Vampire Reviews: Castlevania – Season 1

Vampire Reviews: Castlevania – Season 1

November 28, 2019 75 By William Hollis


Good evening, I am the Maven of the Eventide
and welcome to vampire reviews where I give you bits of vampire information
sometimes eight sometimes sixteen depending on your platform let’s talk
about the new Netflix Castlevania series for those of you who reside under rocks
Castlevania is a classic video game franchise in which a family of vampire
hunters the Belmonts fight Dracula generation after generation but before
we get into the story first of all finally, right? the games are over 30
years old and just now got an adaptation this is especially satisfying after the
announcement 12 years ago in 2005 of a live-action film in the works that was
eventually scrapped the new version is an animated adaptation with a script by
renowned comic book writer Warren Ellis for Frederator Studios who’s been trying
to get it made since they acquired the rights in 2007 they finally got funding
for it two years ago and it premiered on July 7th as a Netflix original series
and it is short really really short it’s only four 23 ish minute episodes and
finishes with a complete non ending where the group of heroes decide to go
do the thing that’s it they just decide that yes they are going to save the
world from Dracula they walk into the camera and then done roll credits
story’s over just as it’s getting started there’s a reason for this when
Ellis was hired to write the script 10 years ago it was originally for a
direct to video animated film and he decided there was simply too much story
for one 80 minute movie so he conceived a trilogy all three films were planned and
when Netflix acquired the series they adapted the first in the trilogy for
their season 1 but the following two parts are coming in an 8 episode season
2 they are it’s confirmed we only have to wait a year if you are familiar with
the franchise you’ll notice our three heroes here are from Castlevania III
Dracula’s Curse which is a prequel to the original Castlevania game so instead
of featuring the classic hero of the series most people are familiar with
Simon Belmont the story is set two hundred years earlier and features
Simon’s ancestor, the fearsome warrior Trevor. His buddies here are two of the other playable characters in Dracula’s curse
and the adaptation sticks to the lore of the games pretty tightly Konami made
Warren Ellis do eight rewrites on his script until he got it right after all
of course everyone agreed to cut out the fourth playable character from this
version nobody likes Grant so the original game
in which Simon Belmont fights a very classic Hollywood horror style Dracula
is set in 1691 which is kind of a random year for Dracula later the
franchise jumps on the bandwagon of headcanoning Dracula’s backstory to
make him literally Vlad the Impaler and set the prequel Castlevania 3 game in
the year of Vlad’s death 1476 supposedly the year he stopped being an actual
historical person and became a vampire this was retconned in an even prequelier prequel made 14 years later that shows Dracula as a human becoming a vampire in the Year 1094 who then later decided to become Vlad the Impaler you
know as you do I guess he had to keep himself busy doing
something between 1094 in the events of Bram Stoker’s novel only one Belmont to
fight for generation after all but as much as the showmakers gushed about how
Game of Thronesy this video game adaptation was going to be I have the
feeling they chose the 1476 timeline in part for aesthetic reasons there’s
also a more interesting story than the simpler simon games and combining the
backstory lore elaborated on and later games into the plot of Dracula’s curse
it serves as a compelling origin point for the characters especially Dracula
himself even if it’s not Dracula’s actual origin maybe they’ll give us
flashback scenes that in season two but probably not I’ll explain why I think
that in a minute first I want to say that as the story of the series is so
similar to the games yes my criticism
is of both in some ways however tonight the series is our focus as its own
creature Episode one starts with an amazing character who’s not a vampire
but we’ll still look at her for a minute this is Lisa who has a pretty awesome
name and she is introduced to us by shanking a bat on the front steps of a
spooky castle surrounded by impaled corpses she is apparently the only
person in the world brave enough to walk up to Dracula’s door and ask him to
share his brilliant scientific knowledge with her so that she can become a doctor
to help and serve others even though he makes rape and murder threats within the
first two minutes of meeting her she powers through her perfectly natural
fear stands up to him puts him in his place and wins his respect and
admiration the prerogatives of her active agency lead her to speak to him
of the potential of humanity and she offers him a new perspective on the
world even though we know nothing about Dracula at this point other than that
he’s a vampire with a frightening reputation we see a dynamic quality in
his character as he reacts to this woman he is someone capable of change and
growth a person with a heart and already the series is setting him up as a
sympathetic and complex character a far cry from the cackling Halloween prop
Dracula the first games gave us so naturally Dracula falls in love with
Lisa they get married have a baby he becomes a nice guy who doesn’t hurt
humans anymore and they live happily ever after haha no 20 years later Lisa gets
stuffed in the refrigerator I mean accused of witchcraft for her sciency ways and
is burned at the stake and this sparks Dracula’s motivation to wage a war on
