Based on the games, this is a four episode anime available on Netflix. After Dracula’s human wife is burned as a witch he curses the country. Trevor Belmont, a hunter from an out of favour family is just trying to get by but finds himself dragged in to the fight.
I’m going to be honest and point out I’ve never played the Castlevania games. I’ve seen them, watched reviews about them, I know the gist of what the games are about, but I’ve never actually played one. Despite that, I was kind of excited when I heard Castlevania was getting an anime adaptation mostly because the basic story and style seemed like it would work well in an adaptation. And for what it is worth, that is true. These four episodes show case how epically a vampire/demon hunter story that includes decent fight sequences, chase scenes, and obvious adapted platforming sequences can translate into an anime.
What these four episodes don’t do is actually give us a series to review. I mean, they can call it a series if they like, but what that doesn’t change that all this really just wants to test the waters and to see whether or not there’s a market for it. Basically, I asked you into my restaurant, asked you to try out our new sandwich and then gave you the crust and said the rest might come later depending on your reaction.
Let’s be honest: no matter how good that crust was you are still going to be disappointed.
The story here ends just as the team for future story is finally assembled and all are actually on board for hunting down a vengeful Dracula. This was a cool introduction into a story that while there are rumours it will come out and possibly next year, it doesn’t yet exist. That makes reviewing this kind of difficult because if nothing more ever comes out, then this is entirely skippable. There’s nothing revolutionary here and it isn’t amazing enough that you should watch an unfinished story. However, if the promised continuation occurs, and you happen to like horror, gore and action with a bit of off-colour and slightly earthy humour thrown in from time to time, this is actually a pretty good watch.
The first episode gives us a pretty decent set up and motivation for the villain of the piece. Though calling Dracula the villain seems kind of wrong given he was minding his own business when the church set his wife on fire. However, I somehow doubt that justifies the mass slaughter of the population of an entire kingdom so maybe Dracula needs to get some anger management lessons and learn how to appropriately direct his anger at the individuals who actually deserve it.
After that, we switch pretty much entirely to following Trevor, our plucky hero who is selflessly dashing into the fray… okay, not quite. He’s a sour drunk who is over the slurs the church and the peasants hurl at his family for doing their job of demon hunting and basically he’s pretty happy is Dracula wants to burn the whole kingdom down as long as he can get a drink. Through various circumstances he ends up getting dragged into the conflict but while he’s fine with stopping Dracula he isn’t making friends with the church any time soon. There’s nothing particularly amazing about this kind of slovenly protagonist who is actually an amazing fighter if given the right trigger but his presentation works and some of his lines are actually pretty hilarious.
However, that’s the end of positives for characterisation. The church and peasants suffer from incredible stereotyping and are mostly just around to be hated. Yes, we hate the priests and most of the peasants more than the genocidal vampire we’re supposed to see as the eventual villain (wait, remind me why we want Dracula stopped). Eventually we do meet a priest and some peasants that aren’t entirely unlikable and they even assist in the final fight in the city before a falling sequence that really should have left both the main characters dead, but it really isn’t enough to excuse the vilification of all the extras for the entire three episodes prior.
Visually, this works as a horror. It has an older style look, which helps it fit in a bit more with the games, and the colour scheme works perfectly well for gothic horror. The music is also suitable for what it is trying to do though hardly noteworthy.
Basically, this could be great, if they get around to finishing the story. As it is, unless you are a die hard Castlevania fan or you are just curious, there’s not a lot of reason to jump into it.
Thanks for reading.
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