DVD Review: Hellsing – The Complete Original TV Series

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How does the older ‘original’ Hellsing series compare to the more newer, up-to-date, Ultimate Series? Find out in our DVD Review of Hellsing – The Complete Original TV Series.

Synopsis:

The worst enemy of the night – is one of its own. The original series that inspired Hellsing Ultimate! 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!

Our View:

The Hellsing TV series is the ‘original’ anime adaptation of Kouta Hirano’s manga, with 13 episodes depicting the daily (or nightly) activities of the Hellsing and Vatican organisation, with Alucard, Seras, Integra & Walter taking centre stage throughout the series. This TV series is uniquely different to the original manga, and the more recent Hellsing Ultimate series, and so provides a different look into the franchise. The reason for the difference is because this series was being produced at the same time as the manga and since the anime series caught up (and overtook) the manga the anime series writer (Chiaki J. Konaka) took a different direction with the story. The storyline isn’t the only difference either as notable changes to character design and art style (especially between TV & Ultimate) were used – most noticeably are the overall look and feel of the show as well as Seras uniforms (which is a different colour) and her vampire transformation.

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Short history lesson aside the first half of the TV Series ‘loosely’ follows the story set out within the manga (and the recent Hellsing Ultimate) with the introduction of the Hellsing Organisation, Seras first vampire encounter, the Vatican priest battle and more importantly the destructive encounter with the Valentine Brothers.  If you have already seen the first three episodes of Hellsing Ultimate then you will be familiar with what is going to happen, even so noticeable differences in the story progression do occur such as Seras first mission involving a rampaging vampire couple. This story doesn’t make an appearance in the ‘Ultimate’ OVA episodes but it does play a vital role in showing how Seras is coming to terms with her new vampire abilities and her need for blood.

The second half of the TV series is where it starts to get interesting, as it completely deviates from the original manga and provides a new experience for Hellsing fans with the introduction of British Army (SAS 22nd Regiment), which ultimately create problems for the Hellsing Organisation when Ghouls & Vampires attack London. This second half also explores Integra’s past and explains how she met Alucard and became the heir of the Hellsing organisation, something which was barely shown in the opening episode of Hellsing Ultimate.

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Episodic content aside the Helling TV Series is starting to show its age (its 16 years old) and this comes in the form of a dreary English Dub (which was produced back in 2001), slow unenticing animation style and odd (but distinctive) colour designs for characters, with most characters wearing brightly coloured outfits. In my eyes this TV Series can be seen as a “teen (child) friendly” version of the franchise with colours being brighter and the violence being extremely toned down, especially when compared to Hellsing Ultimate.

Extras:

If you enjoyed the series then you’ll be satisfied with the type of extra content that is included with the four DVD Discs, as each disc contains a concept gallery, promotional artwork, text less videos and a variety of trailers for other anime series.

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The DVD disc’s themselves are replicas of Madman Entertainments original release of the series, so the trailers included are of old titles (such as End of Evangelion & Vampire Hunter D) as well as titles that are not even released by Manga Entertainment (Spirited Away & Vampire Princess Miyu).

Disc 1:

  • Text less opening,
  • Music vIdeo trailer
  • Concept gallery
  • Trailers – Vampire Hunter D, Armitage Dual Matrix, Berserk, Excel Saga, End of Evangelion

Disc 2:

  • Text Less Ending (Version 1)
  • Concept Gallery,
  • Staff Interview (17 Minutes) – Interview with the Japanese Director, Artists & Music Composer surrouding production and development of the Hellsing TV Series.
  • Trailers – Ah! My Goddess, Burn Up Excess, GTO, Vampire Princess Miyu, Real Bout High School

Disc 3:

  • Japanese Cover art gallery
  • Text less ending (Version 2)
  • Concept gallery
  • Trailers – Noir, Boogiepop Phantom, Trigun, Cowboy Bebop, Blood The Last Vampire

Disc 4:

  • Magazine Ad artwork gallery
  • Text less Ending (Version 3)
  • Concept Gallery
  • Weapons of Hellsing gallery
  • Trailers – FLCL, Spirited Away, GTO, Neia 7, Ah! My GOddess The Movie

The Concept Art and Promotional material are navigated manually by using the “next chapter” button of your DVD remote, so artwork can be viewed at your own pace furthermore the trailers are known as ‘Madman Propaganda’ on the extras menu. It’s interesting (and unusual) to see this amount of extra content included on a DVD release – especially as one as old as this however its nice that they are included and that we haven’t received a “watered-down” version of the series as the discs could have easily been re-authored to exclude the extra content.

Specs:

Media:  DVD 5 x4
Region: 2
Running Time:  1:08:38 (Disc 1), 1:08:55 (Disc 2), 1:09:01 (Disc 3), 1:31:34 (Disc 4)
Video: MPEG-2
Audio: Dolby Digital 2.0 224kbps (English & Japanese)
Subtitles: English (Yellow)
Resolution: 720 x 576 (576i)
Aspect Ratio: 4:3
Frame Rate: 25 fps

Overall:

This Hellsing TV series is the ‘original’ anime adaptation of Kouta Hirano’s manga and unlike the recently released Hellsing Ultimate OVA series it follows a distinctively different story to the manga, with new characters and a softer, almost teen friendly, approach to violence. The Hellsing TV series is one that some viewers would like to forget, with its unusual animation and uncompelling story, but to those wishing to take the plunge you may find yourself watching an iconic gem in the form of its addictive soundtrack.

Its obvious to see that this DVD release is an exact copy of the early ‘volume’ releases of Hellsing, not just because of the content but because each DVD disc is individually number (and labelled) in the disc menu. While this might seem like a bad thing (i.e. an exact copy) its actually a good thing, because it means we also get the extra content.

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In terms of Picture and Audio quality its business as usual with both English & Japanese (with optional English subtitles) available for selection with audio presented in Stereo 2.0 sound. It’s also worth pointing out that the voice actors are the same as the ones used in Hellsing Ultimate, however since this series was produced (several years) before Hellsing Ultimate the voice actors aren’t fully accustomed to their characters personalities – but it still feels better than the Japanese voice actings.  For those interested the series is presented in original 4:3 aspect ratio (since that’s how the show was produced) but you may find your player automatically stretching the picture to fit the screen (this is your TV/Player and not the disc itself).

Overall as a standalone series Hellsing feels slow, awkward and sometimes even boring but with its entertaining soundtrack you may leave yourself enjoying this rather old gem of series that is only made better when combined with Hellsing Ultimate as you then start to see the ‘complete’ picture of the franchise.

Score: review-stars-3

Hellsing – The Complete Original Series will be available on DVD from the 12th August 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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