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TAC Reviews...Castlevania 

Date Posted: 06/09/20

 

A Netflix series based upon the game series of the same name produced by Konami. The series is an adaptation of the third game in the series Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse and features Trevor Belmont, Alucard, and Sypha Belnades all of whom were playable characters in the game series. 

 

 

Personally I have not played the games so I have got no idea how close this animated series follows it, but as I said above apparently it is based upon the 1989 game. Now recently I have been watching more anime, after finishing Tokyo Ghoul I watched another called Killer B: The Beginning but that made so little sense that I figured I would be hard pushed to explain what was going on in a review. I decided to give Castlevania a try instead...

 

The first episode begins with a woman named Lisa knocking on the door of Dracula’s castle and after letting her in, the Dark Lord of Vampires is impressed by her when she insists that he teaches her everything he knows about science and technology. The young woman wants to become a doctor and believe that Dracula contains the knowledge that she would need to help people. Dracula agrees to teach her what he knows.

 

Sometime later Bishops from the Church arrest Lisa for blasphemy and witchcraft. She begs with the priests to let her go, warning them of the wrath that her husband will bring down upon them if they kill her. Her pleas fall on deaf ears, and she is burned at the stake. As the flames consume her she begs her husband to show mercy upon the misguided people who killed her.

 

Dracula, who had been travelling and living as a man at his wife’s request, returns home to discover it in ruins and a woman laying flowers in the charred remains. She tells him what has happened, and Dracula advises her to flee. He appears in the remains of the fires used to kill his beloved wife, and informs the gathered people that they have a year to flee from the country because when that time is over he will unleash an army of demons unlike anything the world has ever seen, with the sole intention of wiping out the human race.

 

A year later the bishops and priests, confident that God will protect them, mock the threat made by Dracula. Then the skies above them darken, and monsters swoop down from the skies above to make good on Dracula’s warning, beginning the extermination of the human race.

 

With the forces of Darkness slaughtering humans wherever they are found, it falls to the last son of an excommunicated family of demon hunters, a sorceress, and a half-breed to stop the extinction of the human race...

 

The story is set around 1457ish at a time when the Church was all powerful and any attempt to follow a path of science was seen as blasphemy. Lisa’s pleas to let her go are believed to be confessions that she is indeed in a pact with Satan with the priests refusing to even listen to her explanations that her medicines are based on science not witchcraft. I liked the idea that the only reason Dracula and the vampires have electricity is because humans have lost the knowledge over hundreds of years. Being immortal the vampires have no fear of the Church and continue to develop the technologies that have been forgotten as humans were consumed by a belief in God.

 

The Church is represented here as a corrupt organisation in which priests and bishops are simply interested in exercising their own power, controlling through fear, and are blind to their own corruption. Dracula is a monster and his armies cannot be stopped by faith. It is always fun to watch people who are convinced of their own power or believe themselves to be untouchable getting their comeuppance which is what happens.

 

Within his Court, Dracula has a number of Vampire Generals, and his war effort is being lead by Isaac and Hector, two humans who have a hatred of humanity that rivals Dracula himself. I don’t know if the Generals are characters in the games, and maybe you have boss fights with them, but basically they are the ones who are serving their Master. Carmella (aka the Blood Countess) appears and seeks to undermine Dracula’s control for her own purposes.

 

The voice acting is superb with Richard Armitage portraying Trevor Belmont, the last son of the House of Belmont, a family that fought the forces of darkness of millennia before being excommunicated by the Church. His house was destroyed and he wanders the land going from one bar to another. Joining him the rest of the cast are excellent with particular highlights being Graham McTavish as Vlad Dracula Tepes, and Adetokumboh M’Cormack as Isaac. However, the truth is that none of the voice actors don’t suit their particular characters perfectly or phone in their performances. The actors themselves are an impressive array of talented actors and/or voice actors which include Bill Nighy, Jason Isaacs, Peter Stormare and Jamie Murray.

 

Dracula seeks to destroy the human race because he has been consumed by his rage and is condemned to live an eternity feeling nothing but hatred. However, his Generals do begin to question has campaign because if all the humans have been wiped out the vampires will have nothing to feed on, and will subsequently die off too. During the course of the series, he does seem to grow weary of his task, and personally I was starting to wonder if he just longs to die in order to join his beloved wife in hell.

 

Easily one of my favourite characters is Isaac, a forge master, that has a fanatical devotion to Dracula. Forge Masters are basically necromancers that have the ability to bring to life dead things, using damned souls dredged up from the depths of hell to create Night Creatures, that form the basis of Dracula’s army. In Series Two and Three, Isaac takes more of a centre stage as his story begins to develop and he takes on the task of wiping out the human race.

