Looking back on the Castlevania animated series

Netflix’s Castlevania just aired its fourth and final season earlier this month and not only has the series been a massive success, but it’s also introduced all sorts of possibilities for future animated projects based on video games. The animators responsible for Castlevania, Powerhouse Animation, are already considering making another animated series using the same universe but with a new cast of characters. 

Now that the series has finally come to a close, I want to talk about my thoughts and feelings about the final season — but also some of my opinions on the series as a whole as well. We’ll go over some brief history of what Castlevania is exactly, and then talk a bit more about the show itself. 

Spoilers ahead!

Castlevania Anime Review

Castlevania’s Origin

Castlevania is a series of action adventure games developed by Konami, featuring gothic horror elements inspired by the stories of vampires and vampire hunters. The first game in this legendary series was simply called Castlevania, and it was released back in 1986 for the Famicom; a year later it would come west for the NES. 

Since the first game’s release there have been a great number of Castlevania titles that followed such as Rondo of Blood, Symphony of the Night — and more recently the series expanded into the Lords of Shadow series, which explores the characters and setting from a rather different angle.  

Throughout its lifespan, the series has also had numerous spin-off titles. One of the most standout titles in my mind is the Nintendo Wii exclusive Castlevania Judgement, a 3D fighting game in which you can play as numerous different characters from throughout the Castlevania series. The cover and character art in this game was all done by the artist of Death Note, Takeshi Obata. (Don’t sleep on Harmony of Despair, either – Ed.)

The series’ fame and renown has also earned its place amongst the roster of Super Smash Brothers — the Hall Of Fame for video games. 

Castlevania Anime Review

The animated series

So now that everyone is caught up with exactly where Castlevania comes from, we can get back to talking about the animated series. 

The main cast of characters, including Trevor Belmont, Sypha Belnades, and Alucard, is absolutely amazing — these three alone will keep you engaged and constantly wanting to watch more.

The way their meetings take place, how some of them move apart from each other, and how they are ultimately reunited; Alucard and Trevor’s turbulent relationship built upon a foundation of throwing verbal shit at one another; Sypha and Trevor’s budding romance; all of these things are great highlights of the entire series. 

Dracula himself is another character who, while not necessarily being a part of the main cast per se, is incredibly compelling and oddly understandable. I don’t necessarily agree with what he did; however, I don’t blame him for his rage and anger, either. The frustration and pain that Dracula goes through are clearly visible and honestly heartbreaking — all because mankind refuses to accept anything they don’t fully understand. 

The story as a whole isn’t anything particularly unique, but what it does, it does very well. With Dracula releasing beasts of the night upon the earth and creating an army of vampires, our main characters take it upon themselves to put a stop to it. After succeeding, Carmilla and her sisterhood of vampires attempt to succeed where Dracula failed, and what happens is explored through the events of the final season.

Castlevania Anime Review

The Finale

Season 4 presents us with the finale to the entire series and puts an end to many of the characters’ individual stories, as well as the overarching story. The start of the season is definitely a bit on the slower side, with entire episodes focused on what each character has been doing since the end of season 3. 

Towards the halfway point, however, the pace picks up and the ball really starts to roll with regards to pushing the main plot forward and reaching the action that we’ve all been eagerly awaiting. We find out that the vampires are attempting to resurrect Dracula — but this all turns out to be a massive manipulation by an even bigger threat. 

Seeing the reunion of Isaac and Hector — Dracula’s forge masters who were responsible for turning humans into his army of night beasts — as well as Hector’s growth since being enslaved by the sisterhood of vampires is most definitely satisfying. 

The reuniting of the main characters is done in such a perfect way that I had to rewatch the scene numerous times. Hitting the ground running, synergising with one another as if they were never apart and making their way up Dracula’s castle for the final time to stop the resurrection once and for all? A wonderful bit of animated media. 

Finally, Trevor Belmont vs Death: the Grim Reaper himself. At some point during the final season, Trevor picks up on the traces of something much larger working behind the scenes, and as such he prepares himself not only for a fight but for Death (you see what I did there?). His final moments are unbelievable — a single man taking on a god; his declaration of love for Sypha; his eventual victory — all are incredible things to witness.

Castlevania Anime Review

In Conclusion

 Castlevania was a massive success. It proved that Japan isn’t the only place capable of creating animation that makes you slam your pause button so you can take the time to process the level of sakuga you just witnessed. 

Most impressive, however, was just how much this series paid homage to its origin. This final season in particular felt like a video game with regards to its pacing and the build-up to Trevor vs Death — the “Final Boss” battle of Castlevania: the animated series.

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Conor Evans
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