So, I just finished Netflix’s Castlevania and I need to get some things off my chest. Let me start by saying that I am not a gamer and I haven’t played any of the Castlevania video games. I cannot comment on the quality of this adaptation in terms of its authenticity to the source material. Therefore, I will be looking at the show as a stand alone feature.
As you may have noticed I’ve been carefully avoiding the word anime. That’s because I cant’t in good conscience call Castlevania an anime. Anime, for me, has always been something that came out of Japan. I can’t exactly give you a valid reason for this belief. That’s just how it is. But, Castlevania does look like an anime. It feels like an anime. And to some people it probably is anime, regardless of the fact that it was made in the United States.
But, anime or not anime, I have to give credit where credit is due. Castlevania is actually a solid series. The story is intriguing enough, albeit all we got was the introductory part. The characters are interesting and show a lot of potential. The animation is of surprisingly good quality. The voice acting is superb. I guess the only big qualm I have with Castlevania is the music, because it doesn’t really accomplish anything.
Story & Characters
Castlevania starts off with a brief story about the vampire count Vlad Dracula Tapes. Dracula’s wife is burned at the stake after being falsely accused of witchcraft. Upon finding out about her death, Dracula unleashes an army of monsters and demons upon the people of Wallachia as punishment.
Distrust spreads through the country and people start living their lives in fear of Dracula’s wrath. Enter Trevor Belmont, a disgraced demon hunter, who unwillingly teams up with a Speaker magician – Sypha Belnades. The two set out to stop The Bishop’s misguided plan to sacrifice the townspeople to stop the demons from coming back.
Anyway, shit goes down, a fight ensues and Trevor and Sypha are plunged underground where they find Alucard, aka Dracula’s son. Distrustful toward the sleeping vampire, Trevor attacks Alucard and they end up inches from killing each other. Sypha then saves Trevor and Alucard pulls back. Alucard reveals the truth about who he is and what his plans are. With that out of the way, the trio sings kumbaya and heads off to slay Dracula and save Wallachia.
There is an obvious discrepancy between the first episode and the remaining three. The first episode recounts Dracula’s background story, setting the foundation for what’s to come. The main storyline begins with episode two. Even though, in such a brief time the show only manages to introduce the story and main characters.
It’s a minor pacing issue, which could have been avoided. For example by telling Dracula’s background story through a flashback in one of the latter episodes. But, considering the length of the show, pacing issues were to be expected.
Because the show is only four episodes long, there wasn’t that much time for character development. But, we still got to know them a bit. I liked Trevor’s cynicism and humor, Sypha’s devotion and strength and Alucard’s charisma. I trust they will have a good dynamic once they actually start their journey.
Animation & Sound
The animation is surprisingly good with shots that look downright gorgeous. The backgrounds are rich in detail, the characters look vivid, the action scenes are rather good and the show generally looks polished. So, despite the fact that there were instances where the animation was a bit lacking, Castlevania still gets a passing mark.
Now, when it comes to music, I have to say I’m disappointed. Not because the music is terrible, but because it doesn’t really accomplish anything. It just falls flat and you don’t even notice it’s there. The opening theme does stand out compared to the rest of the soundtrack, but it’s nothing extraordinary. The animation for the opening, on the other hand, is splendid.
Now, the dub for this show is impeccable. The entire cast did an amazing job at bringing these characters to life. Richard Armitage‘s performance as Trevor Belmont is absolutely flawless. James Callis‘s posh voice fits Alucard to a T. And Matt Frewer was the perfect choice for the voice of The Bishop.
So, what is my final say on Netflix’s Castlevania?
Well, it’s worth the watch. Castlevania has its shortcomings, but it also has potential to be a decent show. These four episodes succeed at introducing the story and the characters. Castlevania certainly peaked my interest and I’d really like to see how the story unfolds. Good news is, the second season, which will consist of eight episodes, has been announced for 2018. Hopefully, Castlevania will make use of its potential and come back even stronger.