Netflix Original Series
How many TV seasons do you know with only four 23 minute episodes? None? Me either. That’s why I’m thinking Netflix just tricked us all and cut a straight to DVD anime of Castlevania into four parts and called it a show. And it isn’t pretty.
The first episode wastes no time introducing Dracula – he’s a nice man who answers his door when Lisa, a random doctor, shows up. She’s got sass, she’s no pushover and she wants to live in his travelling castle to study his technology, so he agrees and they get married, obviously, because all Dracula wanted was a bit of tough love. This all happens in the first five minutes. Welcome to Castlevania where there is no set up, back story or character development.
The premise is laid out in probably the only coherent part of the series when the Church burns Lisa at the stake for being a witch. Dracula comes home from wandering the world on foot and hears the news. He goes crazy and appears as a menacing, fiery apparition in town that tells the people that in one year, he’ll unleash his demons on them for what they’ve done to his beloved. I gotta say, when Dracula appears as a big fiery head in this show, it’s awesome. The rest is filler.
The next two episodes are a bore but the last episode ends with a great sword battle between the main hero, Trevor Belmont whose family are famous demon hunters and Alucard, Dracula’s son who wants to save humanity from his father. In the closing moments of the show, the these two decide they should team up to take on Dracula and stop his demon army… wait, isn’t that supposed to be the beginning of the story? Well, Netflix already has your money, so what are you going to do about it?
I thought it was a lot of fun. Even though this definitely was a two hour movie awkwardly cut into four parts, it was still a good time. Dracula’s intro was a bit rushed, as was his relationship with Emily, but it was effective enough to get me invested. The violence and language were hysterically over the top, and the animation is gorgeous. A strong cast of voice actors round out the package, I mean what else do you really want out of a four episode run?
Pretending like there is only one sword fight is a bit disingenuous, even for a Morrow. Each episode had at least one pretty awesome action sequence. Did you forget about the fight with the Cyclops? Or how how about when Trevor partners up with the Speakers for a huge battle against the demon army? Castlevania has a long history but not a particularly deep story, I think this was a more than competent start for this series.
If I had to find one thing to winge about it would be how incredibly one dimensional The Church is as a villain. Odd that the show would go so far out of it’s way to add some dimension to big bad Dracula and then have The Church so overtly evil that they make inexplicable decisions. These priests make Skeletor look like a nuanced, multifaceted tragic hero. That being said, it did make it all the more delicious to watch the bishop bite it (pun intended).
Look, I’m not trying to say this is the strongest thing on Netflix’s lineup, but I think it is definitely worth checking out for Castlevania fans, especially considering the quality of most video game adaptations (I’m looking at you Resident Evil: Vendetta). Keep your expectations tempered and I think you’ll find this a solid foundation for an ongoing, hard R, Castlevania series.