Spoiler free: Introduction/Summary
Castlevania is an American animated Netflix Original Series that was released on July 7th, 2017. The first season consisted of 4 episodes running at about 23 minutes each, for a total run-time of around an hour and a half. It was produced by Adi Shankar (notable for Dredd 2012 and Lone Survivor 2013) and written by Warren Ellis (Red 2003 and Transmetropolitan 1997) and is based on the story from the Konami game Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse released in 1989 for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The series has already been confirmed for a second season by Netflix which will contain 8 episodes.
Castlevania is about a vampire hunter, Trevor Belmont, who belongs to the House Belmont. The Belmont’s were a family of monster slayers and protectors of the people, until the church decided to exile them. now stands Trevor Belmont, the last of his family, and the last hope for mankind. He and a few helpful allies stand in the way of the terrible Dracula, so that he cannot rid the Earth of the human race.
This show is bloody and brilliant. If you haven’t seen it then at least give this short first season a try, and if you’re wondering if you can enjoy it without playing the games then your answer is yes. However, if you have played them you will be in on many references that will make any fan tingle on the inside. If you have seen it, then scroll down and look at my in depth look at Castlevania Season 1.
Spoiler zone: Analysis/Criticism
It is clear that Warren Ellis pulled the story for Castlevania the Netflix series straight out of the Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse Instruction Manual which is going to make a lot of fans happy. In the first episode “Witchbottle” we start out with Lisa who becomes Dracula’s wife. Lisa is based off of Dracula’s wife and Alucard’s mother from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night for the Playstaion. Lisa gets burned by the church after being ruled a witch and Dracula vows to get his revenge. As Lisa is at the stake she cries “Don’t hurt them, they don’t understand!” and the Bishop who was the cause of the calamity says “I believe she’s exhorting Satan not to take revenge on us.” The Bishop character is the true bad guy since we can see Dracula’s sentimental reason for wanting vengeance. Although the Bishop gets is punishment in episode 4… “Let me kiss you.” An amazing scene was when Dracula found out about Lisa’s death, and he cried a “bloody tear.” If only the classic track from Simon’s Quest could have played.
Let’s first touch on the negative, then the positive. This show isn’t perfect but I don’t have a huge list of negativity. The Castlevania series to me is never complete without a bad ass soundtrack. The music in this series isn’t bad, it just never stood out to me. For example in episode 4 when Trevor and Alucard fight, the music was generic and dull. As a fan of the video games I was expecting something more, but I suppose they couldn’t get Michiru Yamane. I understand it is a TV series and not a game but at least a small reference to the famous music would have been appreciated. Another slight problem I had was with Lisa and Sypha’s voice actors. Lisa was voiced by Emily Swallow and Sypha was voiced by Alejandra Reynoso. Even though they don’t compare to Dracula from Symphony of the Night they still didn’t seem very into the role, especially when it came to grunting or screaming. According to IMDB Alejandra’s most notable work is the Winx Club series, so hopefully we see an improvement on her Sypha role in season 2. Another problem I had was the lack of monster variants. There were only two types of monsters that I recall, the standard winged demon and the bigger demon with blue eyes that killed the Bishop. I was hoping to see more of the classic Castlevania monsters like Medusa Heads, Skeletons, and Skele-dragons.
Now for the positive. One thing I love about this show is that they hold nothing back but they don’t have an excessive amount of gore. In episode 1 there is a young boy split in half and at one point there was a baby carcass in a demon’s mouth, these are things that aren’t typically seen in animated shows especially when they are made in America. These terrible things add to the horror of the situation in Wallachia. The action scenes have some great choreography and overall the animation is really well done. The way the characters spin around like Trevor when he’s fighting the Cyclops or like Alucard when he’s fighting Trevor works well for the fast paced combat. The way they animated Trevor’s whip gave the viewer the sense of how fast it is and how fluidly it can move. The sound effects department did a good job as well, the whip cracks and sword clashes sound genuine.
Other than the two previously mentioned voice actors (who did a fine job, but not as good as the others), the voice cast was excellent. With Graham McTavish as Dracula (previously played Dwalin from The Hobbit films) and Richard Armitage as Trevor (previously played Thorin from The Hobbit films) where could you go wrong? Two hobbits turned into a vampire and a vampire hunter, what’s not to like? I really loved the writing of the dialogue and the way they portrayed Trevor’s character. The bar fight scene was hilarious just as much as it was bad ass, he’s “Trevor fucking Belmont” and he “used to fight fucking vampires.” Trevor is sarcastic, care free, and secretly compassionate. He hides his sentiment behind his smart comments and nonchalant temperament. The show has a lot of downtime but it is filled with hilarious and intriguing dialogue backed by an in depth lore.
From this point Trevor, Sypha and Alucard are going to be a team, and an awesome one at that. But where the hell is Grant Danasty? He may possibly come in next season considering in the game Trevor had to defeat him first to release him from Dracula. Maybe we will see him in the dreaded Clock tower. Hopefully Trevor gets to upgrade his whip like in the games as well. I loved the first season overall and I’m can’t wait to see what they have in store for the second.