Hellsing V1: Impure Souls
When I first heard of Hellsing, it was in an issue of Play magazine, where they had reviewed this, the first volume. Play always has a great art style to it but their choice of Hellsing pictures screamed to me, "READ THIS." Read I did and when I found out that we got a copy of the collector's box of Hellsing V1 at work, I stuck it on hold until I could afford it. And now that I've finished the DVD, I find my impressions when I first saw it's review weren't too far off.
Hellsing is an anime series centered around an organization (The Hellsing Organization) within London that hunts and "silences" artificially spawned vampires whenever they show up. It's focal members are Arucard, a true vampire, and Victoria, his progeny. The first episode is your basic introductory episode. You meet the good guys and Victoria is entered into the organization when her life is threatened and Arucard offers her the choice of death or being a vampire. The second episode is more-or-less a filler episode meant to highlight Victoria's struggle in her new un-life. The third and final (or at least for this DVD) episode is the first to introduce what appears to be a recurring villain of sorts while also being the first episode to unveil that the vampires you've seen the last 2 episodes were not actual vampires but artificial vampires.
Play compares Hellsing to Cowboy Bebop but with vampires. I can only consider it a passing reference if that. Fight scenes in the first 2 episodes are no more than a vampire being shot and turning into dust. The third episode has a great fight scene though between Arucard and the Catholic "sword dancer" that is rather reminescent of fight scenes in Cowboy Bebop. Hellsing also features a rather jazz heavy soundtrack. Beyond that, these series' are two different creatures.
Hellsing does a great job of pointing out that Arucard is not the kind of vampire that he's killing. Arucard is calm, exhibits more class, and maintains a presence far beyond any vampires seen in the three episodes. The art is also very solid. Colors and shapes bear resemblence to those in Blood: The Last Vampire. The DVD itself is also well constructed. Easy to navigate menus, lots of options, as much as you'd expect from a Pioneer product.
Hellsing does, however, fall short in a couple catagories. The voice acting is okay at best. Nothing terrible but this is definitely on the level with Gundam Wing and, dare I say it, Dragonball Z of being good enough to get the job done without detracting from the experience. The animation is also good but not great. This is most likely a result of the show being based after a comic book. But again, it's good enough and done with enough style that the show remains enjoyable to watch.
The production values may have their ups and downs but Hellsing is a fun, stylish show. With hints at a deeper storyline contained within the third episode, it's compelling enough to warrant the purchase of the next volume to see what happens with Arucard and Victoria and the rest of the Hellsing organization. At a price of $29.99 for the collector's box, this volume is not cheap. It contains a very cool Hellsing bloodbag and the box is very nice itself but this is just filler to pad the price another $10. If you can find the stand-alone DVD (which I've spotted at my local Best Buy for $19.99), you'll get more of your money's worth with it than with the collector's edition. But don't pass on Hellsing entirely, it's better than your average anime series.
As the Hellsing V1 Collector's Edition, this DVD is a 7. As a stand-alone DVD, this anime rates an 8.