Castlevania returns for a second season, October 26th on Netflix.
By Greg Wheeler
Based on the popular gaming franchise of the same name, Castlevania is an experimental anime dripping in beautiful Gothic-inspired visuals. There’s no denying the sleek aesthetic boasts a distinct moody 1400s vibe hanging over the two seasons. Themes regarding religion and witch-hunting are poignant and direct but handled surprisingly well. But despite some positives, Castlevania is not without its problems. Rushed characterization and a cliched protagonist in vampire hunter Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) bogged down last year’s four episodes, but a lot of this can certainly be chalked up to the short run time that hurts the overall credibility of Castlevania. With a measly two hours every season, there isn’t enough room to get invested in the characters.
Throughout the blisteringly fast-paced episodes, the first season felt like a prequel, laying the foundation to this season’s larger scale story to take hold. The plot is certainly intriguing; an enraged Dracula unleashes hordes of demonic, bloodthirsty creatures onto the town of Wallachia and it’s up to antihero Belmont to stop them. Disappointingly, there isn’t anything particularly unique with any of the characters either who all stick strictly to their archetypal stereotypes without deviating. Its a bit of a shame and certainly hurts the show’s prospects for longevity.
Even if the story is a bit hit or miss and the pacing is in desperate need of slowing, Castlevania is a visual delight. The colors work harmoniously together, and everything has a polish and distinct Gothic feel to it that pays homage to the original games. The detail put into some of the landscapes and shots of gore and blood are detailed which ironically juxtaposes the animation that varies from good to outright bad. The last episode in particular highlights some of the series strengths, with a blistering sword fight boasting enough quick and direct cuts to show the action while not getting lost in detail. Counteracting this are some of the slower segments, depicting characters standing around and talking to one another. These are awkwardly animated, and the jarring motions and strange facial expressions only accentuate this. Its a bit of a shame given the incredibly beautiful visuals of the landscapes and world but a little more polish and more refined animations would have helped this anime stand out more.