Blu-ray Review: Hellsing Ultimate – Parts 1 to 4

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The first installments into the Hellsing Ultimate franchise finally arrives in High Definition, but is it as sucessfully presented and as brutal as the later installments? Find out in our Blu-ray Review of Hellsing Ultimate – Parts 1 to 4.

Synopsis:

The rogue vampire Alucard is the Hellsing Organization’s deadliest instrument in its mission to protect the British Empire from satanic ghouls and Nazi freaks. He is not alone in his assault on the occult; the master has a servant. Policewoman Seras Victoria accepted Alucard’s gift of dark salvation after falling in the line of duty, and now the remnants of her human soul struggle against her growing vampire urges. Together, they haunt the shadows as a sinister force of good – and tonight the foggy streets of England shall flow with the blood of their evil prey.

Our View:

It’s always nice to start fresh and with Hellsing Ultimate this is what is achieved, a series tailored to follow the storyline of the original Manga – all of which is presented in 10 OVA Styled episodes, four of which are included with this Collection, with a further four episodes currently available in another collection. As you may have already guessed this Blu-ray release of Hellsing Ultimate – Parts 1 to 4 starts from the very beginning of the Hellsing saga and it offers some brutally violent British vampire action mixed with some shallow comedy.

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Hellsing Ultimate begins by forcefully introducing the two main characters of the series, namely Alucard (the demonic vampire) and SirIntegra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing (leader of the Hellsing Organisation). This introduction arrives in the form of a family feud whereby shortly  before his death Integra’s farther named Integra the successor to the family name, much to the annoyance of her uncle Richard Hellsing. Because of this Richard attempts to murder Integra and in doing so Alucard the Vampire is awakened, it’s from here where a new partnership between vampire and human begins. Fast forward several years into the future we find ourselves seeing the Police trying to overcome a vampire situation with Seras Victoria (later nicknamed Police Girl) attempting to flee from the head vampire, it’s here where Alucard (and the Hellsing organisation) arrive on the scene to put things straight, unfortunately for Seras she is mortally wounded with her only option of survival being to become a vampire. Shortly after awakening into her new vampire form (and after some comical debates between Seras, Alucard and Integra regarding Seras condition) Seras agrees to join the Hellsing order and is immediately taken on missions with Alucard, but it’s not long before the Vatican priest of the Iscariot branch, Alexander Anderson, steps in to try and kill both Alucard and Seras along with the Hellsing organisation itself.

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In hindsight the first three parts act as a prelude, an introduction of things to come, with the fourth part acting as a true start to the main story, as new characters are quickly introduced (and removed) from the series within the first three OVA episodes, such as the Valentine brothers who preform a daring raid on the Hellsing Compound. There is also plenty of reoccurring characters, such as the Vatican priest Alexander Anderson, Integra’s Butler Walter and numerous Politicians, all of which play a vital role within the forthcoming episodes. While majority of these episodes included in this collection act as an ‘introduction’ to the characters a ‘developing story’ is slowly progressing in the background, as The Major and his Millennium organisation plan an all-out attack on London and the Hellsing Compound. While characters are introduced, and developing plots slowly revealed, the four included episodes are far from unentertaining – instead they are brutally violent battles between vampires/ghouls against humans with loads of blood, swearing and arms being ripped off – this is the ‘old’ style of manga and its nice to see titles like this get re-released onto Blu-ray.

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Storyline aside for this release of Hellsing Ultimate it’s all about the High Definition picture quality as just like with Parts 5 to 8, which were released earlier in the year, the series has had a massive overhaul. The four included episodes now sprout a fresh High Definition appearance and because of this Hellsing Ultimate is a much more enjoyable viewing experience. Hellsing is a series that won’t always appeal to the masses, with its brutal violence and swearing, but the previously released DVD’s seemed to be highly pixelated and darkly toned whereas this newer improved Blu-ray presentation fixes all of those issues – with characters and actions on screen being visibly clearer and the colours more brighter. Hellsing Ultimate is a relatively dark series but this improved visual quality means we can actually see what is taking place rather than just get the jist of it.

Extras:

Just like with Parts 5 – 8, Hellsing Ultimate Parts 1 – 4 contains an extensive array of extra features, with extra features including Interviews, Cast Commentaries, Anime Panels as well as Promotional Trailers for the series, all of which are located on the second Blu-ray disc.

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Majority of the extra features provided on are presented in Standard Definition with the only exclusion being the U.S. Blu-ray Trailer, this is because the extras, such as Interviews and Anime Expo Panel, were taken from the original Geneon DVDs. While the extras are presented in Standard Definition all of them (except Interview Session 1) is presented in 16:9 Widescreen plus its nice to see them included rather than just abandoned like with Kaze’s Code Geass R2 Blu-ray release.

Disc 1:

  •  Episode 1 to 4 Commentary

Disc 2:

Five Interview Sessions:

All of the interview s are around 20 – 30 minutes in length and are presented in Standard Definition as these were interviews were included on the original OVA DVDs. Each Interview sessions Discuss the series, its English Production and what the voice actors thought of their character and the show.

