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Kōta Hirano is a Japanese mangaka, best known as the creator of the manga HELLSING. The manga was serialized by Young King OURs from 1997 to 2008, and was collected in a total of 10 volumes. HELLSING is today considered to be one of the best and most popular horror manga series ever. The story focuses on the Hellsing family, whose primary goal is to battle and eradicate the undead and other supernatural forces that threaten the Queen and Country. HELLSING is a globally popular series that has been adapted into two anime series – Hellsing, which is a more liberal take on the original manga, and Hellsing Ultimate, which fully follows Hirano’s manga – and a three-episode special.
When comparing the two anime series, there is absolutely no doubt that Hellsing Ultimate is far superior to Hellsing in terms of animation, plot and character development.
Today’s article is going to be about the two Hellsing series, the original anime and the reboot OVA series. You’re going to find out about the two shows and their differences in several categories (plot, animation, production and broadcast, soundtrack), after which we are going to give our verdict on which one is better. Enjoy!
What is Hellsing about?
The Royal Knights of Protestant Order are a noble house of London led by Abraham Van Helsing. For generations, he has been fighting against creatures that most ordinary people are unaware of like vampires, ghouls and any non-human entity that is generally referred to as a “monster”. The Order operates in great secrecy and has long been a paramilitary organization in the service of her Majesty.
Leading the organization is Sir Integra Fairbrook Wingates Hellsing, a direct descendant of the first Lord Hellsing. Still a teenager, she is forced to take control of the Order. Her father Arthur, sick and close to his death, orders his daughter, should she feel threatened, to go down to the basement of the mansion, where there is something able to protect her.
Upon the death of her father, Integra’s uncle tries to kill his niece, infuriated that Arthur had chosen her as the new leader of the family. Integra, as suggested by her father, hides in the dungeons of the mansion, where she finds a corpse. Her uncle still manages to find her and doesn’t hesitate to shoot her. The first blow only touches her, but the bloodshed is enough to awaken the corpse that instantly kills his uncle and his minions.
Integra thus comes face to face with Alucard, a vampire in the service of the Hellsing family for more than a century, as well as an ace in the hole of the organization which, by the will of Arthur, had been locked up in the dungeons many years earlier. The girl, although still very young, thus becomes Alucard’s Master (The Master).
Ten years have passed since that incident and Integra has now become a young woman. When the number of vampires in London begins to grow exponentially, the Vatican also begins to move. The exorcist priest Alexander Anderson, the best agent of the Iscariota (a thirteenth secret division of the Catholic Church), is sent to Badrick, a border area between the Catholic and Protestant territories.
However, monster appearances do not seem to follow any logic; it is as if the rules for creating the undead have been changed, suggesting that the whole thing was orchestrated by someone.
This is how the ghosts of 50 years earlier, the Nazis of the Millennium, make their appearance; all this time they have been acting in the shadows, trying to fulfill the shattered dream: the landing in England, the destruction of London and the annihilation of Alucard and the Hellsing family. A full-blown war, from which no one can escape.
Hellsing & Hellsing Ultimate – What are the differences?
In this section, we are going to analyze the differences between the two shows in more detail. In short, the main difference is that Hellsing was a proper anime series that only roughly adapted the then-unfinished manga, while Hellsing Ultimate was an OVA series that actually adapted the whole manga series properly. Now, let us see each category individually.
Production and broadcast
The anime Hellsing was broadcast in Japan from October 10, 2001 to January 16, 2002 on Fuji Television at midnight. Shortly before the premiere, a limited edition of DVDs with the series itself and promotional materials went on sale.
Due to significant plot differences from the original manga, the series has received mixed reactions from both Hirano and fans. The anime has been licensed in North America by Geneon Entertainment and Funimation Entertainment. Geneon released its first edition of the series on July 23, 2002 in two versions: a regular edition and a box set. It later opened the anime’s official website.
Hellsing Ultimate, known simply as Hellsing in Japan, is an original video animation (OVA) originally animated by Satelight, later Madhouse (episodes 5-7) and Graphinica (8-10). In Japan and North America, the OVA series was released in DVD format by Geneon.
The American division of Geneon originally planned to release 2 episodes on one DVD disc, but the released discs contained one episode each. In addition to the limited edition series, there was audio commentary from the cast dubbing the anime into English. In the United States, Funimation Entertainment was also involved in the production, marketing, sales, and distribution of OVA. In the UK, the OVA series was produced by the UK subsidiary of Manga Entertainment.
