Dear readers, I’m afraid that my talking about the game Metroid Fusion last week has sent something sinister running through these reviews. For this month all you shall read will be of a more, sinister tone. For this month some of you younger readers may best shy away from my reviews as it may mean sleepless nights and we begin with that most terrifying notion, a video game adaption mwhahahahaha!
Castlevania is a video game series that started all the way back on the NES and struck a cord with its fans by its gothic horror style. You often play a Belmont – a family of whip cracking vampire hunters as they fight the continuously resurrecting Dracula in his castle known as Castlevania. The animated series is mainly based off the third game which was a prequel to the first but also includes elements of Symphony of the Night ( which is up on that list of best games of all time I go on about).
The first episode sets the tone perfectly, starting out cold with skeletons on spikes before we enter Dracula’s castle, meeting the legend more as his later adaptions of Bramstokers’ clever and charismatic depiction, before we skip to his wife getting burned as a witch by a very bigoted and controlling church. They claim it was because she was a witch but in reality it was because she was a doctor and they wanted to control the people. This is further shown by their actions throughout the first season ( all 4 episodes of it, yeah everyone wishes it was longer) to the point that the church is more the villain than Dracula is in the season. When they incur Dracula’s wrath, well let’s just say the series earns its R rating ( 15 for us over here but I like the term ” earns its R rating” sounds nice). After that though we don’t see Dracula again. We feel his presence but we only see him in the first episode and it’s not till the end of that we see our true lead, Trevor Belmont.
From this point on players of the third game will note this is where that is adapted, even to the boss fights (well at least one, it’s only 4 episodes remember and the first one was the prologue). One of the advantages of it adapting a game from the 8 bit era is that gives you a lot of creative space, while games nowadays have A LOT of cut scenes and plot, those games back then usually were all action. The fact that Castlevania 3 had multiple protagonists (yep not just Trevor) means that the cast have each other to interact with (so don’t expect Simons one man adventure to get an adaption).
The 3 remaining episodes take place in the city/town of Gresit which is shortly to be attacked in full by Dracula minions, though they have been attacking it already with very gory results. The church blaming a group called the Speakers for drawing them while the Speakers reveal to Trevor that the church brought the death upon them for burning Dracula’s doctor wife. The bishop was the very man who burned her, though later this leads to one of the best feeling deaths in animation as the bishop is killed in the church by a demon who calls him out on his bull sh** ( sadly though that means Dracula doesn’t confront his wife’s killer, but who cares I can watch that scene over and over).
Video game adaptions have a very bad rep and one of the things this adaption sought to do is end that cycle and make a good one, and it succeeded. The animation captures the dark gothic setting and just how gory it can get while also being able to do things that live action just can’t do, or would make far too many compromises and mess up. If you have Netflix and like a dark gothic animated series (that they have confirmed is getting a second season with 8 episodes this time) then check this out…
unless you can’t handle a literal rain of blood and demon fetuses…
and that’s BEFORE the disembowelment ( I did say it was a 15)