I’m a big Castlevania fan. Those sweet memories of almost tearing the controller apart. There are games I still have to catch up on many of the more modern games, as I played the older games for the most part like the NES Castlevanias, Super Castlevania, Castlevania Bloodlines, Castlevania Rondo of Blood etc.. So how good is the Netflix anime adaption?
The first season consists of 4 episodes. The first episode is spend establishing the motivation and the character of Dracula. Within the first episode we not only see a very relatable reason for Dracula’s action but also a glimpse of his intellect and dark power.
The next episodes are spend establishing the story and skills of our protagonist Trevor Belmont. If you’ve played the games you know that we start with the prequel of the original Castlevania. In the course of the next 3 episodes we witness the danger of Dracula’s power and Trevor’s motivation. Also, we already see two of his soon to be three allies in action. Which ones I will not spoil yet but let me tell you: If you liked them in the games then you won’t be disappointed.
Each episode is 25 minutes long, so you can marathon the first season within 2 hours. Be aware that all 4 episodes are just a prologue, setting up the moment Trevor and his allies actually enter Dracula’s castle. That however doesn’t mean that we have a lack of battles, which is a major part of the games’ gameplay. We get some magnificent battles here where there really is a lot of tension just thanks to the atmosphere and how the enemies are set up. There is also a lot of rather terrifying gore, which also pays tribute to the games’ horror elements.
This series reminded me a lot of the original Berserk anime but that’s not a bad thing, especially considering the horrible newest adaption so not only is this easily recommendable to Berserk fans, this is what I would like to call the, for now, perfect video game adaption for an anime. You can really feel that the writers and the animators not only had fun but also love the source material, which really shows in every aspect here and the season, despite only being a long prologue, really profits from it.
If there is one major thing I am a bit disappointed in is that the soundtrack isn’t as good as in the games. Or rather let me rephrase that: The soundtrack is good, but it’s not as catchy or memorable. It’s an orchestrated soundtrack that perfectly fits the specific situation but I didn’t really notice any of the original tracks. I might be mistaken as I was too busy enjoying the series.
Visually this anime looks very good, you can definitely see why it took so long to make it. However, there are some issues that I noticed like strings of hair disappearing and reappearing when characters move their heads. Other than that, the voice acting is fine and while I am a bit sad to not hear the last voice we had for the Dracula in the main series (Patrick Seitz) I can easily see why he wasn’t recast for this anime, as his performance as Dracula is perfect when he is nothing but the villain, where his voice alone has a lot of power behind it. However we also explore the softer side of Dracula in this season, where his voice wouldn’t have really fit anymore.
So, can I recommend the first season of Castlevania? Yes, I recommend it to everyone who doesn’t have an issue with effectively gruesome gore. You can watch it without any previous knowledge at all thanks to this being the story of Trevor Belmont instead of Simon Belmont. While this anime seems very familiar, I haven’t had the pleasure of enjoying an anime like this in years, it feels like a breath of fresh air in an industry, where most releases feel like a representation of stagnation.
Also one last thing: Anime and cartoons mean the same thing, only in two different languages. My personal definition: I call them by their name due to how they were drawn. Limiting yourself to “I only watch anime” is entirely pointless and not watching a series like this because of it would be a perfect example of being short sighted. I only bring this up because I have heard many people dooming this from the very start or complaining about the anime/cartoon “issue” they have with themselves, which isn’t fair towards this. So yes, watch it. I think it does a good job as a prologue, the question is whether or not the second season can make use of the good start.