Hellsing Ultimate-Volumes I-IV (Blu-ray) (2006)

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Released 20-Feb-2013

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Anime Audio Commentary-x 4 - one for each episode
Featurette-Anime Expo 2007 Panel Discusion
Interviews-Cast & Crew-5 extensive interviews with English language cast and crew
MoreÖ-Promotional Videos and trailers x 7
MoreÖ-Textless Songs x 4
TV Spots-Japanese TV Spots x 4
Alternate Ending-Japanese credits - Ending Episode IV
Karaoke-Karaoke of Majorís Speech, Episode IV
Trailer-x 4 for other releases
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2006
Running Time 196:05 (Case: 205)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Taliesin Jaffe
Tomokazu Tokoro
Hideki Tonokatsu
Studio
Distributor

Madman Entertainment
Starring Joji Nakata
Crispin Freeman
Fumiko Orikasa
K.T. Gray
Yoshiko Sakakibawa
Victoria Harwood
Norio Wakamoto
Steven Brand
Motomu Kiyokawa
Ralph Lister
Nobuo Tobita
Gildart Jackson
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI ? Music Yasushi Ishii
Hayato Matsuo
Kohta Hirano


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None Japanese DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.78:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.78:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, end credits

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

†††† Hellsing was originally a manga written by Kohta Hirano. It has been made into two TV anime series, one in 2001-2002, Herushingu, and a second, Hellsing Ultimate, that started in 2006. Individual volumes of both series have been available on DVD for some time; Volume I of the original series was reviewed on this site here while some of the individual volumes of Hellsing Ultimate were also reviewed: Volume I here and Volume II here. This release, Hellsing Ultimate Vol. I-IV, collects together the first four episodes of the second anime series on a single Blu-ray, repeats the audio commentaries available on the DVDs, and includes a second Blu-ray full of extra features, some of which were previously available.

†††† A summary of the individual episodes is:

Volume I

†††† The Protestant Hellsing Organisation has been fighting and killing vampires and ghouls in England for 100 years. When her father dies, Integra Hellsing (voiced by Yoshiko Sakakibawa / Victoria Harwood) is made head of the order. Her greatest weapon in the fight against vampires and monsters is the deadly killer vampire Alucard (Joji Nakata / Crispin Freeman). When an English village is overrun with ghouls (note: when a non-virgin human is bitten by a vampire, the victim becomes a ghoul Ė a virgin human becomes a vampire) the police are powerless to stop them, many police becoming ghouls themselves. Alucard soon settles the infestation and kills the controlling vampire but in the process Policewoman Seras Victoria (Fumiko Orikasa / K.T. Gray) is seriously wounded and about to die. Alucard bites her to save her, and as a virgin she becomes a vampire herself and apprentice to Alucard in the Hellsing Organisation.

†††† Alucard and Seras form a team, hunting and killing ghouls and vampires under Integraís instructions. But Hellsing are not the only organisation dedicated to killing monsters. Within the Vatican is the secretive Bureau XIII, the Iscariot Organisation, and its supreme killer Father Alexander Anderson (Norio Wakamoto / Steven Brand). When an infestation of ghouls occurs in a Northern Irish village, the Iscariots believe it to be Catholic territory and send Anderson to investigate. However, Alucard and Seras are also on the scene which results in a deadly and bloody struggle for supremacy.

Volume II

†††† Seras is having trouble coming to terms with being a vampire. Ghoul and vampire attacks are increasing across the country and it seems that someone is controlling the monsters by means of embedded transmitters. Integra calls a conference in the Hellsing Mansion to consider the organisationís options but an army of ghouls led by the Valentine brothers, Luke ( Takehito Koyasu / Patrick Seitz) and Jan ( Wataru Takagi / Josh Phillips), invade the mansion killing the guards. In defense of the Organisation members Seras goes berserk, butler Walter (Motomu Kiyokawa / Ralph Lister) reveals hidden fighting skills and Alucard displays some of his extreme powers. It comes to light that the attack was initiated and controlled by the Millennium Organisation, which has connections back to Hitler and Nazi Germany.

