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Hellsing Ultimate: Volumes 9 & 10
We're finally here. The end of Hellsing: Ultimate has finally arrived after 10 long years. The US release of Hellsing Ultimate has been an odd one, for the past 8 years, the cast has gotten together to dub an episode or two (whatever was available at the time) at a time, and then a year later, it'd happen again. For reasons unknown to us, the final 2 episodes hadn't been made available to FUNimation upon release date. Fast forward more than two years later, we now have the final collection of episodes made available to us. But the question is, after all of this time, does the series end on a high note and is worth getting into?
The history of the Hellsing anime franchise dates back nearly thirteen years ago when the announcement came that an anime adaption would be made out of the popular manga that had fans salivating from the mouth. However what we got was a thirteen episode mediocre monster of the week series spanning from 2001-2002 that veered completely away from it's original source material. While the series was certainly solid, the fans deserved a more faithful, epic adaption... and four years later, that's exactly what we got.
Spoilrs for OVA's 1-8:
Hellsing Ultimate is primarily set at The Hellsing Organization, which is run by Sir Integra Fairbrooks Wingate Hellsing (voiced by Victoria Harwood), who is the head and last member of the Hellsing family, after killing her corrupt Uncle, and is the Director of the Hellsing Organization. The purpose of the Hellsing organization is to control England and use their power to exterminate the undead or any other kind of monster that threatens England's borders.
While the organization has many weapons at their disposal, their trump card for the most deadly of the undead, is that of Alucard (voiced by the superb Crispin Freeman) an enigmatic vampire whom does Integra's bidding. This is a world where vampiric activity is kept underground and apart from a few select groups nobody knows of its existence. Integra dispatches Alucard to make sure their existence remains that way.
At the very beginning of the at the beginning revolves around Alucard (voiced by the superb Crispin Freeman.) Where we start off in the series, Alucard has been dispatched to take care of a problem at a nearby church, Alucard must eradicate a vampire priest and his ghouls. However, a police girl named Seras Victoria (voiced by Katherine Gray) is gravely injured during a Mexican standoff in the process, and upon giving her a choice to live or die, Alucard turns her into his vampire servant. The first 4 episodes of the series tends to revolve around Alucard and Seras dealing with numerous problems for the Hellsing Organization, eventually meeting Father Alexander Anderson (voiced by Steven Brand), Alucard's equal in battle, along the way.
Episodes 5-7 take a different approach with the series, at the end of OVA 4 we're introduce to the primary arc of the series, we're introduced to The Major (voiced by Gildart Jackson), a Nazi commander and leader of an organization called Millenium, whom makes their intention clear to Integra: To wage war on England and crush anyone who gets in their way. After hearing about a hijacking of an aircraft carrier to let loose war on England by Pip Van Winkle, first lieutenant of Millenium, Integra dispatches Alucard to take them out. Unfortuantely, things don't exactly go Alucard's way and it turns out to be a trap, leaving Alucard stuck on the carrier letting the Major wreak havoc on England without Hellsing's trump card.
As I said, Episodes 5-7 mark a turning point, these episodes feature maybe 1 minute total of Alucard, and almost all of the content focuses on the Hellsing Organization, led by Integra, Seras, Walter (voiced by Ralph Lister) and Captain Pip Bernadotte (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) attempting to hold off The Major and his ghouls. The series continues building up the journey of Seras becoming a full fledged vampire. Pip and his mercenaries are the sole line of defense at the Hellsing mansion, which is under siege by Zorin Blitz, eventually everyone is killed despite Seras's attempts to save Pip, though he begs her with his dying breath to feed on him, so she can become a vampire and win the war.
The previous episode marked the end game being revealed to us. Alucard has finally returned to the battlefield to confront Anderson, Walter, the family butler, has secretly turned on the Hellsing organization, and the Major continues his crusade to destroy England.
Episodes 9 and 10.
