Noob Reviews: Castlevania (Season 01)
Please be advised that during the review, I have tried to avoid a lot of spoilers. However, there may still be a few included helping explain specific points.
"It's not the dying that frightens us; it's never having stood up and fought for you. I'm Trevor Belmont. Of the House of Belmont. And dying... Has never frightened me."
Trevor Belmont | Episode 03
What is Castlevania?
Castlevania is an adult animated adaptation that follows the adventures of our reluctant hero (Trevor Belmont) who is begrudgingly drawn into a conflict that sees him go from protecting the innocents of Wallachia against the armies of Dracula. To seeking allies strong enough. And determined enough. To hunt Dracula himself.
The anime is based upon the original action-adventure horror series of games that spread across many a platform, from the SNES all the way up to more recent versions of consoles inclusive of Playstation and Xbox. As with the anime, the games were heavily based around the conflicts between members of the Belmont family, a family of highly trained and lethal demon slayers and vampire hunters. And Dracula and his horde of the undead and otherworldly forces. Including but not limited to lesser vampires, mutant bats, werewolves and revenants.
In addition to the video games (and now anime). There have also been a few different incarnations of Castlevania as a graphic novel and smaller comic books.
Do you have a trailer to show us?
- Official Teaser Trailer -
When did it come out?
Season 01 was released in July 2017. However, a season 02 was also released in October 2018 with a season 03 currently in the works. Season 03 was rumoured to be getting released in December 2019 but is now currently just saying ‘releasing early 2020,’ when checking official sites.
How many episodes are there?
Season 01 of Castlevania is more of a mico-season with only 4 episodes. Each episode lasts around twenty-three minutes.
What can you tell us about the season’s storyline?
The story for the first season of the Castlevania anime is very true to the source and sees a member of the Belmont family rise up to combat Dracula; however, he is alone and currently walking a rather unfortunate path. His family excommunicated by the church, their holdings raised to the ground. And he has been alone since the age of 12 to travel and fight on his own. Trevor is more of a reluctant hero, but when push comes to shove, he sticks to the values of his family in defence of the innocents around him.
But Noob, why is Dracula even in the story, I hear you ask?
The most straightforward explanation is the church. However, that’s a bit dull so let’s drill down some more.
Tis the year 1455 and as the story begins to unfold we meet Dracula’s wife to be (Lisa) seeking out the elusive Dracula in the hopes that he would be able to teach her the ways of becoming a doctor so that she might help those in need. To actually heal as opposed to leaving them to God’s will as the church demands.
Reluctantly Dracula agrees to take Lisa as a student and jump a few years down the line, they are happily married. Lisa working as a local doctor to help the sick and Dracula (at Lisa’s request) travelling the lands to try and see the good that humans are capable of.
Unfortunately in 1475 the church has established itself as a power base and set about removing Witchcraft from the lands of Wallachia. Without a proper trial. Without a need for evidence. They single out those they deem witches and burn them at the stake for heresy. Many a medicine woman, healer and budding scientist lose their life in this great purge, and the latest victim of this insanity is Dracula’s wife (Lisa). Dracula arrives shortly after Lisa’s execution begins and vows complete and utter destruction to Wallachia in a year. Giving the inhabitants enough time to prepare for their end and remove any trace of themselves from the land.
Jump forward to 1476 and Dracula is a man of his word, his reign of bloody vengeance comes at the claws of the night horde. During his travels, Trevor is begrudgingly drawn into the conflict when he visits the city of Gresit in search of somewhere to rest and a bite to eat. While visiting, he hears tales of a nomadic group called the Speakers who the church plan to kill that very same day believing that their lack of faith in God is the reason everything that has occurred to them. Has occurred. Unable to see innocents suffer Trevor sets about trying to stop the bishop in charge. I will, at this point, mention that the current bishop of Gresit was the same educated and pure of heart soul that went around burning people at the stake on a hunch. So you might be able to tell how well the interference of an excommunicated Belmont goes down when he is trying to defend the godless.
All is not lost though. With the help of a magic-wielding speaker (Sypha) and a mythical soldier that sleeps beneath the city of Gresit (Alucard). Trevor can turn the tide of conflict against both the church and Dracula’s forces.
Who are some of the actors and actresses in the series?
Alejandra Reynoso (Sypha Belnades)
Graham McTavish (Dracula)
James Callis (Alucard)
Matt Frewer (The Bishop)
Richard Armitage (Trevor Belmont)
How did you like Castlevania (Season 01)?
Having been a massive fan of the video games, I was quite excited to see how the anime unfolded and how well it did in popularity in general. Having not had a new game in a few years, I thought the anime might rekindle people’s love of the series, and I was not wrong having talked to colleagues, friends and family.
The anime is very true to its source material, and the story is well played out, although season one is concise, only four episodes long. I found each chapter to be fun, entertaining and engaging, and it always made me want more. There is always enough story to keep you invested and curious how character arcs would play out, but at the end of episodes, it was cut short just right to leave you wanting the next event sooner rather than later.
I found that the art style, overall setting, script and soundtrack all click together well to form a believable atmosphere that remains consistent throughout. The portrayal of Trevor, I found to be highly enjoyable and very accurate of what I believe a Belmont may act like having played the games and read the graphic novels. The conflict between Dracula and Alucard was also well-choreographed when seeing glimpses of their past and seeing the church established as well as it was as a plot mechanic. Usually, the church is seen as a shining light. A place to turn to when in need but their blind purge of anything they did not understand (such as science and medicine) was well done. Not too preachy. Not overly fanatical. It was balanced, just right.
Castlevania overall was an anime I really enjoyed and would highly recommend to anyone who was not just a fan of the games but was just a fan of solid animes in general.
What overall rating would you give Castlevania?
I would give Castlevania a solid 5 out of 5 bananas.
Although I thoroughly enjoyed Castlevania and could find very little to fault it with, I thought the season was too short. Although episodes did not feel like they had too much packed into them, I do believe that given more time, they could have expanded the story more. On the flip side, I have very high hopes that season 02 will see Castlevania continuing to hit a solid 5 out of 5 and expand the story a lot more. We shall see in a few hours when I have finished watching the last few episodes. Not that I am addicted.
Thank you very much for checking out the review, and if you are interested in Castlevania and would like to check it out for yourself, to form your own opinion, you can check it out here.