Anime Review: Hellsing

This bullpen anime review has a certain level of irony to it, in some ways.  One has to do with the future, but I’ll never tell (I love leaving vague messages, don’t you?)  The other level has to do with my love for anime at the time I watched this.  I initially thought I could find nothing better than what I saw on Toonami with the end of DBZ, Gundam Wing and Outlaw Star.   Also, I didn’t get to finish seeing anything from Tenchi, and I fell out of synch watching G Gundam that I gave up trying to keep up.   All that was left was Adult Swim and the anime they had on it.  As I saw some in snippets, I got to see all of Trigun, FLCL, and I got the initial taste of Shinichiro Watanabe which was enough for me to get both Cowboy Bebop and Samurai Champloo on DVD with no regrets.  However, after that, I couldn’t find anything more that stood out as good after those were released.  Sure, there were plenty of series, but with limited resources and bandwidth, what could I rely on?  Then, while flipping through channels, I kept seeing the name, “Hellsing” on the info bar when I passed certain cable channels.  I thought this was the animated series of Van Helsing or something.  I wanted nothing to do with that movie, no matter how much Hugh Jackman was in it.  So, I finally stopped flipping, and saw what I was dealing with.  I was elated.  I finally found some new anime worth watching that didn’t seem either too unappealing or too unoriginal for me to get into.  Naturally, I had to seek it out on DVD and see if it was affordable.  It was 13 episodes, and I had some spare cash.  Yea, this was going to be awesome.

Hellsing is based on the multi-volume manga series of the same name.  However, this DVD set was a more abridged version of what happened in the manga, leaving a good portion of things out and re-telling certain stories for the betterment of filling a 13 episode arc.  Years after the company distributing this on DVD closed, another DVD series called Hellsing: Ultimate was made, comprising of longer episodes that played closer to the manga.  Sadly, since I don’t have that, I won’t be covering that.  But, I do have this, and I will cover this.  So, let’s dive in.

Hellsing is a story about a secret agency working within the country of England with one goal: search and destroy all vampires and other unholy creatures.  This organization has existed for an extended amount of time, headed by the Hellsing family.  Its current leader, Sir Integra Wingates Hellsing, runs the organization with an iron fist and a well-lit cigar.  Her servant, Walter Donlies does everything in his power to assist her with her day-to-day affairs, along with protect her with his impressive skills with Garotte wire.  As for the agency itself, it’s comprised of former SAS officers asked to join for their impressive skills on the battlefield.  Hellsing also has a secret weapon, which marks the true strength of their order.  His name is Alucard.  His game is to act as personal protector of Sir Integra and the Hellsing family.  As for how he contributes, well, I think it’s pretty obvious how he does and who he is.  So, with all these cards in place, what could the series entail?  How about a female SAS member named Seras Victoria coming to the realization that vampires exist?  How about a rival organization with their own hunter who makes Hellsing’s work much harder?  How about a vast conspiracy behind the increase of the undead that may run deeper than just the standard fare of vampires?  All those in 13 episodes and you’ve got one solid series.

What I dig about Hellsing is that it’s a very cunning look at vampire hunting that is very rich and detailed.  You’ll want another season or extension to the story after its ending.  Another key element is the soundtrack.  The music is very atmospheric.  The choices range from various forms of alternative pieces from Japanese musicians.  Oh, and if the opening and ending themes do not appeal to you in any way, your blood might be as cold as the vampires being hunted.  I mean, come on!  One of the themes is played by 1990s rock group, Mr. Big.  That should be enough for you if you dug that scene.  The animation is very crisp with the colors fitting the motif perfectly.  I also appreciate the vocal exploits of the actors as they sound perfect for the roles given to them.  It was here that I discovered the awesome talents of Crispin Freeman.

If you’re looking for a nice and compact anime series to fill out your collection, Hellsing definitely does the trick.  If you become a bigger fan of such, look into the manga or even Hellsing: Ultimate for a more detailed look at the story proper.  Oh, and make sure when you watch it that it’s on a wonderful night….for a bite to drink.  Or you could just watch it whenever…..

