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Awesome VG Adaptations: Castlevania Netflix Series

On 11/16/2021 at 10:40 AM by The Last Ninja

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Be sure to check out any posts from this series you've missed:

Ace Attorney Anime

Legend of Zelda Manga Books

Street Fighter II: The Animated Movie

Professor Layton and the Eternal Diva

The Castlevania Netflix series (which just ended its run this year) is surprisingly awesome. I remember being nervously excited for it because it looked good, but video game adaptations are notorious for being terrible. But upon its season 1 release in 2017, my worries were put to rest. This is an excellent series, from beginning to end, with fleshed out characters and stories that have some real depth. It’s also not for kids—there is tons of blood, language, and sexual content, but it’s also adult in its themes as it deals with human nature, philosophy, religion, and big questions about life itself. 

The series was written by Warren Ellis, a British comic book writer who has created plenty of original comics, but has also been a screenwriter for television (the Marvel Anime series) and video games (Hostile Waters, Cold Winter, Dead Space). Ellis’ talented writing lends itself well to Castlevania as the dialogue is far more interesting than what you would expect. He has also crafted a dark and twisted world in which ordinary people are never safe from the terrors of the night. The show can truly be terrifying at times due to its tone and ambiance alone. 

pic 1

Season 1 feels more like a prologue than an entire season. With only four episodes, season 1 establishes Dracula’s motivation for wanting to destroy humanity. And it works! He marries a woman who is later accused of being a witch. The Roman Catholic Church burns her at the stake (Dracula is gone when this happens). Upon returning and learning of his beloved’s fate, Dracula realizes that humanity does not deserve his mercy. You’ll find yourself sympathizing with Dracula as Ellis shows us how evil and twisted religion can be. The Church is the villain of season 1. One scene has a monster approaching the bishop to kill him, who exclaims, “This is the house of God!” The monster replies, “God is not here.” It’s a chilling moment as you see that the Church has forsaken God in order to justify its slaughter of innocent people. 

Season 1 also introduces us to the main heroes: Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades (a speaker who has magical powers), and Alucard (Dracula’s son). Trevor is a lazy, washed-up man who does not care about others. He’s more concerned about getting another drink. His arc is tremendous over the course of the four seasons as we see him genuinely change and become a true hero. Sypha is a no-nonsense woman who takes her job seriously. She often butts heads with Trevor, but their friendship grows as the show goes on, and it’s great to watch. Alucard, on the other hand, feels compelled to stop Dracula (his father) and (spoilers) upon his defeat, is not sure what to do with his life. In seasons 3 and 4 he finds himself living in Dracula’s castle all alone, trying to find meaning for his existence. 

pic 2

Season 2 is my personal favorite season because that’s when the heroes actually take the fight to Dracula, and the ending is so powerful as (spoilers) Alucard, not Trevor, is the one to kill Dracula. They share a strange father/son moment together, which makes the scene even more sad yet touching. The show could have ended right here, but Ellis kept it going for two more seasons, and even without Dracula, the show maintained a high quality that is so foreign to video game adaptations. 

Season 3 focuses on a group of vampire sisters called the Council of Sisters. The leader is Carmilla, who did not agree with Dracula in season 2 and is so power-hungry that she is willing to step on anyone who opposes her. She’s a compelling villain, despite being completely unlikable (as opposed to Dracula). Season 2 introduces us to two forge masters, Hector and Isaac (both loosely based on characters of the same name from Castlevania: Curse of Darkness). We eventually learn the backstories to these men along with their motivations for what they do. Hector doesn’t completely agree with Dracula (and certainly not with Carmilla) while Isaac is with Dracula 100%. Hector is seen to be more compassionate and naive, while Isaac is hardened and shrewd. The contrast is fascinating, especially as we see the two men interact as rivals, yet each respecting the other. 

pic 3

Season 4 continues the threads started in season 3. Not a lot happens in season 3, which is more of a buildup for season 4. Carmilla is hell-bent on taking over the world and wiping out all humans. Trevor and Sypha are determined to stop her. Ellis manages to make the climax very potent as he reveals another Castlevania villain that fans will enjoy. The ending (which I won’t give away) feels earned, and we feel that we’ve really gone on a long and dangerous journey with these heroes. 

I know this has gone on long, but suffice to say, this series is truly amazing. In addition to the story and characters, the animation is top-notch. The design of all the characters are excellent (except for the monsters, which were often generic rather than specific creatures from the games). The action scenes are intense, gory, and thrilling to a fault. The music is fine, although Castlevania themes are sadly absent (except for one moment in season 2 that has Bloody Tears playing during a fight). The voice cast is also excellent, displaying a wide range of emotions while staying grounded and true to the characters they’re depicting. If you’re a Castlevania fan or a horror fan, you really need to watch this series—you can watch all four seasons on Netflix.

Purchase Castlevania Season 1 here




11/16/2021 at 08:09 PM

I was entranced by the graphics of this show when I saw the trailer a while back. Sounds like it's well written too. 

The Last Ninja

11/17/2021 at 12:23 AM

Animation and writing are both great. You should watch it if you've never seen. 

Cary Woodham

11/16/2021 at 09:00 PM

Since I'm not a big Castlevania fan, and I heard it was pretty hyper violent, I skipped out on this one.

Of course, this isn't the first time we've seen Castlevania in animated form.  Simon Belmont was in the old Captain N cartoon.  Is that going to be on your blog series?  Ha ha, I bet not!  It was pretty bad.  

They should make a more family friendly Castlevania cartoon starring Kid Dracula!

The Last Ninja

11/17/2021 at 12:24 AM

Kid Dracula would be great! Yeah, this is very adult, tons of blood, gore, language, it's not for kids. But it's also Castlevania (not a very kid-friendly series) 

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