I don’t have cable. Haven’t had it for years. When it comes to new programming, I tend to be a bit behind the curve. Netflix has been the exception. Now even Netflix is starting to put out so much stuff, I’m falling behind on those shows as well.
But there was one show that I made time for: Castlevania.
Growing up, Castlevania was my favorite game I never owned. I love the first one but Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse is probably my favorite of the series (with Symphony of the Night being a close second). Castlevania was one of the main reasons I sought out and bought an NES Classic.
I’ve always thought the setting would make for a pretty solid animated series (geared towards a mature audience). When I heard a few years ago that there was a direct to video movie in the works, I was cautiously optimistic. Then it disappeared into the either as these things sometimes do.
Then out of the blue, we get the announcement that an animated series is coming to Netflix written by comic book great Warren Ellis.
And not only that, it’s good!
Castlevania borrows a number of ideas from Castlevania III but adds so much more. Ellis has created a very interesting backstory finally given Dracula a reason to be evil other than “Cause I’m evil see”. We open with Dracula allowing a human woman into his home to study medicine. Flash forward a few years later and Dracula is out of town while the woman, now his wife, is burned at the stake as a witch. Heartbroken, Dracula gives the country a year to get it together before he tears them down with an army of evil you couldn’t imagine. Enter Trevor Belmont, the last of an exiled clan of supernatural hunters, just trying to make it through the day with booze and a little food. He comes to town and gets roped into this supernatural mess.
The writing is top notch. Ellis written for animation before but this is the first time where it really felt like his voice. Belmont has sharp wit and comedic timing. As previously mentioned, Ellis has actually added a reason for Dracula to be mad (which is kind of nice) and with that, managed to work in a reason for all of the different Castlevania monsters. If you’re unfamiliar with the video games, the monsters (especially the boss monsters) tend to be borrowed from various mythology and folklore. Medusas, vampires, cyclopses, sea creatures, you name it. With a simple turn of dialog, Ellis managed to explain why all of these different monsters are in Eastern Europe. I imagine it didn’t need to be explained for some people but I like that it was.
The animation is pretty top notch. Powerhouse Studios have provided a mix of anime influence with North American sensibilities. In the end, it conveys the feeling of the video game while having a look all its own. The voice actors do some great work. I especially like Matt Frewer as The Bishop (but really, what’s not to like about Matt Frewer). Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit films) also does a great job as Trevor Belmont, conveying both seriousness and wit with ease.
I only have two complaints about the series.
One: this first chunk is too short for me and I honestly mean this in the best way possible. With each of the four episodes clocking in at 30 minutes or under, you binge it in a day. I am DYING to see the rest of it and have no idea when it will be released. By the looks of things, we won’t get the next eight episodes until 2018.
Two: WHY ISN’T THIS AN ACTION FIGURE LINE? I know there have been some Castlevania figures in the past but what I wouldn’t give to have Neca do a run of these figures.
Overall though, Castlevania is definitely something you want to check out.
If you’re going to geek out, GEEK HARD!