Castlevania(Netflix Animated Series): Parting Is Such Sweet Sorrow
Netflix’s new animated series is tragically short, with the first season comprised of only four, twenty-five-minute episodes. However, what the series lacks in length it makes up with bite.
Although I would consider myself a “hardcore” gamer, Castlevania is just one of those video game series that fell through the cracks for me. Even though I’ve never actually played any of the games myself, I’ve seen enough of the series through the gamer cultural zeitgeist to understand the basic premise and game play. The premise in a nutshell: In the old country of Wallachia, a family of monster slayer’s(The Belmonts) wages war against Dracula and his hellish forces.
I can not attest to how closely the series follows its source material, but I can tell you that there is enough here to please fan’s of the horror genre while maintaining mass appeal to fans of genre across the board. MY MOM ASKED ME ABOUT THE SHOW, although she is admittedly nerdier than most moms. It’s even broken a Rotten Tomatoes record as the first video game adaptation to receive a fresh rating(for the full Rotten Tomatoes article click here).
This series, in particular, follows the exploits of Trevor Belmont, the last of the Belmonts. He is a reluctant hero, but a very likable protagonist despite doing his best to convince the world that he doesn’t give a shit. Dracula has declared war on Wallachia and all of humanity for robbing him of the one connection he had to the realm of mortals. We don’t get much Dracula, but when he’s on screen we get the feeling he’s the worst type of guy to fuck with. This version of Dracula is a compromise between the more romanticized aspects of the character and Bram Stoker’s infamous version which was rooted in myth. The result is a villain whose motivations are easy to understand, despite being on the wrong side of the moral compass and a show that combines two of my favorite genres, horror and fantasy.
Personally, I found the series to be well worth my time. It’s well written, it doesn’t shy away from gore and violence, and its hand-drawn art style is beautiful to watch in action. I’ve heard complaints online that the first two episodes were too slow, but once the action picked up in the later episodes, people felt invested. I did not have that problem myself and I felt engaged the whole way through. The series reminds me a lot of Todd McFarlane’s Spawn The Animation that aired on HBO back in the 90’s.
My biggest problem with the show was its brevity. Because the first season is so brief, there is no room for half hazard sub plots or useless exposition. The show has to make use of its screen time wisely in order to tell a comprehensive and concise story arc. I wanted more. I am hungry for more, but at the end of the day, that is a good sign for any show.