Friday, 27 October 2017

October Nightmares III # 27: Hellsing: Ultimate (2006 - 2012) - Is That A Stake In Your Pocket?

Right I'm off away for a few days. But since I am a spaz who likes to write his reviews on the same day he publishes them, the next three days are going to be pretty fucking choppy indeed.

At first glance Hellsing: Ultimate- a 10 episode anime series based on the manga by Kouta Hirano - is rather juvenile. It's about vampires, proper pompous blood-drinking vampires who like the vampire equivalent of football and downing twenty pints of blood down in the crypt with the lads- none of these New Age fannies with their straight edge ways, and desire to actually want to spend time with their girlfriends.

A secret order of Protestant Knights named after literature's Boba Fett, the vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing, hunts down all manner of nasty supernatural creatures (including feral vampires, undead Nazis, and people with weird wormy-tentacle things growing out of them). Chief amongst the group are the group's leader, the frosty woman-bastard Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, an ex-cop turned vampire who can't stop moralising over her huge tits, and (shock, what a twist) Dracula himself. Except here (as in Castlevania) he's called Alucard - because a Japanese guy once discovered wordplay and it made his cock explode in delight.

The whole thing's somewhere between Constantine, Blade, and R.I.P.D (ew), and could only be more juvenile if it was lifted directly from the back of my maths book and featured my drawings of Miss Roberts. In the manga and this anime (let's ignore the 2001 version) there're even Nazis -- sorry, you're supposed to call them 'alt-right' now aren't you? Genociding society's wastrels is the Right's alternative to simply starving them to death.

But when you have a show as gleefully juvenile and flashy as Hellsing Ultimate you need big villains, and this show has them in spades. From Father Anderson, leader of 'The Church' (who in typical fashion is as corrupt as the day is long), to The Major - who's like The Milky Bar Kid gone rogue and leading a resurgent Nazi party to open the very gates of Hell. Of course, Alucard himself is a pretty bolshy figure. Visually, imagine Hugh Jackman's Van Helsing crossed with the overstylised 'cool' aspects of Dante from Devil May Cry, mixed in an overall package with the sort of guy who calls himself a 'wordsmith for hire' and scours used bookshops for tiny books on archaic swearwords.

He's not a hero, or even an anti-hero for that matter, but simply the guy who can get the job done. And when the threat's the Millennium Organisation (not that one, Chris Carter), i.e. supernatural neo-Nazis, you're going to want a charming psychopath with all the overpowered abilities you'd expect from an old-school vampire. He's strong, can turn himself into a Hell Hound, regeneration, super strength, super speed, telepathy, telekinesis, and the ability to know which fork you're supposed to use at a fancy dinner. At one point in the series Alucard is fighting Luke Valentine, some fake vampire clone thing, and turns into a demonic hound monster with a gun in its mouth and fucking blows the guy's leg off.

This is a show which takes itself seriously when it comes to the colleague level philosophy about the human and inhuman, and violence and the worth of life, and yet is so gleeful towards its blood and guts that it can barely get its little crimson stub out in time. And you can't say that it wasn't intentional as the first series - which had little to no money - looks like your typical hand drawn anime. Hellsing: Ultimate is all fancy and digitally enhanced: the end result is that it looks hyper-fluid, and everything's a grisly red, chaotic, and complicated looking. It's as though a graphic designer created himself an animated screensaver of the Red Wedding.

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