The OVA series is closer to the storyline of the original manga than the anime series, although the manga itself was not yet completed at that time. In particular, the OVA series depicts the hunt for artificial vampires and the struggle of “Hellsing” with the Nazi group “Millennium” invading England.
Both Hellsing and Hellsing Ultimate follow the same plotline, roughly that is. Hellsing was produced when the manga was not nearly finished and had a total of 13 episodes. Out of these 13, a total of 6 were filler episodes that were completely unrelated to the original manga. As you can see, there is a total of 6 filler episodes in the original, 13-episode anime series. This includes the whole series’ ending. The main reason for this is the fact that the manga was not even close to completion at the time, so the producers had to come up with their own stories. The Hellsing anime has a filler ratio of 46%, which is very high, as almost half the show was filler content that is usually not considered to be canon. This is also why most fans advise skipping the original anime series.
As for Ultimate, this show closely follows the original plot, despite the fact that the manga was not completed at the time, it was near its completion so the production team had a much easier job with Hellsing Ultimate. The OVA series contains 10 episodes that closely follow the manga and contain no filler material, unlike the original anime.
The original anime series was made in 2001 and 2002, when the animation standards were much lower than they are today. And while the show’s animation wasn’t all that bad for the standards of the time, anime fans will know what the animation of the early 2000s was like. The original anime series was animated by Gonzo, a relatively new studio at the time.
Hellsing Ultimate was animated by three different studios. Satelight was responsible for the animation of episodes one through four, Madhouse animated episodes five through seven, and Graphinica animated episodes eight through ten. The animation quality was not just more sophisticated, as per the more modern animation standards, it was executed much better and much more consistently quality-wise, despite the fact that the OVA series was animated by three different studios.
Geneon (Pioneer LDC) has released two CD soundtracks composed by Yasushi Ishii for the animated series Hellsing. Hellsing Original Soundtrack: Raid was released on November 22, 2001 and contained 20 tracks, which were republished on July 1, 2003. The second soundtrack, Hellsing Original Soundtrack: Ruins, which included 22 additional tracks on February 22, 2002, was republished on September 16, 2003.
In addition, three soundtracks composed by Hayato Matsuo for the Hellsing OVA (Hellsing Ultimate) series have been released. Hellsing OVA Original Soundtrack – BLACK DOG was released March 21, 2008. In addition to a DVD-Audio mini soundtrack released in Japan as a supplement to Hellsing OVA IV, titled Premium Disk – Warsaw Recording Selection with nine titles. The latest is also an extra with the Hellsing I-V Blu-ray BOX titled Nazi CD, which contains 13 tracks and one secret track. Suilen’s vocal tracks were released by the band on their latest mini-album THE DAWN. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Hellsing manga’s release in 2018, London record producer “Sinner” tried Hellsing’s original sin on OST RAID.
Hellsing or Hellsing Ultimate – which one is better?
We have now analyzed both series in four individual categories and we are now able to tell you which version is better. Most fans will tell you that Hellsing Ultimate is so much better that you can actually fully skip Hellsing and never watch it. This is true for the most part. Hellsing Ultimate is better when it comes to the majority of elements.
In terms of the plot, it is far superior to Hellsing because not only does it not contain any fillers (meaning that it is 100% canon), it fully follows the original manga ending and narrative. Hellsing’s 13 episodes had almost 50% of fillers (a total of six filler episodes), while Ultimate was completely canon, and that is what makes is the winner in this category.
In terms of production elements, more specifically the animation, there is absolutely no dilemma that Hellsing Ultimate is far superior to the original anime series. This is due to the historical context, as the animation in the early 2000s was far less sophisticated than almost 10 years later, when Ultimate was released. Despite the fact that a total of three different studios have worked on Ultimate, the animation is much more consistent and its quality is undeniably better.
The only fact that every Hellsing fan will agree on when comparing these two series is that Hellsing has a much better and more memorable soundtrack than Hellsing Ultimate. Not to say that Ultimate’s soundtrack is not good, but in terms of quality of music and the feeling of the soundtrack itself, Hellsing definitely wins but that remains as the only aspect that is better the original anime series than the OVA reboot.
And that’s it for today. We hope you had fun reading this and that we helped solve this dilemma for you. See you next time and don’t forget to follow us!