 

The first series is made up of only four episodes, with Two having eight episodes with Three having ten. The advantage of doing this is that no episode is wasted or pointless. I have documented my irritation with shows that have “filler” episodes which serve no purpose, and Castlevania has none of those. The drawback to this is as the episodes are only 25-30 minutes long, you can literally binge watch the entire show in a day or a weekend if you wanted to. I enjoyed the series and just wished there was more of it. A fourth series has been greenlit by Netflix but as of time of writing I have no idea when it is due for release.

 

The show is not all good though, and so I need to drop this...

 

 

So Alucard is the son of Dracula and Lisa, who opposed his father when Dracula decided to wipe out humanity, because Alucard didn’t think his mother would want the human race exterminated for what a handful of ignorant and corrupt people did to her. For speaking against him, Dracula attacks his son, and after severely wounding him Alucard seals himself in a coffin to allow his wounds to heal. It is late in Series One when Belmont and Sypha discover his tomb and awaken him, after a fight with Belmont, the three agree to work together to destroy Dracula.

 

In the finale of Series Two, the three are successful after Carmella’s play for power goes sideways, with most of her and Dracula’s forces being wiped out. During a brutal battle with Dracula, the Vampire King seems to regain his senses and realises that he is poised to murder his own son. Alucard stakes him, but it is more of a mercy killing. The three decide that Alucard should be the keeper of Dracula’s castle, his science, and the Belmont Archives passing on the knowledge to anyone who seeks to learn.

 

In Series Three Belmont and Sypha are off travelling the country, battling Night Creatures, and Sypha is having a whale of a time doing it. They are fighting the good fight, helping people where they can. Isaac is forging an army of Night Creatures to continue the work of his beloved and slain Master Dracula, and Hector falls under the influence of a beautiful, and seductive vampire named Lenore. However, Alucard doesn’t really have a hell of a lot to do and the show even points out that he might be going a little crazy due to his loneliness. That is until two people arrive keen to learn about Dracula’s science and want Alucard’s help in order to become warriors and return to their native Japan to fight other vampires.

 

At this point Alucard’s story moves forward until something happened which made me go...

 

 

So it is obvious to the two that Alucard is lonely, and they decide to give him a “reward” for helping them. Now I initially thought the two were brother and sister, fortunately they are not (or I’m pretty sure they are not) which meant the ick factor of them both having sex with Alucard was reduced. However, during the act, they use mystical wire or something to tie him to the bed and demand to know why he has been holding back the information they want to know. Which Alucard has not been doing, and he tells them so. They demand he tells them why he doesn’t want to move the castle (Dracula could move it but the mechanism to do that was broken at the end of series two), and he tells them that he can’t move it because the mechanism is broken, which he’d told them already. The pair raise their weapons to kill him, and he uses a magical sword to slit both of their throats, killing the pair of them.

 

The whole thing just comes out of left field and is pretty pointless considering that Alucard was telling them what they wanted to know, and he had explained that the mechanism to move the castle was broken beyond repair. It seems to be there just as a contrived reason to have Alucard going a bit crazy at the end as he impales the bodies outside the castle gates as a warning to anyone else who might seek him out.

 

Series Three had a couple of moments like this, with the other involving Hector. However, at least with him, it is established that he is incredibly naive, and essentially is a child in a man’s body so it is easy for people to manipulate him. He assumed Dracula would just cull the human race, reducing their numbers, and essentially keeping them in zoos or isolated communities but treating them humanely. Lenore points out to him that Dracula was going to kill all humans, and because Hector made his own assumptions, it was easy for Dracula to manipulate him. She points this out to him whilst in the process of manipulating him herself, which initially Hector seems wise to, but almost immediately he starts to trust her, and she is easily able to bend him to her will.

 

Generally though the series is a great slice of adult animation and does not shy aware from the gore, or the nudity (when it is appropriate). I am looking forward to seeing where things go from here and am eagerly awaiting the next series, which I hope is not too long a wait. If you like anime then definitely give this a watch because you will not be disappointed. It should be obvious that Castlevania is getting a strong Thumbs Up.

 

 

8.5/10 – A great anime that suffers from having so few episodes, but apart from a few weird plot twists, is a must see anime. If you like adult anime, vampires, charismatic characters with a rich lore then you owe it to yourself to track this down and binge watch it. 

 

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© Chris Sharman