Higanjima Volume 6 (Manga) Review

Plot: Atsushi seemingly gains the upperhand on Miyabi, and things are looking up as the others regroup and find the boat. However, escaping the island is nowhere near that easy. Even in the waters surrounding Higanjima, there are hazards that are life-threatening….and impassable.

The group is forced to bail and head back to the island. Separated yet again, Akira beats himself up for not being strong enough to protect his friends, defeat the threat and help get them back home. Upon hearing Akira’s deep desires to be strong, Atsushi leads him to the camp of a small resistance group he joined when the invasion first happened so he can be trained by his master.

Breakdown: I’d say this is the best volume yet. The first half is intense. The battle between Miyabi and Atsushi reaches a head (pun intended, but nonsensical unless you read the volume…) showing off what a complete and utter badass Atsushi continues to be. It actually has a Miyabi death fakeout in it, but the death was so vicious you’d never think he’d be able to recover, even as a vampire, but nope. His methods of regenerating were…..odd, to say the least.

Atsushi’s even still a massive badass when he meets back up with the group after that battle – he’s so awesome.

Like the faceoff with Miyabi, even with everything they went through, you know escaping the island won’t be as easy as grabbing a boat and running away. And the road block is definitely not something cheap or benign just to keep them there. Miyabi has the entire island under his thumb, and that includes the waters surrounding it.

Katou is practically going through a ‘gonna die soon’ checklist. He’s turned into the biggest coward of the group (Pon has yet to return, wherever he is) ready to run off without his friends when the going got rough. Then when they have a moment of peace seemingly about to leave the island, he reveals he has an engagement ring and is planning to propose to his girlfriend, Megumi, soon so he wants to do everything in his power to live.

Dude, we already did the ‘teens who are so in love they’re going to get married soon, but, horror being horror, they die before then.’ thing.

Akira is also consistently stepping up his badassery, but finds he can’t do nearly as much as he needs to in order to protect his friends and bring them home. Atsushi shares the knowledge that he’s not the only human being left on Higanjima. At the start of the vampire infestation, a rather large group of resistance fighters joined together, but now their group is rather small since they kept getting raided by vampires.

One of the last remaining survivors happens to be the man who trained Atsushi, who will take on the task of training Akira. However, there’s something odd about him. He is a massive goliath of a person who is first seen chained to a wall with a creepy mask on his face in a cavern underneath the resistance camp. Since he is only barely introduced in this volume, we don’t really learn anything about him, but his mere presence makes me very intrigued to see what the next volume has in store.

If there’s one thing that’s kinda getting on my nerves, though, it’s that so many of these characters keep getting crushed to the point of coughing up blood, which would obviously indicate a terrible internal injury, yet not only are their lives not threatened by this injury, they’re up and walking without issue and heal from the damage a short while later. I wouldn’t have felt the need to mention it if it was just once, maybe Matsumoto didn’t think about the continuity at that moment, but to happen several times is a bit much.

Overall, really great volume and I can’t wait to read the next one.

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Space-Time Detective Genshi-Kun/Flint the Time Detective Episode 12: What is Ammon? | Sub/Dub Comparison

Plot: Genshi is set off to find the Space-Time Monster, Ammon, in 15th century Transylvania where she is currently hanging out with ‘Dracula’ himself – Vlad the Impaler.


Title Change: What is Ammon? is changed to Bindi.

The first shot of the original is the computer screen showing Ammon. In the dub, they insert two establishing shots of the bureau before showing that screen.

Name plate removed:



The dub adds wing flapping noises when showing Pterry and Getalong even though they’re just floating there without flapping their wings.

The dub also adds the same shot of them getting on Ridon and heading down to the basement as usual, but they go even further by adding Jillian chastising Professor Goodman for hitting on her before.

Between when Genshi inserts the card and when they depart, the dub adds in the professor telling the kids to wait a second through the computer, but they won’t wait.

The dub inserts another shot (presumably from later) where we see an overhead view of the town and the kids flying over it before we cut to Sora and Genshi talking.

Genshi initially thinks Dracula is a food, which is why he rushes down to see it. In the dub, Flint seems to know what Dracula is, so he, for some reason, rushes down to see him.

Instead of zooming OUT on the castle, the dub zooms IN. *shrug*

Sora starts telling Genshi they should look for Ammon somewhere else. In the dub, Sarah says they’ll be safe as long as Flint is with them.

So, you know how I was confused as to how they’d go about this episode? Because either 1) They’d be meeting the fictional character, Dracula, in history somehow or 2) They’d start palling around with Vlad the Frickin’ Impaler – the real-life mass murderer on whom Dracula was based?

…..It’s 2.

And HOO. BOY. Do we have much to discuss here.

First of all, Vlad over here is depressed because people keep calling him Dracula and are afraid of him. However, Vlad pretty much gave himself that name in real life. He signed his name as Dragulya or Drakulya after his father, Vlad Dracul (Vlad the Dragon) – a name he received after joining the Order of the Dragon, which was a chivalric order in Europe at the time. Draculea or Dracula was Romanian for ‘son of dracul.’ While ‘dracul’ originally meant ‘dragon’ its meaning changed to ‘the devil’ in the more modern vernacular. In turn, the son of the dragon became the son of the devil.

Second of all, Vlad is also specifically calling himself Vlad Tepes here as if it’s his actual name, which it’s not. It’s literally just Vlad III (of Wallachia). He was given the name Vlad Tepes because ‘tepes’ in Romanian translates to ‘impaler.’ This title was bestowed upon him, posthumously, mind you, because the dude loved him some impaling.

