Vampires, nazi’s, the Catholic Church and the Queen herself. Toss in what appears to be a catboy and you’ve got almost everything you need.
What They Say
Sir Integra reluctantly invites Maxwell from the Vatican's Iscariot Division to a Roundtable conference with the Queen. Integra desperately needs to collect any information regarding the Millennium, the remnants of a secret Nazi battalion made entirely of "undead" monsters.
Suddenly, the Millennium's leader, the Major, audaciously interrupts the conference to declare war against Britain and the Hellsing Organization. Amidst the panicking Roundtable members, Arucard seems amused by the reunion with the Major, whom he thought he had destroyed more than half a century ago. A war of Nightmares is about to be unleashed into the unsuspecting London night...
This limited edition includes a steelbook case and a 200-page artbook.
For our primary viewing session, we listened to this show in its original language of Japanese. The track is a solid 5.1 Dolby Digital mix encoded at 448kbps that's quite immersive at times with the sounds of bats, bullets and bullet riddled bodies sounding better than ever. Some of the scenes have such a strong amount of oomph to them in this mix that listening to it on a stereo only setup you realize just how much is lost. The English language track essentially mirrors this in its 5.1 mix but there is also the inclusion of a fuller sounding DTS 5.1 mix which is found only on the Limited Edition release. This seems to be a touch more expansive in some scenes as well as a touch deeper in richness. All the language tracks are clean and clear throughout and we had no problems with dropouts or distortions.
Originally released in 2008, the OVA is presented in its original aspect ratio of 1.78:1 and is enhanced for anamorphic playback. Fresh out of the animators cubicles, this is a fantastic looking show that takes the visuals from the manga and really brings it to life, though not without a few changes along the way. The source materials are obvious in gorgeous shape and the print is free of problems. Whereas the first volume had us seeing some noticeable gradient issues, they look much better blended here and generally unnoticeable. The few that do come across strong enough are so few and far between that it's hardly worth mentioning. Taking that out of it, the rest of the transfer is simply gorgeous and if you can watch this on a large screen with the lights off it'll be even more impressive.
Regular Edition Packaging:
Rip Van Winkle gets the cover for this volume and she brings in a rather interesting shot as she sits there with her lanky form while the background is a wash of Arucard’s strange form with all manner of colors. The colors and style used to it works really well in giving it a rough and raw feeling. The back cover is more traditional and similar to previous installments in how it provides a classic and almost elegant design. The summary covers the basics and the discs features and production information rounds out the bottom half. The technical grid is a thin strip that gets the job done but is fairly small and soft with it being white on the red. The included insert provides a breakdown of chapters while opening up to a two panel spread version of the front cover.
Limited Edition Packaging:
Not yet available.
The US release manages to kick the Japanese release all over the place when it comes to the menus as Nightjar has produced a great looking in-theme piece. Using the series logo as its centerpiece, waves of blood flow behind it while there are dried caked bits of blood strewn over that. The navigation strip along the bottom uses the same kind of font as the series logo which helps to tie it all together. Like a lot of Nightjar menus, they push they layer the audio of the menu in 5.1 as well which gets you right into the mood for the show. Submenus are quick to load and the transitions are very smooth. The disc also correctly read our players' language presets and played accordingly.
With the regular edition, there are no extras.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
If there’s a series that wasn’t going to be hurt too badly by Geneon dropping off the map for nearly a year, it’s likely the Hellsing Ultimate series. With it being tempered by the release schedule in Japan with each individual episode, a break of a year isn’t necessarily going to hurt it too much since those that were keenly aware of the show were just as aware that it was very much an in-production series. So with the fourth volume coming out just shy of twelve months since the third volume, getting back into the swing of things is rather easy all told. Besides, this is the episode where the Major finally starts to provide some Nazi action for the audience.
