Title: Castlevania: Season 1
Release Date: July 7, 2017
Genre: Action, Horror, Anime
If we have learned anything as gamers, it is to be immediately disappointed by film or television adaptations of our favorite video game series. Films like Doom, Resident Evil, and Hitman left fans of the franchise incredibly disappointed, and not even Michael Fassbender could save the train wreck that was the Assassin’s Creed film. So, needless to say, when I first started the Castlevania anime on Netflix, I tried not to get my hopes up. However, I was pleasantly mistaken. The creators behind the gory adaptation of this classic series did everything right, and I promise, it will leave you thirsty for more.
Before I get into fangirling about how you have to drop everything you are doing right now to start this anime, let me fill you in on a little background. These four short episodes focus mainly on Trevor Belmont, the last son of the vampire hunting family. His family has been banished, exiled, and excommunicated by the church for their desire to fight the forces of evil. And the Belmont’s aren’t the only people the church has upset. After burning his one true love at the stake, Dracula has unleashed his armies upon the world in revenge. It is up to Trevor and Sypha, a magical nomad from the Speakers, to find the Sleeping Saviour and to defeat Dracula and his armies.
Before I go any further, I have to warn you, Castlevania definitely isn’t for the faint of heart. Our foul-mouthed hero aside, the creators don’t spare you any of the gory details when it comes to the pure evil that is Dracula’s army. For example, in the second episode, Necropolis, Trevor comes across a group of demons as they run away with a baby locked in their jaws. The gritty animation style took some getting used to, but it truly adds to the character of the show. At the end of the day, I couldn’t see it looking any different than it does because it just feels like Castlevania.
What makes this adaptation so strong is the fact that they have tried to making something inspired by the games versus throwing the games onto the screen in a new way. This version of Castlevania feels like a part of the world without being a direct remake of one of the games. And I think that this is its greatest strength. Anyone making adaptations in the future should really take after what Sam Deats (director) and Warren Ellis (writer) have beautifully created here. While the older games tend to lack in the story department, the anime really created a story that will shine brightly as its own entry into the classic Konami series.
One very important part of telling a good story is excellent writing, and let me tell you, this show has it. Even if some of the writing is as dark and twisted in the subject matter, there is some really brilliant word play done throughout the series. Good writing means nothing if you don’t have the voice actors to back it up, and they took this into full consideration because the cast is phenomenal. For those of you who don’t know, Richard Armitage (Thorin Oakenshield from The Hobbit) voiced my new favorite Belmont, Trevor. Armitage is joined by James Callis (Alucard) and Graham McTavish (Dracula) amongst many others that really bring their characters to life.
One of my favorite parts of a good anime is the battle sequences, especially with a main character like Trevor. And much like everything else, Castlevania failed to disappoint in this area as well. Trevor’s fight with a cyclops, as well as the final battle sequence of the season, will leave you gawking at the screen because of the awesomeness that is Trevor Belmont. The battle sequences also feel very much like a video game in the way they are animated which added a nice touch.
Now, are you ready for it? My one complaint that will break your heart almost as much as it broke mine? There are only four episodes in the first season. Despite the anime already being renewed for a second season, I was desperately craving more by the end of the fourth episode. In Castlevania’s defense, they manage to pack quite a bit into each episode without them ever feeling like too much. At least if we are only getting four episodes, each episode is one filled with substance, action, and humor. And we can all take some comfort in the fact that that next season will be eight episodes long.
All in all, this is an excellent series for fans, new and old, of the world of Castlevania. I truly hope, and believe, that this adaptation will change the way people adapt video games into television and film from here on out. Needless to say, this will leave fans more than hopeful for the animated Assassin’s Creed that the same producer, Adi Shankar, recently announced that he is working on. So. In closing, stop what you’re doing, turn on Netflix, and sink your teeth into Castlevania!
Verdict: Castlevania is solid proof that video games can actually be adapted to film or television extremely well. While this anime definitely is not for the faint of heart (like blood, guts, and language), the excellent writing and voice acting, great characters, and bad-ass fight scenes will quickly suck you in. My main complaint? There are only four episodes…