"In the name of God, impure souls of the living dead will be banished into eternal damnation. Amen."
Hellsing is a 13-episode animated series that was shown on Japanese television during the 2001 season (in the 2:25 AM to 2:50 AM timeslot!). Taken from the manga from the same name (written and drawn by Kourta Hirano), it is the story of the Hellsing Organization and their war against the forces of the supernatural (specifically vampires). In some ways it is reminiscent of other monster hunter anime (such as Geobreeders, Ghost Sweeper Mikami, Phantom Quest Corp, and Silent Möbius), while it also calls to mind supernatural horror anime such as Vampire Hunter D and Vampire Princess Miyu. While it features the team-aspect of many monster hunter series, Hellsing has a dark and serious tone, similar to the latter two series.
Overall, Hellsing stands out not for its animation (which is roughly average, although with some nice directorial touches and CGI additions), but for its content. It is an exciting series and presents a thrill-ride through a world that's not our own (but could almost be), as well as an eerie creepiness in which virtually none of the main characters are cute, friendly, or in some ways even likable. However, one of the main drawbacks to the series is it's length. At only 13 episodes, it can't spend a lot of time concentrating on anyone one character (with the exception of Integra in Episode 10, Master of Monster). In addition, it only presents a small part of the original manga series, and a second season has been delayed until the manga series is completed.
At the moment, the Hellsing manga is not available in the United States in a translated form. Apparently, Dark Horse Comics has bought the English license, and will be distributing the first volume in December of 2003.
The Music of Hellsing
One of the more interesting things about Hellsing is its soundtrack. There are two albums, titled Raid and Ruins, each with 60 minutes or more of music. The music is a wide mix of material, and fits very well with the anime (although there are some really odd touches—like the sound effect of Godzilla's roar in one song, or a Tarzan yell during another). I recommend both albums for those who wish some interesting background and theme music for runs involving the supernatural. As a final note, the ending song Shine partially written and produced by Richie Zito, who was also behind the soundtrack to Project: A-ko.
Paladin Alexander Anderson: Monster!
Arucard: People say that to me all the time.
The world of Hellsing is our world with one major exception: vampires are real. In fact, Hellsing looks to take place in the late 1990s, and might even be meant to be occurring in the same as it's broadcast date (i.e. it takes place in the year 2001).
The anime doesn't go into much detail about the past history of the Hellsing universe. A few comments made by Integra Wingates Hellsing make it apparent the events in Bram Stoker's novel Dracula actually occurred, and that Count Dracula came to London, England in the late 1890s. As for the Hellsing Organization itself, it seems to date from around the turn of the century, and is roughly 100 years old as of the Hellsing anime.
The technology of the Hellsing universe is the technology today. There are no examples of far future technology with two major exceptions. The first is the so-called "Freak Chip." This chip is some form of bio-chip placed into the body and causing the body to assume a vampiric state. The second is Alexander Anderson's regenerative abilities. More about this below.
In Hellsing everyone uses projectile weapons. The standard Hellsing trooper uses a Heckler and Kock MP5, while police officer Seras Victoria uses a Heckler and Kock M23 automatic pistol, and Integra Hellsing is seen with both a Walther PPK and a Berreta 93R. For vampire killing the Hellsing Organization uses a variety of light machine-guns and heavy sniper-rifles that are probably similar to the .50 Barrett. Of course, when dealing with superhumanly-strong vampires, then one can build and use guns requiring superhuman strength to lift and fire. This, the Hellsing Arms Weapons Industries Company, Limited, has designed and built several impossibly large guns to be used by several of its operatives, namely the .454 Casull longslide automatic and 13mm Jackal used by Arucard, and the 30mm single-shot breech-loading cannon used by Seras Victoria.
Other weapons seen in the series include the FN-P90 (used two at a time by the Freak-Chipped vampire Jan Valentine), a cut-down M-1 rifle (also used two at a time by the chipped vampire Luke Valentine), an Armscore 40mm grenade launcher (used by the True Vampire Incognito), and a variety of submachineguns and shotguns. About the only impossible weapon (aside from the aforementioned firearms) is the monowire gloves of Walter C Ddollneazz (see his character sheet for more).
As with weapons, there are no real surprises with the vehicles seen in Hellsing. most vehicles seen are typical British military helicopters and armored personnel carriers. About the only notable vehicle is Integra's car, which is a Rolls Royce Silver Cloud II.
Computer technology is pretty much on par with the real world. Walter mentions the internet and chatrooms, while the Hellsing Organization looks to have its own OS (Hellsing OS), that looks suspiciously like the Macintosh OS (but then, so do a lot of anime computer systems...).
Medical technology has advanced to the point where the creation of the "Freak Chip" is possible. This chip, if placed in the human body (only one is needed), turns the recipient into a vampire. It is described as an "artificial vampirisation catalyst semiconductor" or as a biotechnological computer chip with an electrical transmitter mechanism. How this chip works is never explained, although one doctor theorizes that placing the chip in the body activates a dormant "freak" gene in humans, turning them into vampires.
The other example of unusual medical technology is Alexander Anderson's ability to regenerate from virtually any damage done to him. Not even a close-range gunshot to the head from Arucard's .454 stops him. He either ignores or heals most any damage in a short period of time, and seems to be able to regrow (or have replaced) any limbs lost in combat.
