If you grew up in the age of the NES then you are more than likely familiar with the franchise classic Castlevania. Outside of Super Mario Bros. and The Legend of Zelda, many would argue that Castlevania would be the next most reputable name in the early system’s history. Some individuals, including myself, freaked out when we heard that our beloved Belmont family would be coming to the small-screen. At first I was somewhat disappointed it would not be live-action, but the anime-inspired depiction has been described as more adult in tone and “Game of Thrones-like”. Below is the official Netflix description for the series:
“Inspired by the classic video game series, Castlevania is a dark medieval fantasy following the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan, trying to save Eastern Europe from extinction at the hand of Vlad Dracula Tepe himself. The animated series is from Frederator Studios, a Wow! Unlimited Media company, written by best-selling author and comic book icon Warren Ellis and executive produced by Warren Ellis, Kevin Kolde, Fred Seibert and Adi Shankar.”
I am going to review the first episode today, and provide a follow-up in the coming days when I can finish the season, which consists of four episodes. How did Season 1 turn out? Will it live up to the hype? Will it appease all of us nostalgic fanboys and fangirls? Read on to find out:
Let’s lay the ground work. The opening dialogue takes place in 1455 between Lisa and Dracula where she is on a search for more knowledge in order to become a doctor. The discussion was interesting, setting up the extreme gap between science and superstition during this era. Dracula takes an uncommon liking to her leading to be his eventual wife.
Fast-forward to 1475, and we see Lisa being burnt at the stake for accusations of witchcraft. Could this be the reason for the much more jaded, bitter Dracula we know? Even though Lisa cried for him to be better then those of the church, Dracula vowed to never walk as a man again.
The episode did a great job of making Dracula an empathetic character rather than the monster many know him to be. Lisa was his only reason for tolerating humans and kept him grounded. The real villain seems to be the leader of the church who is blinded by arrogance and pride. Dracula gives the people one year to move before he truly extracts his revenge.
Due to the arrogance of the people, a year later, Dracula begins to rain blood down upon the arch-bishop’s sermon to the crowd disputing Dracula’s power. In the year he granted them, Dracula summoned his army and began taking revenge. As his castle rises, he sends out an army (many characters of which viewers will remember from the video games) to kill the entire down, which is shown in extreme detail; body parts, and internal organs are seen strewn about the city as his army rips the crowd apart.
The artwork is wonderful with its contrast of dark colors mixed with points of brightness to emphasize the tone, combined with a great score, fit together well. The opening credits clearly set a dark, ominous tone. As stated before, the theme is adult-oriented, so the battle scenes are gory, and there are a good number of curse words (f-bombs included). The main reason I write this is so that for some odd reason you may have thought this would be for kids…it isn’t…but also it truly is Game of Thrones-like. There is definitely a nostalgic feel, but even if you have never played a game in the franchise, the storyline is great. It makes sense, which is sometimes the downfall of video game movies, shows, etc. I found myself so captivated with the plot that I didn’t even realize Belmont (we are unsure which one it is at this point) is only in the last five minutes of the episode, and has one line.
For old fanboys and fangirls of the games, as well as anyone who enjoys Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones, anime, etc., there is something for you in Castlevania. It’s also nice because it is only four 25-minute episodes, so if you like it, it’ll leave you wanting more, but you don’t have to commit a large amount of time to it.
Check out my review of the next three episodes in the upcoming week. Are you going to check it out? What did you think of Castlevania? Should there be more video game series done in the same way, and if so, what would your choice(s) be? Leave your comments in the usual spot, and thanks for reading!