Allegory, I haven't read the manga yet. I definitely will. I am a bit of a horror/gore/supernatural freak so was really wanting to see it animated, so I restrained myself. You have me excited about what is to come as I love 'lore' if you will!
I can understand the feeling that reading the manga might ruin the anime experience for some series. This was not true for me with Hellsing. I still plan to watch the OVAs and I still think I'll enjoy them. There are of course surprises in the manga, but I don't feel the story is dependent upon them. Hellsing is less about plot or even character development than it is about ambiance and the raw characters themselves.
I have never heard of Jigoku Shoujo (is it hellgirl?), do you think it would be something I should watch? I have read quite a few of your opinions on anime (I'm a lurker) so would appreciate it if you could give me some advice on something new to watch which may be of a similar nature (things like Hellsing, Monster, Berserk etc)
Hellgirl isn't like Hellsing in too many ways, other than also being a supernatural and somewhat of a horror story. It doesn't have much gore or action, and instead focuses on individual stories of the people who come to contact hellgirl in the series. It is highly repetitive
, and can easily bore you.
What I discovered about Jigoku Shoujo is that it isn't a story about the characters, or the plot, or hell, or any of those things. It's a story about why people hate. And each of the episodes demonstrates a different reason why people come to hate. Many hate for very obvious or mundane reasons (i.e. this person is bullying me, stole my boyfriend, killed my husband), but there are several stories that show how you can hate for almost any reason. Ultimately I like it, but that wasn't at least until into the second season.
It's not a series I'd recommend to a lot of people, just because it is very easy to find it boring.
For dark gorish horror stories like Hellsing/berserk (Monster is is incredibly dark, but lacks on the gore) I'd recommend Claymore (a little more shounen), Franken Fran (lots of gore, lots of horror), Gantz (plenty of gore, though the anime has pacing issues, which happens to make it the best example of talking is a free action
I've seen yet), Shigurui (A very mature samurai story), Ninja Scroll (not a favorite of mine, but others have liked it), and Parasyte.
A few others that are less like those would be Shadow Star (Pokemon gone wrong), Speed Grapher (A pretty typical shounen/seinen type story, average), Kemonozume (More gritty rather than dark/gory, but still quite a wonderful series imo), and Future Diary.