Although it isn't exactly obvious from the series, the world of Hellsing seems to be crawling with magic. Bullets used in various guns are said to have undergone ritual blessings, Alexander Anderson uses blessed swords (which can hurt a vampire) and casts various "spells" using holy Catholic writs (such as purifying an area against vampiric powers). Arucard and Incognito exhibit vast magical abilities, including changing shape, summoning demons, and mentally influencing others. Finally, when the basement under the Hellsing mansion is described, a "black magic" laboratory is mentioned.
The statement is made in Hellsing Episode 5, Brotherhood, that non-human beings (a.k.a. "true" vampires, or "NHBs" for short) have existed from the earliest times, while Freak-Chipped vampires have only appeared in the last 18 months or so. In addition, both types of vampire are capable of creating that is called a "ghoul" (basically an animated corpse), from a human victim.
Ghouls: A ghoul is what you get when a vampire kills a human through feeding on the human's blood. A ghoul can also create more ghouls simply by biting another person, infecting them (or so it seems), and causing them to transform into an undead state. Ghouls have gray skin, sunken eyes, and shamble about when walking. They cannot speak, but can understand simple commands, and are unable of being turned back into a living human. They will readily feed on human flesh, and will usually attack any living human they find.
Chipped Vampires: A Chipped Vampire is someone who has had a Freak Chip implanted in their body. The chip turns them into a vampire (or, a vampire-like being), giving them many of the benefits of being a vampire, and few of the drawbacks. A Chipped Vampire is superhumanly strong, superhumanly resistant to damage, can regenerate most wounds, no longer ages, and can create ghouls. At best guess, the basic powers for a Chipped Vampire are as follows (this presumes the starting character has characteristics of 10 in all stats):
We see several Chipped Vampires during the course of the Hellsing anime. They all have the listed powers (or seem to), and some can do even more. Arucard calls Luke Valentine an "instant" for his superhuman speed (virtually a form of teleportation) and also labels him a Category A vampire, indicating that someone has broken down vampires into types based on what they can do.
True Vampires: A True Vampire is just that, a genuine, honest-to-goodness creature of the night, created when a True Vampire drains the blood from willing victim (there may be more to the process than simply drinking the blood of a victim, but the anime doesn't show it). A True Vampire is everything a Chipped Vampire is, and more. True Vampire's have (or can have) vast supernatural powers far beyond anything a Chipped Vampire can even conceive of obtaining. The base stats for a True Vampire are almost identical to that of a Chipped Vampire with a few additional powers (this presumes the starting character has characteristics of 10 in all stats):
True Vampires can have many more powers, however. It is possible they have the "No Hit Locations" power, as Arucard, Incognito, and Seras all take hits to the head and/or throat without any noticeable effects beyond basic impact wounds. In addition, Arucard makes mention of a number of powers a True Vampire is either supposed to have or can have. These powers include shape changing into a bat or fog, transforming one's body (possibly into something else than a bat or fog), summoning demonic servants, or regenerating lost limbs. See Arucard's character sheet for an idea of how extensive the powers of a True Vampire can get, while Seras Victoria's character sheet is the perfect example of a newborn True Vampire.
Vampiric Disadvantages: There seem to be few concrete disadvantages to being a vampire, either Chipped or True. The most basic, of course, is the intangible (at least in HERO System terms) feeling of no longer being a living being. This might lead to various Psychological Limitations, such as Jan Valentine's feelings of invulnerability (Expressed with the line of "We can cheat in invincible mode, and you can't!"), or Seras attempts to hold on to her humanity by refusing to drink blood for as long as possible. At any rate, the basic disadvantage for vampires is thus:
Distinctive Features: Fangs, Red Eyes (C) (10 points)
To be honest, this is about it. It's not that vampires have no problems with their state, it's just hard to figure out what they are, even after viewing 13 episodes of Hellsing. Let me explain.
When Seras is first turned into a vampire Walter tells her not to go out during the daytime. Then Arucard tells her "You've become a being who can never walk under the sun." But then she is seen walking around outside during the day. Arucard also tells Seras that she needs to drink blood in order to maintain her strength, and she will weaken without it. However, she doesn't drink much that we can see (only once is it done on camera, although she does allude to it later), yet her strength remains superhuman. Finally, it is shown that Seras can't touch silver without being burned and it is stated that fire can destroy a vampire. Chipped Vampires, seem to have even less problems with sunlight (Jan and Luke attack Hellsing mansion in what is obviously board daylight), and it's hard to say if they have problems with silver or not (it isn't clearly stated). Hopefully the manga will be more explicit on this subject.
Now, for all their power, vampires of any type do have one major weakness—they aren't bulletproof. If you want to kill a vampire, all you need to do is shoot it through the head (location 3-5) or the heart (location 13). Just about any type of bullet will do, although the Hellsing Organization does load Arucard's (at least) weapons with specialized rounds to allow him to do much more damage to his targets. You might want to give vampires of any type a Vulnerability to shots to locations 3-5 and 13. Either that or use hit locations and/or aiming to achieve the right feel. Or all three—as just about any head or heart hit killed a vampire instantly (at least Chipped Vampires anyway). Fire will work as well, and although vampires doesn't seem to be any more vulnerable to fire than a normal human (no extra damage in other words), they can't regenerate damage from it (or so I am guessing).
This list describes most of the named characters seen in the 13 episodes of Hellsing. See individual write-ups for more information on specific characters.
"In the name of God we shall strike down the damned undead with the eternal iron stake."
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