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Pioneer Entertainment presents

Hellsing #1: Impure Souls (2001)

"Night is falling..."- Sir Integra Wingates Hellsing (Yoshiko Sakibara)

Stars: George Nakata, Yoshiko Sakibara, Fumiko Orikasa, Crispin Freeman, Victoria Harwood, K.T. Gray
Other Stars: Jin Horikawa, Unsho Ishizuka, Nachi Nozawa, Kazuhito Nakata, Tomoyuki Shimura, Ralph Lister, Steven Brand, Peter Gail, John E. Breen
Director: Yasunori Urata

Manufacturer: CADDS
MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (16+ for violence, adult situations and mature themes)
Run Time: 01h:08m:48s
Release Date: 2002-07-23
Genre: anime

Image Transfer
Audio Transfer
B+ B+A-A- C


DVD Review

Studio Gonzo, responsible for shows like Vandread, Blue Submarine No. 6 offers its latest release, Hellsing, a dark, action-packed vampire series, set in an alternative present day England. The series is based on the manga by Kouta Hirano, with character design by Toshiharu Murata, who also designed Eat-Man and Blue Submarine No. 6, and directed Irresponsible Captain Tylor. Disc One brings the first three of thirteen installments to DVD.

They just don't make 'em like they used to. There was a time when being a vampire was something to be proud of, but the vampires of today are nothing but cheap imitations of the originals. Arucard (whose name was originally an anagram of Dracula) is one of the old school, and the rash of new vampires stalking the night is seen as a plague that must be eradicated. He is one of the Royal Order of Religious Knights, who is in servitude to the Hellsing Organization, a secret, government-sponsored society whose task is to rid the world of a new plague of the undead, thought to be spawned by human hands. Although his real powers are in the abilities inherent in his lineage, Arucard brandishes an impressive set of weaponry for his task; a pair of 15 inch, 13mm custom-made hand Hellsing cannons that fire "blessed" bullets.

He is assigned the job of investigating a string of disappearances in the town of Cheddar by Integra Wingates Hellsing, head of the organization, great granddaughter of the institute's founder, Van Hellsing. Rumor has it that the town priest is a vampire, but the police division sent to take care of the matter is also missing. Seras Victoria was one of those officers, who has woken to find that all her comrades were killed in the assault, but have now returned from the dead as zombies. When Arucard rescues her from the clutches of the possessed priest, she had to make a sacrifice, which meant she herself became a vampire, with a new and unfamiliar way of life ahead of her. Getting accustomed to the rituals of this existence takes some adapting to, but she soon is serving as Arucard's assistant in his mission. There are others, however, who are also entrusted with freeing the world of nonhumans, and Arucard is among those on the list.

Hellsing offers a change from the standard anime fare. The intricacies of secret organizations, and the complicity of the church plays a large part of the undercurrent seen so far, pitting the Protestant Hellsing against the Catholic Iscariot organization. The show, coming from Gonzo, is typically slick and stylish, and does a brilliant job with the atmosphere needed for this kind of show, but its abundance of graphic violence, and many none too subtle sexual overtones may not appeal to all audiences. It fits well in the horror vein, but its unusual twist holds the potential to be a pretty interesting series. Action is abundant throughout, and characters, even in just three episodes, are being fleshed out well. There is still a lot we don't know about the Hellsing organization, but by the end of the disc there is indication that forces are planning its demise.

One other thing of note is that the dub uses British accents for most of its characters, in tune with the location of the story. This actualy works quite nicely, and while deviating from the Japanese translation, was well done. With a host of mysteries yet to be unveiled, I'll be looking forward to what happens next.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B+


Image Transfer

Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes

Image Transfer Review: As a recent series, image quality overall is very good. The mist and dark scenes hold up well in the transfer, with the only real issue being interlace artifacts, and shimmer. Colors aren't overly punchy, keeping with the feel of the show, but the contrast is maintained well with solid black levels.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Japanese, Englishyes

Audio Transfer Review: Audio is available in 2.0 stereo in both original Japanese and English dub. Both feature good use of the soundstage, a rich sound design, and a broad tonal spectrum. No technical deficiencies were noted. This is a great sounding disc.

Audio Transfer Grade: A- 

Disc Extras

Full Motion menu with music
Scene Access with 15 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English with remote access
2 Original Trailer(s)
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Armitage: Dual Matrix, Vandread, Gate Keepers, The SoulTaker, X.
Packaging: unmarked keepcase
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Concept art gallery
  2. Music video trailer
  3. Action figure preview
Extras Review: Menu design is fitting for the series, with another Nightjar creation (Niea Under Seven), this time featuring a blood bag as the primary menu.

A fifty image concept art gallery is included, along with a clean opening credit sequence, and a music video trailer. A small collection of images of the Arucard action figure are also included.

A Pioneer previews section runs 09m:42s, featuring trailers for Armitage: Dual Matrix, Vandread, Gate Keepers, The SoulTaker and X.

Extras Grade: C

Final Comments

Presenting a new spin on the vampire genre, Hellsing may not be for everyone, but those who enjoy stylish action, and over the top weoponry should find this appealing. The first disc can be bought on its own, or bundled with a box to house the four-disc set. It is also available in a limited edition box with a simulated blood bag, which can be identified by a unique UPC code (013023181298) and catalogue number (11812).

Jeff Ulmer 2002-07-21