Castlevania’s first season is more like an extended prologue, a setting up of the characters, surroundings & circumstances. Each episode is about 25 minutes long roughly with the season being only 4 episodes long. Happily though, a second eight-episode season has been confirmed already.
Based off the Konami game series of the same name but particularly the 1989 game, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. The series follows Trevor Belmont of the fallen Belmont family as he tries to defend the lands of Wallachia from the hordes of Dracula.
The series begins by showing just how & why Dracula unleashed his army of Hell demons on the people of Wallachia. An interesting & thoughtful approach to the character, it makes for a compelling watch to see Dracula driven by emotion. As his army spreads across the land, the people place the blame on the kingdom’s noble families, including the Belmonts.
Episode 2 introduces Trevor Belmont who is trying to stay incognito because of the hatred towards his family. After a fight in a pub he ends up in the city of Gresit. The city is under attack from Dracula’s minions on a nightly basis. Trevor meets the Speakers, a group who travel city to city offering aid. However they are due to be executed this night by corrupt priests. They blame their use of magic as the reason for Dracula’s rage.
Trevor tries to get the Speakers to leave but they refuse as one of their own is missing having gone into the catacombs to find the ‘sleeping soldier’. A fabled legendary warrior who can defeat Dracula.
The third episode is the slowest of the 4 as Trevor finds the missing Speaker but battles a cyclops in the catacombs. He discovers they are in Dracula’s castle & that it can be transported wherever the vampire wants.
After defeating the cyclops, Trevor meets the Bishop of Gresit who turns out to be closely linked to Dracula. Planning to kill the Speakers tonight, he offers Trevor a deal. Leave & he’ll restore his family name. Trevor refuses & prepares to face off against the mob the clergy have arranged.
The final episode sees night fall on Gresit & Dracula’s monsters entering the town. Along with the townspeople, Trevor fights the monsters but the ground crumbles underneath him sending him deep into the catacombs.
It’s here he finds the sleeping soldier & wakes him. Unfortunately for Trevor the legend wasn’t quite accurate as the man he finds is a vampire. They do battle & after a lengthy & well matched fight the vampire relents revealing himself to be Alucard & agreeing to help fight Dracula.
That ending! Absolutely loved it, the reveal of Alucard isn’t that much of a surprise for those who know the series well but it’s still handled fantastically well. While this season might be geared towards fans of the game, you don’t have to know anything about it to enjoy it.
Visually Castlevania goes with a Japanese Manga style with art that bears similarities to the Symphony of the Night game. Aimed at an adult audience, the blood & gore flies & there’s a hefty amount of bad language used. It’s very flashy which can get a bit tiresome during some of the lengthier battles but it’s a lot of fun to watch.
That’s really helped by the quality voice cast. Richard Armitage giving Trevor Belmont a sarcastic edge is a highlight while Graham McTavish’s Dracula exudes coldness.
As enjoyable as Castlevania is, it does have a few problems. The first & most glaring is that we’ve seen it all before. While watching you’ll get a familiar itch that deepens as it goes on. Eventually it’s maddening & you have to scratch it. Castlevania isn’t doing anything particularly original. A few too many times it will make you think of Vampire Hunter D.
The second major issue is the pacing. The first episode packs in so much that during the latter half of the second & whole of the third not a lot goes on! Once Trevor is introduced, it goes a little flat. It doesn’t quite grab the attention in the same way.
Thankfully it pulls it back for a frantic fourth which leaves you wanting much more from this story. A very positive start, the issues here can be easily rectified for the second season.
Castlevania - Season 1