ANIME & MANGA - Review
14:42 - 26th July 2013, by Matthew Edwards

Hellsing Ultimate - Volume 5-8 Collection

It seems like we've been waiting forever for the next Hellsing Ultimate OVA to come out. In fact, the last volume was released way back in April 2009. So what exactly has been taking so long? It could be something to do with the series switching hands between three different production studios over the course of its ten part history. All we know is that the next instalment is genuinely worth the wait, and just to sweeten the deal that little bit more, Manga Entertainment has packed the next four volumes into a double disc set that's packed with loads of additional features.

When last we saw Alucard in his devilish fedora, he'd just defeated the vampire Rip van Winkle - but in doing so, he'd left himself stranded in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. With its ultimate weapon lost out to sea, the Hellsing Organisation has been left vulnerable. This kick-starts an all-out war, where London is invaded by a dormant Nazi group called Millennium. Instead of trying to claim England for themselves, Millennium's only goal is to burn the British capital to the ground. What follows is an action-heavy bloodbath, as the undead armies of the Third Reich face off against the remaining members of Hellsing.

Directed by the same man that adapted Claymore into an anime, Hiroyuki Tanaka, it's hardly surprising that Hellsing Ultimate retains the whimsical brutality of its source material. One moment you're looking on in slight disbelief as an act of necrophilia is committed in front of a screaming child, while in the next, you're watching the streets of London burn as Schaft's rendition of the 1979 hit - 'Broken English' by Marianne Faithfull - echoes hauntingly from the speakers. There's even the odd moment where darkness gives way to full-blown wackiness, such as the conversation that Alucard has with the spirit of his gun.

It's not giving much away to say that Alucard doesn't feature too heavily for the first half of this set, but even though the latter half more than makes up for this, the leading ladies still hold their own - especially in regard to the stern demeanour of Integra Hellsing and the conflicting emotions of Seras Victoria. But if there's one man who steals the show, it has to be Alexander Anderson. We don't know why the localisation team decided to give an ardent Catholic turned warrior priest a Scottish accent, but when Steven Brand's voice propels Anderson into battle, the intensity is palpable.

The Hellsing series has always been a stylish fusion of Dracula darkness, flaming swastikas and its fair share of seinen sensibilities, and with the arrival of the holier-than-thou Iscariot Organisation by volume six, the stage is set for an apocalyptic confrontation between zeppelin warships, pious paladins and one badass vampire. The only thing that might leave you slightly disappointed is the cliff-hanger ending that leads into the last two volumes. Fingers crossed it doesn't take another four years for this epic blood ballad to be concluded once and for all.

The Hellsing series by Gonzo quickly earned its place among the anime elite and yet Ultimate surpasses it with its infectious sense of style. Even when Alucard and Seras aren't battling on the frontline, this series effortlessly paints a veil of darkness that's less horrifying, and more guns blazing with a sinister smile. In short, Hellsing Ultimate makes vampires awesome again.
SCORE: 4.5/5
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