Released: July 7, 2017
I never imagined that I would find myself looking forward to anything with the name Konami associated with it ever again. My personal disgust for what was one of my favorite gaming studios was pushed to the side slightly when Netflix announced that a new animated series based on the Castlevania franchise would be coming to the streaming service.
***Mild spoilers from this point forward***
Castlevania is written by Warren Ellis who took on the task of bringing one of the most beloved gaming franchises in history to life in a brand new way. If you are into binge watching an entire series on Netflix, Castlevania will come as a bit of a shock weighing in at just four episodes in its debut season. There is still a lot of story packed in here and Netflix has renewed the series for a second season that will raised the episode count to eight.
Episode 1: “Witchbottle”
The series opens with a reclusive Dracula (voiced by Graham McTavish) welcoming a young woman named Lisa (voiced by Emily Swallow) into his castle. Lisa is eager to become a doctor and help people with the aid of Dracula’s knowledge. In return, she promises to help him learn to tolerate humans and live among them. The two are soon married and have a child together. Dracula sets of and travels among the humans while his wife uses her newly learned scientific methods to help the townspeople. Of course this is Eastern Europe during the 1400s so naturally the church has her burned at the stake as witch. When Dracula returns and discovers the fate of his wife, he gives the townspeople one year to get their affairs in order before unleashes his hellish armies on the to exact his revenge.
This is the darkest and most emotional episode of the four. Dracula’s rage over the death of his beloved comes through in every expertly delivered line so well that I was ready to avenge her myself. This episode also gives us our first glimpse at Dracula’s son and Symphony of the Night star Alucard (voiced by James Callis) and Trevor Belmont.
Episode 2: “Necropolis”
Castlevania’s second episode fully introduces us to our reluctant hero Trevor Belmont (voiced by Richard Armitage).Trevor is the last of the Belmont clan that seeks out and hunts supernatural threats but have been excommunicated by the church and subsequently shunned by the townspeople for the belief that the Belmonts attract the evil that they are tasked with hunting. With all that in mind Trevor would love nothing more than to let the people fend for themselves as he looks for ways to get by. He then meets a group dubbed The Speakers that are trying to help in the battle against Dracula’s horde and are now themselves targets as a result.
Episode 3: “Labyrinth”
The season’s third episode gives us an even better look at Trevor Belmont as a hunter as he seeks out the missing grandchild of the eldest speaker who was in search of a legendary soldier in the catacombs beneath the city. I will admit that I was expecting to see Trevor take his whip to a few skeletons or flying bats down there but instead he quickly dispatches a cyclops with the power to turn its victims into stone.This gives us another Castlevania cameo in the form of Sypha Belnades.
Episode 4 “Monument”
I wont go into the season finale too much but it succeeds in not only giving the season a reasonable good conclusion but it would have served as a good prequel to the games if Netflix had decided to end the show here.
In the end, Castlevania manages to be one of the most faithful video game adaptations to date even if it too short by any standard. This extremely mature rated take on the series delivers humor, violence and as much story as can be packed into four roughly 23 minute episodes. It is another great series from Netflix and I am looking forward to the next season.
Final Score: 8.75/10