When a new show on netflix arrives and a review can be put into three categories on your website you know it’s your solemn duty to review this product. Is this series something I can sink my teeth into or should the makers be whipped?
It’s time to watch Castlevania!
Castlevania recently had its netflix debut with a four episodes long first season. With an episode length of 25 minutes per episode the series feels more like the movie it originally was intended to be. A season of 100 minutes feels incredibly short and to tell the tale of the Bellmont family, luckily for us this is not what the show is trying to do.
This first season tells us the story that takes place before the games and it does that incredibly well.
Brave reader be warned, the following passages will contain some minor spoilers about the first episode as well as the series general story, major reveals will NOT be spoiled. After the next bold print it will be safe to continue reading for those who wish to go into the story totally blanc.
*Minor Spoiler Warning*
Unlike what many believe the series does not tell the tale of the first Castlevania game. Instead it take us back to the roots of the story. We follow the story of Castlevania III : Dracula’s curse. One of the earliest Castlevania stories in the overall timeline only predated by Lament of Innocence.
We start with a scene of Lisa walking into Dracula’s castle, a scientist who comes to learn from the count but who ends up learning the count something about humanity.
She ends up becoming Vlad’s wife, after a small time skip we see her returning to town, where she is burned to death for witchcraft by religious zealots.
Of course Dracula shows up angered and wounded, kicking the story into overdrive.
*Minor Spoiler End*
And with this the story is set to follow the tale of Trevor Bellmont, the protagonist only introduced in the last minutes of the first episode.
From the get-go this series makes it perfectly clear that it will not deal in black and white, instead there are over fifty shades of grey..and whips as well. You will sympathise with Dracula, you will curse the good guys and you might even think the main character is an asshole.I felt kinda sick at the pointless death and when you are ten minutes into a series and you already think please god no don’t do it and you reach the brink of tears the show is doing something right.
After we meet Trevor the story stays focussed on him, as he tries to survive the demon infested and religiously corrupt Wallachia. But when we meet him he is just a common drunk and troublemaker, as the series we develop we begin to see more and more of the man who took down Dracula in that old NES Game. I am amazed by how much character growth they have managed to put in a four episode long series. Yet at the same time Trevor is not a very likeable man, I do not feel very emotionally involved with the man yet with some of the characters he meets I do feel this again, so it is of little consequence. I just hope in the end a medusahead pushes him of a stairs or something.
But character growth is not the only thing that is killer in the series. The animation is done amazingly well, the lighting, the monsters and the action it all comes to live like you would have expected from the games. Though the action scenes almost seem to lack in in power in comparison with the rest of the series, that says more over the power of the rest. There is plenty of blood and gore for the darker minds to enjoy and enough visual grandeur and excitement to carry the slower story moments into a great mix of everything. It feels like an anime, at times I was weirded out by the english voices at times expecting Japanese (I usually watch subs), which is shows how much I was captivated by the visual style
The style of the series ensured this Castlevania is not just made for the fans of the series, it’s a great show for anyone. Luckily there are plenty of references for the insiders. The example that charmed me the most is that over the course of the series Trevor obtains plenty of Castlevania’s secondary weapons, the torch, the axe , holy water and everybody’s favorite the knife all make their appearance is his arsenal.
The way they are used feels Castlevania to me. Trevor throws the knife in a straight line, the torch with that weird little arch and the axe all spinny and high! Just like we remember it.
Famous monsters and locations also make their appearance, in the latter category the clocktower makes its appearance later in the show. With Trevor leaping to several cogs to cling onto live, it gives me some nostalgia goosebumps.
Yet the series is not without it flaws which also becomes most apparent in the final episode.
As I earlier described the action is a bit lacking in comparison to the story and characters but it also is a bit prone to redundancy. We see trevor fall through a floor in the second, third ánd fourth episode, in the last episode it happens several times.
This repeating feeling happens several times in fights or other action moments.
It kinda makes me wonder if these superfluous scenes are not just a retrace from it’s original. Luckily the important fights feel unique and exciting still.
Other than some redundancy the only real flaw the show carries is its short length.
Ending on an epic power-walk to the next fight this season just wet our appetite. Leaving us with a thirst for more. A thirst for blood?