Hellsing Vol. #3 (of 4) (Mania.com)

By:Chris Beveridge
Review Date: Thursday, November 07, 2002
Release Date: Tuesday, November 12, 2002



What They Say
Animation by Japanese powerhouse Gonzo (Blue Submarine No.6, Gate Keepers, Vandread) and a top-notch production cast: Screenplay by Chiaki J. Konaka (Lain, Armitage Polymatrix, The Big O); Supervising Director: Umanosuke Iida (Gundam 08th MS Team); Produced by Yasuyuki Ueda (Lain, Nanako, NieA_7).

The Hellsing Organization's war against the undead intensifies! The organization suffers major losses in battle and Arucard must face Paladin Alexander from Iscariot again! Then, the stakes are raised as he prepares to face one of the original undead - and Integra fights for her life against her own sister!?

The Review!
The good times roll, as well as a head or two, as Hellsing provides more dark entertaining stories that I can’t seem to get enough of.

Audio:
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this disc in its original language of Japanese. The track is a pretty basic stereo mix with some minor directionality across the forward soundstage. It’s a good sounding track but it’s not all that immersive and tends to not to be really used to much advantage within the show itself.

Video:
The transfer for this installment of episodes is pretty much just as good looking as the previous volumes. The transfer stays in top form with the fact that there’s zero cross coloration and even aliasing appears to be non-existent. The show has a lot of black backgrounds and shifting dark colors yet manage to look perfect.

Packaging:
Arucard graces the cover again, with a good shot of him holding his gun slightly angled away from him while the mad look of Anderson is mixed into the background. The back cover provides a number of animation shots and some meshed collage images while giving a decent summary of what to expect. The discs episode numbers and titles are clearly listed since there’s no volume numbering anywhere and the discs features and production information is clear as well. The insert has a couple more screenshots and lists each episodes chapters while it opens up to a really nice image of Arucard and Seras together.

Menu:
The menu layout continues the eerie feel with another set of Nightjar menus. The blood factor continues here during the menu loads and transitions, but the main menu itself is an in-show piece of sorts where a paper is knifed to the wall behind it, and the text is set as the selections. The imagery here is very vibrant and sharp, with a fantastic looking knife handle and a slow subtle movement to the whole piece with the paper and light smoke. There’s a very simple piece of music playing along with it well, adding to the overall creepy factor. Moving about the menus is nice and fast and the layout is pretty much just what we like.

Extras:
There’s another good selection of extras with this volume. The Japanese packaging artwork gets covered nicely, showcasing the volumes cover, insert and disc artwork as well as the box that was used. The second ending sequence gets covered as a textless piece here and there’s a good selection of conceptual artwork as well.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
After the carnage and destruction that was visited upon the Hellsing organization in the last volume, things are pretty much in a shambles right from the outset here. Barely twenty five percent of the organization is left, and half of that due to them being off-site and dealing with something in Ireland. Integra’s left with little to work with, and the news generally seems grim. But she’s focused, and her plans are to simply find out everything possible about the Valentine brothers and extract pure cold revenge.

There’s plenty to deal with before that anyway, and she finds herself being paid a visit by some representatives from Section Thirteen of the Vatican. The encounter, in an art museum, is the kind of almost subtle type of conversation where threats aren’t spoken but simply understood, up until the end at least. But with Thirteen’s representatives in the country, it’s not surprising when Anderson shows up later on and Arucard gets himself all excited about the fact he has someone with some meager amount of skill to play with.

That almost sums up Arucards presence in these episodes. His encounters with Anderson are just for play, as he continues to consider him nothing more than a nuisance, though a nuisance who occasionally manages to pull off a good move or two. Arucard does manage to provide some good dialogue moments throughout as well. When he ends up talking with the Vatican folks, his comments about how the Roman’s haven’t changed in two thousand years is priceless, and also gives some depth to the kind of life he’s led. Arucard also sneaks in some good bits with Seras in these episodes, as he’s slowly preparing her for something bigger.

Seras’ role here gets expanded a bit, as she’s now taken on a more prominent role with the soldiers in the organization. For the first time, Hellsing is reaching out to foreigners to become involved, as they need soldiers who will be loyal and there’s precious few left that they can get quickly on their own soil. The organization is starting to take on a more mercenary look with these recruits, but Seras has a few moments to shine and put them in their place. She also ends up working unintentionally with an MI-5 operative named Harry Anders, but this works out well for her as she ends up meeting another one of the “real” vampires, not one of the fakes/freaks that Arucard and the others have been hunting. The brief conversation with her provides some well needed details about the larger picture as well.

These episodes flowed nicely, providing new information as well as some good action sequences. The change in the organization after the Valentine brothers is significant, though it’s impact isn’t being shown constantly here. What continues to impress me with this show is just how perfect the music score is, with it being unlike most standard anime fare. The mix of nearly indistinguishable dialogue and the instruments against the mad ravings of Anderson or the visage of a reconstructed Arucard is just beautiful to watch.

This batch of episodes was a lot of fun to watch, as I’m completely unsure of where the show is really going to go in the end, if anywhere. But as a long time anime watcher, I still know that it’s usually the journey that makes a series and not the last five minutes. Hellsing’s quite the fun journey.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Japanese Packaging,Textless Ending 2,Conceptual Artwork

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Panasonic RP-82 Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.



Mania Grade: B+
Audio Rating: B+
Video Rating: A-
Packaging Rating: B+
Menus Rating: A
Extras Rating: B
Age Rating: 16 & Up
Region: 1 - North America
Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
MSRP: 29.95
Running time: 75
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
Series: Hellsing