Series Review: Castlevania, Dracula’s Back… Yet Again…

If anyone has read my My Top Ten Metal Video Games (Part 1) then you may know I consider Castlevania to be one of the most metal game series of all time. However ever since the cesspool that is Konami has pretty much damned this series with horrible god of war clones and cash grabbing pachinko machines, the once mighty game series has fallen. Could this animated Netflix series resurrect the Castlevania name?

(WARNING SPOLIERS AHEAD!)

Castlevania is an adaptation of Casltevania III: Draculas Curse. The story follows whip fetishist Trevor Belmont on his quest to kill Dracula. After his wife is burnt at the stake, Dracula gives the people of Wallachia a year to make peace with their God before he unleashes his iconic army of monsters on the world… Well ‘iconic’ maybe isn’t the right word to use here. The monsters are your generic bat-like gargoyle creatures. None of those wonderful Universal and Hammer Horror inspired monsters taken from the original game series. Just generic demon monsters. Oh side from a single fight with a Cyclops and hell hound like beast. It was disappointing to see. Hopefully in future we will get to see our favourite Castlevania boss battles be animated in fantastic fashion!

I suppose this brings us nicely to the animation. Casltevania is nicely done. It is like a mixture of Berserk and that Dante’s Inferno film with a whole lot of Hellsing thrown in. The setting of Wallachia is beautifully dark and oozing in so much of the Gothic that even Mary Shelley would be proud. The fight scenes can sometimes feel a little jagged especially when Trevor fights Alucard.  It’s a bit like Dragon Ball Z where the characters move so fast that the animators just give up animating frames and instead resort to flashing up collisions. Unlike Dragon Ball Z where this style of animation is compelling as larger than life characters reach ludicrous levels of power, Castlevania suffers. It doesn’t match the more concise combat of the games. I know you can’t really compare a game to a show but Trevor swings his wipe around like a god damn lightsaber instead of dodging, rolling and waiting for his chance to strike. At least there is plenty of blood and gore! There is so much blood in this show that even Dracula himself would go ‘come on guys… bit excessive isn’t it?’.

The voice acting is pretty decent to.  Richard Armitage, known for his roles as Thorin Oakenshield in the Hobbit trilogy and Guy of Gisborne in the hit and miss Robin Hood TV series, does a fine job voicing the alcoholic Trevor Belmont. His accent fits the character nearly perfectly with only the odd transgression of animation matching the voice. The mystical magician Sypha Belnades is voiced by the relatively unknown, Alejandra Reynoso. The contrast of her hopeful personality to Armitage’s stalwart stubbornness makes for a good double act.

Just when things start to get interesting though it ends. During the final episode Trevor and Sypha team up with Alucard ready to kick some serious monster arse and then boom, no more episodes. Season one ends in just four episodes! Four god damn episodes! I don’t know whether season one was just a teaser  so the gods of Netflix could see just how popular the show would be before continuing with it. Whatever the reason it is simply not good enough! You can’t leave it under two hours long! How am I meant to get invested in this new world if after four episodes its over? And these episodes aren’t like hour long Game of Thrones episodes. No they’re like half an hour shorts! This was one of the biggest downsides for me, to end like this was just on poor form. However I am still looking forward to season 2 in 2018 so it can’t have been that much of hype killer.

Castlevania has done its best to support the franchise by attempting something interesting with the series cos lord knows Konami has long since given up caring. The short season length, the choppy fighting should have put me off the show but it didn’t. I was fully invested from the get go. The problems are eclipsed by the dark atmosphere, the blood soaked gore and the on point character portrayals. The show has set up season two well enough that I am still hopefully that fans of this franchise have something to look forward to.

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