mankind as revenge this is all in episode one by the way we’ll call it a
prologue because the real action of the show starts a year later as the world
reacts to Dracula’s war and my biggest disappointment in the show was that
after he declared his revenge on humanity for killing his wife we never
see Dracula again he’s not in any of the other episodes in fact there are no
vampires at all in episodes two and three just there hell demon bat
things I really hope Dracula comes back in season two as the dynamic and
sympathetic character the prologue set him up to be and I mean before the
inevitable final showdown because if he continues to just be this scary floating
force head and not a person through the rest of the series it will be a huge
waste of opportunity the thing about Dracula adaptations is that he’s been
done as an antagonistic force so many times over the decades that there is no
suspense in him being simply the bad guy anymore and this show seems to get that
so I hope they don’t drop the ball yes Dracula is obviously a villain here but
he’s not shallowly just evil for the sake of evil like he was in the first
game no you see the real villain here is the church ooo edgy particularly this
guy the bishop who was the man responsible for burning Lisa at the
stake but he also has practically every priest in his realm acting in
distinctly unpriestly violent ways to enforce his authoritarian hostile anti-progress
churchy takeover : now that’s not to say that God is the
villain the story is distinctly theistic God does exist even in this fantasy
world of alchemy and elemental magic but the establishment of the Church
represented by this bishop and his underlings is corrupt you see not true
agents of God and though God seems to be taking a passive stance on what’s
happening on earth with this apocalypse of raised demons literally from hell the
fact that the Bishop is corrupt exempts him and his church from God’s protection
but he’s eventually reduced to merely a victim of the vampire rather than its
true enemy though the church is irredeemable in this antagonism towards
Dracula and at fault for the subsequent consequences that has on humanity it
cannot be the vampire’s true rival because it is not a real representation
of goodness once Dracula becomes bad again it is actually Lisa who is the
embodiment of the true Christian her devotion to the well-being of her fellow
humans to the benefit of the world’s progress and her eventual sacrifice of
her life for her cause is so christ-like that she’d be sprouting stigmata if it
were any more jesusy the show changed her pyre from a literal cross like it
was in the game to a more classic stake burning but it still has her cry out a
paraphrased version of some of Jesus’s last words on the cross they don’t know what
they’re doing be better than them please yeah in case it was too subtle for you
and yes I am saying that Lisa is the true enemy of the vampire in this sense
while she lived she tamed Dracula she stripped what was vampire about him away
from his character it was her goodness that was his undoing as a vampire but
his doing as a person without her saintly influence Dracula immediately
devolves into a force of pure evil despite having had 20 years of emotional
character growth from living with her now that’s part right there is why I
suspect they won’t be including Dracula’s origin backstory in the next
season because according to game lore as of 2003 four years before this script
was first drafted Lisa was not Dracula’s first wife no that was Elisabetha also
an awesome name and he definitely loved her there have been retconning excuses
for the my only love line in the game still being valid on technicalities the
but this script was 2007 if they were going to include that they would have fixed that
right Elisabetha was the whole reason he became
a vampire they pinched the back story of the popular 1992 Bram Stoker’s Dracula
film and had Elisabetha die in 1094 which is why as a human he did the
magical anti God curse stuff to become Dracula then when he met Lisa 400 years
later she reminded him of his dead wife or maybe even was her reincarnated and
you know the series was probably better off without all that nonsense it doesn’t
really matter how Dracula became a vampire he’s clearly been at it for a
while and how many women do we really need stuffed in the fridge for Dracula’s
man pain? it was enough to get him going halfway through the first episode I was
getting so excited this series was going to be Dracula’s story if his previous
undoing as a vampire was the love and goodness of his wife maybe some similar
dynamic character development would be the solution to his
apocalyptic tantrum that’s the journey I want to follow him on to have him be the
central figure as an antihero who either has to learn and grow or inevitably fail
the Tony Soprano of medieval vampire gore fighting a two-sided battle against
heroes better than him on one side and a villain worse than him on the other but
nope Bishop gets eaten by hell demons without ever even meeting Dracula the
church is taken out of the mix and we’re left with our scrappy band of Heroes out
to fight a war against an antagonist we now probably won’t get to see again
until the final boss fight the series is especially video gamey if you thought
the first episode felt like an extended prologue cutscene intro sequence you’re
in for it with the rest once we meet our actual protagonist the mighty warrior
asshole Trevor he spends three episodes listening to NPC exposition dumps going
on side quests and having some mini boss fights I’m not sure if the showrunners
made it this way as a deliberate homage to the games or were simply
incapable of creatively transitioning the material into a more film like story
