The War has Arrived
The first season of Castlevania was proof positive that a videogame property can be successfully adapted into other mediums if the property is given the respect it deserves. While it was short in length, four episodes in fact, it established the world and its inhabitants surprisingly well. The biggest surprise being that Dracula is a layered villain whose motivation for hating mankind is justified. You can actually empathize with his plight, which was a nice curveball as his portrayal in videogames was that of a generic endboss. That’s not the fault of the developers of course, there was only so much you could do with the hardware at the time. Season 1 did more than enough to get fans excited for the battle to come.
Season 2 opens with the battle lines being drawn and both sides preparing for war. Heroes Alucard, Trevor, and Sypha are working to determine a path to Dracula’s castle. This goal is proving increasingly difficult as the Castle can shift locations whenever Dracula pleases. Dracula has begun pressing forward in his plans of wiping out humans from Wallachia, he is joined by his war council, which introduce a number of vampires and two humans who act as Devil Forgemasters. While at first glance they seem loyal to his cause, internal strife begins to surface as there are those who believe Dracula isn’t approaching the situation with all their best interests in mind.
There are characters introduced that bear some resemblance to their videogame counterparts, but with the exception of Carmilla, it’s practically in name only. Hector and Isaac share the same occupation as Devil Forgemasters, but their motivations are slightly altered for the series. Those two are easily the most interesting of all the new characters, stemming from the fact that they are human. Both were betrayed by their people and both were saved and recruited by Dracula. Which speaks a lot about how he views humans. Conversely, Carmilla practically mirrors her character from the videogame. She is abrilliantt and ambitious vampire lord whose desire for power is so strong she does not care who she ends up manipulating.
Returning protagonists are given ample screen time to reinforce their convictions but you’ll notice that there is more of an emphasis on world building. Trevor and Alucard, while still at unease with one another and not shy about taking humorous pot shots at one another, discover that they are more alike than both initially realized. Both are burdened with being the last of their bloodline and have been on their own for years. Sypha acts as the glue and is easily the most determined of the three, she keeps them level headed and focused when conflict arises. Each get their own time to shine, but it’s a shame that their motivations couldn’t be expanded upon. They do however, get to showcase their formidable abilities and quickly discover that they are practically unstoppable when working as a team.
While these characters, regardless if they are new or returning, are all fascinating in their own right, Dracula remains the star of the show. He steals every scene that he’s in and his presence brings significant dramatic weight to the show. In season 2, his obsession with death feels personal, every action he takes feels like it’s one made so that he can be reunited with his wife. Its tragic, but this season never allows you to believe that he is powerless or weak, Dracula is still head and shoulders above his contemporaries and when he does step into the fray, it is a terrifying sight to behold. He’s practically unstoppable when in motion and towers above other vampires and monsters. You will be simultaneously intrigued and intimidated. It’s incredibly impressive that a once generic villain can be empathized with. The depth of Dracula’s is a real highlight for the short lived series.
In these eight episodes, which still feels a bit on the short side, viewers will find a lean and focused effort that will provide more insight on character motivations and you’ll be treated to a fantastically animated and graphic adventure. This is a gorgeous show with some really brutal moments that may or may not feel excessive depending on the viewer. They do however, stay true to the grim nature of the series, even though there are moments of humor sprinkled in between the brutality. Nothing feels forced even though it moves at such a brisk pace. This is a testament to the writing and the producers for crafting such a fantastic adaptation. If you impressed by the first season but left wanting more, the second season will easily satisfy your thirst.
Hopefully, Netflix has plans to continue the series as the end of this season generates different directions that future seasons can follow. This is a fantastic show and in a sea of hits and misses currently filling Netflix’s library, this is a definite hit. It deserves more time to cultivate as this has the potential to become a classic.
Castlevania is the adaptation you were looking for.