Castlevania

This blog is about the whole Castlevania series on Netflix. However, according to Netflix, Season 4 ends the series (And fans, including me, are not happy with this). For those who are not familiar with the Castlevania series, I’ve decided to write my reviews from the first season down to the recent, each with a rating of x out of five stars. Inasmuch as I would like not to spoil everything, I am warning readers of a few spoilers ahead.

Season 1

I discovered Castlevania on Netflix in July 2017. I’m familiar with Konami’s Castlevania video game franchise because I saw my husband play it too many times, but I haven’t played this game. This animated Netflix Original series is based on Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse which is played on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). However, the first season contains only four episodes which left me wanting for more.

The story starts in 1455 when Lisa from Lupu Village seeks knowledge from Vlad Dracula Tepes. She wants to become a doctor because she believes in science, unlike most of the townspeople who are into superstitions and witchcraft. Eventually, Dracula and Lisa get married and have a son named Adrian. For the people of Wallachia, Adrian is known as Alucard.

Twenty years later, the church accuses Lisa for being a witch and burns her at the stake to die. At that time, Vlad Dracula was travelling and when he arrived home, he learned of Lisa’s death. Out of anger, he warns the people of Targoviste to seek peace with their God or else he will exact his revenge after a year.

One year has passed, the people of Targoviste celebrate Lisa’s death anniversary saying that they are successful in eradicating witchcraft. However, their celebration is interrupted by Dracula’s wrath and the creatures he summoned start attacking and every night thereafter.

Meanwhile, the last of the vampire hunters, Trevor Belmont, learns of this and starts to wander around Wallachia arriving in Gresit. He meets the Elder of the Speakers, a group of oral historians who are helping the people of Gresit at that time.

The Speakers believe that a sleeping warrior could defeat the vampire Count Vlad Dracula. However, one of their members is missing. Trevor promised the Speakers that he would look for their missing member but after that they should leave the place or else they face the church’s persecution.

Trevor arrives in a catacomb and fights a fierce stone cyclop saving Sypha Belnades in turn. She is the missing Speaker, the granddaughter of the Elder. Upon returning to Gresit they are faced with the creatures of the night. After fighting the creatures off, Trevor and Sypha fell into the same catacombs and saw the coffin of Alucard, who awakened from his sleep. The first season ends with the three joining together to fight Dracula.

The four episodes gave us a glimpse of what the series could be. My husband commented that one character, Grant Danasty, was not included. I later found out that the writer, Warren Ellis, intentionally dropped the character due to the limited run time and character development.

Anyway, I was hooked with the four main characters — Dracula, Alucard, Trevor, and Sypha. The creators succeeded in teasing the viewers to anticipate the next season. For me, it is one of the good film versions coming from video games. However, the gory fight scenes are not suitable for children. Overall, I rate this 5 out of 5 stars.

Season 2

The long overdue second season was released in November 2018 with eight episodes completing the game’s storyline. Since Season 1 has only four episodes, I watched it again and continued to the second season watching all twelve episodes. Now, that’s binge-watching.

Season 2 starts with a little flashback on how Lisa was arrested. Then it shifts to Dracula’s war council showing that he has two human demon forge masters, Hector and Isaac, along with the other vampires from around the world (particularly Godbrand and Carmilla).

Meanwhile, while traveling, Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard fought creatures along the way. Trevor realizes they need more information to defeat Dracula and he remembers that their old house has a library containing every record on how they could defeat vampires. So the three go on their way to the Belmont house.

Some characters from other Castlevania games were included, giving the series a sense of a unified Castlevania universe. Beautiful animation, not for young kids though because of some gory or bloody scenes. I found that the three spent too much time in the library when they should be fighting creatures instead. But, they did, so I could let it pass. I even shed some tears on episode 7 during the final battle between Dracula and Alucard. The last episode provides a glimpse of what happened after and foreshadows what season 3 will bring.

I’m going to rate Season 2 5 out of 5 stars because I like it so much! It’s worth binge-watching. And waiting for season 3 to come.

Season 3

Finally, the long wait is over. Last 5 March 2020, Netflix released the third season of Castlevania. This time it has ten episodes.

The story starts one month after the second season ended. Alucard living alone in his castle; Trevor and Sypha arriving in Lindenfield; Isaac traveling to find Hector; and Carmilla returning to Styria with Hector.

The ten episodes feature what happens to each of the characters. You’ll notice, too, that each episode title is found within the dialogues.

