Castlevania Season 2 Review: Near Perfect Translation

Mitch Nissen Mitch Nissen
Expert Contributor
October 30th, 2018

Grew up reading comic books in the 90's. Marvel fan at heart. Hulk, the Midnight Sons, and Marvel's cosmic universe are my favorites.

Castlevania Season 2 Review: Near Perfect Translation
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Price:
Near Perfect

Reviewed by:
Rating:
4
On October 30, 2018
Last modified:November 2, 2018

Summary:

Vampires, demons, and monsters are unleashed once again roam the Wallachian countryside by Netflix. Adi Shankar and Warren Ellis' Castlevania maintains its high quality standards in season two. Beautiful animation, incredible voice acting, and a solid story bring the video game franchise to life like never before.

Price:
Near Perfect

Reviewed by:
Rating:

4
On October 30, 2018
Last modified:November 2, 2018

Summary:

Vampires, demons, and monsters are unleashed once again roam the Wallachian countryside by Netflix. Adi Shankar and Warren Ellis' Castlevania maintains its high quality standards in season two. Beautiful animation, incredible voice acting, and a solid story bring the video game franchise to life like never before.

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Last year Netflix broke the stereotype for video game based film adaptations with Adi Shankar and Warren Ellis' CASTLEVANIA. Now that Season Two has arrived, will it maintain the same high quality as season one? ComiConverse contributor Mitch Nissen takes a look.

A faithful yet inventive adaptation of the 1990 Nintendo game, Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, Netflix's Castlevania Season One was violent, brutal, beautifully animated, and showcasing a stellar cast of actors. The series won over critics and audiences alike. The only common complaint among viewers seemed to be the brevity of the season. Four episodes around twenty minutes each. Not long after the series premiered it was announced that the show had been picked up for another season.

Now Castlevania Season Two is finally here! And the filmmakers have answered the complaint of so few episodes with a season twice as long as the first. But will it maintain the same level of fidelity and execution as the first season?

Synopsis

After giving Dracula's hordes their first taste of defeat, Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades, and Alucard journey to the ruins of the Belmont estate. Hidden beneath the rubble is a secret vault containing generations of knowledge and artefacts for combating the supernatural. Meanwhile, the leaders of the various vampire sects have gathered at Castle Dracula to continue the war against humanity.

Breakdown

Story continues below

The greatest strength of season two lies within the character moments. The tenuous relationship between Trevor and Alucard is delightfully juvenile and endearing. There are exchanges between them that you can't help but smile upon hearing. Sypha remains the most grounded and well rounded of the three protagonists, serving as the glue keeping the heroes together. Seeing these three come together, in the end, is a pure joy to behold. Richard Armitage, James Callis, and Alejandra Reynoso imbue their characters with power and personality.

The character moments don't stop with the heroes. Dracula's vampire generals and forge masters comprise a large portion of season two, each with their own charming or irritating personalities. Hector and Isaac, the Devil Forgers, are fully formed characters in their own right, each with backstories and unique personalities. And then there's the wonderfully perverse vampire lord, God brand, played with relish by Peter Stormare along with the devilishly deceptive Carmilla voiced by Jaime Murray. And Dracula too is given a surprising amount of screen time and a character arc for the season as well. Graham McTavish delivers a genuinely sympathetic portrayal of the dark lord and, in an amazing feat, makes the viewer care for Dracula.

Credit: Netflix

Delving deeper into the greater Castlevania story, season two begins bringing in elements from surrounding games. Hector and Isaac are the central characters at the core of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness (which takes place three years after Castlevania III), a game featuring Trevor Belmont that expands on the Castlevania III narrative. Carmilla, who's had a number of appearances in the games, arrives and is positioned for a larger role in the future. And the history of the Belmonts is briefly alluded to with a portrait of Leon Belmont (hero of Castlevania: Lament of Innocence) looking as if it were painted by Ayami Kojima herself.

