Castlevania is a grimdark historical fantasy about vampires in 15th Century Wallachia (historical Romania). And I mean very grimdark. No children should be watching this show, especially in season three. Dracula--all-powerful, terrifying vampire--got married to a woman doctor, who was then burned for witchcraft. Upon hearing the news, Dracula decides humans suck and opens the gates of Hell to completely wipe them out.
This simple plot gets a little more complicated when other vampires get thrown in the mix in season two. They oppose Dracula's plan not on any moral grounds, but because without humans they won't have anything to eat. Then, in the middle of all this, we have our trio of heroes who want to stop Dracula from wiping out humanity because they're trademark heroes, and also the only ones who can.
Trevor Belmont is the last of a noble family of monster hunters who were all excommunicated from the church because they occasionally used magic to do their jobs. Sypha is the designated love interest who serves the greater purpose of blowing up bad guys with magic. And finally Alucard, the half-vampire son of Dracula, knows that his human mother wouldn't stand for any of this and so decides the only thing to do is kill his evil father. They're all pulled together by a prophecy that says they'll kill Dracula, but it's never adequately explained where this prophecy came from, and such handy future-seeing powers are never mentioned again.
Problematic magic systems notwithstanding, I love this show. It's dramatic, it's bloody, it's intense. You're pretty sure that Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard are going to win, and then the show will take a suddenly dark turn and they're back to square one. Alucard especially ended season three in a way that makes me worried he might turn out more like his genocidal father, but he might be able to pull himself back. The side characters and villains are all interesting, for sure, but I can't really root for them because they're horrible people. The main trio is primarily who I root for and why I binged all three available seasons.
Season three brought more women villains, giving the vampire queen Carmilla three kickass advisors who are each deadly in their own way. But so far the only characters of color are either dialogue-less evil minions, anti-villains, or sympathetic villains. Season three added two interesting Japanese good guys, but they only existed for Alucard's narrative development and will not be coming back for season four. Isaac is far more prominent, but he was working with Dracula to destroy all of humanity back in season two, despite the fact that he himself is a human.
As of the end of season three, Isaac is building his own undead army (being a Forge Master he can do that) and gearing up for a confrontation with Carmilla, who is 100% villain. So he's...sort of an anti-hero? Given that everyone he's murdered so far have been worse villains, you could argue he's a Punisher-flavored anti-hero. But he also still wants to destroy all of humanity, so I have no idea how to categorize him. Hopefully season 4 will help with that, and I also hope that we get more diverse characters who exist for their own story rather than to prop up our gloomy, pasty-white half-vampire.
All of the characters are captivating, but the heroic trio is especially fun to watch. This show has a lot of blood and gore, dark themes and bad situations. And then in the middle of all this Trevor will make a jab at Alucard, or Sypha will poke fun at Trevor, and suddenly everyone--characters and audience--will be giggling. Such moments are indicative of a larger theme: the world can be in a really bad place, and the human race can absolutely suck at times. But there are still bright moments, and there are still good people. Little reasons to celebrate humanity.
That's about as subtle as Castlevania gets. Everything else is pretty blatant. Everyone's motivations and intentions are plainly stated so there's very little mystery behind the people. The Christian church as an establishment is not a good thing in this world. They're the ones who killed Dracula's wife because she's smart, then denied any fault when Dracula got pissed, then continued to make matters worse by blaming Sypha's people, the Speakers. Which a cursory glance at a history book will tell you is a pretty in-character move for the Church as a whole. I have yet to see a single good (or at least, not awful) priest or nun in this series.
Castlevania is getting on my Favorites list because of its excellent storytelling, Sypha, and the potential I see in Isaac. I will be tuning in to season four as soon as it comes out. Which, since this is Netflix, will be a long, long while.
The first Dragons, Zombies and Aliens blog was started in 2015. Somewhere between college coursework, paying rent with door-to-door sales, and keeping up with my sorority sisters, I wrote reviews, rants and commentaries on books, TV shows, and movies. Now, this blog has moved, improved, and the sky's the limit!