Volume III

†††† Enrico Maxwell ( Show Hayami / J.B. Blanc), Head of the Iscariot Organisation, meets with Integra to provide some information about Millennium. At the end of WW2 a group of Nazis who had been conducting experiments into the undead fled to South America, helped by the Vatican. Since then their influence has been steadily growing. Alucard and Seras are sent by Integra to South America to destroy them. But when they arrive, The Major (Nobuo Tobita / Gildart Jackson) manufactures a terrorist alert and has the human police SWAT teams sent in to kill Alucard. Integra faces a dilemma; the Hellsing Organisation is supposed to protect humans, but here it seems that Alucard must kill humans in order to get to Millennium. Not that Alucard has any scruples! After wading through the SWAT teams he fights and defeats the Millenniumís Tubalcain (Hochu Otsuka / Steve Wilcox). But this has all been a test of Alucardís powers by The Major, and the next stage is about to be unleashed.

Volume IV

†††† The Major makes his intentions clear to a round table conference in London attended by the Queen of England, Hellsing and Maxwell of Iscariot. War is immanent, and as a first step a Millennium group led by Rip van Winkle (Maaya Sakamoto / Kari Wahlgren) hijacks a British aircraft carrier in the North Atlantic. While Seras takes some steps towards becoming a complete vampire, Integra sends Alucard to take out van Winkle and the carrier. He succeeds in defeating van Winkle but it seems that this was all part of The Majorís plans, and he launches his Zeppelin fleet to attack England. Total war against England is about to commence. But just where does Maxwell, Anderson and the Iscariot Organisation really stand?

†††† Hellsing Ultimate is energetic, bloodthirsty, wickedly funny and very entertaining. The visuals are stunning with many dark grey or black images juxtaposed with brilliant reds, blues and yellows. This set of episodes starts with single vampires, but by episode four the series escalates to become epic in its scale and intensity, the use of opera music from Der Freischutz (The Marksman) by Carl Maria von Weber wonderfully appropriate. The series is also replete with religious iconography and religion is never far away, for good or bad. Indeed, the line between hero and villain is very blurred in Hellsing Ultimate, with Alucard definitely a loose cannon and whatever humanity there is coming from the character of Seras. At one stage Alucard states what could be the mantra of all sides in this series when he says ďthose who refuse to give up are entitled to trample upon humanityĒ, a sentiment which applies equally to the Millennium group, Iscariot and Hellsing themselves. In this conflict, humans are just cannon fodder to all sides.

†††† Previous reviews of Hellsing have commented upon the name of the main character, which is variously Alucard or Arucard. This continues here. The end credit sequence gives Alucard, but the name is Arucard in both the subtitles and speech in the episodes. In the extras, such as the interviews, the text questions say Arucard, the speech is clearly Alucard, as it is in the audio commentary on episode 1. Spell the name backwards for the point. Not that it matters much, as we always know who is being referred to.

†††† Hellsing Ultimate Vol. I-IV features vampires, ghouls, Nazis, special vampire hunting organisations, huge Zeppelins and world domination. It is colourful, seriously cool, funny, weird and wildly exciting. The Blu-ray of Hellsing Ultimate Vol. V-VIII is already out in the US. Bring it on!

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Transfer Quality

Video

†††† Hellsing is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, the original ratio, in 1080p using the MPEG-4 AVC code.

†††† The print is generally stunning. Many of the wider landscape shots have a soft, pastel look but the action, dismemberment and bloodletting is sharp and crisp. The colours are very good with many black and grey images suddenly juxtaposed with brilliant reds, blues and yellows. Yellow eyes shine out from black faces, Alucardís crimson cloak and black hair float! Indeed, abrupt changes of colours are a hallmark of the series. Blacks and shadow detail are great.

†††† I did not notice any marks, dirt, or similar artefacts or issues.

†††† It is anime so lip synchronisation is approximate in either audio track.

†††† The English subtitles are in a white font in US English spelling. I noticed no obvious spelling or grammatical errors.

