When I first heard that Netflix was going to air a Castlevania series I was both overly excited and fearful. As one of my favorite video game series of all time I really wanted to see Castlevania done justice, but didn’t have high hopes that anyone could really pull it off. Once Netflix released their first trailer for the show, my hopes rose a bit.
For fans of the video games, Castlevania focuses on the story of Castlevania III, with some extra lore tossed in that was first provided in Symphony of the Night. Trevor Belmont, the first Belmont to actually fight Dracula, is the central character along with Sypha Belnades and Alucard, Dracula’s son.
For those unfamiliar with the games, the Belmonts are a line of vampire hunters dedicated to taking down Dracula whenever he pops up. Sypha is witch tasked by the church to help hunt down Dracula in Wallachia during Castlevania III’s time period. Alucard, Adrian Fahrenheit Ţepeş, is the son of Dracula and a mortal woman who doesn’t agree with his father’s methods and helps the others in their quest. In the game, there’s also a 4th member of the team, Grant, who was once a thrall of Dracula.
Netflix’s series takes a slightly different approach with each character, and it works better for the story. We don’t get to see Grant yet, but he’s sure to come in later. I won’t spoil any of the show here, but each character’s backgrounds and motivations are a bit different in the show, allowing a bit more depth, character growth, and overall tension to the story.
Castlevania takes place in the Romanian region of Wallachia, and Season 1 mostly focuses on the cities of Târgoviște and Gresit. After a short prelude, we find Wallachia under siege by Dracula’s armies. The prelude is done exceedingly well and sets the entire tone of what’s to come and why. We’re then introduced to Trevor, in a rather comedic way, and follow him from a small village tavern to Gresit, where she finds himself getting tangled up in things. Through a series of events he meets Sypha, deals with a bit of business, and the two find Alucard in a season finale that comes way too soon.
The show is dark, extremely violent, and contains a coherent story you really wouldn’t expect from a video game adaptation. The voice acting is spot on and the animation detailed and gritty, though sometimes a bit halting. My only real complaint is the soundtrack. The Castlevania series is known for having some really great music. The show’s music, while not terrible, doesn’t live up to what’s come before it and falls a bit flat.
Castlevania is available for streaming now on Netflix and Season 1 contains 4 roughly 30-minute episodes. You read that right. 4. The season passes by in a blink, but sets the series up in the right direction and leaves off in a perfect spot. Season 2 has already been picked up and it’s been confirmed that it will be 8 episodes.
Of course, we’ll have to wait another year before we get to see those.
Final verdict? Castlevania does an excellent job of bringing some fan favorites to life with a story that pays a great tribute to the original while keeping it fresh and interesting. The choice to go with Castlevania III as the source material is perfect, and tossing in the material from Symphony of the Night gives the series a perfect setup.
I will say this again. The series is graphic. Tons of foul language and extreme gore. It’s not one for kiddos, and not really for those with a weak stomach. I can normally handle that stuff pretty well and there were a few spots were I found myself cringing.