 

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Written By: Ezenwa Anyanwu

Anime Review: Mobile Suit Gundam: 08th MS Team

Hey flakes, guess what?  It’s ANIME REVIEW TIME!  Don’t you just love Caps Lock?  I do.  Anyhoo, all knuckleheadery aside, let’s dive in to an EYS first: an anime review.

I’m not going to lie, I never really discovered Gundam until after a season of Dragon Ball Z was over on Toonami.  That’s when I caught my first glimpse of Gundam Wing via commercial.  I was stoked.  I had always known of giant robot cartoons going back to Transformers and VoltronPower Rangers brought it to life, but I never heard of Gundam.  If I did, it was in passing, as in passing by a store with posters or toys in the window.  So, I ventured into Gundam Wing with an open mind and a growing interest.  49 episodes later, and I was hooked.  I had to watch as many series as possible to see what other stories could be told.  Sadly, the only place I could access these shows for free at the time was on Cartoon Network, and the shows themselves were on at late times.  Once disposable cash was in my hand, I made the conscious effort to try and secure Gundam on home video somehow.  The question was, which Gundam it be?  Sadly, I couldn’t get Gundam Wing because the prices were exorbitant and almost unreasonable.  Mobile Fighter G Gundam wasn’t on DVD just yet, and if it was, I either couldn’t find it, or it was also pricey.  Then, one fateful day, I turned on Toonami and caught part of 08th MS Gundam Team.  This was the first Gundam series I ran into that sort of strayed from the title naming convention (Gundam and either a letter or an “after colony” year) but it was a side story that remained within the main Gundam story line (The Federation vs. Zeon).  Seems interesting enough, I thought.  So, I went into the city and happened to find the entire series on DVD.  Lucky me!

I was able to find every episode broadcast on television, the last episode they didn’t want to show on Toonami (pertaining to war children and such), and even the re-cap mini movie that bridged the gap between the first and second halves of the series. The series follows the 08th Mobile Suit Gundam Team and their battles against the Zeon Empire.  Lt. Shiro Amada is given command of this team due to his experience on the battlefield despite his youth.  This team is the Earth Federation’s best team when it comes to guerrilla warfare.  Making it to this team meant you had the chops to take it to the Zeon forces on the ground, in down-and-dirty combat.  There is just one hitch in the works, however.  Upon traveling to his unit, he encountered a young space pilot he chooses to save in the midst of a battle in space between the Federation and Zeon.  As they work together to save themselves from danger, they meet face to face and introduce themselves.  The pilot’s name is Aina Sahalin.  As they return to Earth, they do not realize that they are on opposite sides of the war with Aina being the sister of one of the commanders of the Zeon Empire.  This is further compounded by the fact that both are considered the “trump cards” of their respective sides.  After a number of battles, they encounter each other again on the battlefield, and romance ensues, in a love forbidden by war.  This begs the question: can love survive and in turn, peace be obtained on the battlefield between two warring entities?

One could say that this is that it’s “Romeo and Juliet meets giant mech anime.”  However, that would be oversimplifying it.  Aesthetically, it’s a forbidden love, due to war.  But it’s not so much out of personal hatred, as it is out of conquest and power.  Shiro and Aina are the keys to victory for their respective sides with their abilities, and they were able to find love for one another despite the sides they are on.  Also, I’m pretty sure Romeo and Juliet didn’t have awesome battles and battle tactics with giant mechanical suits.  So, take that, Shakespeare!

On a final note, I feel it’s always good to have at least one short-run anime series in your library, let alone a Gundam series.  This is the best of both worlds and it doesn’t disappoint.  The battles are great, the characters are pretty solid, and I won’t spoil the ending, but you might very well enjoy it.  I know I did, right down to the music.  Do yourself a favor and check this series out.

 

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Written by: Ezenwa Favian Anyanwu