Castlevania - A Sign of Things to Come - Spoiler Free
When a Castlevania series was announced on Netflix there was a lot of cautious excitement for the project. Castlevania is a beloved video game series that first came to popularity on the NES system in 1987 (first release in 1986 on the Family Computer Disk System). Since then, there have been many updates and sequels partly because of the deep lore of classic monsters but also the games have been met with praise and in general are highly popular.
I can say I’ve always been intrigued by the content of the original game but being born after its initial release I never it played it much. I love monsters, monster hunters and dark dungeons wrought with danger. I have never been a huge fan of anime in general but this was too intriguing to pass up.
In an interview with Polygon, Adi Shankar, the executive producer of Netflix's Castlevania talked about turning down an opportunity to direct a live action version of this series saying, “It felt 250 percent wrong”. He said it would have been “in the same vein as Underworld”. Adi has been critical of major film studios and prefers to fund his projects on his own.
The Castlevania Netflix series centers on the events of Castlevania III and Trevor Belmont. I should say it BEGINS the story of Castlevania III, as the “season” is only four episodes long. Yes, four short 25-minute episodes. Luckily, the same weekend the first season was released, they announced a second, 8-episode season. In fact, I knew about the second season before starting the first. This was essentially a pilot as I am sure Netflix wanted to be sure that this is something they could sell. After all, it is an adult oriented anime about a popular but dated video game whose heyday was in the late 80’s. Luckily, there was a strong response and Netflix was quick to announce the second season.
It is difficult to comment on the quality of the voice acting as it really sounded like any other animated feature I have experienced. The voices fit their characters and nothing felt over acted. The animation itself is excellent. There is a certain gothic feel to the typical anime-style animation. This gives the show a darker feel that fits perfectly with the bloody and violent scenes. There is a grand scale to the show, which is often hard to capture in an animated feature. I actually think Castlevania will be a “gateway” anime to get me to enjoy some others I may have been avoiding due to my irrational dislike of anime style animation.
With a late 80’s side scrolling videogame, you do not get much personality from the characters so there was a bit of creative freedom for the directors. In my opinion, they did a great job with the direction they took with the characters. I really felt for Dracula because he was more than a simple-minded monster. There was a real emotional reason for his anger and lust for revenge. Trevor was clearly torn between the treatment his family had received and his heroic nature. He wanted so badly to be devil-may-care about the situation but was drawn to helping those in need. Sypha was a strong willed and independent woman. The Bishop was a Claude Frollo clone, which makes sense considering their views and place of employment.
I believe Castlevania will have a large influence on how we digest content going forward. The project will open the door for Netflix to produce many other shows or movies for people who truly want to honor the fans of beloved series like this. Could you imagine a live action “Smash TV” show? I certainly can! With creators not being tied to the giant studios for funding, maybe the fans will get great content that does not sacrifice the source material.