Anime Review: Castlevania – The Netflix Series
Written by Sexy, edited by Otaku Apologist
Castlevania is one of those beloved game titles from the 1980s that fans are very protective of. Naturally, many fans were worried when Netflix decided to launch an entire series about the franchise. Fortunately, this incarnation of Castlevania is brimming with style, extensive eye candy and much love for the source material.
The big name in the series – Dracula – is a solid character. Definitely not just a vessel for the might and influence he commands or mired in common vampire tropes. He is a man of largess who carries himself with gravitas.
Dracula is so well done that audiences around the world have largely forgiven the series’ weak plot. He operates like a true ruler and most things he wants done are delegated to his royal court and other subordinates.
A fine example of the show’s greatness is that not a single second is spent dramatizing a vampire’s bloodthirst. There’s none of the usual bullshit about how inconvenient bloodthirst is to vampires, how big a chore it is to restrain it when interacting with humans they aren’t supposed to eat. There’s a scene where the most impulsive and loud-mouthed vampire walks into a room where a human is seriously bleeding and just carries on like he doesn’t give a fuck.
I really enjoyed the characters in Castlevania. Characters with their virtues and vices interact and connect with each other on some very sincere moments. Most characters in the world are relatable and their motivations make sense. This is a huge milestone for a show coming out of America where half the screen-time of a show is often spent on artificial drama.
The show has a vibe of maturity which is vitally important for a story that boasts hardcore action scenes full of raw carnage. It’s a very vulgar show, and you have to enjoy graphic violence to appreciate the spectacle.
The writers do a great job at defining the stakes. The audience is explicitly told that while the stakes are big, the world is not going to end even if every character in the story gets chopped up to pieces and their ashes sprinkled to the winds.
The show has a minor but notable flaw that hurts the enjoyment factor. A nice big world map would have been nice. The huge map at the beginning of every episode of Game of Thrones is there for a reason. It helps the audience in crafting a mental image of the world.
While the show is great eye candy with some interesting characters and events, it doesn’t have much depth. The entertainment factor doesn’t suffer from this. All of the episodes have fluid storytelling and great animation. It makes sense considering the source material: Castlevania is an action game franchise with very little story.
Another aspect I enjoyed is that while the show is Japanese, the culture in Castlevania only maintains a sense of Japanese politeness, but trims it down. Valuable screen-time isn’t wasted on everybody dispensing lengthy pleasantries.
I can imagine this show getting a new version sometime down the line with richer subplots and more complex character threads. Fans may think they want this, but nothing is gained without sacrificing something. The main plot in this Castlevania moves at a pace that keeps you engaged. In my view, this story strikes a great balance and makes the right sacrifices.
Fans of the videogame lore will find that not everything was accurately transferred to this anime adaptation. The creators exercised their creative freedom on a multitude of ways. The Castlevania TV series is an inspired work rather than a re-telling of the lore.
The show succeeds at being a coherent experience. The creators show love for the source material while venturing into new territory. There’s less emphasis on fan service, and more focus on telling a competent story that removes barriers to entry for new viewers.
The show presents some solid bitches. There are no fan service babes with huge jiggling jugs acting as placeholders of female representation. The women in Castlevania are competent adventurers. The girls get their piece of the action without forcing the show’s predominantly male audience to sit through a force-fed feminist indoctrination propaganda campaign.
The show still panders to feminists by including a character whose lines of dialogue are eerily reminiscent of an average twitter feminist spouting her manifesto. However, all of the characters are so well established with some modicum of a background story for each that these few scenes actually become valuable parts of the story. It’s almost as if fiction writers and audiences don’t really hate women and just want competently written stories and engaging characters.
It’s heartwarming that the creators looked into the roots of the Castlevania series and did their best to understand what is great about the lore and used those ingredients to create a great work of art that stands on its own merits.
- Sound Effects
- Voice Acting