealed, his dedication is undoubtable.

The book follows the pace of the anime pretty closely, though the order of some revelations differs between the two.

Unlike the clean, digital look of the anime, the book is sketchier, grittier, and darker. Characters have a little bit of insanity in their eyes, a sparkle that makes you wonder which side is really the good guys and which is the bad.

In the end, you’ll realize that good or bad, Alucard’s too cool not to like.
The book reads from right to left and keeps the original sound effects. There’s an extra short story in the back showing a piece Hirano wrote and drew prior to Hellsing that was most likely the springboard for the vampire series. Altogether, this is a nice release, though I personally found the Irish accent of one of the characters (Alexander, the Paladin) to be quite hard to read. Sometimes, I don’t like reading dialects. This was one of them.

Overall, however, this book has everything an action fan needs. Humour, impressive battles, and a good underlying sense of intrigue – it’s all here. Unlike the anime series, you won’t have to worry about it ending at an awkward moment. Grab this book while you can – it sells fast.

Main Characters

Alucard
A powerful vampire, who for reasons unknown at this point has chosen to work with the Hellsing Organisation in their struggle to rid the world of vampires and other ghouls. His relationship with Sir Integra is double-edged – at times he seems condescending to her, at other times he respects her. Able to regenerate from nearly any wound, save those caused by silver or holy artefacts, Alucard can also teleport and open up a portal to the netherworld. He may have other powers yet to be demonstrated.

Seras Victoria
Known as “Kitten” during her time with the Special Forces D11 group, this young agent has shown remarkable strength. She allows Alucard to kill and resurrect her in order to eliminate the Vampire Priest.
Despite her newfound hunger for blood, she continues to resist, despite Alucard’s insistence that she must have it. While Peter trains her for her new mission as an agent of Hellsing, she is reluctant to kill and she wonders if she will become as much a monster as the things she is forced to hunt.

Integra
Sir Integra Wingates Hellsing is the leader of the Hellsing Organization. Cool, beautiful, and quick to anger, she demands respect and complete obedience in the service of the Hellsing mission. Feared and awed by those around her, she is not hesitant about doling out reprimands – even to Alucard.

Walter
Retainer to the Hellsing family, he is utterly devoted to Integra. He shows Seras around and tries to instruct her on things she now needs to beware of, such as sunlight and silver. A kind man, he also is a confidante of Integra, as she freely vents about confidential matters in his presence. In the past he was known as ‘The Angel of Death’.

By Raven

Hellsing Open – "The World Without Logos"

The World Without Logos

Don’t be cool vibration
Revolufantasy
Tell me fool talk show day and rain
Every stardom the rating
Don’t stop horror show inner darken
Jus sec ra ra oh

Oh no harbor won’t you buy valley show
Take me want to talking revolution
No hava won cheese have lay show
(No have a want cha have late show)
Diviphon de have worry star
Shooby dooby doo shooby dooby doo durul
Shooby dooby doo shooby dooby doo durul

Devil beam to the crashing
Revoluflymachine
Adjust blue G
Jus Sekiran

Oh no harbor won’t you buy valley show
Take me want to talking revolution
No hava won cheese have lay show
Diviphon de have worry star
Shooby dooby doo shooby dooby doo durul
Shooby dooby doo shooby dooby doo durul

(Taken from the OST “Raid” – such strange lyrics!)

By Raven

Hellsing Ending – "Shine"

I never really feel quite right
I don’t know why, all I know is there’s something wrong
Every time I look at you, you seem so alive

Tell me how do you do it, walk me through it
I’m following every footstep

Baby on your own you take a cautious step
Do you wanna give it up?

But all I want is for you to SHINE
Shine down on me
Shine on this life that’s burning out

I say a lot of things sometimes that don’t come out right
And I act like I don’t know why
I guess a reaction is all I was looking for

You looked through me, you really knew me like no one has EVER looked before

Baby on your own you take a cautious step
Do you wanna give it up?

But all I want is for you to SHINE
Shine down on me
Shine on this life that’s burning out

I know, I know, girl you got something

SHINE (shine it on to me)
Shine down on me (I wanna feel it)
Shine on this life that’s burning out

Baby on your own you take a cautious step
Do you wanna give it up?

But all I want is for you to SHINE
Shine down on me (just show me something)
Shine on this life that’s burning out (you give me something that I never
know)

Shine (it gonna kill me if you give something away)
Shine yeaaah (I wanna know what’s going in on your mind)
Shine on this life that’s burning out

By Raven

Hellsing

Label: ADV Films
Episodes: 13
Genres: Drama, Horror, Shounen, Supernatural
Age Rating: 15+

Although horror has been a staple of anime for some time, only recently has it made inroads onto Japanese airwaves. Most horror entries tended to be OVAs or films throughout the 80s and 90s. However, with the advent of special cable programming and late-night slots dedicated to unique and adult oriented anime, we’re seeing an increase in supernatural television shows. Boogiepop Phantom and Vampire Princess Miyu are just two such examples. The most hyped of the lot, though, is Hellsing. A 13-episode action/horror blend with enough gruesomeness to send a network censor into apoplexy, Hellsing is an exciting romp patterned in many ways like the successful Cowboy Bebop and Trigun. It has enough problems to make it less than a first-string title, but enough flair to be a fan favourite anyway.

