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Should You Check Out Castlevania On Netflix?

by Daniel Tack on Jul 07, 2017 at 04:25 PM

A classic tale of love, revenge, redemption, and swarms of hellish monsters – sounds like a perfect fit for Castlevania, no? The four short episodes that make up the Netflix series is just the beginning of what could be a much longer story (Season 2 has already been announced).

While the core tale is fairly cliche, it’s handled well and with the appropriate over-the-top gusto. I felt myself likening the ride to revered vampire anime like Vampire Hunter D or Hellsing (while it admittedly does not reach the heights of these franchises). While technically the series is based on Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, there’s no need to have played any Castlevania games to enjoy the series (which hardcore fans may balk at). You may want to bring a strong stomach, as the series does not flinch away from gore, from flying eyeballs to gushes of blood. The brutal violence eloquently illustrates the ghastly nature of both man and hell soldier, and complements and completes the vision of a world without hope.

The setup of an oppressive, ignorant religion going up against the benefits of science provides a solid story backdrop where you may even find yourself empathizing with the ostensible villain – I sure was. Everyone’s favorite character Trevor Belmont doesn’t even make an appearance until the second episode, and it’s a cheeky introduction. The wise-cracking, hard-hitting, whip-wielding antics is a familiar archetype to anyone versed in standard anime protagonists, but his casual badassery works well as a foil to the often cold and unforgiving world around him.

Those expecting a nonstop whirlwind of Belmont shredding through foes with his whip and wit may be disappointed, as the series spends a good deal of time setting up characters, story, and environments. However, there are multiple opportunities for our hero to shine; he goes up against a variety of opponents during the short run time, and the battles are stylish and satisfying. I probably could have done with a little more action. Okay, a lot.

The vast majority of video game adaptations fall flat on their face when attempting to grace the screen, and thankfully Castlevania does not. It’s a decent watch, with above-average writing and great visuals. That said, it’s only loosely Castlevania, and without the name attached I could easily mistake it for another vampire anime. Coming in at four episodes is actually a bit of a let down, as it ends up spending a good deal of that time establishing characters and their motivations instead of whips and monsters, and some of the endless explanation is extraneous and repetitive. The constant dialogue gets a bit long in the tooth when you just want to see Belmont slaughter in style, and you may reach a point where the show’s relentless desire to hammer home points that have already received plenty of explanation gets a bit grating.

So should you check it out? Probably; it won’t take you long and it's an interesting interpretation from a barebones concept. Definitely one of the better slices of entertainment drawn from the video game universe, even though that bar is quite low – just know what you’re in for.