Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hellsing v. Hellsing Ultimate: A Comparison

Okay, first I am not some kind of obsessive anime fanboy. Nor am I a visual artist. Nor do I have any technical knowledge of artistry or animation. However, I do find a comparison of styles in the old versus new to be interesting. I'm sure someone with real knowledge of artistry and animation would be able to make incisive observations of which I am going to be completely unaware. So here we go.

Let's start with Seras Victoria. I'm not going to get into any arguments about how their names are really supposed to be translated, or transliterated, in this post either. Or any other time. To begin with, I would make the observation that the animation in the old series (left) is quite primitive compared to Hellsing Ultimate (right). Let's call the old Hellsing "HOS" for "Hellsing Old Series" and the newer one HU so I don't have keep typing it over and over.

As I have come to watch more and more anime, I have also come to identify characters more by their voices than their appearance. This may be because, although animation is getting better and better all the time, it is still impossible to capture the infinite tiny nuances of expression that constantly play across the human face. [Afterthought: My voice-recognition may also be due to me having a hard time keeping up with many of the Japanese character names. I remember especially having trouble keeping up with the names in Ghost in the Shell.] It is possible to portray certain expressions, but the attempts are still crude at best, when compared to a real human face on film. HOS is quite cartoonish, although I am still impressed at the overall atmosphere of HOS. The HU Victoria has a much more pronounced anime-ish face: oval, very pointed chin, huge eyes. But of course, in my opinion, the eyes are where most human facial expressions occur. Don't you think? I think, perhaps, the disproportionately large eyes give the animators an edge in portraying facial expressions. HU Victoria seems much more expressive and more business-like; not quite so "Saturday-morning-cartoonish."

Walter HOS (left) and Walter HU (right). See what I mean? In HOS, the characters appear as pictures that someone has animated. In HU, they seem to be cartoon creations that have somehow come to life. Look at all those wrinkles on Walter HU's face, that crooked smirk that tells you he knows a lot more than he's ever going to say. Walter wears a monocle. In both series, any characters that wear spectacles tend to have glaring reflections across the glass quite often. In HU, this is much more pronounced. I suspect it's an easy trick to avoid having to draw the eyes all the time. By the way, I could do a whole post just on the various characters' eyes, but I won't. For now.

This is the vampire priest who appears only at the beginning, and is the first major vampire killed by Alucard. It is during this encounter that Victoria becomes a vampire. Again, notice the difference. The HOS priest (left) looks more clownish; is he going to bite Victoria or pull a quarter out of her ear? All those expressive wrinkles in the HU priest (right)! The maniacal eyes! By the way, in HOS all the vampires have red eyes all the time. In HU, the red eyes only come in during fits of passion: rage or violence. This makes them seem more "real" to me.

Integra HOS (left) seems to be more of a doll than anything else. Very stoic. Seldom shows any emotion, and even then only in the crudest fits of anger. Her hair seems to be more of a hood than actual hair. Integra HU shows a wide variety of emotion, and although these two pictures aren't enough to really make my case, they do help show what I'm getting at. Integra HU has hair that seems to be hair; slightly disheveled even though she still has those odd wings sprouting from the front. She also tends to fire up a cigar a lot more often (Walter carries the case for her). I think I will have to do a post focusing just on her eyes. The difference is quite dramatic. ADDENDUM: I forgot to mention something, but remembered it in my sleep last night. Compare Integra's eyes with those of Victoria. Integra doesn't have the typical anime girl huge eyes. Her eyes are small, like a man's. In flashback's, we can see that as a young girl she did have huge eyes, but grew out of them or something as she got older. She's also a Knight of the Realm, and is referred to not as "Dame," but as "Sir."

Alucard is harder to nail down, because he's always standing in the darkness, his face is shadowed by his hat, his glasses get in the way, he throws his cloak over his face, he's holding his gun in front of his face to aim, and all the other things that vampire-killing vampires are wont to do. Alucard HOS (left) has a much squarer chin; Alucard HU (right) a more pointed chin. This is the one character that I think may have been rendered better in old show. His squared chin and deeper smile wrinkles make him seem more real. In the HU version, his nose seems to have almost vanished. Alucard HOS has spectacles that almost always reflect an orange glint. Alucard HU has spectacles that glow with their own light. When he stands in a shadow it gives him the appearance of orange-burning eyes.

I mentioned before that I have come to strongly identify anime (and other cartoon) characters by their voices. Fortunately, all the voice actors are the same between the two series. This may not be so important for the other characters, but I would have been terribly disappointed to hear anyone other than Crispin Freeman's voice as Alucard. He just nails it.

This has been your pointless post for the day.


  1. Hi Itotally agre with you I also write about movies and animes and nivels but my english is no as good as my mother toung but I do pay attention to face and body and the way of power of chracters and I do love Darkness and Count Dracula speciallu Alucard( Dracula in Helsing)

  2. Arman - Thanks for the comment and you don't need to apologize for your English. I'm certain you speak it better than I can speak YOUR native tongue!


  3. One thing I will say about the comparison of Alucard here.....

    Do you not feel that in BOTH shows the way he is drawn sort of represented how different he is from the rest of the cast?? I think that the feeling of "Hes not real" in HU is quite appropriate for the character.

  4. I think both storys are good, but HU is more interesting. But Alucard looks always very cool :)