  • Interview Session 1: Taliesin Jaffe (English Voice Director) & Crispin Freeman (Arucard) (32 Minutes)
  • Interview Session 2: Taliesin Jaffe, Patrick Seitza (Luke Valentine) & Josh Phillips (Jan Valentine) (25 Minutes)
  • Interview Session 3: Taliesin Jaffe, Victoria Hardwood (Integra), JB Blanc (Maxwell) (30 Minutes)
  • Interview Session 4: Taliesin Jaffe & Ralph Lister (Walter) (16 Minutes)
  • Interview Session 5: Taliesin Jaffe & Kari Wahlgren (RIP Van Winkle) (17 Minutes)

Anime Expo 2007:

The Anime Expo 2007 segement features an English Cast panel and a tour of the Geneon Booth. The English Cast panel itself features the voice actors answering the fans questions as well as discussing (or explaining) what it was like to work on both series of Hellsing.

  • English Cast Panel Featuring Taliesin Jaffe, Crispin Freeman, Ralph Lister, Patrick Seitz, Josh Phillips and Jonathan Klein (43 Minutes)
  • Geneon Booth Featuring Hellsing Ultimate Mansion and Staff Signing (2 Minutes)

Promotional Videos:

Included under the ‘Promotional Videos’ section is a variety of English and Japanese Trailers that promote the series, individual episodes or this particular Blu-ray Release. The Trailers are all in standard definition, except for the Blu-ray Trailer which is in High Definition.

  • Broken English Version (6 Minutes)
  • Young King Ours Version (5 Minutes)
  • Japanese Episode 1 Trailer (2 Minutes)
  • Japanese Episode 2 Trialer (1 Minute)
  • Episode 4 Trailer (2 Minutes)
  • Episode 4 Trailer – Long Version (4 Minutes)
  • U.S Blu-ray Trailer (1 Minute)

Remaining Extras:

  • Text less Songs
  • Japanese TV Commericals
  • Japanese Episode 4 Ending (2 Minutes)
  • Karaoke of Major’s Speech (6 Minutes)
  • Trailers (6 Minutes)

Trailers include The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, King of Thorn, Evangelion 2.22 and Madoka Magica, all of which are presented in High Definition.

Specs:

Media:  BD 50 x1, BD 25 x1
Region: B
Running Time: 3:16:05 (Disc 1), Extras (Disc 2)
Video: MPEG-4 AVC
Audio: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (White)
Resolution: 1920×1080 (1080p)
Aspect Ratio: 16:9 Aspect Ratio
Frame Rate: 23.976 fps

Overall:

Hellsing Ultimate is the OVA Adaptation of the Helling Manga created by Kouta Hirano, however unlike the TV Series (which is being released later this year on DVD) this OVA Adaptation stays true to the source and contains story elements from the Manga itself, such as the main antagonists The Major and his Millennium organisation. That being said this particular collection contains the first 4 OVA Episodes on 1 Blu-ray Disc, most of which focus on introducing the main members of each organisation, with the second Blu-ray disc being used entirely for extra features.

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It’s worth noting that this Blu-ray Collection features the same ‘episodic content’ that was released on the individual OVA Episodes several years ago, the only difference being that it features a new High Definition presentation. This is true for the extra features as well, as all of the extra features (such as interviews, cast commentaries, Anime Expo Panel) were all available on the individual DVD Releases and because of this only the newer trailers (such as for Evangelion 2.22, Maodka Magica) are presented in high definition with the remainder in full screen standard definition. Speaking of extra features the disc menus can be annoying to navigate, as it uses small red text on a moving backdrop that is mostly filled with dark colours. Because of this I found myself waiting several seconds to see what exactly I was choosing and it can become an issue for those impatient or those with unclear eye sight as colours tend to overlap each other.

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With this fresh new High Definition treatment the Hellsing Ultimate franchise really starts to come into its own with a variety of darker toned colours being clearer to see than the previous DVD releases, not to mention picture grain and pixelation (which often occurred on the earlier OVA episodes) is no longer present in this HD editions. While the visuals (which has a US comic book feel to it) are gorgeous to look at, its the audio that seems to suffer slightly as both the English and Japanese Audio tracks (which are presented in 5.1 Surround) often have an echoed feel to them. This is most likely intentionally but it happens a lot and distracts from the overall performance, especially when viewing in surround sound, other than that though audio is clear and is presented throughout all of the speakers.

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Overall Hellsing Ultimate – Parts 1 to 4 is the ‘true’ introduction to the world of Hellsing and with this ‘updated’ HD version the world has never looked so brutally violent, not to mention with all of the extra features still included on the disc(s) this collection is a must for any Hellsing fan.

Score: review-stars-4

Hellsing Ultimate – Parts 1 to 4 is available on Blu-ray and DVD from the 29th July 2013.

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About Scott Emsen
Scott is the Founder and Executive Editor of AnimeBlurayUK but in the past he has worked at ZOMGPlay, Rice Digital and Funstock and was once a Community Moderator for the Nokia N-Gage forums. Based in the UK, he loves anything related to Games & Anime and in In his spare time you'll mostly find him playing on one of his many gaming consoles; namely the PS Vita, PS4 or Xbox One.

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