Hellsing Ultimate Volume 02 Review

The first volume of Hellsing: Ultimate zipped by so quickly it was an almost disorientating swirl of an introduction to the Hellsing universe, but Tomokazu Tokoro’s aggressive direction reaps dividends in Volume 02, as the story switches into high-action gear when the Hellsing Organisation finds itself under siege by the artificial vampire brothers Luke and Jan Valentine, and their mini-army of soldier freaks. Soon pretty much all of Hellsing’s armed forces are devoured and turned into more soldier freaks, and it is up to Walter, Seras and, Alucard to turn the tide!


We see in the 2nd episode of Hellsing: Ultimate that Tokoro is sticking to a roughly one episode: one manga volume format (although this episode falls short of volume two of the manga by one chapter) that allows the anime writers to remain very faithful to the serialised nature of Hellsing’s narrative. Volume 02 of Hellsing: Ultimate is a little different to the opening episode in that the plot is reduced to a more formulaic: bad guys arrive with new abilities and Alucard and Seras go on the offensive; approach. This is pretty much the general formula for most of the volumes of Kouta’s work from here on in, ramping up the scale of the vampire battles with each subsequent encounter until delving into total anarchy.

Yet it’s not like Volume 02 doesn’t have any interesting plot developments or characterisation. In between the violence there’s an intriguing flashback into Alucard’s past that should be very familiar to fans of Bram Stoker, and there’s a little bit of information imparted on the organisation that is behind this spate of vampire attacks. There’s also some really great touches in Seras Victoria’s characterisation as well, as her complete bemusement over the Hellsing organisation and its characters provides constant amusement and her dark vampiric instincts is given a little test run in battle against the freak army. Walter also has a chance to shine when he steps into battle and demonstrates one of the coolest battle abilities in the story.

But it is undoubtedly as an action piece that Volume 02 really shines. The Valentine brothers prove to be engaging and wild villains, Jan spearheads an impressively gruesome assault on Hellsing that has a lot of impetus and style thanks to Tokoro’s energetic direction. The highlight of the episode though is Luke’s rather foolhardy hunt for Alaucard, with his flash-like knife abilities being impressively expanded upon by Tokoro from the Manga when Luke takes down a platoon of Hellsing’s forces singlehandedly, demonstrating that Hirano Kouta isn’t the only one who can create exciting action set-pieces. Eventually he discovers Alucard gleefully sitting in wait and a quite fantastic showdown takes place, where Alucard reveals just how formidable and hellish his powers truly are.


This confrontation is really the first time we see Alucard’s shapeshifting in full action, and it really highlights how creative Kouta’s vampire battles can be. His impressive art design is brought to life faithfully by the anime staff, making Hellsing: Ultimate one of the most visually arresting anime series out there. The Alucard – Valentine battle was the major highlight of the Hellsing TV series, and in Hellsing: Ultimate it has even more WOW factor!

Presentation

Hellsing: Ultimate Volume 02 is presented to the same standard as the first volume, so I will repeat my comments on the audio and transfer of the first volume here:

Hellsing: Ultimate is presented Anamorphically at 1.79:1 and has been given an attractive transfer that is bogged down a little by the usual NTSC>PAL foibles (ie: poorly compressed interlaced frames). Those foibles aside for a moment though, I have to say the contrast and brightness levels are excellent, the image is bright without blooming and the blacks of deep without affecting shadow detail. The colour scheme is similarly very strong, with bright attractive colours that do not bleed. There is some chroma noise in the image, as well as low-level noise, which is probably down to the OVA’s earthy colour tone, and there’s also some minute mosquito noise that probably won’t be spotted unless you do a frame-by-frame analysis. Nevertheless for a 52minute episode you’d think there’d be pretty much no compression issues at all.

Image detail is strong thanks to the thick lines and high production values, and the print is in excellent condition, with only one or two nicks or scratches here and there. There’s a fine layer of grain present, which is rendered well enough, and there’s also some very slight Edge Enhancements. The only real problem I had with this transfer beyond the automatic standard conversion woes is that there’s quite a bit of digital banding throughout the OVA. It’s a very nice transfer – certainly better than pretty much any TV show. It’s just not a fantastic one, and I kind of expected something closer to fantastic given this series was produced for DVD.


The English DD5.1 and DTS tracks are pretty much an exact match for the Japanese DD5.1. The DTS track is half bitrate, and I couldn’t really detect any discernable difference to its DD counterpart. The Hellsing: Ultimate English dub is handled by the people who did the dub for the original TV series. They did a good job then and do a good job now. Most of the actors suit their roles well and the idea of watching Hellsing with a proper English context is not an unattractive one.

Optional English subtitles are included on the R2UK and R1LE DVDs, with no spelling or grammatical errors that I can recall.


Extras

There’s a small but worthwhile selection of extras here, I’ll just list them and briefly discuss them here:

Commentary with Taliesin Jaffe (English Voice Director), Josh Phillips (Jan Valentine), and Patrick Seitz (Luke Valentine): Jaffe doesn’t impart as much trivia on Hellsing as he did in the commentary with Crispin Freeman, instead just exchanging banter with Phillips and Seitz, although he does sneak in some information here and there on the difficulties of adapting this episode into English. Phillips and Seitz do little more than joke around rather loudly, but they’re engaging enough. However, thanks to all the farting about this commentary isn’t nearly as interesting as the Jaffe/Freeman one.


Interview with Taliesin Jaffe (English Voice Director), Josh Phillips (Jan Valentine), and Patrick Seitz (Luke Valentine): With Jaffe acting as interviewer and throwing questions out to Phillips and Seitz we get a more comprehensive account of their work on this episode, what they think of the series as a whole and a little on their work history.

Japanese EPII Trailer: At just over a minute this is a rather generic DVD trailer that mostly gives a brief glimpse of the fight between Alucard and Luke Valentine.

US Viral Trailer: This short trailer sounds more like the promo work for Hellboy 2 than Hellsing, it’s slightly amusing if you like cheesy US voiceovers.

The rest of the extra features are self explanatory: Textless Opening II, a Production Gallery, and Japanese TV Commercials.

Overall

Volume 02 sees Hellsing under siege and Hellsing: Ultimate really coming into its own as an action spectacular. MangaUK have provided strong A/V reproduction and another engaging set of extra features.

Film
8 out of 10
Video
7 out of 10
Audio
8 out of 10
Extras
6 out of 10
Overall

8

out of 10

Last updated: 18/04/2018 21:19:11

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