Third, in the dub, Vlad is saying Dracula is a family name, which it’s not, technically, (Vlad II’s descendants were all referred to as Draculesti) and means something different now – something warped from what they originally stood for.

Hm….Hmph. The ‘family’ name of Dracul, inherited from Vlad II was only ‘warped’ because of Vlad III’s cruelty and the slightly embellished stories in the newspapers, word of mouth and, of course, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Whether or not Vlad II had a good reputation is up in the air. I feel like it’s a gray area situation.

From all I’ve read, he had his fair share of blood on his hands and made some questionable military decisions, but he seemed to have been a pretty fair and caring ruler overall and was nothing anywhere close to the cruel person Vlad III was. His worst crime is implicated as handing over his sons, Vlad III and Radu, to the Ottoman empire, but he was forced into that arrangement (they were kidnapped and being held hostage to try and keep Vlad II under their thumb) and Vlad II tried to ensure that his sons were kept safe and eventually returned to him. He appeared to have died believing that, somewhere down the line, his sons were murdered by the Ottoman empire.

Fourth, this whole setup is kinda screwed from the getout because Vlad III never owned any property or lived in Transylvania. It’s been recorded that Vlad III might have been born in Transylvania, but, even if he was, he never lived there. Even the place they call ‘Dracula’s castle’ – Bran Castle – is just a spooky castle in Transylvania that Vlad never once visited. His armies once passed through Bran the city when they were murdering Saxons and burning nearby suburbs to the ground in the area, but that’s about it.

It was rumored to be the closest existing castle bearing resemblance to the castle described in Dracula, but it’s really not even that. In the 1970s, the Romanian government just banked on the rumor that it was strongly connected to Dracula, so they drove up tourism by marketing it that way.

Moving on, Putera originally tells Tokio and Sora that Vlad was just a model for Dracula and that such a being is not real. In the dub, Pterry tells Sarah and Tony that, if Tony’s nice enough, Vlad might give him the grand tour of the castle – the one that involves showing him his coffin.

Also, somehow, Ammon can talk, which is very much unlike most other Space-Time Monsters.

Speaking of which, Tokio asks how Ammon can talk, and Ammon doesn’t really have an answer for him. In the dub, since all Time Shifters can talk anyway, this is changed to Tony saying Flint won’t make a very good vampire unless they change his diet. Bindi then says to knock off the vampire talk around Vlad because he doesn’t care for it. While supernatural beings of a vampiric-like nature have existed for over a thousand years, ‘vampires’ shouldn’t be a thing in 15th century Transylvania since the word ‘vampire’ wouldn’t exist until the early 1700s.

Mite originally asks what powers TP Lady could be referring to. In the dub, he asks if it was worth missing bowling for a Time Shifter with no powers. Also, after TP Lady goes on about how Ammon could have eternal life or beauty, Mite points out that TP Lady always seems to want the Space-Time Monsters with powers that specifically benefit her. In the dub, he asks if the next Time Shifter they’ll go after will have experience in hair dressing.

TP Lady originally jumps out of the ship to tell them that those are the basics in life that she needs. In the dub, she, for some reason, says ‘One more time! One. More. Time!’ before falling.

I am currently watching Vlad the Impaler happily bounce on a bed with a time traveling caveman……Again, I truly, deeply love anime.

However, let me be a downer nerd for a second……a downerd, if you will – mattresses didn’t start having springs until 1865. Unless there’s something else springy in that mattress, there’s no reason they should be bouncing like that, especially so easily. I have no clue why I decided to look that up, but here we are.

They censor the wolf getting hit in the face with Kyoichiro’s cane by cutting to a flash of white when the strike happens.

They do the same thing again when the other two wolves get hit, but it’s so quick and really nothing is shown during the split-second shot.

Ammon: “The count is really a nice person. Everyone just misunderstands him.”



Vlad once impaled a donkey because it started braying after Vlad impaled its masters…..Who were monks.

A group of Ottomans once refused to remove their turbans in his presence due to religious reasons, so he ordered their turbans be nailed to their heads in honor of their religious devotion.

There’s a story of him having a woman killed because she made a shirt for her husband that was too short.

Here’s a woodcut depicting him eating his dinner while surrounded by dead/dying people impaled on pikes with one of his men chopping up corpses in front of him as he dines.

I mean, granted, yeah, it’s been suggested that the stories about his cruelty were exaggerated to some extent, but, still, the guy didn’t have some sort of fake image as a monster smeared on him. He earned it. He left tens of thousands of bodies in his wake, usually leaving them alive while impaled on stakes and allowing them to die slowly for days wherever he left them. His most famous instance of cruelty and murder was leaving what was described as a ‘forest’ of impaled people on stakes – over 20,000 Ottoman POWs – as a means of intimidating an Ottoman army into retreating (and it worked.) His estimated final death toll is about 100,000.

He is hailed as a Romanian hero by some as he was an extremely effective military leader who held strong resistance against the Ottoman empire, protected Wallachia and had a very noble sense of law and order. But even people who hail him as a hero recognize that he was a cruel person who did horrific things. They simply justify it on the grounds that his cruelty was ‘necessary’ in such horrible times and his acts lead to some good. I actually found quite a few lengthy comments by people who were vehemently defending Vlad on those grounds. I’m not Romanian nor did I live in the 1400s or know the guy personally, but I just can’t see through that lens. Even if you can excuse or justify the acts themselves, if he actually did them in such a merciless manner and took pleasure in it, he’s simply a horrible person in my eyes.

No matter if you don’t accept the monstrous viewpoint of Vlad or even accept him as a hero, you have to agree that it’s SO weird that this show is choosing to paint him like this. The guy is depicted as such a gentle softspoken man that he’d probably be an understudy for The Count on Sesame Street.