either way it’s to the show’s detriment you can practically see the text boxes
pop up there is no excuse for something only four episodes long to feel so
padded Trevor here is such a reluctant badass hero cliche he’s rude because
rude men are cool not whipped. see, see? he’s not whipped what did you do in the
face of that I didn’t run away really so what are you running to even
though the Belmont family has been protecting the country from forces of
darkness for generations the evil evil Church decided they were to blame for
the forces being there in the first place and punished and ruined the family
trevor is the last Belmont and he’s living a destitute life of drunken
uselessness haunted by the shadows of his family and rejecting the call to be
a hero because of his bitterness it is not dying that frightens us
it’s living without ever having done our best I don’t care
oh here’s a good guideline for you say something once in it’s a fortune cookie
say something twice and if a theme by the end of episode three
Trevor’s tune has changed and it’s not the dying that frightens us. It’s
never having stood up and fought for you he’s finally ready to rise to the
challenge defeat the evil priests and accepts his
destiny despite what a jerk he is and the tough talk he talks inside he’s just
too good of a guy to not go fight some vampires this brings me to the second
actual vampire in the show damphir technically this is Alucard son of
Dracula is it traditional to name your kid your own name spelled backwards how come
I never met this vampire memo Nevam has a nice ring the games named him
after the character in the 1943 son of Dracula film but at some point someone
must have realized just how goofy that was so his real name is actually Adrian
because that’s so much more badass poor guy I’m Adrian Tepes
In vein with his backwards name Alucard is meant to be a mirror to Dracula an
inversion I need help Save Wallachia. Perhaps the world and defeat
my father he’s only a teenager 20 at the most but he had the Christlike Lisa for
a mother so he’s already more morally perfect than most of the adults we
meat makes me wonder what Dracula was like as a dad must have been pretty decent at
least for a while to turn out such a well-adjusted son I grieve with you I
won’t let you commit genocide I really hope it gets explained in
season two why Alucard couldn’t save his mom from the fire he can practically
teleport what kept him from just grabbing her and running Trevor and his
magical lady sidekick find Alucard sleeping in a coffin where he spent a
year recovering from the fight with his dad of course trevor must first have a
boss fight to prove himself worthy before Alucard deigns to explain
himself as contrived as the fight scene is though it does tie into one of the
story’s other themes. like Trevor Alucard is the victim of his family’s
past and expectation he struggles with escaping the shadow cast by his dark
heritage he’s much better about powering through his bitterness at the
assumptions people make about him based on his family connections than trevor is
but ultimately they are both battling the same demons here literally and
metaphorically the monsters in one’s past are symbolized here by actual monsters
learning to face your problems instead of running from them or hiding in a
coffin for years. Alucard’s is a vampire’s
struggle that a human like Trevor can relate to I know what it’s like to be
persecuted by your own country for the accident of your birth how do each of
them from opposite sides of the fence here manage to embrace their
individuality while balancing their destinies and obligations of course the
show ends before it actually goes anywhere with these ideas but here’s
hoping season two will show us a change in Trevor’s worldview or something
through his experience with the vampire character do you care? I care about doing
my family’s work and this isn’t the only parallel Trevor has to a vampire’s
point of view any one of them could have stood up and said no
we won’t behave like animals anymore for evil bastards to win power, all ordinary
people have to do is stand aside and keep quiet everyone’s just so persecuted
in this world of passivity and fear these are all interesting themes the
show sets up I am ready to see where they’re going with them when they
actually continue the story in a year Yeah, can’t deny the season one does leave
me wanting more though in kind of a cheap way but maybe this was really the
best they could do? we’ve been waiting so long for
Castlevania adaptation that you know what I’ll take it it’s got pretty simple
source material to work with and it is trying to deepen the ideas the art is so
cool-looking the acting is great the intro sequence is awesome and the story
stuff can only get better in season two, right? the eight episodes of next season
will cover parts two and three of Warren Ellis’s original trilogy scripts
but supposedly that’s just the events of Castlevania threes 1476 timelines the
franchise has over 500 years of subsequent lore, if the series does well
it could keep going I am the Maven of the Eventide and I
have to go tell my spawn that his new name is Nevam now so I’ve had a lot of people over the
past couple weeks on comments and on Twitter asking me if I was going to do a video
on the new Castlevania series and I was actually already planning on it since I
first heard about the show months ago but if there’s something that you’d like
to see review of that I’m not already planning on doing patreon is where you
should go to make your case you can actually request that I do reviews through
my reward levels but otherwise you can make suggestions and we can chat about
it there. patreon is where it’s at otherwise like comment subscribe
goodnight