Netflix released these four episodes (though really it feels more like a crisp, 80min movie) early this morning and they are something special. Anyone who ever wished for a hard-R cartoon with their Frankenberry – Castelvania (written by Warren Ellis and directed by Sam Deats) is the show for you.
Following the misadventures of hard-drinking, wise-cracking, monster-slaying Trevor Belmont, Castlevania is a great introduction into this animated world. We see Belmont become involved in a small town’s battle against the Church and Dracula’s horde of murderous creatures. A year prior, some Bishop murdered Dracula’s human wife because she was practicing science and of course they assumed she was a witch. Dracula, appropriately pissed off about the whole thing, decides humanity needs to shuffled loose this mortal coil. Over the course of the 4-ep series we see Belmont reluctantly take up the charge of fighting back along with the help of some new friends.
Castlevania feels a lot like an extended prologue for a larger story to come. Thankfully the show has been green-lit for an eight-episode season two! Overall though, it’s highly enjoyable. The action and violence are R-rated enough to make it stand out against most live-action movies, but not so over-the-top that it feels gratuitous. When they do utilize a bit of excessive gore, it’s either for comedic effect or just to show Belmont’s badassery. That comedic aspect is prevalent throughout the series as well, so don’t let the trailer fool you into thinking this is non-stop dark and gloomy stuff with a grim hero. Castlevania actually has a few moments of comedy that you don’t see coming.
A particularly Belmont-esque moment of violence involves him accidentally de-fingering a henchman with his whip because he was too hung-over to hit his original target – the henchman’s weapon. He also whips the eye ball out of another henchman’s socket, which was as brutal as it was comical. And when he’s not getting into drunken barfights or dropping some pithy rejoinders, he actually proves himself to be skilled slayer of monsters through the series.
Rounding out the cast is Sypha Belnades – a “Speaker” (an ancient clan of historians who can also do magic) and one more character to fill out this trio (but giving that away would really spoil things). Sypha’s character could have used a bit more screentime (on account of her being as equally skilled as Belmont in the monster slaying department) but with S2 in the works, that will hopefully be rectified. What we did see of Sypha was a strong addition to the show and a perfect counter-balance to Belmont’s cynicism.
If you give this show a chance, you’ll seriously burn through it in an afternoon. It is pretty clearly a movie just split up into four episodes so it flies right by when you’re watching it. Plus it’s got some solid action, funny jokes and surprisingly touching character arc for Belmont, especially for a show that is basically one long, monster-slaying, ale drinking, dirty-fighting prologue for something that – if they stick with the tone and style they’ve developed so far – will be a metric ton of snake-fuckingly bizarre fun to watch.
Have you already watched the show S1 of Castlevania? Hit us up on Twitter @Official_FAN with your thoughts!