They insert a shot of Sarah talking right before Merlock introduces himself.

Kyoichiro tells Sora that he hasn’t properly introduced himself to her yet. In the dub, he tells Sarah that he’s her servant.

In the original, Dyna and Mite say the missiles might not be flying right because Mite mentioned to the people who repaired their ship that they keep getting defeated so they probably skimped on the work. In the dub, Dino says cuts to the defense budget caused the problem and Mite adds that if they had written to their congressman like he suggested this wouldn’t be happening.

Vlad originally tells the women to take the children and run while the men work to put out the fires. In the dub, he tells everyone to grab a bucket and head to the wells to put out the fire.

Also, yup, now Vlad the Impaler is a village-saving firefighter…..

They recycle a couple of shots from the chase after it restarts before Merlock hits the cliff.

They remove about half of the shots of the saw approaching Kyoichiro and Ammon. He was biding his time until the very last moment so he could get the best shot at defeating the robot and getting away. In the dub, he just suddenly attacks.

*lip smack*….Uhhh……why is the sawblade now flying around back and forth like it’s a boomerang that never falls? TP Lady’s not doing this.

Petra: *nearly got hit by the sawblade* “I hate when this happens!” I, too, hate when sawblades defy the laws of physics and basically become a flying sentient Beyblade from hell for absolutely no discernible reason.

Putera: “Vlad was attacked by many, but the townspeople loved him. Just as history should be.” This is half-right, to some degree. As I said, some Romanian people hailed him more as a hero, and they still do. If nothing else, he’s viewed as a good military leader who defended Wallachia no matter what.

However, I am totally still calling foul on this narrative like he was given a bad rep unjustifiably. I get that this kids’ show can’t depict or even discuss the horrible acts of Vlad the Impaler, but acting like he was this goshdarn swell guy who had the heart of a lion but everyone unfairly treated like a monster for absolutely no given reason is taking it way too far.

It’s a hop, skip and jump away from telling the tale of a down-on-his-luck artist who had the best of intentions but everyone just started being mean to him for no reason and his legacy was forever marred because of rumors. Genshi and the others really have to help innocent little Adolf.

I joke, but Shin Devilman pretty much did that.

And I definitely won’t agree with the statement “Just as history should be.” It’s not as history should be because you’re omitting, like…..ALL OF THE HISTORY. The dub parrots this last line exactly and it really irks me. At least Saban changes the first line to saying he was part of a noble family that cared for his country instead of making this defenseless victim narrative.

Dub Villager: “We listened to too many bad stories.” Again, what were these stories? Who was telling them? What were they even about?

Tony: “I guess the vampire was just an urban myth of the count’s era.” No. He was a mere part of the basis of the most famous vampire in history, ‘Bram Stoker’s Dracula’, which wouldn’t be created for another 400 years. Not only was Vlad’s cruelty and impaling shtick inspiration for him, but there was also the popular rumor that Vlad liked to drink the blood of his enemies. It should be noted, however, that the strength of Vlad III’s connection to the fictional Dracula are said to be overstated. Stoker got the name Dracula from him and drew inspiration from the stories of cruelty surrounding him, but the majority of the character was pieced together from years of research on vampire legends as well as essays, books and articles on the subject.

They also found clippings indicating that Stoker was researching Mercy Brown at the time he was writing ‘Dracula’. Mercy Brown was the epicenter of the Mercy Brown Vampire Incident, which was part of a growing ‘vampire panic’ in New England at the time. Many people were dying of tuberculosis during that period, and being the superstitious and largely uneducated bunch people were back then, they started believing those who had died from it were becoming ‘vampires’ since the disease would also spread to their family members and seemingly suck the life force from them while the corpses of some of those who had died were sometimes left without much decomposition and with blood in their vital organs.

One such famous incident of this very occurrence was Mercy Brown, who had died of tuberculosis after her mother, Mary Eliza, and sister, Mary Olive, had died from it. When the three were exhumed for analysis, Mary Eliza and Mary Olive showed a normal rate of decomp, but Mercy didn’t. Mercy was accused of being a ‘vampire’ (though they probably didn’t directly use that term) who was sucking the life from her surviving brother, Edwin, who also had TB. They burned her heart and liver, put the ashes into a ‘tonic’ for Edwin to drink in order to cure him, desecrated Mercy’s body and reburied her, believing they saved poor Edwin….He died two months later.

Also, it was later revealed that Mercy’s body was kept in ‘freezer-like’ conditions in a crypt for the two months following her death, something that was not done with Mary Eliza and Mary Olive, which would explain why they were so decomposed and Mercy was not. This incident was seemingly one of the last of the vampire panic, though it should be noted that Mercy’s case took place in 1892 and the first recorded example of this type of thing happening was in 1793….Yup. Nearly 100 years exactly of people thinking ‘vampires’ were the culprits behind the TB outbreak in 19th century New England. Gotta be thankful for modern medicine, education and science at times like these. Granted, it’s not like it was a massively popular thing to do – according to New England Today, there were only seven documented cases of this happening – but still.

The Mercy Brown incident was never strongly associated with Stoker’s writings, but it’s very interesting nonetheless.

….Also, supposedly Stoker had a nightmare brought on by eating too much crab meat about a vampire king rising from the grave. Now I can’t stop imagining a crab vampire…..

Vampiric beings in general, as I stated earlier, had been around for much longer than Vlad’s time, and the myth has remained in a multitude of ways to this very day, so boiling it down to just being an urban legend of Vlad’s era and location and that blew up in correlation to the rumors surrounding him is just wrong.

