Sean Collier, A&E Writer
On October 26, 2018 Netflix released the newest season of Castlevania. The first season, even if it was only 4 episodes, proved to be a huge success visually along with its creative storytelling. Since it is the season of spooks, I’m going to give you my analysis of the show as a whole and give my opinion on whether or not the second season lived up to the standard the show had placed. Oh, and for all of you that are worried I’ll avoid any major spoilers.
If you are unfamiliar with Castlevania, the show is actually an adaptation of the video game series. The games were popular due to the grit and violence along with their seemingly impossible difficulty. The show specifically loosely follows the story of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. The creators of the show definitely took some creative liberties by adding or changing characters. When I first saw that this show was being created I was excited, but concerned. I wasn’t sure how they planned going about telling stories based on the game but still be unique and groundbreaking. However, they did it and they did an amazing job.
When Dracula is brought up, people think of the stereotype that originated from Bela Lugosi’s Dracula. It has gone beyond that though. The more Dracula has been portrayed, the further away from the history and myth it goes. In some cases, even his power as a vampire has been greatly changed. This show does a very good job in showing how powerful Dracula is. But wait, there’s more… this show also does a really good job in making the viewer actually feel for him. In the beginning of the show, Dracula has secluded himself from everything but is sought out by a woman who wants to learn more about advanced medicine and science to help people in need. She actually becomes his wife and seems to give him some hope that humanity isn’t all bad. This changes when his wife is burned at the stake after being accused of witchcraft. She had sent him away so he could travel and try to give him more hope in all of humanity in general. When he returns, he finds out she’s dead. The way the show portrays his emotional breakdown and how driven he is for revenge make him so believable. He gave humanity one year to try to absolve for what they did to him. News flash, they ignored it… and Dracula doesn’t take that too kindly. This is where the purge of humanity begins. In the second season, we get to see more of Dracula as this war goes on. He doesn’t come off as a purely evil character, but more of just a broken man. At one point, it is shown how nihilistic he has become. He doesn’t care about the brutal methods he used to enjoy, or even feeding. He just wants the end result.
I know that’s a lot about one particular character, but having that much character development is great. Especially when it is the primary villain. As the viewer, you know he is the big villain, but he really doesn’t feel like it. That is a prime example of why I think the writing for this show is so well done. In season 2, it develops almost every key character in the story by giving the viewer backstory or just showing more of their personality and mindset. The fact it does all of this in a show that is only 12 episodes in total is impressive. It makes all of the characters identifiable and it challenges the viewer when they attempt to pick what side or character they follow.
Another really cool part of this show is the visuals. On top of just being visually stunning in general, the action sequences are probably some of the best I’ve seen. In the second season there are fights where, if you look closely, certain details stop at certain points in motion. However, it does not feel unnatural. What causes this is that the sequences were animated by holding the initial movements longer than the follow through motions. In doing so the fights and actions are super easy to follow and it looks amazing. It also emphasizes the initial motion so that the viewer sees exactly what the character is doing. For example, the main protagonist in the show is Trevor Belmont. He primarily uses a whip as a weapon. When he does the different actions to move the whip where he wants them to go it is obvious that he is the one in control of it. He is actually that skilled in using those kinds of weapons. If that wasn’t emphasized it could be taken as if he was just really lucky and it just so happens to work in his favor. Along with the stunning visuals and action sequences, the show is also brutal. It shows plenty of gore and death. I understand if that isn’t your cup of tea, but this show would not be near as impactful without it. To realize the world from the games into the show, it would have to be dark and the gore would have to be involved. Dracula isn’t going to be merciful or humane when issuing a full on war against humanity. The show doesn’t overuse gore though, it makes sense in the places where it is. With all of that said, there will definitely be some moments that will make you cringe. With all that said, I love the way the show looks and feels and the character designs are top notch. When the first season came out, I wasn’t even disappointed there was only 4 episodes. I was so impressed by how much they did in so little.
So after all that I still need to answer the question: Did season 2 live up to the first season’s standards? Heck yes it did. It did that and so much more. I could go on and on forever about this show. It is definitely close to the top of my favorite Netflix shows and I would recommend it to anyone. So if you are wanting to watch a spooky show or just trying to find a dark anime to watch, it is definitely worth your time. After seeing all of this show I will give you some advice: Do not mess with Dracula, even on his bad days.