Okay, I’m officially a day behind in the December talking meme. I’ll double up on Sunday. For now: hokuton_punch wanted me to talk about Integra Hellsing!
…which felt weirdly hard to do, because I feel like everything I have to say about her, I’ve already said. At length. And none of it has changed — she’s still amazing and wonderful and one of my favorite characters ever.
But once I started, things got rolling just like old times.
Integra was cool from the first episode — which is mostly an introductory showcase of how terrifying and badass Alucard is, but when you get to see her, dealing with this powerful monstrosity so calmly, you know she’s got something special.
The manga follows that incident by diving straight into the flashback of how she met Alucard for the first time. I always preferred how the TV anime handled it, saving that for an emotionally-climactic moment after we’ve really gotten to know their present-day dynamic, and can appreciate “this is the origin of their bond” on a deeper level.
It feels so weird to say this now, but on first watch, it wasn’t until Order 03 that a switch flipped and I was sold on her completely. Her foot-down, no-quarter-given response to Section XIII’s meddling was (and continues to be) amazing.
…and so I was delighted to find out that in the manga (and, many years later, the OVA) Integra actually uses that beautiful sword to personally clash with Alexander “Bayonet” Anderson.
Sidenote: did anyone catch that this was the design inspiration for Thorn’s heartsword in Leif & Thorn?
I had honestly forgotten, until I went back and saw this and went, ohhh, wait a second.
In any version of that scene, her military outfit with all the medals is also wonderful. In general, her fashion sense is wonderful. She’s got that perfect bifauxnen masculinity that wears sharp suits and absolutely owns it.
Teenage lesbian me latched onto that hard, partly for reasons of gender-role-defying identification, partly for reasons of…well, just look.
And I love that there’s never a thing made of it, you know? She never gives a speech about how she Has To Be Masculine to Survive in a Man’s World. Never gets a storyline where she has to Rediscover her Femininity — much less realize that dresses and makeup were what she Really Wanted All Along.
This is just…how she likes to dress. And she is utterly comfortable, flawlessly professional, and devastatingly intimidating as a result.
(…I mean, I wrote a storyline where Integra has to wear a glamorous gown for handwavey plot reasons, but I love that canon never went anywhere near there.)
Bonus: flashback baby Integra in her first suit jacket ♥
At some point more recently in Hellsing fandom, it got trendy to refer to Integra as Canon Lesbian Representation. Which…look, I love her and I’ve identified with a lot about her, but that doesn’t make it canon, okay?
Full disclosure, I ship Integra/Alucard like I’m FedEx. But I’m not here to tell you she’s canon-straight or canon-bi, either. She’s not canon anything. She is canon Open To Interpretation. Heck, you can read her as asexual without even having to squint.
It is canon that her relationship with Alucard has a ton of sexual and romantic tension. He asks her if giving him orders is a turn-on! They eventually address her as “Count” and “Countess”! There’s official art by Hirano in which she’s unbothered by him feeling her up!
I do think it’s possible to take it as “even though their bond is deep and powerful in other ways, there’s no substantive attraction on Integra’s side, it’s just part of Their Thing.”
But I sure would be disappointed if I got into a series because someone promised me canon lesbians, and it turned out they were talking about “a character who has regular sexy banter with a guy and no f/f romance at all.”
(…sidenote, I don’t think any honest reading of the series can deny that Alucard has the hots for Integra.)
The only thing you could call canon f/f content is the scene where Integra makes Seras drink some of her blood. In classic vampire tradition, it’s awfully sexy blood-drinking.
Seras is definitely into it. No matter what gender(s) she lusted after as a human, her bloodlust clearly includes women. It’s a great starting point on which to build Integra/Seras (and hey, I’ve written that too).
Integra, though? No blushing or gasping on her side. She’s awfully satisfied, but not in any way that makes me think “this proves she’s canonically into ladies.”
Maybe you disagree — that’s fine, you’re allowed! — but in that case, you’ve gotta reckon for the fact that Integra does the exact same thing for Alucard.
(As the final scene of the final chapter, which is literally called “Romancia,” and their final dialogue is calling each other Count and Countess…just flying my shipper flag high, here.)
If people were calling Integra canon-bi as a result of these scenes, I could see that. But you can’t look at only the Seras scene and declare that she’s canon-lesbian, any more than you can look at only the Alucard scene and declare her canon-straight.
(btw, the part where “Integra goes through multiple Classic Sexy Vampire Scenarios without ever seeming to be personally aroused by it” is why I said it’s easy to read her as ace.)
Okay, relationship detour over. I’m gonna round this off with a broad sampling of Integra being awesome.
Vampire battlefield family reunion!
Taking no nonsense over the phone!
The cigar, the piles of hair, the gun, the shoulder holsters: an iconic Look!
Seras flying an injured Integra out of an enemy zeppelin!
Alucard keeping an injured Integra company in a quiet moment on the mansion balcony!
That Sword again! (Chapter 40, where her character design has finally stabilized — the sword, meanwhile, hasn’t changed.)
All together now: d’awwww!
“You know I can hear you, right?”
I’m still disappointed that I never found a way to purchase this figure.
OVA version of the final scene!
In conclusion, Integra Hellsing: flawless, amazing, dapper, shippable, HBIC, can’t believe there aren’t a zillion clones of her running around in other anime the way there are with Rei Ayanami, still my fave.
And if you know of any place where I can find that one figure…let me know.