The best video game adaptation has quickly become one of the best shows on television.
There is no doubt that the Castlevania series is the best adaptation in gaming. Season 1, while short, was a strong introduction to the world and season 2 easily topped it with it’s incredible action set pieces, excellent writing, and pacing. New characters were introduced, each with their own motivations and loyalty, and while some didn’t get the screen time they deserved, all of them were unique and interesting.
The first two seasons crowning achievement was turning longtime franchise villain Dracula into a tragic figure. He was a grieving husband and a lost soul, hellbent on making the world of man suffer for taking his wife from him. Following his descent was a bold creative decision, but one that ultimately made the series worth watching. With his end coming at the end of second season, the series could have ended as like the games, Dracula is a key component to the narrative.
But dont fret, season 3 has arrived and is fantastic. It builds upon the lore and will act as the foundation for the seasons to come. Heroes Alucard, Trevor, and Sypha are dealing with the fallout of Dracula’s demise. Alucard in particular, is living in isolation and while he is content with being alone, he does feel as if he is slowly losing his mind. Two hunters from Japan appear looking to hunt the vampire that ruled over them, but when they learn of Dracula’s death, look to Alucard for mentorship.
Trevor and Sypha are travelling the countryside, eventually finding themselves trying to save a town from night creatures and other monsters. It harkens back to the first season as the conflict feels like its heading to something much larger. A new, mysterious character in Saint Germaine helps drive the narrative of this particular arc and he introduces new abilities that may rear their head in future seasons.
Carmilla and Isaac, secondary antagonists introduced in the second season, return and have central roles in the third season. Carmilla has returned to her kingdom in Styria, where we learn that she rules there with three other vampire lords. Their plan is to bring order to the lands weakened by Dracula’s war and use the humans as cattle. To enact their plan they will have to convince Hector, one of Dracula’s Forgemasters, who was tricked and captured by Carmilla.
Isaac, the Forgemaster who was surprisingly saved by Dracula, wants revenge on both Hector and Carmilla. But to do so, he must journey across the sea and mountains to reach the Styria. His arc closely resembles that of Dracula’s as he views humanity as a boon on the world. Isaac didn’t have enough screentime in the second season, but always came off as a character with great potential. Fortunately, this season allows him to take center stage and his journey forward is easily one of the best to follow.
There is far more narrative weight this season because of the emphasis on world building. Castlevania was never a videogame series known for its depth, but the animated series creates a cohesive story that makes for an enthralling watch. This season feels like it’s driving toward a bigger conflict. There is significant weight to the actions of every character and it will be interesting to see how future seasons add to the narrative.
It can go without saying that the animation of the series has always been of a high quality, but season 3 takes it to another level. There are a number of brilliantly animated scenes that will leave you in awe. The stutter and frame drops that were distractingly frequent in the previous seasons are few and far between. While it was a longer wait for the third season, it is clear that the extra time paid off. I can say with confidence that Castlevania will give any animated series a run for its money.
Season 3 does an excellent job of building for the future. Castlevania is the not only the best adaptation of a video game property, but is one of the best shows on television, period. It should have been difficult to top the second season, but here we are with the third season making it look rather easy. I can’t wait to see where the series goes next. Castlevania is here to stay and if the animated series stays on it’s current trajectory, it will easily surpass the video games.