The Breakfast Table: Castlevania
Castlevania has now hit Netflix as a new animated television series. Does it hold up compared to the video game though?
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.
Player 1 – Brad
Castlevania has a new home on Netflix, and it is great. For any directors looking to take games and turn them into movies or television shows, watch Castlevania for an example of how to do it right. The series only consists of four episodes in the first season, but it already renewed for a second season coming in 2018. With each episode being around 22 minutes in length, the series doesn’t have much time in it’s first season, but it doesn’t waste a single moment. Right off the bat the series introduces Dracula and the world the series will take place in, explaining why the minions of hell are here. Each episode after focuses on introducing a new character, and is the perfect beginning to a series I want to see more of. While it is short, the series introduces us to the three heroes we will follow as they go to defeat Dracula. Each character gets their time of introduction with their motives being clear.
This series looks visually amazing as well. They have taken the world from the video game and accurately captured the dreary medieval feel of playing the games. Albeit there is no wall-chicken in the series yet, the show makes several references to the game including the use of lights, Belmont’s signature whip, and enemies such as the cyclops. The show takes these references for people who have played the game, and even goes into explanations of the world for people who are unfamiliar with it, creating a show that is great for fans of Castlevania and people who have never heard of the video game series prior to watching. If you’re looking for a quick series to binge through, this is the one. My only gripe with the series thus far is the short length given for the first season, and the fact I have to wait until next year to continue this fantastic show.
Player 2 – James
Castlevania the Netflix series was released on July 7th, 2017. Although it is only a four episode season, it does an excellent job with the limited amount of screen time. The story has the perfect amount of fan service and plot development to propel the story forward and doesn’t punish those who have never played a Castlevania game by giving us the why, allowing the audience to understand the motives of the antagonists and protagonists alike, and developing characters in a concise manner. At no point does the series feel rushed in order to put out all the necessary information; it keeps the pace going with a balance of action scenes and dialogue.
The animation is nothing to scoff at with beautiful picturesque Victorian cityscapes laid waste by a vampiric onslaught. It is both gruesome and lovely at the same time. The voice acting is also top notch with some familiar voices taken from The Hobbit. Richard Armitage and Graham McTavish, who played Thorin and Dwalin respectively, lend their acting prowess to Trevor Belmont (Armitage) and Dracula (McTavish). The only negative that this series has going for it is the length of it overall. Hopefully the reception of Castlevania is good and the series gets its season two sooner rather than later. At the end of the day you should do yourself a favor and give this a watch – it’s an easy series to sit through and you honestly will be hooked from the first episode.
Player 3 – Jon
The long awaited Castlevania series finally debuted on Netflix. Season one wastes no time and hits the ground running, setting up the conflict while making the antagonist’s and protagonist’s motives clear and relatable. It gives you just enough to satisfy but leaves you wanting more. The art style of the show is beautifully drawn and the voice acting is some of the best I’ve heard in an animated series.
The setting and atmosphere is excellent. While you won’t hear any of the classic tunes you might expect with Castlevania, the show does a great job instead using ambient music to set the tone. The gore was not held back and comes at you fast, giving you a perfect sense of how grave the situation is. Action is fast-paced and well choreographed, especially during the season ending duel. With the core team set to take on Dracula’s castle, I can not wait to see what season two has in store.
Player 4 – Alex
One of the most pleasant surprises this year was that an animated TV show for Castlevania was coming out. Little did we know it was coming out so soon. Considered part one of the series, we get four episodes to hold us over until 2018, and man, what a great four episodes it was. For non-fans of the games, the first two episodes may start off a little slow but they are done so wonderfully since those two episodes flesh out the two important characters of the series, Dracula and Trevor Belmont.
The first episode with Dracula really makes you sympathetic with him after you witness what was done to the Prince of Darkness. The after effect is a bloody sequence that sets up the rest of the series. When introduced to Belmont, we are treated with a legend who doesn’t act like he looks. Here we have a very witty and sarcastic character who is voiced very well by Richard Armitage.
The final two episodes are just as good as they introduce some other small characters plus a major fight in the final episode. Speaking of fighting, the action scenes are just phenomenal. The animation is just so smooth and stylish, it reminds me of old animation style from the 90’s and early 2000’s. All in all it hurts that there are only 4 episodes and we have to wait almost another year for the next season. As long as they keep it the way they have it, then the wait will be worth it all over again.