Blood, guts, and exploding heads – it can only be Hellsing Ultimate, and they've made damn sure to get their 18 certificate this time out. The shadowy Millennium Organisation are ready to make their move, and their target is: Britain…
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...
You get three audio tracks on this release: English language in Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS versions, and Japanse in Dolby 5.1. I listened to the Japanese track for this review. Hellsing Ultimate is heavy on the action scenes, and the soundtrack reflects the loving detail that's been put into the rest of the production, with clear dialogue, well-placed effects some decent music combining to create more of an audio experience than a soundtrack. There were no apparent problems.
Video is presented in its original 1.78:1 anamorphic ratio, and is hands-down one of the best-looking shows that I've seen in a while. Desite the dark colour palette, there's a huge amount of detail in the animation and backgrounds, with the series simply coming to life on screen. Animation is smooth, with some of the more horror-type scenes being positively creepy to watch. There were no obvious problems on my set-up.
No packaging was provided with our review copy.
Both discs use a blood-red main menu, with the centre of the screen home to images of the lead characters, flitting in and out while an ominous piece of choral music plays over the top. Options for Play All, Scenes, Setup and Extras are arrayed along the bottom of the screen. There's an annoying transition animation when an option is selected that takes 5-10 seconds to play and soon wears thin, but the menus are easy enough to follow.
As before, this disc comes with a commentary track for the episode, this time featuring Taliesin Jaffe (ADR Director), Kari Wahlgren (Rip van Winkle) & Ralph Lister (Walter). Wahlgren and Lister are also the subject of two 15-minute interview segments. Add in almost 7 minutes of promotional videos, and a creditless version of the closing sequence, and you have another good selection of extras to work your way through.
Content: (please note that content portions of a review will contain spoilers)
See that "What they Say" section up at the top of the review? That's actually about as good a description of what happens in this episode as you need. Now, the Major and his undead army don't actually reach British shores in this episode – that will have to wait for episode 5, should it ever see the light of day (Geneon USA went into their hibernation before it was ever completed) – but what we get here is some neat setup and one or two good excuses for ultraviolence. Which is, of course, what Hellsing Ultimate is all about.
The Major is in charge of the Last Batallion, an undead army created by the Third Reich in the final days of the war, with apparently more than a little help from certain factions within the Catholic Church. The Fuhrer, you see, wasn’t the sort of person you could say 'no' to when he came calling. The Vatican are only just learning the full details of this now, with Maxwell of the Iscariot Division taking great pleasure in conducting the interrogations of those involved, but the damage has already been done.
Arcuard and the Major met in the Last Batallion's early days, and he had thought he'd destroyed them, but clearly not – and now their rivalry is about to be reborn. The Major has a major (ahem) grudge against the British in general and the Hellsing organisation in particular, and now that he's back he's going to deal with them, in style. But this episode focuses mainly on the shadowplay before the main fight, as a Royal Navy ship is overrun by the Major's ghouls, under the command of one Rip Van Winkle, a rather cute demonic type with a gun that has even more stopping power than anything in Seras' arsenal. Once the ship is under her control, she simply anchors it offshore and waits, taunting Integra to leave her be or deal with her. Integra's not the sort to leave a challenge unanswered, though, so Arcuard and Seras are dispatched and the mayhem begins.
Along the way we're also introduced to the Major's errand-boy, Lieutenant Schroedinger, who appropriately-enough comes with cat-ears and a tendency to be wherever you least want him to be. In some ways he's the episode's comic relief, in others he serves a useful purpose. He's also apparently indescructible, surviving having his head blown off at short range by Seras with surprisingly good grace.
Rip is a strange beast, too – for the most part incredibly self-confident, and clearly dangerous with the power that her weapon gives her, she goes completely to pieces when facing Arucard. It makes the battle between the two quite interesting to watch, as she's constantly switching from tearful & fearful to confident and dangerous, and manages to hold her own quite well against the big vampire – not that the eventual outcome is ever in doubt.
The final 10-15 minutes of the episode is given over to a monologue by the Major, as he tries to rouse his troops before the invasion proper begins. This is were the episode lost me a bit – when you watch Hellsing, you want to see the violence, and the little teasing that Arucard tends to do with Seras and Integra, not someone going on at length about why he hates the world, and I found myself wishing he would just get on with it and let me see some more action. Not to be, unfortunately, as the episode ends with his speech, which is definitely what I would class as an unsatisfactory ending, especially with it being uncertain when or if the next installment would appear. That's not a big enough disappointment to spoil the episode overall, though.
There are certain things you expect from Hellsing Ultimate, and this episode doesn't disappoint in any way when it comes to delivering them. It could be better – what couldn't – but there's very little chance that you'll come away from this feeling disappointed if you've enjoyed the previous episodes. Great fun, in it's own violent little way.
Japanese Language 5.1, English Language 5.1, English Language DTS 5.1, Episode commentary with Taliesin Jaffe (ADR Director), Kari Wahlgren (Rip van Winkle) & Ralph Lister (Walter), Creditless Ending #4, Production videos
Toshiba 37X3030DB 37" widescreen HDTV; Sony PS3 Blu-ray player (via HDMI, upscaled to 1080p); Acoustic Solutions DS-222 5.1 speaker system.