And, really, if you think about the timeline of the show for even a second, you have to wonder….how did the fictional Dracula even become a thing off of Vlad? Was it purely the outlandish seeming rumors surrounding him for whatever reason? Does this mean they changed the timeline and now Dracula doesn’t exist because Vlad’s reputation was saved?

Toki-G brings up how odd it is that Ammon can speak again. Since this isn’t in the dub, Old Timer just talks about Merlock and Bindi traveling together now.

The final scene with Toki-G is basically kept the same, but they add in some recycled footage to extend it.


……What a weird-ass episode.

Normally, really weird episodes would be welcome because they’re just insane and fun, but this is weird in a confusing and bland way…..What do I even do with this?

It’s an episode acting as if Vlad the Impaler was an innocent nice dude who never did anything wrong and was treated badly just cuz. It’s uncomfortably washing away literally everything even slightly bad that he ever did. I know they did the same thing for Christopher Columbus, but muffled history and years of washed schoolbooks were basically to blame for that depiction. What was behind this? Why even select someone like him to focus on in a kids’ show?

This episode also showcases a Space-Time Monster that never displays her powers, doesn’t transform and never fights. In the dub, she’s even more boring because there’s no mystery about why she can talk since all Time Shifters can talk in the dub. Not to mention the fact that she’s clingy and jealous, which are not personality traits that appeal to me at all. And now she’s going to be Kyoichiro’s companion. I hope she’s over the jealous bit now and will be more likable in the future.

Our big battle of the episode was against TP Lady’s robot cat, which has been defeated numerous times, and, in the end, they just ran away because they were terrified once Genshi was de-fossilized.

We didn’t even get a new good transformation for one of the Space-Time Monsters on the allied side. Eldora was called in but only to act as a means of de-fossilizing Genshi by reflecting the beam back.

We did learn more about Kyoichiro, and he definitely proved to be more than just a goofball puppy-dogging after Sora. He’s a pretty cool guy with some legitimate skills………….Why no one pointed out that he looks like a vampire, much more than Vlad (and basically is one) I’ll never know.

The one actually notable thing about this episode besides the aforementioned Dracula/Caveman bouncing on the bed thing is the weird flying sawblade with a mind of its own. Where did it even go once the tree pinned Kyoichiro? Is it going to slaughter the villagers? Violate land clearing laws? Audition for the new Saw movie?

I didn’t dislike this episode, but I also didn’t like it. Outside of the weird and uncomfortable light they put Vlad in, there’s not much to like or dislike about this episode because there’s simply not much in it. There’s not a real story. I don’t even feel anything for Ammon having to leave Vlad because they never didn’t put any adequate focus on their relationship. From the very start, it was just Ammon getting pissy that Vlad was making friends with Genshi. And unlike most other instances of a Space-Time Monster leaving their friend, Vlad never has one final moment of fondly remembering Ammon or even saying goodbye. He just makes friends with the villagers and gets his mind wiped.

I will admit that I had a lot of fun researching everything in connection to this story. I always enjoy stories of creatures and monsters and how they intertwine with history, and Vlad the Impaler has always been a pretty fascinating person to me, even if he was a mass murderer. However, the more I researched, the more irked I got at the changes they made. Oh yeah, Vlad the Impaler totally rescued a little pink snail creature and let it sleep in his bed….right after he supposedly captured, tortured and mutilated rats and small birds and stuck their bodies on tiny sticks.

Next time, we’re seemingly getting a Christmas special. Cool. Don’t think they’re meeting the real Saint Nicolas, but cool….Wait, does that mean this was meant to be a Halloween episode? Hm.

….Previous Episode

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Higanjima (Manga) Volume 5 Review

Plot: Akira manages to free Atsushi from Miyabi’s mind control, and the group makes their escape. Most of them make their way across a rope bridge, but Atsushi chooses to stay behind for the sake of buying them time and getting his revenge on Miyabi. As he brandishes his sword, we learn why exactly Atsushi has such a personal vendetta against Miyabi.

Breakdown: Fresh off the heels of Atsushi being mind-controlled by the newly revealed main baddie, Miyabi, and Yuki supposedly being stabbed by him, this volume is actually more about backstory than anything.

I was relieved that the most badass person on the team wasn’t going to be a puppet of Miyabi for long, although I have mixed feelings about the backstory between the two.

Two years ago, Atsushi came to the island to get a marriage blessing from his beloved Ryouko’s parents. To do so, he had to present an offering in a shrine that the villagers were afraid of. It’s fine if you leave it alone, but Atsushi’s curiosity got the better of him and he couldn’t help but enter. There were legends of vampires surrounding the shrine, and Ryouko desperately wanted to turn back.

When Atsushi heard a voice asking for help, that wasn’t an option anymore. In a room in the back of the shrine was Miyabi who seemingly feigned being ill so Atsushi would let him out and unleash him upon the island once more.

The reason Atsushi hasn’t escaped the island in the two years he’s been there, despite having commandeered a boat, is because he feels guilty for letting the vampire virus loose on the island. And the reason he has a personal vendetta against Miyabi runs deeper than infecting everyone with this virus.

Miyabi got to Ryouko and paralyzed Atsushi with a quick bite before biting her and brutally raping her right in front of him. She died as a result of being drained.

Even though the Ryouko backstory’s a bit cliché, I liked how this entire volume played out. We end on another cliffhanger in present time, even though I sincerely doubt Miyabi’s dead.

Atsushi continues to be a badass, and I commend the others, despite being incredibly weak and wounded, for trying to help Atsushi however they can from the other side of the bridge. They could’ve been gone and in that boat ten times over in the time they had, but they stayed to ensure Atsushi had a fighting chance.

