After all the hype, it’s finally out. Did it reach my expectations? Mostly! Well let me rephrase that: Tone wise, yes, it did reach my expectations. We got a gothic horror themed series, that doesn’t shy away from the darker parts of the franchise at all. Good characters, good plot, really good fight scenes. Awesome homages to the Castlevania franchise, as well. The series was good, but not perfect, and in order for me to dive into why it’s time for a review with some spoilers! So if you haven’t watched the series yet, you may not want to read past this point.
I’m going to do this in a pros and cons format, because I don’t really know any other way to form my thoughts in regards to this show. I’m going to start with the pros, so here we go!
- I love the atmosphere of this show. It’s dark, it’s creepy, and the story is introduced to the audience well. You don’t have to have played a Castlevania game to dive into this series, but there are some cute easter eggs in there if you’ve played the games (the dried meat and food stands was my personal favorite).
- The Characters are great. They’re using Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard as the main characters so we’re going off of the Castlevania 3: Dracula’s curse timeline. They’re doing a great job of making the story less Nintendo shallow fight monsters and sniz and fleshing out characters with their own motivations, development and backstories. I genuinely felt for everyone, including Dracula and the story telling is just really well done.
- I was so worried we wouldn’t get good fight scenes, but I had nothing to worry about. Best fight choreography in an animated series I’ve seen by far. I love how the whip is integrated into the fights with Trevor, how Sypha uses her magic competently, and how the monsters aren’t just some derpy things that are easily taken down: both sides have skills, and a great battle is always seen. Not only that, but there are stakes in each battle, it doesn’t just feel like Trevor is going to win because he’s the main character (even though that’s the case). All in all, every fight scene was really enjoyable to watch.
- It’s frustrating to have to have this as a pro, but it was so refreshing to have a female lead, that not only was competent, but there weren’t any stupid romance between the two main characters tropes! The best example of this in the show is when Trevor and Sypha are falling down some catacombs. Trevor grabs Sypha with his whip, then holds her by the waist to keep her from falling. When they land, there wasn’t any stupid “Unhand me, ugh!” “Well hmph I never”. It just wasn’t mentioned at all, because you know Trevor was saving Sypha’s life. Along those lines, Sypha’s gender is never mentioned at all. Trevor see’s she’s a magician, and from the getgo is just like “OK can you do these things to help fight” like never once was gender mentioned, and it was clear they were both on equal footing and respected each other because of what they did and not because of anything gender related. The show takes place in the 1400s, so that’s even more surprising! Only thing that happened was Sypha being called a witch, but once again that had to do with her magic, and not with her gender at all. I really hope this continues in the rest of the series, and if Trevor and Sypha wind up having a romantic relationship, that it grows realistically. The entire series is realistic, as realistic as a show about slaying hordes of demons can go and it’s soooo awesome.
- My biggest complaint about the show is its length. After waiting so long, we only get 4 episodes, seriously? And the final episode is pretty much the start of the actual plot! Because of this, the pacing is so wonky and the first two episodes really left something to be desired. Episodes 3 and 4 are fine, but after all of the lead up to getting the cast together, we really needed at least 2 more episodes to flesh out the central plot. I would’ve preferred a full 13 episode season on Netflix, but if anything we should have gotten 6 episodes.
- Along those lines, the pacing in the first two episodes was so wonky. Dracula’s entire backstory was done in the first episode, but his motivations could have been fleshed out more just with one more episode to flesh out his, and Lisa’s relationship. As it stands, their relationship felt out of the blue because we cut from her being like “Show me your ways so I can heal people with science!” then next scene they’re married. So, why don’t we get to see their relationship at all? Even seeing Alucard as an adult in scenes afterwards I was like, “So how long were they married? Have they been together for like 20 years, or like 2 and Alucard just grows really fast”. Like why should that even be a question for me? His backstory should have been fleshed out waaay more, because with the way it is now it seems like Dracula just threw a temper tantrum because we didn’t see anything with him and Lisa, with Dracula traveling and experiencing humanity, or anything like that. If we had even just seen him travelling around, then his turning on humanity would have been a lot more impactful. All in all, the backstory for Dracula needs to be fleshed out and I hope we get that later down the line at least.
- Another problem I had with the first two episodes was that they both played out like a video game. Like full on talking to NPCs, travelling from town to town, we gotta get from point A to point B to move the plot forward sort of gameplay only it’s a TV show. I didn’t mind it too much but at the same time it bugged me that the plot in the first two episodes were so rushed and clunky and if the first two episodes were handled like a show, like the last two episodes were handled it wouldn’t have felt so disjointed. When Trevor comes in, it feels like a completely different show because it doesn’t feel like a game anymore. Dracula’s backstory felts like we were watching the opening cutscenes of a video game and like I said it just was really jarring after we got to the plot progression that wasn’t gamey.
Honestly, those are all of my cons. All of them are rooted in the same complaint: too short, we needed more episodes. We’re already getting a season 2,, but why didn’t we get at least 8 episodes in season 1 to have a lot more meat for the audience? The 2nd season is going to be twice as long, so we’ll get 8 episodes? I really hope we get an actual plot after setting all of the pieces in place. It bothers me that these four episodes are really just setting everything up, and now we have to wait for more.
That being said, I loooove this series! I had a lot more pros than cons, and I’m really excited to see how the story unfolds, how the characters grow together, and more awesome action scenes. Have you watched the series yet? Would love to hear your thoughts!