By Kouta Hirano
Much like how Tolkien’s Ents were spawned from Great Birnam Wood’s failure to actually come to life in order to defeat Macbeth, Hellsing arose from the cursed ashes of Dracula’s death.
Hellsing creates an alternate ending for Dracula in which Abraham Van Helsing uses his knowledge of monster hunting and the powerful tomes he has captured from witches over the years to enslave Dracula as a supernatural thrall to the Helsing family. He is then renamed Alucard – Dracula backwards to brand him as an inverted creature – once No Life King of vampires, now under Hellsing control.
The series establishes this as back story and picks up the current plot thread with Sir Integra Wingates Fairbrook Hellsing – the first female head of the Hellsing household. It chronicles her wielding Alucard against the monstrous enemies that the Hellsing family has always faced while also combating the patriarchal traditions and attitudes of the other parliament members – herself being a knight and an aristocrat – and the opposing forces of the militant Vatican, who also hunt vampires and disapprove of her for being a woman in power, a citizen of protestant England, and involved with vampires directly.
The plot really picks up when the nazi zombie vampires attack.
Hellsing is a slasher: the violence is constant, the gore abundant, and the bloodshed is so far off the charts that it breaks reality. The finale has a city wide scale that results in the destruction of all of London, and much of the nazi tactics are replicas of reality – blitzing, bombing, and mass civilian slaughter are shown in detail. Alucard himself is certainly no saint, either, and the historical accuracy of his battles is unapologetically gruesome.
Overall, this series is a supernatural slasher-thriller with fascinating characters – including wonderfully fleshed out female characters who are anything but passive, – a unique perspective on the Dracula myth, and intense, plot heavy battles.
The manga is finished and fully available in English: there are also two anime adaptions. The original Hellsing anime came first and was being produced at the same that the manga was being written, so it follows an alternate story line about halfway through. Hellsing Ultimate, sometimes called the Hellsing OVAs, are fifty minute episodes that follow the manga exactly. Both are available in English dub. Hellsing: the Dawn is a short back story for Walter.