New characters were introduced like Sumi and Taka, two Japanese vampire hunters in pursuit of Cho, the Japanese vampire in season 2, who wants to learn fighting skills from Alucard. Judge and Prior Sala are new characters not found in the game. Castlevania enthusiasts believe that Prior Sala is a rip-off of two dark priests: Shaft and Zead. Count Saint Germain, a time traveler in the game, is also introduced in the series, but as a scholarly, well-traveled magician. Lindenfield is not a place mentioned in the game but it was worth introducing here in this series. The Council of Sisters, Carmilla’s other three female vampires, are also introduced in the series. Together they rule the vampire kingdom in Styria.

Since the characters’ story arcs are separate, the common thread that unites the series is the concept of the Infinite Corridor. It seems like a portal to Hell, where the night creatures came from, and where Dracula would possibly emerge, a possible hint for season 4.

Each character begins to evolve — changing their attitude towards life; changing their philosophies; or changing their resolve. Thus, I’m looking forward to what season 4 would bring. I’m expecting Trevor and Sypha having a child next season, too. With some hints of sex on a few episodes, and more bloody and gory fight scenes, this is not for young kids.

For season 3, I’ll rate it 4 out of 5 stars because although I like where the story is going, I felt that the ten episodes are starting to diverge. I do hope that the concept of the Infinite Corridor would be strong enough to bind them all towards the next season.

Season 4

After over a year of waiting, Netflix released Season 4 of Castlevania last 13 May 2021. As mentioned earlier, Netflix announced that Season 4 ends the series written by Warren Ellis.

The season starts with a string of flashbacks, happening from six months prior to a week ago. It shows Trevor and Sylpha continuously fighting evil creatures, with each fight getting harder than the previous one until they reached Wallachia, where the whole Castlevania story began.

It also shows how the other characters are doing — Alucard living alone in his own castle until he receives a message from a nearby village asking for help; Carmilla in Styria, planning world domination while Hector is locked up, instructed to create a hammer so he could start his job as a forge master; Isaac planning conquest as well; and Saint Germaine trying to find his loved one inside the Infinite Corridor.

Throughout the series, viewers are provided with each characters’ backstory as to why they do what they do. Characters worth knowing in this season are Varney, a vampire who claims the second spot to Dracula, and Saint Germaine, a time-traveling scholar and alchemist.

As an alchemist, Saint Germaine’s main goal should be to create a hermaphrodite, believed to be a perfect creature, embodying a male and a female into one. This became the goal of Varney, Saint Germaine, and Hector to resurrect Dracula and Lisa from Hell through the Infinite Corridor.

However, aside from Trevor, Sylpha, and Alucard who do not want Dracula’s return, Carmilla and Isaac do not want it either. The two would rather dominate the world and let Dracula rest forever.

Also, it was revealed that Sylpha is pregnant which hints to the coming of Simon Belmont, the game’s best Belmont family member. At this point, I’m already looking forward to Season 5.

However, at the climax, when Saint Germaine was able to open the Infinite Corridor to summon Dracula and Lisa, Varney revealed his true nature. Alucard, Trevor, and Sylpha were able to save the day but the epilogue surprised me.

There was a change in Lisa’s attitude while Dracula was calm. I sensed a heel-turn for Lisa which should propel the story to Season 5.

Also, my daughter commented that Hector’s character is worth exploring because his character in the game is really bad-ass. In fairness, she said, Isaac’s character in this animated series is much better than in the game.

Because of the unexpected ending, I rate Season 4 as 4 out of 5 stars. Although the season is drizzled with sardonic and sarcastic humor, and good animation, I really want to have a Season 5.

But then, Netflix already announced that they are ending the series with Season 4 but hinted that they would come up with a spin-off set in the same Castlevania universe with an entirely new cast of characters without Warren Ellis, the show’s creator and writer.

Netflix’s business model is dependent on acquiring new subscribers so it generally cancels shows after 30 or so episodes. To them, a show does not bring in new viewers past 30 episodes, unless it is a really big show like the Crown.

Another reason why Netflix cancelled Castlevania is the controversy against Warren Ellis. Several women accused Ellis of sexual conduct which he denied but apologized on Twitter.

I do hope that the spin-off would satisfy my craving for more Castlevania saga even though I haven’t played a single Castlevania game.

Published by 1B

Filipino, Gen X, only daughter, freelance writer, author, wife, mother, and a good friend.

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