Hellsing Vol. #1 - Mania.com



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Mania Grade: B+

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Info:

  • Audio Rating: B+
  • Video Rating: A
  • Packaging Rating: A-
  • Menus Rating: A
  • Extras Rating: B+
  • Age Rating: 16 & Up
  • Region: 1 - North America
  • Released By: Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.
  • MSRP: 29.98/34.98
  • Running time: 75
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Disc Resolution: 480i/p (mixed/unknown)
  • Disc Encoding: MPEG-2
  • Series: Hellsing

Hellsing Vol. #1

By Chris Beveridge     May 05, 2002
Release Date: July 23, 2002


Hellsing Vol. #1
© Geneon Entertainment (USA), Inc.


What They Say
A secret war is brewing in the night - a war in which humanity is only a pawn. The mysterious Hellsing Organization deploys within the shadows to protect ordinary mortals from the undead legions that would prey upon us. Now, as the ghouls and vampires increase in number, they threaten the human police forces forcing the deployment of the Hellsing Organization's ultimate weapon - the rogue vampire, Arucard! After saving Victoria Seras Victoria, a special police operative from death by transforming her into a vampire, Arucard must work with her to fight the undead army - as well as her own newfound hungers!

The Review!
The prolific folks from Gonzo are back with yet another new series. Things they get involved with tend to get licensed and brought over pretty fast. Hellsing is a nice change of pace from some of their other recent titles, especially since they avoid having any of the typical younger characters in lead roles.

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:
This is a pretty flawless looking transfer as far as I can tell. With the show originally starting its run on Japanese broadcast back in October of 2001, it’s little surprise that the materials are in pristine condition. The transfer gets even better 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. This is one slick looking disc.

Packaging:
Definitely giving you an idea what this show is going to be like, the front cover presents an up close and personal shot of Arucard with lots of red mixing in other images, such as bats in the background. The back cover features a couple of animation shots and a brief summary of the show. The discs episode numbers and titles are listed here as well as the discs features and extras. Production information and basica technical information is also clearly listed. The insert shows off some more animation shots and gives the chapter listings for the individual episodes. It also folds open to reveal a nice two panel shot of Arucard and Anderson in combat.

Menu:
Pioneer’s gotten the folks at Nightjar to handle the menu release for this series and oh man did they choose right. Though there’s not the usual amount of animation to the opening screen as they’ve done in the past, the way the image is lit is perfection. The shot shows a packet of blood against cold blue ice with a black background. The way these colors look is just amazing. Some soft music plays along with it as well, adding to the overall feel. Submenus are nicely setup with varying areas from the show being used, keeping everything nice and in tone with it. Access times are nice and fast and the usual things we like about menus show up throughout.

Extras:
There’s a good selection of extras for this opening volume to the series. The opening is provided in textless format which works well since the imagery really needs to be taken in without the text to distract you. There’s a music video included as well, which was used as the trailer on the Soul Taker #2 disc. There’s a good character artwork gallery as well as a number of images from Toycom’s upcoming Arucard action figure.

Content: (please note that content portions of a review may contain spoilers)
Hellsing is a rather interesting show, based on the couple of episodes on this volume. Set in present day but in an alternate world of sorts, the story is set in England and is populated by adults. This alone makes it markedly different from so many shows out there today that it’s going to garner interest just from that.

We’re introduced to Arucard in his dark red outfit and fairly outdated looking style, as he has the old style hat and his outfit in general feels like an odd mix. His choice of weapons though isn’t quite as outdated, as his gun is a special model made by the Hellsing company, with bullets made from the melted down portions of a church. When he shows up to kill a particular vampire that has seduced a target, he lets off a little speech and then promptly kills the thing, letting the bugs that make up the interior of the body scurry about. It’s also here that we learn that he’s part of the Royal Order of Religious Knights.

Arucard doesn’t appear to be totally in control of his life though, as he reports to Integra Wingates Hellsing. She’s taken over the job of running Hellsing after the death of her father, and has control over Arucard. She gives him the missions and instructions and appears to have a definite hold on him, though he willingly admits to being a servant of the humans. A lot of this has to do with the number of vampires running around these days, vampires that aren’t the same as Arucard. They’re more like cheap knock-off ones, and are apparently being created by a human. This is an affront to Arucard, as someone whose been around a long time and considers the type of vampire he is to be the real kind, as opposed to these knock-offs. So it serves his purpose to work with the Hellsing people.

Arucard gets assigned to investigate a particular priest in the village of Cheddar, where a number of people have gone missing in the past month. It’s essentially assumed that the priest is a vampire, and we learn that the police had sent their elite unit to take care of it. Unsurprisingly, as we shift to the village, the entire team is dead outside of one female officer, Seras Victoria. She’d been something of a “guest” of the unit, treated not as a real member but just a girl that was around. She tries to hold herself together as she ends up around all her dead comrades, but starts to lose it when they start coming back to life.

All of these elements start to come together when Arucard pushes things in a direction that leaves Seras with only one real choice, though he likes to give the impression she had other real avenues to follow when the situation gets serious. The eventual turning of Seras into a slave-vampire to Arucard was an easily predictable sequence, but works well in giving the viewer some insights into how this version of vampirism works. Thankfully, she doesn’t seem to be taking the weenie approach to it for long and bemoaning her new existence.

There’s a whole heck of a lot to like about this show. It’s brimming with style, with the dark nasty look of Arucard that reminded me of characters out of the American comic Preacher. A lot of the appeal of that show fits in here as well. With the shows location in England we get to have some different style applied to the characters in how they work, with nods the Queen Mother and having the history of the country to work with. During one episode, we learn that the Vatican has its own division to deal with vampires and has sent an operative to deal with one particular one. With the country being a protestant one, this doesn’t sit well with those running the show and adds a nice layer of complexity to the situation.

During the course of writing the review, I also took in the dubbed version as I had heard some interesting comments about it while it was in production. With the show being based outside of Japan, they decided to give the characters accents that matched the location, meaning English accents for everyone outside of a couple of specific ones, such as Arucard and others who come from other countries. For the most part, this works rather well and makes certain things easier to figure out. For instance, it took quite awhile before we figured out Integra was a woman, but it’s plainly obvious with the English voice actor. Crispin Freeman did a solid job as Arucard, but I have to give the bigger nod to the Japanese actor, George Nakata. At times, he almost sounds like Folken from Escaflowne with the deep serious voice. It just works so perfectly.

Hellsing’s definitely not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, as it’s violent show with plenty of implied sexual references and not so implied ones. It’s definitely something I’ve been looking forward to seeing, and having seen so many shows that don’t feature any adult characters lately, getting one that’s done in a more serious way like this is something I’m betting a lot of people are eager to get their hands on.

Features
Japanese Language,English Language,English Subtitles,Available with a box also for $34.98,Textless Ending,Hellsing Trailer,Production Art Gallery,Figure Gallery

Review Equipment
Toshiba TW40X81 40" HDTV, Skyworth 1050P Progressive Scan codefree DVD player, Sony STR-DE835 DD/DTS receiver, Monster component cable and Sony speakers.

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