Castlevania is based on the game series of the same name, more specifically, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, and was a Netflix original production. Season 1, very much a “test run”, was only four episodes long, with a total runtime closer to a single film than an actual season, but is it still worth your investment?
The story sees Trevor Belmont, last of the outcast Belmont family, as he eventually finds himself in the same area as Dracula himself. Dracula, as it turns out, is actually on a mad quest for revenge after his human wife was killed by a crazed religious mob, rather than just “Dracula is evil because Dracula”, as it was in the first bunch of games of the series. He soon joins up with travelling “Speaker” and magic user Sypha Belnades and right at the end of the season, Alucard, Dracula’s son. It’s hard to comment on plot, given how brief it is, but it’s fine. Trevor is a very likeable sarcastic rogue-type, and plays off of both his companions well.
The star is the great animation work, especially the big fight in Episode 4. The show can get very gory, sometimes overly so, and it does spend the first two episodes being overly sweary for the sake of it, to the point where sometimes it felt like one of the old late 90s Manga Entertainment “must get as many swear words in to increase the rating” anime releases, but it does calm itself down for the latter half. As for the voicework? well, first thing’s first, as a cartoon rather than an anime, it only has the English voice cast, but they are actors of high quality, including Richard Armitage as Trevor Belmont, Graham McTavish as Dracula, and James Callis as Alucard. The background music in unmemorable, which given it’s based on a game series rightfully renowned for its fantastic soundtracks, is a disappointment.
The on-disc extras are just animatics and storyboards, the former being pretty much just moving storyboards, so not a lot to scream about there. There is a collector’s edition for the series though, featuring a 92-page art booklet housed in that collector’s staple of a rigid cardboard case, with a digipack to hold the disc.
So Castlevania Season 1 is a fun hour and 20 minutes-ish, and has a great voice cast and high quality animation, but you aren’t getting a tremendous amount of bang for your buck, as the old phrase goes. Definitely recommended, especially as it leads to the far superior Season 2, but maybe hold out until it gets a little cheaper.