†††† An excellent representation.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

†††† Audio is a choice of Japanese or English DTS-HD MA 5.1 which share similar characteristics. Both the Japanese and English dialogue is good, clear and easy to understand. There are slight variations in the sound level of the dialogue and the effects, but either track works well. The surrounds are frequently in use with music and effects. The gunfire is loud and resounding and there are some panning effects, such as helicopter engines. The sub-woofer gave good support to the music and effects, such as footsteps and explosions.

†††† I prefer to listen to non-English films in the language in which they were made. However, anime is a slightly different case and in this case the English audio is very good.

†††† The music by Hayato Matsuo was occasionally off-putting, providing a jaunty score over scenes of carnage and mangled bodies. However, the end titlesí music, different on each episode, is excellent.

†††† An enveloping and aggressive audio track.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

†††† An extensive range of extras. All four episodes plus the audio commentaries are on Disc 1. All the other extras are on Disc 2.

†††† All the extras are provided by the English language cast and Taliesin Jaffe, the voice director / script adapter for the English version. Thus there is nothing about the production of the Japanese version or the anime itself.

Disc 1

†††† All the commentaries are chatty; friends laugh, make jokes and voices, talk about the differences in tone and intent between the older TV series and this new Ultimate version, and occasionally talk about the series. There is some interesting stuff but I donít find these types of commentary, with a lot of inane chatter, very interesting but fans may enjoy them.

Commentary Episode I

†††† Taliesin Jaffe plus Crispin Freeman (Alucard) .

Commentary Episode II

†††† Taliesin Jaffe plus Josh Phillips and Patrick Seitz (the Valentine Brothers).

Commentary Episode III

†††† Taliesin Jaffe plus J.B. Blanc (Maxwell) and Victoria Harwood (Integra).

Commentary Episode IV

†††† Taliesin Jaffe plus Kari Wahlgren (Rip van Winkle) and Ralph Lister Walter).

Disc 2

Interviews

†††† There are five separate interview segments filmed at different times. Taliesin Jaffe (English voice director / script adapter) sits with various cast members. They are more of a chat than an interview, with various questions posed by a text screen. There is also some series footage. The segments are:

Anime Expo 2007

†††† Two sections.

Promotional Videos

†††† Various promotional videos and trailers. The first two are the most interesting, as they include footage of the background of the Major and the SS vampire battalion in Poland in 1944, plus series footage beyond the episodes on this Blu-ray. The first is an extended music video by Broken English, the second similar footage without the music Ė the title refers to Young King Ours the publication in which the Hellsing manga was serialised.

Textless Songs

†††† The ending of each episode without the credit text roll: Episode I (2:48), II (2:53), III (3:26) and IV (2:08).

Japanese TV Commercials

†††† Four Japanese TV spots, two run 0:30 each, the other two 0:15.

Japanese Ending IV (2:09)

†††† The Japanese end credits scroll for Episode IV. Of limited interest.

Karaoke of Majorís Speech (6:40)

†††† Very weird. This is the Majorís speech in Episode IV with the audio dialogue removed. We get the music, Foley effects, and the speech in subtitles on the screen. To me it seems pointless.

Trailers

††††Included are trailers for various other releases (total time 6:15): The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya, King of Thorn, Evangelion: 2.22 You Can (Not) Advance and Puella Magi Madoka Magica.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

†††† The US Region A release is a five disc set (2 Blu-ray and 3 DVD). The extras are the same as we have, so unless you really want the Region 1 DVDs, stick with the local release. There does not seem to be a UK Region B release at present.

Summary

†††† Hellsing Ultimate features vampires, ghouls, Nazis, special vampire hunting organisations and world domination. It is colourful, seriously cool, weird and wildly exciting.

†††† The video and audio are excellent. Extras are extensive, but are limited to the English language cast and crew.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Ray Nyland (the bio is the thing)
Saturday, April 06, 2013
Review Equipment
DVDSony BDP-S580, using HDMI output
DisplayLG 55inch HD LCD. This display device has not been calibrated. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderNAD T737. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationNAD T737
SpeakersStudio Acoustics 5.1

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