Something I should note, though doesn’t really bump up the content rating too much since we’ve had graphic sexual content already, is the rape scene. Not only is it a rape scene, so of course the content rating rises here, but they do a ridiculous job trying to ‘censor’ Miyabi’s genitals. There is a closeup shot, right on, fully erect, details intact, and they think it’s censored just because it’s in silhouette.

I’m very intrigued for the next volume, and I’m especially looking forward to more Atsushi badassery. Miyabi is shaping up to be a decent antagonist, but I’d like to see more to him besides ‘he’s evil just because evil.’

Next Volume…..

….Previous Volume

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Animating Halloween | Hellsing Review

Plot: Hellsing is an organization meant to protect the citizens of England and her queen from the vampiric threats that plague the land. While the soldiers themselves are skilled and their leader, Integra, has rock-solid resolve and determination, they have one very powerful ace up their sleeve in case things get too muddy; the incredibly powerful vampire Alucard. In addition to the true vampire threats that appear, artificial vampires created by computer chips, called ‘Freaks’ and incomplete zombie-like vampires called ‘Ghouls’ also start becoming a major problem for Hellsing and their newest recruit, a newly-made vampire police officer named Seras.

Breakdown: Ah, Hellsing. One of the most badass anime in existence. The anime that continues to remind us that vampires at one point used to be legit scary instead of romance novel and fanfiction fodder.

I watched Hellsing a long time ago and recently rewatched it for a reason I will be addressing later on. I really liked it because who can’t help but love watching Alucard, Integra, Walter and Seras work.

The show really does have a great style to it. The art style, the music, the writing, the colors, the cinematography – all of it has a great flair that really helps make this show memorable. It’s a good thing too, because you really need to be able to encapsulate style to make Alucard’s character truly work.

There is a lot to like in this show – likable, or at the very least badass and cool, characters, fun action, memorable antagonists, atmosphere and more. However, there are two pretty glaring flaws as well.

First, the characters. Now, I like the characters, even several of the bad guys. I adore Integra, and I really think she’s one of the most badass characters, not just regarding female characters, ever written. I love Alucard and his weird sense of humor and overall kickass style. I love Walter and his unique brand of kickassery. I even really grew to love the leader of Hellsing’s military forces, Ferguson. And Seras is okay….

My problem with many of the characters is that, outside of Integra who basically gets an entire episode dedicated to her backstory, none of the characters’ pasts are fleshed out….at all.

Alucard’s backstory is somewhat touched upon in Integra’s backstory episode where we discover he was captured by Hellsing’s forces and decided to serve under Integra’s father and then her after his death. The two big problems here are that we don’t get any sort of information on what Alucard’s story was before that encounter, though it could not be more obvious as to who he really is, and the fact that the scene showing us Alucard’s first encounter with the Hellsing forces makes no sense.

In the flashback, he’s surrounded by Hellsing soldiers and easily takes all of them out. That’s it. They don’t show how they managed to capture him or transport him to keep him locked up, nor do they show exactly why Alucard has such as high respect for the Hellsing organization as a whole or even merely Integra’s father.

Integra’s father isn’t even in the aforementioned flashback. How did they manage to capture him if they were getting slaughtered by him? And if the Hellsing forces are so powerful that they managed to capture Alucard, why are they having such trouble with Freaks and Ghouls?

Alucard’s character is also a bit odd. For the most part, Alucard takes every situation with a huge evil grin and laughs at every challenge. It really doesn’t seem like he has a shred of humanity left in him, and he enjoys killing and slaughter just as much as any antagonist would. However, he does show some blips on the radar of caring for people who earn his respect like putting people out of their misery to prevent them from becoming Ghouls or visibly worrying about his master when her life is in danger. He even tells Seras to run away from a dangerous situation once. It’s really weird. Nice, I suppose, but weird.

Speaking of characters who get no exploration in terms of background, Seras also gets none. Considering that the first episode makes off like she’s the main character and she stays very prominent throughout the series, that’s a big problem. One of the biggest reasons this is such an issue is because most of her character development is based around her difficulties in dealing with the fact that she’s now a vampire.

In order to kill a vampire that had killed off most of her comrades in the police force, she agrees to let Alucard shoot her through the chest, delivering a fatal wound to her and, being a special blessed bullet, also destroyed the vampire. She made a deal with Alucard beforehand, psychically, that he would turn her into a vampire if she wanted to live after he killed her. She agrees, and he turns her after shooting her.

However, she seems to regret her decision since she starts to be treated differently because of her new vampiric nature. Most importantly, she finds the act of drinking blood, even bagged blood or blood from Alucard, to be repulsive and nearly starves herself to maintain her dignity and humanity. Even at the end of the series, she still has yet to drink blood straight from the tap, so to speak.

Not to mention that her avoidance of blood and shame at her vampiric nature pretty much becomes a non-plot point halfway into the series since it’s somewhat resolved when she finally resigns and drinks her bag of blood. After that, her biggest problem really seems to be lugging around the huge cannon that she gets as her main weapon.

Considering we don’t have any sort of grasp on what Seras was like before she turned, outside of a rookie police officer with plenty of heart but low confidence, it’s hard to really feel for Seras’ situation. All we get of her backstory outside of episode one is a picture of her as a child sitting on her father’s shoulders. The picture reveals that he was also a cop, possibly indicating a feeling of failure as a police officer for letting her entire squad die and then choosing to become a vampire instead of dying with them.

Seras as a character is pretty disappointing anyway. For the most part, she’s just a newbie vampire and somewhat of a newbie soldier trying to get her footholds into her new job. She even has difficulties shooting at enemies, even if they’re vampires, purely because they look human, which is a bit iffy because even at her previous job as a police officer, she’d still have to shoot and probably kill actual people.

