The Dub Track
Hellsing

by Ryan Mathews, Aug 27th 2002
I'd like to welcome you all to my little dub review column, as it settles into its new home. For those who read The Dub Track at the old address, thanks for making the trip to ANN. For new readers, allow me an introduction. This is a column about English-language dubs of anime. Good dubs, bad dubs, mediocre dubs — I review 'em all, or at least one per month. I focus on the voice-acting, not the anime itself, so if you want to know whether Hellsing has a believable plot or good animation, you're on the wrong page. I can, however, let you know whether the English voice-actors will make you cheer, or whether they'll make you reach for your remote.

Hellsing won't send you scrambling to find the "audio" button, provided you're patient and just a little forgiving. This is the latest Pioneer dub to be produced by New Generation Pictures, the studio responsible for NieA_7 and 3x3 Eyes, among others. In the past, I've criticized New Gen for various reasons, most often questionable casting. Hellsing is their best-cast dub yet. Everyone can act (no children, thank goodness), and the voices are all well-chosen for their characters. There's just one glaring problem that prevents Hellsing from making the jump from "almost good" to "good". It's a problem that can be summed up in one word.

Accents.

Hellsing takes place in England, so the characters all have various British accents. Sort of. More accurately, the characters have a mish-mosh of accents, some of which are truly British, others of which wouldn't pass for British on London's foggiest day. The accents run the gamut, from authentic, to amateurishly faked, to rote stereotyped, to no accent at all.

The latter is the case with the show's star, the vampire Arucard, voiced by fan-favorite Crispin Freeman, best known as the voice of Zelgadis in Slayers. Freeman uses his 100% authentic American accent in the role, which works, surprisingly enough. It adds to the mystery surrounding the character, and besides, I'd rather no accent than one that's poorly done, as is the case so often elsewhere in this dub. Freeman is at his creepy best as Arucard: low, soft-spoken and foreboding.

Arucard's American voice contrasts strikingly with the authentic British accent of his controller, the mysterious Integra Wingate. She is played by talented British actress Victoria Harwood, who gives Integra veins of ice. In my opinion, she's the best voice in the dub.

Arucard's briefly-human sidekick, turned vampiric by him in the first episode, is the young policewoman Seras Victoria, played by K.T. Grey. Ignoring her accent for the moment, let me say that she plays the character well. Grey's Seras is innocent, a young girl that didn't quite understand what she was getting herself into when she agreed to be bitten. Her voice is sweet and quiet. As for her accent, it improves noticeably from the first episode, where more than once she loses it under stress. To her credit, she never attempts more than a mild accent, which helps her sound more believable.

Not so with the first disc's collection of villains. For example, the second episode offers as opponents a pair of punk vampire teenagers, played by a pair of obviously American actors trying their best to sound like they're ready to step on stage with the Sex Pistols. It's passable enough when their voices are calm, but when they're fighting for their lives, the accent just falls apart.

The third episode introduces Andersong, the out-of-control Vatican agent who intends to get rid of Arucard. Andersong is voiced in a delightfully manic fashion by Steven Brand. As for his accent? Steven Brand is an accomplished British television actor, according to the IMDB, so I would assume Andersong's Scottish accent is accurate. That's disturbing though, because considering that they sound just like him, that would mean Scrooge McDuck and Groundskeeper Willie are just as accurate.

I'd like to mention one last character, field commander Peter Fargason, played by Bill Morgan. Morgan's low, gravelly voice is perfect for the role. This man is one of my favorite character actors, and might be one of yours, too. Trust me, the chances that you've seen one of his roles are very good.

Despite the dub's failings, I nonetheless find it enjoyable. I intend to watch the entire series in English. As I said before, it just requires patience. If the accents don't bother you, or if, like me, you can just smile, roll your eyes and let it go, then you'll enjoy New Generation's Hellsing dub as well.


Rating: ** 1/2 (out of 4)
(Review based on episodes 1-3)

Vital Stats:
Released by: Pioneer
Dubbed by: New Generation Pictures
Director: Taliesin Jaffe

Cast
Alucard - Crispin Freeman
Integra - Victoria Harwood
Seras - K.T. Grey
Andersong - Steven Brand
Peter Fargason - Bill Morgan
Leif (boy punk) - T. Axelrod
Jessica (girl punk) - Ananda Banc


Note: Hardcore Hellsing fans will notice that I have not mentioned the character of Walter, played by Ralph Lister. My apologies, but in my opinion, there simply wasn't enough of him in the first three episodes to fairly review.
Agree? Disagree? Have a comment about a dub, or just about dubbing in general? Let me know! (mathews1 at ix.netcom.com)

The views and opinions expressed in The Dub Track are solely those of Ryan Mathews and do not necessarily represent the views of Anime News Network or its sponsors.


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