January 13th, 2010
A lot of anime fans love Hellsing and at one stage so did I, then I saw past the pretension and became a hater. Don’t get me wrong, Hellsing has all the trappings to be the poster-child of stylised animated violence (no easy feat in this industry, mind you), yet it severely underperforms on execution.
From reading the manga, there’s no doubt about the gratuitousness and stylisation of the violence. The anime, in which case, simply doesn’t fully capitalise on the source material. Personally I think the problems lie in two areas: Pretension alluding to awesome gunplay and fight scenes and a major lack of animation to evidence not just the character’s colourful dialogue, but the pretension in general. Hellsing falls victim to the same characteristic flaws of Dragon Ball Z with camera panning, wind blowing and banter exchanging taking up the bulk of the action sequences.
Most of Hellsing‘s confrontations begin with a few exchanges of bombastic dialogue (diluted from the manga, but sufficient enough to be deemed offensive) interwoven among brief scenes of gunplay. The action is far too brief and usually relies on transitions of stills or other commonly used cost-cutting techniques to reduce the number of cells in the production. The handful of frames used are often copied and pasted to reverberate the action. The style is all in the right place—character design and colouring is brilliant and captures the gothic atmosphere wonderfully, however, with little animation to back it up, Hellsing is all talk and little action. No wonder the animated series has gone back to the drawing board for a second, more authentic adaption of the manga.
Complaints aside, Hellsing is only an ‘epic fail’ under the shadow of what it could’ve been. The trappings are still there though and they’re pretty tasty. The ridiculous dialogue suits the malevolent design well and the character designs are very iconic despite the frames lacking to give life to them. The villains behind the set piece confrontations of each episode are also very memorable and distinct. They all have a great deal of variety and pertain the series’ visual flair stylistically. Even if they’re spouting of moronic lines about raping pigs or wetting your pants in trepidation, they still maintain an assuring level of awesomeness that keeps with the series’ ethos. So despite the frame-lacking fight scenes there’s enough there to satisfy a purchase—if I were here to sell you a copy.
Before I conclude, I just want to mention that the follow narrative points which run alongside the action are all very interesting:
- exploration of being a vampire/member of the Hellsing organisation (through Victoria)
- the religious implications of an organisation the likes of Hellsing
- Alucard as the vampire slave to humans (a trope of the genre, I suppose)
- Hellsing’s position respective to the monarch and the media