It takes her until the second to last episode of the series before she actually manages to stand tall on her own feet and even gets a badass moment or two, but it wasn’t a big enough hurrah for so much waiting, especially in what was supposed to be her big main villain fight of the series.

I’d like to know exactly why Alucard chose to turn her anyway. First of all, surely a sharpshooter like him would have no issue killing the vampire without even hitting Seras. Second of all, even if he couldn’t avoid killing Seras to kill the vampire, why turn her? He has to have had similar instances like that before, and he rarely if ever makes more true vampires. So why her?

Walter having no backstory isn’t that much of an issue since he’s really a supporting character, but considering that Alucard alluded to his past as an incredibly ruthless soldier of Hellsing, it’s disappointing that we never saw it.

The second major issue is the reason I went back and rewatched this series. The story. I could not really remember anything of the story outside of the main plot details of ‘Alucard and Hellsing fight vampires.’ I rewatched the series to refresh my memory since reviewing an anime based purely on badassery seems pretty empty.

Sadly, I found the reason that I forgot most of the story is because it’s not memorable and doesn’t break outside of the main plot synopsis.

Pretty much all that happens is vampires, Freaks and Ghouls kill people and cause destruction. Hellsing and Alucard kill them. The end.

The only overarching storyline regards the Freaks. Hellsing has to investigate who is making the Freaks and stop them from doing so. There’s not much to the investigation except that more Freaks come along who are obviously connected to the perpetrator. There’s some conspiracy to take down Hellsing, but I don’t understand who is doing it or why.

You want to know something else? The only overarching storyline, which was weak to begin with, doesn’t get a resolution. We find out who is making the Freaks, the main villain of the series, Incognito, but we don’t learn who his master is. Like Alucard, Incognito is working under the orders of a human master, yet they never say who it is or why they’re doing this.

All that is given about him is that he’s a mole in either Hellsing or the Round Table, but considering that there is no one in the Round Table who is prominent or that we give a crap about and most of the people in Hellsing barring one or two people are complete red shirts, and the two I’m talking about end up dying at the end of the series, I can’t imagine any reveal would’ve been worth it anyway. The fact that they didn’t even bother trying to make a character for this is just really sloppy to me.

Wanna hear something borderline insulting in that regard? After the battle with Incognito, we get a title card that tells us that the traitor, unnamed, was caught, secretly judged and silenced. That’s the sign of quality – to wrap up your main plot point with a title card. Another title card after that indicates that they’re still looking for the organization that manufactured the Freak chips. So not only do they wrap up a main plot point with a title card but they put a cliffhanger in another title card!

Speaking of Incognito, he’s seriously the best they could do with a series villain? A naked alien-looking guy with a lot of piercings and tattoos? Not to mention his gun is ridiculous, being a big bloated revolver. And they had to buff him by imbuing him with the power of a god named Set, a god we’ve heard nothing about up until now, have never seen and have no idea of his story or powers? Come on.

By the way, I’m aware that Set is a real deity in ancient Egyptian mythology. I’m saying they should’ve established who he was and what his powers and rules were in this universe.

Even Seras’ final hurdle, the, for lack of a better term, Super Freak Paul Wilson, is a huge disappointment. They bother to show us a tiny glimpse of backstory for him and then he’s quickly defeated by Seras.

There is a pretty decent arc with a priest character named Anderson, who is a vampire hunter working for the Vatican. Even without vampire powers, Anderson can still take a lot of what Alucard dishes out since he’s a regenerator, essentially immortal. Anderson is actually pretty interesting because he’s such a devout religious man, yet he’s also a big hypocrite by openly killing a Hellsing solder, not a vampire, for little reason, and his immortality itself seems like an unnatural affront to God. Anderson is a great foil to Alucard so it really disappointed me when his arc just kinda ended with no real fanfare.

Another factor that severely hurts what flimsy story that is there is Alucard himself. Don’t get me wrong, I love the hell out of Alucard. He is just untold amounts of fun. My problem is that he is way too OP for his own good. He takes every challenge with a laugh and always assures the audience that every threat is basically just a plaything for him. This guy cannot die, even less so than you’d think a vampire couldn’t die. He gets shot up to bits, beheaded, turned to mush, he even gets hit with his own blessed bullets and he does not die. He just gets back up even more powerful than he was before, like an immortal Saiyan.

This is further exemplified by the fact that Alucard has some sort of power restriction system set on him. It’s never adequately explained, but in times where Alucard thinks he’s found a worthy opponent, he unlocks restrictions put on his power to allow him to defeat the enemy. When Alucard goes into the final battle merely unlocking his power at level two, you know he’s not letting loose completely.

Even if he ended up ‘dying’ in the battle, the absolute end would likely be Alucard unlocking next level restrictions, restoring his power to full and completely annihilating anything that comes his way. When you have a character that is this powerful, it drains the tension from the series. You can still worry about human characters for the most part, but no threat really seems like a threat when Alucard can just sneeze on them to defeat them.

Art and Animation: The art and animation are fantastic, courtesy of Gonzo. The character art can seem a bit off model sometimes, mostly with the eyes, and the animation has its shaky moments, but it’s nothing too bad to warrant knocking down its praise. It has a great atmosphere, great colors, crisp linework and some great designs.

Music: The music was great with some awesome jazzy tracks and catchy as hell OP and ED…..However, it could be said that the OP and ED’s tones don’t fit the tone of the show. The soundtrack fits the style perfectly, but not really the tone. For a really dark show with blood and gore rampant, having such an upbeat and jazzy opener is a little odd. The ED is even worse in that regard because it’s really optimistic and almost alternative rock.

