TV Review: Castlevania (Season 1, 2017)

Simultaneously based on, and acting a prequel to the third game in the Castlevania franchise, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse (itself a prequel to the first game in the franchise), Castlevania is a 2017 animated action/horror series debuting on Netflix in July 2017. The four episode mini-series is directed by Sam Deats, with executive producer Adi Shankar, known for The Punisher, Venom and Power Rangers Youtube fan-videos. Set in the Romanian countryside in 1475, Vlad Dracula Tepes (Graham McTavish, Preacher) returns from his travels to find his wife has been murdered, and promises the town one year before he slaughters them all. Noble families are blamed, including the Vampire-hunting Belmonts, survived only by the jaded, alcoholic Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage, The Hobbit, Hannibal).

+ the voice acting is fantastic. McTavish shines in his limited role as tragic villain (but villain none the less) Dracula, Armitage is phenomenal as the cynical, often-slurring Belmont.Both Alejandra Reynoso and Matt Frewer are great as the young mage Sypha Belnades, and the horrid Bishop of the town, respectively
+ the action is generally quite good, ranging from a bar fight to a full on Belmont vs demon fight for survival. There is some slightly overplayed gore, which looks great but doesn’t really add much to the action. One fight right towards the end of the final episode is excellent

– at only four episodes, it really feels like a teaser for the upcoming show rather than a show itself (there is an 8-episode full season in the works for a 2018 release, so I guess technically it is). Just as you get into the characters and the plot becomes clear, it ends, and frankly the gap between season might be its downfall
– whether my personal tastes have just changed over the years I can’t say, but this falls into the same side as Dragon Ball Super and new Berserk series when it comes to the animation; it just feels flat and lacks the detail that older anime (and animation in general) had, where all the characters feel like solid coloured objects with no real uniqueness to them

Should you watch this show: I was expecting more, but what I saw was not the worst it could be. As far as a middle of the road production, this is great for background noise, but don’t expect much in the way of groundbreaking animation, or edge of your seat action. If you’re a fan of the games, you’ll enjoy this.

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