Hellsing Ultimate V02 (2006)
By: Michael McQueen on January 25, 2008  |  Comments  |  Bookmark and Share
Madman (Australia). Region 4, PAL. 1.75:1 (16:9 enhanced). English DD 5.1, Japanese DD 2.0, English DTS 5.1. English Subtitles. 45 minutes
The Movie
Director: Tomokazu Tokoro, Mamoru Enomoto (episode director)
Starring: Crispin Freeman, Victoria Harwood, K.T. Gray, Ralph Lister, Patrick Sietz, Josh Phillips
Screenplay: Yosuka Kuroda, Taliesin Jaffe (English version)
Music: Hayato Matsuo
Tagline: The Bird of Hermes is my name, eating my wings to make me tame
Country: Japan
Last time we saw Alucard he had just crossed swords with the Vatican, who were hot on his coattails after the Hellsing invaded Ireland on a search-and-destroy mission. The vampire menace has been raging out of control and the Hellsing's resources are stretched to breaking point. With his newly reborn whelp Seras not yet comfortable in her vampiric lifestyle, Alucard is fighting a war on all fronts, struggling to contain the marauding vampire hordes sweeping the country. But things are about to get a lot worse!

Sir Integra Hellsing hosts a Round Table conference at the Hellsing Estate, informing the various Government officials of a disturbing development in their enemy: micro-chipped vampires - evidence of a sinister puppet master pulling strings from the darkness, his vicious marionettes cutting a path of carnage across England. This discovery entails a new breed; the next evolutionary step of bloodsuckers! Their worries are soon realised as an army of faceless footsoldiers launch an assault on the Estate, and the castle is soon overrun by desiccated ghouls devouring all the souls they find. This second chapter exhibits a more visceral edge than before as the haemoglobin gushes onto the screen in a Grand Guignol spectacle of orgiastic violence: arteries explode, ligaments are torn, sinew is stripped from bone, limbs are ripped from their sockets and bodies are eviscerated, garrotted, or else reduced to a formless pile of red. And of course, it's all executed with casual nihilism by grinning sadists looking cool-as-fuck whilst doing it.

Visuals have been given an octane boost, and there's more variety than was previously on offer: high velocity splatter, intense gunfights and slow-motion intervals call to mind the cinematic athleticism of the Wachowski brothers at their most kinetically stylish; there's even an impressive Hitchcock/Argento flourish as the physical space itself collapses and the walls close in a gesture of terror. However, all these cinematic allusions cannot disguise Hellsing's comic book heritage: in a climactic scene, Alucard unleashes a disembodied, mutant terror that reminded me of Todd MacFarlane's Spawn or the demon hordes in The Darkness. Nothing exceeds like excess, as they say, and the animation team have truly flexed their creative muscle, surpassing even the last episode's bloodbath with more refined monster effects and pronounced character design. New colourful characters populate Hellsing's Gothic universe: Luke and Jan Valentine are Hellsing's latest smirking villains, all arrogant posturing and outlandish costumes that owe their flair and style to contemporary B-Boy culture as much as neo-romantic period garb (think Bram Stoker's Dracula-meets-Ali G) and their quirky design and unique character movements endow Hellsing with the illusion of a living, breathing and voluptuous universe rich in variety and texture. Although this sort of cultural pastiche is fairly commonplace in anime, the originality with which the elements combine and emphasise each other in a baroque and hyperactive spectacle is stunning; even small touches like Luke's cellular phone hidden amongst his flowing white cloak contribute to the overall unique visual signature of Hellsing.

The dialogues previously strained mixture of Gothic pomp and smart-arse verbosity has been refined and the balance has thankfully been addressed. The Valentine brothers are as profane as they are smooth, although the tendencies towards "darker-than-thou" speechifying substituting as character development sadly remains as characters introduce themselves with longwinded testimonials to their greatness (this must be what passes for conversation at a goth's house party). Also, the occasional interruption of kooky anime humour sits at odds with the obscene tone of the series – one wonders why it wasn't dropped after the first episode.
Presented in 1:75:1 aspect ratio with a 16×9 enhancement, the video quality of Hellsing is unfaultable. Sharp and fluid animation, flash-paced editing and lingering long shots are all relayed in razor-sharp detail and a varied palate of colour (numerous shades of red feature prominently).
Although we are blessed with English 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS surround sound tracks, those who favour the original Japanese track will have to make do with 2.0. The dubbing and re-written English script is of a high standard, so there should be few complaints.
Extra Features
The most interesting material here is a round table discussion with English voice director/scriptwriter Taliesin Jaffe and new cast members Patrick Seitz (Luke Valentine) and Josh Phillips (Jan Valentine), who are some of the geekiest men on the planet. Their banter is truly engaging and the humour and enthusiasm with which they approach the material is infectious (if somewhat disturbing given the excessively violent content). Elsewhere, there's the usual assortment of Japanese/US trailers and TV spots as well as a production gallery.
The Verdict
Once again, the production team at Wild Geese have delivered a near-perfect episode drenched in gore and humour. The third instalment promises further atrocities like neo-Nazi vampires! If you're a regular Digital Retribution patron you have no reason not to invest your time here. Dialogue like this speaks itself for itself: "We highly recommend pissing yourself, followed by a course of praying to your impotent God! But hey, there's still time to kill yourself!"
Movie Score
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