Voice Acting: EnglishHere’s another mixed note. Both times I watched Hellsing, it was in the English dub, and some of the voices are just eugh. Seras is probably the worst here as her actress just sounds horribly awkward with an English accent. Many of the characters need to put on an English accent for this and most of the time it just sounds phony.

Integra is alright, Walter’s VA is good, but the shining star here is Crispin Freeman as Alucard. Oh God, he is having a total ball in this role. He is enjoying every minute of it and you can tell in a heartbeat. He is perfect for this character, and it just makes Alucard even more enjoyable to watch.

Jan Valentine’s VA was also very well cast and seemingly had a great time with his character.

Bottom Line: Hellsing is a very fun anime with some really cool characters and concepts as well as great action scenes, but it has a very one-note story that is completely forgettable, hardly any of the characters get explored very well, and some of the plotlines like Anderson and Jan Valentine seemingly end on cliffhangers. I’ll always have a soft spot for this series, but you’d be much better off with Hellsing Ultimate.

Additional Information and Notes: Hellsing was directed by Umanosuke Iida, and was written by Chiaki Konaka. The series was produced by Gonzo. It is currently licensed in North America by Funimation.

Year: 2001-2002

Episodes: 13

Recommended Audience: There’s obviously a hell of a lot of blood and gore. It could’ve been much gorier, but it’s still pretty nasty sometimes. In regards to sex, there is censored fellatio, some yuri eroticism, but no actual nudity. Lots of swearing. 16+

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Higanjima (Manga) Volume 4 Review

Plot: Akira and Atsushi have finally reunited, and Atsushi reluctantly agrees to go help save Ken. They take advantage of the night of the full moon, when they’re not permitted to feed and aren’t as active. During their mission, Atsushi conveys valuable information about the vampires.

The vampires were all once human. The vampirism is actually a kind of virus that is passed through blood. They’re damned to be vampires forever, but there’s an even worse fate.

They need to drink human blood in order to stave off another transformation – turning into a crazed monster called a devil.

Akira, Atsushi and the others have the bad luck of coming across a devil during their rescue mission. While they manage to save Ken, they cannot escape the devil. Even worse, the master of the island, Miyaki, has found them. He has mind control powers that they refer to as Psychic Jack, and he can control the devils all he wants.

However, his sights are truly set on Atsushi, whom he’s finally able to grab ahold of and brainwash. He sics Atsushi on Akira, and, in an effort to stop the fighting, Yuki gets stabbed.

Breakdown: This volume amps up the stakes (lolpuns) even more as we learn that the vampires aren’t even what the group really needs to worry about, which is good because they were getting killed a little too easily for it to really be the main threat, no matter if they were slaughtering others.

Now we learn that the vampires can turn into devils, which are much more of a threat and much harder to kill. They need to prevent the vampires from becoming devils, but there’s the catch that they need human blood as a sort of medicine in order to stop it.

But that’s not the concern once we get down to it. The main concern is the devil before them and Miyaki. I assume Miyaki is our big baddie, and he seems fairly interesting so far. The fact that he’s a vampire with mind-control powers isn’t really new, but it’s pretty neat. Plus, he already turned Atsushi against them and even dealt a possibly fatal blow to Yuki.

This volume definitely amped up the action, though I’m sad Atsushi might be a mind-controlled puppet for however long. I like his character, so I’d rather him actually be….ya know…a character.

I’m excited to find out how they get themselves out of this one, if they even can.

Next Volume….

….Previous Volume

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Animating Halloween: Higanjima Volume 3 (Manga) Review

Plot: Akira and the others have made it to Higanjima, but they don’t even get to shore before they’re attacked by the vampires. Unlike what Rei said about there only being a few, the island is basically littered with nothing but vampires. The vampires ambush them on the boat and take them prisoner. Rei, however, escapes into the wilderness.

The group learns that the vampires don’t just suck all of your blood at once. They have a special chair prepared for their victims where they sit naked, are force-fed nutrients and water and get bitten for as long as possible on a regular basis until their bodies can’t stand anymore and they die.

Akira and the others sit in horror for several days, hearing the screams of some of the other people they had brought with them to island as their blood is drained away. They begin to turn on each other out of fear, hunger and thirst. The vampires mock and taunt them regularly, frustrating them even further.

Ken seemingly sacrifices himself to allow Akira and the others the opportunity to escape, stating he can take two to three months on the chair, trusting that Akira and the other survivors will come rescue him when they have the chance.

Once they get out, they split up to escape the vampires, and Akira attempts to find his brother in hopes of getting his help.

Breakdown: So, in the end of volume two, I kinda thought to myself…. ‘These guys have to have a real plan, right? Their plan can’t just be ‘Arrive on the vampire island with a bunch of randos, not tell them what’s going on at this island and hope for the best.’ right?….Right?’ Nope, that was their plan.

Granted, Rei lied about how many vampires there were, but still. And the fact that they didn’t tell any of these people, not only making them completely useless as backup but also making them, essentially, giant snacks for the vampires….Why? You might as well have given all of these poor people red shirts.

Not to mention that, for added measure, they make sure to plow it in your face that two of these people, fresh out of high school, are engaged to be married. Gee, I wonder if they’ll live.

The best part of this volume is when Akira, Ken and the others are going crazy while waiting in their little prison. They have nothing but screams and wails to listen to, and there’s the impending wait to get on ‘the seat’ that is terrifying them all at every minute. They eventually start turning on each other, and even throw poor Pon to the vampires as their next sacrifice to ‘the seat.’

Ken volunteers to take his place, however, both sacrificing himself and giving the others an opportunity to escape by staging an attack and getting the key loose from the guard. He states he’ll survive for two to three months, much longer than the week or so the others tend to live, all so they can regroup and rescue him.

