Hellsing by Kohta Hirano

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Friday, Jul 16, 2010

I read the first eight volumes of this some time back—between one and four years ago—and the other day I noticed that volumes nine and ten were available, picked them up, and concluded the series.

I suppose I have a love-hate relationship with Hellsing, and for two very obvious reasons.

On the side of love are Sir Integra Wingate Hellsing, the titular heroine of the series, a no-nonsense, hard-as-nails woman whom singlehandedly runs an organization devoted to keeping England free of freaks and monsters, and her primary servant, Alucard. That's "Dracula" backward for a reason. Alucard is a shameless monster, bound to the Hellsing family and acting only at the behest of his master—and taking great delight in the destruction of freaks, i.e. lesser vampires. He's as amoral and cunning as Integra is driven and dedicated, and together the two of them make me fangirl with glee.

On the hate side of the coin, however, we have four little words: Nazi werewolf vampire cyborgs. I wish I were kidding. Really, Hirano? Really? That was the best you could do? I swear I have a minor aneurysm every time I think about it.

Falling somewhere in the middle are Integra's improbably impressive butler, Walter, he who designs the outlandish guns that Alucard and Seras use; Seras Victoria, the "police girl" that Alucard makes into a vampire and his servant at the beginning of the series, and who serves as fanservice bait for the majority of the run; and then, of course, the oft-incomprehensible pages and pages of black and white splash art in which there are presumably fights occurring beneath the motion lines and blood splatters. Happily, while such scenes are plentiful, they are nicely counterbalanced by the odd, brilliant, beautiful pictures, such as one of Alucard, sprawled out in a chair, looking utterly debauched while surrounded by numerous empty bags—formerly holding blood. The parallels to an alcoholic surrounded by bottles of bourbon were deliberate, evocative, and altogether striking.

So, while there's a lot here that sounds terrible, there's a lot that is wonderful, and I highly recommend the series. It's a fantastic antidote to the sparkly vampires we're getting socked with these days, and hammers home the point (pun intended) that only a human can defeat a monster.

Written by Rachel C.