When I heard Netflix would be releasing a Castlevania animated series, I got excited. My heart skipped more beats when I read who was writing the series: Warren Ellis, who created great comic books and has written great storylines. So like a little kid approaching their birthday, excited to open up presents, I waited for the release date and when my partner told it was the 7th of July I was ready! Bring on the fast paced whips and quips!
For those unfamiliar with the Castlevania series, here is a short rundown.
Castlevania is a video game series created by Konami. It made it’s debut on september 26th of 1986. The series is heavily influenced by the Hammer horror films of the 60’s and 70’s and it shows; lots of gothic architecture, great monsters and the main villain is Dracula! You are Simon Belmont, coming from a family of monster hunters and he has to take down Dracula with his whip and other secundary weapons. It’s a platformer and a very hard game to beat. As with any succesfull videogame, it spawned a whole franchise which is still running to this day.
Flash forward to the present day and now we have the tv series. There was a short lived cartoon in the 80’s, named Captain N (N standing for Nintendo), which starred Simon Belmont, but there he was made to look like a foppish twat. The Netflix show is based not on the first Castlevania game but the third, starring Simon’s Belmont ancestor Trevor.
7th of July was the release date and I watched the whole series this Sunday and I really loved it.
The first episode is set in 1455 in Wallachia and a young woman named Lisa wants to be a doctor. So naturally she goes to the best teacher around, Vlad Dracula Tepes; a vampire with vast scientific knowledge. He is impressed by her and he agrees to teach her, on the condition that she teaches him to reconnect to his human side once more. They fall in love.
20 years later Lisa is burned at the stakes after the Church deemed her a witch. Saddened by the loss of his wife, Dracula vows revenge and warns everyone living in Wallachia to flee in one year or else they will be punished. One year later the Archbishop holds a celebration to defy Dracula. After that, all hell breaks loose.
In the second episode we meet the hero of our tale, Trevor Belmont, on his quest for food and booze. After a bar fight he ends up in the town of Gresit, where there is a conflict between the Church, the townspeople and a group of magic users, named the Speakers. They are being blamed for Dracula’s demons bringing pain and suffering. Trevor Belmont gets involved unwillingly. He now has to protect the Speakers from the townspeople, but he has to protect the town from Dracula’s forces as well.
As a big fan of the series, I wanted this to be good desperately, and I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by the approach the creators took. Four episodes were used as a stepping stone to expand and continue the story of the game of Castlevania III. The show has a visual flair and is beautifully animated, although sometimes it has a bit more flash than substance. It is bloody and a bit gory, but not too much and not without serving a purpose.
I suggest watching Castlevania if you have a horror itch to scratch and you want to try something animated. With only four episodes it is a quick watch and a great time killer. In 2018 the second season will debut and it will have 8 episodes.