I don't want to say too much in fear of spoiling anything huge in these final two episodes, because they don't let up at all. Going into these final two episodes, I didn't think they could have a satisfying ending due to how much ground they had to cover and only two hours to tie up all loose ends. Thankfully I was dead wrong.
Picking up exactly where episode 8 had left off from, Alucard has received a fatal blow courtesy of Anderson the Priest, slowly but surely dying Alucard continues to press on with his fight against his arch rival. Walter eventually makes his way to the battlefield and makes a stand against Alucard, both knowing full well that this will indeed be the end. While Alucard and Walter give it all they have, and with only Seras and Integra left standing to defend their country, The Major makes one final push to destroy all of England
For fans of the franchise, these two episodes pay off in spades. Not only are both episode packed with action, but they also have loads of character development for all of the characters. We finally find out who Alucard was before becoming the Hellsing families pet. We also find out some more about the backgrounds of Integra, Seras, and Walter before they became the characters we know them as. Fans will NOT be disappointed.
+ One of the best English dubs I've ever heard, and I love it more after hearing what a labor of love it was to get all of the actors back, most of which have stopped acting and have pretty much scattered across the globe, to reprise their roles. Everyone is absolutely wonderful, but the standout in this series is Crispin Freeman. He gives one of the best voice over performances I've ever heard as Alucard.
+ If you want a gory anime, this is as good as it gets.
+ Excellent story.
+ Chock full of well developed characters.
- Admittedly as much as I loved it, The story did get a little convoluted at times.
Video and Audio:
Much like the past two releases, you get more of the same. Hellsing Ultimate is presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in it's original 1.78:1 format. The visuals on the series are stunning. Colors are bold, vivid and strong, the series pops in it's action sequences. There are plenty of chances for this release to shine, since the majority of the two episodes is action, buildings are ablaze, blood is flying everywhere, to the extent that the crimson blood literally flows like a river through the streets. You can tell a lot of effort went into these final episodes.
For audio, we have two options. The first is an excellent English DTS-HD Master 5.1 audio track. The dub on this series is fantastic, maybe up there with the best of them. The second is the original Japanese DTS-HD Master 5.1 Audio track. While I preferred the English dub for the series, if you're a sub only person, you will not be disappointed, as I found the original performances to be on par with the English tack. The deciding factor for me is the pitch perfect performance of Crispin Freeman as Alucard, a performance I don't feel was matched by the original Japanese Seiyu. The dialogue is crisp and clean, the soundtrack gives the atmosphere a darker edge to it, and there were no signs of any kind of dropouts or distortions throughout.
- Episode 9 commentary with Talisen Jaffe, the ADR director of the series, and Katherine Gray, the voice Seras.
- Episode 9 video commentary with Jonathan Klein, the producer of the series, Talisen Jaffe, the director of the dub, and Crispin Freeman, the voice of Alucard.
- Episode 10 commentary with Talisen Jaffe, the director and lead script adapter, Jonathan Klein, the producer of the series, and Patrick Seitz, the voice of Luke Valentine and one of the script adapters of the series.
- Interview Session X: A Farewell to an Epic. A 35 minute interview with Talesin Jaffe (director and script director), Jonathan Klein (producer), Crispin Freeman (Alucard), Laura Bailey (Schrodinger), Gildart Jackson (The Major), and Rachel Robinson (Zorin Blitz and script adapter.)
- R.I.P. In Memoriam - a 10 minute feature showing us the death of the various characters throughout the series.
- U.S. trailer.
- Other FUNimation trailers including Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods, Ghost in the Shell: Arise, Bayonetta: Bloody Fate, Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist, Attack on Titan, Deadman Wonderland, and Panty & Stocking.
Hellsing Ultimate is a wonderful series, chock full of excellent lead characters that all receive a wealth of development (including the minor characters like Pip), a great story, breathtaking action sequences with bloody great visuals, and for each respective language, one of the best dubs ever. Hellsing Ultimate as a whole is a DVDTalk Collectors Series. It's one of the best anime series ever made.