There are even several little appearances of signature monsters from the Castlevania games. The devilish duo of Slogra and Gaibon make an appearance which is 100% faithful to their likenesses from the games. A towering Minotaur and a monster who may or may not be Karamusan, king of ravens, make notable appearances as well. There's even a little reference to the Bone Dragon King, a boss from Castlevania III, as well as a host of others monsters from the games.

For Castlevania purists and nerds like myself, this is a dream come true.

One aspect sorely missing from season one was the musical presence of the classic Castlevania themes. The scores of the Castlevania games were not merely midi files used and immediately forgotten after the game. Many of these themes were recurring throughout the series and became as much a part of the Castlevania experience and character of the series as the setting and protagonists. In episode seven of season two, a classic Castlevania theme is used to epic effect. Strangely it is the signature theme from Castlevania II: Simon's Quest "Bloody Tears."

If there is a central problem with this season it arises with pacing. The majority of the season comprises character backstories, vampire war councils, and the heroes engaged in research. Season One had a similar pace, tackling the inciting incident and the campaign in the town of Gresit, ultimately a rather small section of the story. This seemed to be working until the last two episodes.

Here the problems fall on episode seven where the siege on Dracula's castle and the battle against Dracula himself starts and finishes within that single episode. The final episode then comprises the resolution and fallout from the previous events.

To anyone who's ever played a Castlevania game, getting to Dracula's castle is the prologue (if that), and the main event is traversing the horrors of the castle. Travelling from the front door to Dracula's throne is an epic adventure in itself. Strangely, as amazing as episode seven is (and it is AMAZING!) it feels like an afterthought almost. And while including classic monsters from the games, several key characters from the series are missing.

Story continues below

Where were Death and Medusa? Death is perhaps the one character, heroes and villains alike, that has appeared in the most Castlevania games. And what's a Castlevania experience without a Medusa head flying at you? The vampire lords are set up as bosses and or replacements for Death and Medusa but they are dispatched with relative ease, almost as annoyances rather than boss events themselves.

Credit: Netflix

Had the season been solely the heroes and villains preparing for war, ending with the heroes just getting through Dracula's front door, it would've been fitting and in keeping with the pacing of season one. An entire third season dedicated to traversing Dracula's castle and facing him (in all his multiple forms which are also missing here) would've done more justice to the games and felt more in line with the pacing of the first ten episodes of the series. A twelve episode season three dedicated to battling through Dracula's castle would've been the perfect Castlevania adaptation.

As is, suddenly we're at Dracula's castle and the final battle is upon us. It feels as if the filmmakers were designing the second season with a longer narrative in mind, but as they finished episode six, they were told by Netflix that they wouldn't receive a third season (as of now it is unknown if there will be a season three or not). The last two episodes thus became a scramble to finish the story.

I also understand that, perhaps, by ending yet another season having just begun the main event, would've possibly burned a little audience goodwill. As is, however, we spend an absorbent amount of time with characters like God brand and Carmilla, both plotlines of which ultimately result in very little. That time could've been better spent focusing on the heroes and their ascension through the castle. There are many pieces of evidence suggesting that this season was, at one time, planned to continue the long-form narrative, rather than the abrupt (albeit awesome) ending that resulted.

Should the series fail to be renewed for another season, which would be a crime, at the very least we've received a completed story. Ultimately, Castlevania Season Two maintains the high-quality standards set by season one and is still the high mark of video game based adaptations.

What did you think?

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Mitch Nissen is a Contributor to ComiConverse. Follow him on Twitter: @NinjaMitche

Source: BBC

Castlevania Season Two

  • 4

Near Perfect

Vampires, demons, and monsters are unleashed once again roam the Wallachian countryside by Netflix. Adi Shankar and Warren Ellis' Castlevania maintains its high quality standards in season two. Beautiful animation, incredible voice acting, and a solid story bring the video game franchise to life like never before.

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