REVIEW: Castlevania: S1 on Netflix

Castlevania: Season 1 on Netflix had the potential to speak only to the isolated group of enthusiasts that keep these games coming, and possibly piss them off.  Fortunately, that doesn’t really seem to be happening.

This series is full of the little quirks that fans of the original games love (except those hopelessly obstinate types).  As a bonus, however, it translates to those unfamiliar with the originals; or anyone who might consider themselves part of a steadily growing audience of “mature” animation. And as seems to be a necessity of the franchise, even though this is total Castlevania, it totally isn’t.

The story starts slow, with a large chunk of the first episode spent on humanizing Dracula. Then move into a very dehumanizing and antagonistic depiction of mankind, particularly the clergy.  Those lines between good and evil will be thoroughly smeared before this particular series reaches its end, as is the preference in these tales.  Other traditions of the Castlevania series that promptly reveal themselves include stylized violence becoming to both the franchise and anime in general, the seediest settings we can still relate to, the arts of goth, gimmickry, and dark humor, and, yes, relax, by the end you get a glimpse of one of the game legends, a Belmont.

The four-episode season proceeds to set the stage with exponential tact, laying out the land of Wallachia and peeks at the Belmonts’ history for those who don’t yet know it, so there’s no need to feel lost if you know the least about Castlevania in the room of people who sat you down to watch.  It’s going to be a rare person that doesn’t know of the character/historic notable, Dracula Vlad Ţepeş, borrowed in what almost seems a haphazardly chosen boss in the dawn of the Castlevania franchise just over 30 years ago.  That’s enough to get you by; the show spells out the rest, more or less (wink wink).

In that same 90ish minute span, there are those references, some modestly subtle, to the original games that fans tend to eat up when one artistic medium crosses over to another.   There’s also an assembling of the characters, some new or only alluded to in games, and some introduced with just enough a lag that it might give a knowing viewer the chance to flaunt their cleverness, if the re-rendering of old favorites doesn’t leave them too struck by the take.  Personally, I think there’s no need to fret.  The licenses taken seem considerate, and just wait; those little things that just don’t make sense in the “real” world of Castlevania, they might just explain themselves… in good time… maybe.

Oh, and there are monsters here:  weirdly warped yet familiar ones that can make both gamers and those who just like creatures that look cool smile alike… just a couple monsters, real quick, but another key element of the namesake’s appeal  that goes without neglect.

At first I’d thought I’d save the music as a complaint.  It’s always been a big part of the game, and there’s not a lot of the heavy flare typical of a Castlevania OST.  Rather than the high-energy themes you might find hiding in Guitar Hero, the music sounds more like the creepy, dramatic cut-scene­ scores of the games.  Considering the medium conversion, this is probably, in fact, appropriate.  While it’s hard not to miss the presence of panicky guitars, double-bass, and pipe organ, ultimately we can say it grows on you.

There’s no doubt this is a teaser season.  No surprise either, considering the tantalizing nature of its release.  The implications are all throughout the dialogue (forget the games) that bigger things are coming.  We even get an opening credit crop after the first episode.  This is hopefully a sign the creators are not into wasting time, though with such a short season one, perhaps they are into biding it.  It’s said the second season was signed the same day as the first’s release.

The Castlevania franchise has made an art of inspiring different versions of the same story over and over, and this version is an old one:  Dracula’s Curse, the game of the show’s plot, was released in 1989.  Yet since then the changes both in mediums and the expectations of an animated series allow for an entire reinvention of this story.   There’s enough to capture interest whether you’re unfamiliar, or you’re a fan of subtle throwbacks alongside modern tributes, or you just like gritty, violent little cartoons.  Take license with the gaps which the original game creators, or Bram Stoker, or even history itself neglected to fill, combined with a three-decade build-up of imaginings, and we’ve been given a series that has potential to snap at anyone still trying to act like such things are for kids.

Some may feel compelled to describe this as just another rendition of a standard that leaches off preexisting characters and plots, no doubt seen in too many series these days, but when considering what I mean by a “standard,” kindly keep in mind just what it is you are dealing with here.  Besides, if you’re not prepared to latch on and twist old traditions while taking in some fetching, freaky darkness and cheesing it up just a little, you’re probably not ready for Castlevania.

Plenty of you are.  Give it a shot.  Whatever you’re afraid of, you’ll come out alright at the very least.  After seeing this season, I rest assured these people know what they’re doing.

Fidgety for S2 (8 episodes this time right?  You sure you don’t wanna do 13?),


Castlevania: Turn of Tragedies (III & IV)



But wait, there’s more.  This is it, the second part, the fan fiction of the fan fiction.  Posted just in time for Konami to take their characters back for the new Netflix series, which you better believe I’ll be watching.

Have fun with it.  This one is for those who actually enjoyed the first, as mentioned at the end of I & II.  You got some catching up to do.  You may find some answers here, so if you prefer to keep guessing, well, you were warned.  This one is also raw, meaning I haven’t bounced this off test readers, until now (also implying there may be typos).  It’s done in a different style; all part of the exercise.  I know it’s even longer.  I promise, it’s easier.

Again, feedback is always invited.  Put some weight on it, please.  It makes me stronger.

Take the link below to the pdf.  Go ahead.

Castlevania Turn of Tragedies (III-IV) n

And in case you don’t feel like clicking to the previous post, here’s another link to the first:

Castlevania Turn of Tragedies (I-II)

Castlevania: Turn of Tragedies (I & II)

This is an exercise of mine.  I decided to do a fan fiction before I move toward more “serious” things, which led me to one of my favorite video game characters.  It got much bigger than I originally planned, as you’ll soon understand.  And as you will also soon understand, for various reasons, this is not for everyone.  Particularly, it get’s valley reda bit dark, a bit heavy, a bit rough, so if you’re not into that stuff, just wait for the next one.

That having been said, I’m also told it can also be quite a bit fun, so if you are one of those special readers, please check it out, and give me feedback!  I really want to see how this bounces off people.  I hope you enjoy it…. really!  Click on the PDF link below to see where this went.  And please give me feedback.  I know I said it already.  I can’t stress it enough.   Comment.  Email me.  Message me on facebook.  Anything will be helpful, positive, negative, the more specific the better, but even a pat on the back (or a slap upside the head) will be appreciated.  There will be more, regardless.


Castlevania Turn of Tragedies (I-II)