Atsushi comes back a bit in this volume, but only teased at the very end. However, it seems he likely will team up with Akira in the next volume. How that will go, I don’t know.

This volume was also very….gross. And they made it a point to highlight the grossness. We learn in this volume that the vampire’s bite makes you go numb and all of your bodily fluids involuntarily spew out as a result, everything from tears to drool to pee. They never don’t focus on the peeing. They also add in pooping in this volume, because there’s no bathroom in that prison cell, and show us that ‘the seat’ has a hole in the bottom for waste. Lovely.

There’s a lot of good buildup and tension in this volume, and I nearly wanted to smack them for trying to sacrifice Pon. I mean, yes, he is the most scared of them all and he is, arguably, the most useless, but he’s also the most relatable, to be honest.

Yuki’s barely even in this volume, relegated to about one shot of pleading for Ken to not sacrifice himself.

The end of the volume is a big question mark as the entire group is split up, no one really knows how long Ken will last or even if he will survive, and we have no clue how Atsushi and Akira will interact after two years of being apart.

All in all, this was a good, but slightly stupid and gross, volume of Higanjima. I greatly look forward to volume four.

Next Volume….

….Previous Volume

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Animating Halloween: Higanjima Volume 2 (Manga) Review

Plot: Akira and the others have barely managed to escape from the vampire with their lives intact. The mysterious woman, named Rei Aoyama, helped them escape by using herself as bait. While Ken was bitten, the effects of vampirism don’t spread unless some of the vampire’s blood gets into the victim’s system; leaving him weak but alive and human.

Rei explains later that she came on a mission to save her mother and sister. The village she hails from is filled with monsters. She tried to recruit a team of people from the mainland to help kill them all and save her two sisters, but they were a small group and inevitably failed. As an example, Rei’s second sister was crucified.

Now, she seeks to recruit Akira and an even bigger group to take them down and save her sister.

Ken is infuriated and itching to kill the monsters, so he agrees to go. Akira wants to save his brother, who is likely still alive on the island, so he agrees. Yuki wants to protect Ken, so she goes, and everyone else decides to follow in order to help Akira find his brother. The group also decides to recruit as many people from school to help them, under the guise of a graduation trip.

They have about 30 people altogether, but are split into two groups when they reach the boat. Can they survive the monsters on Higanjima, and can Akira find his brother once more?

Breakdown: This was very much a volume to segue us into the main story of what’s happening on Higanjima. Outside of Ken getting bitten, them killing a vampire and Akira seemingly have prophetic visions maybe, the rest is backstory and preparing for the trip.

Rei is quite the interesting character. She does seem at least partway genuine, and I’m rooting for her to really be a good guy, but the fog is far from being lifted around her.

Ken becomes even more abrasive and violent after he gets bitten. He’s not turning into a vampire, he’s just angry that he got bit in front of everyone (and peed his pants in process) so he’s being extra pushy about everything.

Akira doesn’t do much this volume besides have a vision/hallucination that was only a little helpful and he guides us through detecting when Rei is lying, at least as much as her tells can offer.

Yuki is still fairly useless, but she does adamantly insist on going to the island and even brings her archery gear to help kill the monsters. Ken even literally kicked her off the bus, and she still insisted on going. Good for her. Bad Ken, but good for her.

Not much else left to say about this volume, so let’s see what the island has in store for us next time.

Next Volume….

….Previous Volume

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Animating Halloween: Higanjima Volume 1 (Manga) Review

Plot: Akira’s brother, Atsushi, went missing two years ago. A mysterious seductress informs Akira that she found Atsushi’s license on her island. Unable to ignore this revelation, he agrees to go with her, but there’s much more to this woman than meets the eye. Vampiric beings roam the world in the shadows, and Akira and his friends have managed to get tangled up with them. Where is Atsushi, and what does he have to do with this strange woman and her vampire associate?

Breakdown: This manga is kinda interesting so far, but not with anything involving the vampires, really. We see Atsushi is actually a kind of vampire hunter now, but why he vanished and why he doesn’t contact his family is never revealed.

We don’t see much of Atsushi, though, so we have to connect more with Akira for now. He’s a difficult person to like. Ever since Atsushi went missing, every adult in Akira’s life has started putting their expectations on him, and he has trouble living up to them. He’s very smart, but he is seen as lazy and simply inferior to Atsushi, which weighs on him heavily.

Outside of that, he’s deeply in love (or lust?) with his friend, Yuki, who is currently dating his good friend, Ken. He has incredibly graphic visions or hallucinations of her masturbating quite frequently, and even though he pleasures himself to these visions sometimes, he feels he’s more haunted by them above all because he can’t have Yuki.

When he meets this woman, she acts as a sort of emotional and physical outlet for him, even though it’s really not clear whether they’ve had sex or not.

It’s also hard to get a grasp on Akira’s relationship to his brother. He cares enough to pursue leads as to his whereabouts, but we don’t get much insight with either brother as to what they truly mean to the other.

Yuki herself is rather blah. She’s….I can’t even think of a descriptor….she’s…nice? She hasn’t been characterized much so far, so it’s difficult to get a lock on why Akira loves her so much.

Ken is a bit of a wild card. He screws around with Yuki even though he knows Akira loves her (another of their friends is in love with Yuki too. What is it with this woman?) but he still encourages him and is a really good friend to him otherwise.

The art is depressing, if that makes any sense. It’s nicely detailed, but it’s also very dark and the more negative emotions are highlighted most.

Recommended Audience: There’s some fairly graphic gore, and the scenes with the hallucination Yuki might as well be full hentai. 17+

Next Volume….

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