Mr. Towelhead feels like he needs a challenge, so he takes on Hellsing. All images are rightly owned by their prospective owner, Mr. Hirano! Under premise of fair use we shall see them to learn how badass, and slightly exaggerated Hellsing is.
Mr. Towelhead takes a bite of:
Hellsing is a vampire story, so if that’s not your thing, Hellsing is probably not going to turn you into one. But it does follow the “old lore”, so don’t worry about teeny versions of the genre.
First things first. Hellsing was written and illustrated by Kouta Hirano, who apparently also illustrated a couple of hentai stories (if you know what hentai is, what’s wrong with you :p, if you don’t, it’s basically pornography in anime or manga form), and some or several characters in the Hellsing story are former characters of past hentai novels by Mr. Hirano. Hellsing is not hentai, by the way. The manga genre is seinen, so expect a lot of violence and gore, mixed with a “complex” story, a.k.a. a very simplistic story. However, Mr. Hirano had the minimal human courtesy to “kind of” respect old vampire lore and some credit he deserves for that. There is a lot of references to Catholicism and Protestantism, but they are far from educational.
On the other hand the western genre is action, horror and … biopunk? I had no clue what that means so I looked it up. It’s a subdivision of cyberpunk (high tec, low life) that concentrates on the “unintentional” social, technological or biological changes brought by genetics and other advanced biology studies. But don’t even worry about it, asides from attributing genetics to certain powers, there is NO legitimate take on biopunk.
I would personally describe Hellsing as a vampire influenced action manga with brushes of western religion… and a few jump scares.
The idea behind is far from original. But at least it doesn’t even try to be. It’s actually very simple and riddled with clichés. You have a vampire who hunts vampires. You have crazed militant bioengineered Catholic elite troops. You have an army of vampire neo-nazis trying to conquer the world. Add a few misunderstandings and prepare for an epic showdown of all factions in London.
This time around, our dashing hero is a vampire with an attitude.
The story follows the adventures of Alucard, an übermensch, I mean übervampire who is defeated by a human and forced into servitude. Which he apparently doesn’t mind because he gets all the action he needs. Add a side kick who is a useless comical relieve. AND… What will drive the story forward is not the “complex” plot of neo-nazi vampires trying to conquer the world. No! What made the day for me (and maybe for you) was the antagonistic relationship between Alucard and a certain Anderson fellow.
“Father” Anderson is the only reason the story has a decent arc of tension, since he’s the only one at par with the overpowered protagonist. At least during most of the story. And it’s actually a REALLY cool take on it, since Anderson is “just” human.
The balance of powers between Alucard (protagonist) and Anderson (antagonist) is what made the whole thing interesting. Far more than anything else. While Alucard is a demi-vampire-god or something and Anderson is “simply” human, Anderson is able to hold his own against Alucard in several occasions. Add a tone of macabre to the whole when you realize Alucard works for Protestants and Anderson is a fanatic Catholic. Actually, every time the story went away from their conflict I felt like a small kid who’d just been robbed of his lollypop. The whole neo-nazi vampires and vatican extremists armies dawning on England was BORING and predictable as hell. I would see myself skipping pages just to get back to Alucard and Anderson.
Well the story is bloody as hell, and has a bunch of gore. Just like what you would expect from a seinen manga. At least the illustrations are decent and the powers of vampires and other supernatural creatures are quite well portrayed. Alucard always maintains his cool, while Anderson has a slightly crazed smile. Actually, you kind of notice that EVERY ONE in the story has a crazy smile and some serious mental issues.
What I WANT to mention is that the “bad” guy, the leader of the nazis, is illustrated as a fat fu** for whom you wouldn’t even give the slightest… … vulgar word for sex. And he always has a cake or flan or something, like it’s supposed to mean something. Perhaps I’m a history illiterate and Hitler used to love cheese cake or something.
The “main” baddy is so flat and riddled with clichés, you won’t even remember his name (and you won’t even care)
The story could have gone places with the religious conflict, instead you have an action manga with only dialogue references to religion. Some are cool, some are boring, some are down right blasphemous. Nothing you wouldn’t expect from such a manga.
And again, the fat cliché that happens to be the leader of the nazis is constantly japing some supposedly “cool” monologues about war and how inevitable it is, and how “bad” he is because he likes war. The dude is trying SO HARD to be “ëvol” that you can’t help but feel sorry. Actually that’s a problem most characters have. They throw religious or extremist opinions just to be “radical”.
An army of militant vatican KKK aficionados is called to fight neo-nazis vampires but in reality they use it as an excuse to destroy protestant England! Oh no, how un-original…
Like many other stories things get crazier by the page. The story begins with Alucard fighting a couple of trouble teenies, and at the end you see him moving an entire battleship with his bare will, while the entire ship is covered with the souls that Alucard has consumed over the years. AND… the ship has a gigantic cross made from the remains of souls and a fighter jet on top. And you are like “WUT!” For me it was too much and I closed the book. But maybe for you its like “WOW!”.
An when all hopes are lost, Alucard appears riding a boat…
Slightly exaggerated? Of course not :P
For that I’m sorry, I think I read the manga too fast and there is only that much bullshit my brain can take in one session. So if you are like 13, you shouldn’t even be reading this manga :P, and if you are 16 the action and combat will probably blow your mind. Your young and tender brain will be excited as you begin to notice narrative elements that are very well done, but for an adult Anderson’ and Alucard’s sporadic conflicts will not be enough to drive you through the mindless and exaggerated combat scenes.
I fear that the antagonistic relationship between protagonist and antagonist was a draw of luck rather than a fleshed out plan for the story. It seems that the main concern of the author, Mr. Hirano, was to create an epic battle of vampires, neo-nazis and crazed catholics instead of creating a cool story. Regardless, by accident or not, Hellsing deserves more than a mediocre rate for the things it does well.
For a fan of vampires and action
8 / 10
I personally felt like it deserved a 6 out of 10, but it does have a lot of really cool vampire-ish stuff and for a younger audience it certainly has addictive potential. If you are able to turn off your brain or need anything fairly decent to wash away the bad taste of Twilight; Hellsing might just be the right thing for you.
Hellsing throws tons of bible and catholic mythology quotes with the hope to be “controversial” or “badass”. Yet everything around Hellsing is so exaggerated you can’t possibly take it seriously.
And most importantly; the target audience (young teens) are probably not acquainted with religious history or doctrine. And most likely don’t even care.
P.D. My one humble opinion, or better said, MORE of my “humble” opinion. If the whole story would have concentrated in the Catholic and Protestant conflict, you know if the story would have limited itself to England and Ireland it could have been a better manga. Even with all the violence and action, by concentrating on the really conflicting narrative elements, Hellsing could have risen from mediocrity to become, perhaps even art. Why you ask! Because religious differences are human nature, they are things we can understand and relate to, even get worked up about it (you know, emotionally attaching ourselves to the story). Neo-nazi vampires fighting super soldiers from the vatican is NOT something we can relate to (thank God).