The fourth episode of the series runs rather long as it clocks in just over fifty six minutes, which includes a very amusing comical ending sequence with Schrodinger walking over a black and red world as caricatures of the characters play out behind him. Even more surprising, though not bad, is that they show simple animations of the Major’s planes hitting various British targets for a brief part of it. With the introduction of Millennium in the previous episode towards the end, this episode shifts the focus forward as Arucard and Seras have to return home to England – with the help of Anderson no less – in order to report in to the Queen personally what the deal with Millennium is. There’s some very amusing mild nods to the history between Arucard and the Queen which is unsettling to others but adds quite the air of mystery to the rather staid sequence at first.
This meeting is where the gauntlet is thrown down by the Major as well as he sends in Schrodinger to impart his message. With amazingly high security, the catboy is able to make it in effortlessly and provides some very amusing moments as he presents the video of what the Major wants to say. While this scares the pants off of everyone else, Arucard is in stitches with laugher by it and gladly accepts the Major’s challenge of all out war. The two have a history together that goes back to the 1940’s and there’s a sense that there is unfinished business between the two that will carry on for the ages until one of them is completely eradicated. The usage of the Nazi symbolism is something that has simply stuck for the Major since then and has provided a good rallying point for his vampiric troops as well as an easy symbol to utilize that invokes fear among others that they come across.
The taunts made towards Integra and the Hellsing organization are overt enough and the Major utilizes Millennium in a way that gets him results. Sending his First Lieutenant, Rip Van Winkle, to take over an aircraft carrier certainly gets him the attention he wants. And she does it in an over the top way by simply landing there and converting the bulk of the crew. But even then it’s just the start as she starts to paint the Nazi symbol large on the deck using blood as her paint. Like much of the series, it’s a barrage of powerful and striking images that are both cold and amusing depending on how you look at it. Watching Integra now trying to figure out the best way to get Arucard on there and dealing with the situation finishes out the second half of the episode.
The fourth episode of Hellsing has a lot to like about it, but it’s most definitely a transitional episode in the series. There are some great moments with the characters that don’t dominate, such as Andersen’s being given free reign to come home or the scene where Integra finally gets Seras to drink real blood from a person. A lot of the episode is focused on the rampant violence and bloodshed which is wonderfully brutal and beautiful and is certainly a major draw for the series. But it also has its weak moments, which is really the last five or six minutes of this episode where the Major rambles on for far too long about the single idea that “war is good” and he loves it. I recall the similar dialogue in the manga, but here it seems to draw on for far too long and it has too little impact because of it. Instead of ending on a violent bloody note or in a way that really makes you want to see the next episode, it leaves you with a bit of a snooze.
Though there’s been a considerable delay between volumes, Hellsing Ultimate picks up easily where it left off and provides for a lot of fun. There’s a lot of overt symbolism to be found here, which isn’t a surprise, since it’s already working the Catholic Church heavily and has now decided to invoke Nazi’s . The violence is just as brutal as before, the characters are growing and changing in small and subtle ways and there’s progress on establishing Millennium as the main focus and threat for this story arc. While it does have its lulls and there are some odd things to it (Schrodinger, Rip Van Winkle for example), by and large it’s a welcome return to a fun over the top series with wonderful visuals and very little restraint. Nothing brings a smile to the face like Arucard enjoying himself immensely.
Regular Edition: Japanese 2.0 Language, English 5.1 Language, English Subtitles
Limited Edition: English 5.1 DTS Language, Japanese Dolby Digital 5.1 Dolby Language, English 5.1 Dolby Digital Language, Audio Commentary, Staff Interviews, Karaoke of Major's Speech, Credit-Free Ending Animation, Promotional Videos
Sony KDS-R70XBR2 70" LCoS 1080P HDTV, Sony PlayStation3 Blu-ray player via HDMI set to 1080p, Onkyo TX-SR605 Receiver and Panasonic SB-TP20S Multi-Channel Speaker System With 100-Watt Subwoofer.