Seles Victoria is faced with an awful choice. A British policewoman caught in the crossfire between two vampires, she must choose whether to die a human or live on as a member of the undead. She decided she’s not quite ready to face the eternal yet, and so the mysterious Alucard drinks her blood, turning her. She soon finds that Alucard is actually the servant of the Hellsing Organisation, a royal knighthood charged with protecting queen and country from the ever-growing vampire population.

Headed by Sir Integra Wingates Hellsing, the only known surviving daughter of the Hellsing family of vampire hunters, its operatives are facing their greatest challenge yet. A large new strain of vampires is showing up – young, brash, reckless, and openly violent – and no one knows why. As Seles starts coming to terms with her new life and becomes a member of Hellsing under Alucard’s direction, she will face terrors untold. Faced with enemies ranging from evil undead brothers bent on destruction to the Vatican’s Iscariot Division, the Hellsing Organisation may crumple under the strain.

Hellsing is a mixture of greatness and mediocrity in many ways, and so I’ll start with talking about the animation. For a TV series, this thing looks gorgeous 95% of the time. The art direction is creepy and mysterious, with vampires that constantly smile maniacally in hazy streets flowing with the blood of the citizens caught in the wake. Atmospherically, it’s brilliant. But as with any television show, look closely enough and the budget shows. In this case, it’s the character models themselves that show the inconsistencies. Though the close-ups are all excellent, nobody seems to know exactly what these folks are supposed to look like standing straight up. Sometimes, Integra is Calista Flockhart skinny, and other times she’s buff. Meanwhile, Seles has the unfortunate problem of an ever-changing bosom. Seriously, she goes from a B cup to a double D from scene to scene as if female bloodsuckers are automatically issued the Wonderbra From Hell(tm). If you can forgive this oversight, it’s not a huge problem otherwise (pardon the pun).

Despite the animation problems, Hellsing has some remarkable concepts floating around in its narrative. At the same time, the viewer looking for a lot of action and violence will be enthralled; it’s rare to find a horror show to feature this many explosions and gunfights (handled well, no less). Though a TV show, there is an amazing amount of blood and carnage – if it were a movie, the MPAA would certainly have rated it R – and though I’m not a fan of such things, it is very appropriate to the story being told. The plot also does the audience a favour by sticking with Seles for the majority of the story. Placing Alucard, the awesomely cool yet awesomely disturbing nosferatu, in the background is a very wise choice. Ultimately, it’s Seles we relate to and Seles who brings the human element to the tale. It’s only when we lose track of Seles that the show goes astray.

But stray it does, and several times. The ending of the show gets off track (and apparently wanders from the manga) when it stops being Seles’ story and becomes an Alucard grudge match. Although we have a variety of “enemy of the week” stories, up to the final few episodes we see the conflicts through Seles’ eyes. Not so the ending. The story also has a nasty habit of introducing threads that are not resolved in the show’s length. The coolest story elements go nowhere, intentionally left open perhaps in hopes of a follow-up series. Although I really liked Hellsing and would welcome a second season, in its current incarnation it is incomplete.

What some fans will find more disconcerting, as I did, is that there is a lack of character development. Alucard is obviously supposed to be mysterious and needs to remain that way – after all, spell his name backwards and you have all you really need to know, right? (Actually, versions of Alucard have existed all the way back to the 1930s with the film Son of Dracula. Those who think that the creators of Hellsing were being silly or goofy with this name don’t know their vampire lore.)
But other characters like Seles really need a lot more background than what we’re given. Does Seles have no family that she wants to see? Did she have a boyfriend? What did she give up to become a vampire and live past what would most certainly have been her end? I’ve complimented the show for keeping us focused on her, and yet I also have to admit I’m conflicted about how little we know about her and how easy her transition is. Though she fights drinking blood and likes to think she’s still human, we don’t have enough answers about who she really is as a person.

The final element I have to mention is that of the show’s religious symbolism. As it exists in Hellsing, it is nothing more than an adaptation of Eastern superstitions and prayer forms with a Christian flavouring. Alucard’s gun has the inscription “Jesus Christ is in Heaven now” written in English on it. What is this supposed to mean? Is it to bless the gun? Is it a statement of fact, meant to show victory over the undead? Is it to be Alucard’s subtle jab at his masters? Here is the secret: the creators thought it looked and sounded cool. Nothing more. If they had taken a little more time to explore the Christian elements of vampirism threaded throughout all the old stories, they could have come up with something really scary and appropriate. But for all intents and purposes, it’s window dressing.

Having expressed the negatives, I have to say that I thought Hellsing was a thoroughly enjoyable, if essentially slight and unfocused, vampire series. It radiates cool from every pore. I’m a little past the point where style alone impresses me, and still Hellsing is a strong show based on its story and substance. It makes many mistakes along the way, and it’s too violent and dark to casually recommend. But fans of vampire lore will love it, action buffs will get a kick out of it, and it’s a welcome alternative to some of other clutter on the anime shelves.

By Raven

Work in progress... not home!
Trying to get all/most of the new code working before I start on the eyecandy.