We have a lot of love for Netflix’s animated Castlevania show, all while not being the biggest fans of the immense game franchise that has existed for decades. The strong stories, fantastic voice acting, gorgeous animated, and adult-orientated action, made for a very enjoyable watch.
The original series ran from 2017 to 2021 and had four seasons overall, with each getting an individual review, which you can read below.
So enjoyable was Castlevania that we felt each episode deserved a deeper look, and we’ve been covering it in our ‘They Made WHAT!? Into A TV Series’ on YouTube. You can check out those videos here.
The show was quite successful and well received by most. Which meant rumours quickly appeared that the show would continue, but telling different stories. Rumours that came and went, until it was finally confirmed that Castlevania: Nocturne would be coming and focusing on Richter Belmont, a descendant of Trevor and Sypha.
Castlevania: Nocturne premiered on September 28, 2023, with all eight episodes dropping at once on Netflix.
Created and written by Clive Bradley and directed by Sam Deats, Nocturne is adapted from elements of two Castlevania games. Namely Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
The story is set in 1792, during the French Revolution. The country, and the world is changing, but some things stay the same. Namely vampires and those that have made it their mission to destroy them. In this case, it’s Richter Belmont (voiced by Edward Bluemel) and his adoptive sister Maria Renard (voiced by Pixie Davies). The former is also a revolutionary and determined to see the end of the status quo in France.
Something that puts her at loggerheads with the Church and the town’s local Abbot, Emmanuel (voiced by Richard Dormer) and the aristocracy, which just so happens to be filled with vampires.
These are vampires with power, vampires with positions in society, and vampires who are looking to a future where they no longer have to hide in dark. Their dreams of an eternal night are not as far-fetched as they seem though, thanks to the imminent arrival of the vampire messiah, Erzsebet Báthory (voiced by Franka Potente).
The vampire queen is planning a ritual that will transform her into a goddess and it’s up to Richter and Maria to stop her. Alongside monster hunters Annette (voiced by Thuso Mbedu) and Edouard (voiced by Sydney James Harcourt), who have their own reasons to want to end the vampiric aristocratic reign.
However, to do this, they will first need to find out who is creating Night Creatures, and Richter in particular will have to get over his fear of the vampire Olrox (voiced by Zahn McClarnon), who killed his mother years before.
There are lot of threads in Castlevania: Nocturne, way more than the original series, and a lot of ‘real-world’ elements added to make it feel more grounded in reality. The setting of the French Revolution is an interesting one, but it really just serves as the backdrop to the intricate character stories instead of being a major focal point of the series. It’s all about Richter getting over his fears and rediscovering the magic he was once able to wield. It’s all about Maria finding her place in this new world, about Annette taking revenge on those who enslaved her as child, about the possibility that Night Creatures may not be beyond saving, and so much more. If there is one area that Nocturne nails, it is how much time and depth it gives each character.
However, there are so many other things worth praising too. The show looks stunning and utilises different styles of animation to make different scenes or sequences stand out. So strong is the animation, that there is one particular scene that is downright frightening, which is not something the original show managed.
Alongside that, of course, is phenomenal voice acting who bring life to a new set of characters. Ones that are initially hard to warm to because of the unfamiliarity, but ones that become Castlevania legends because of how much life the voice actors give them. This doesn’t just apply to the main cast either, as the likes of Nastassja Kinski, Aaron Neil, Elarica Johnson, and Iain Glen are excellent too.
Castlevania: Nocturne really is as compelling as the original show was but does stand out as its own thing too. One such way it stands out is by utilising music and songs in clever ways. This is a much more musical experience, and so many great scenes and sequences are enhanced by it.
It’s eight episodes long, but this is just the first season. It ends with barely anything resolved and a ton of set-up for season two. This includes a delightful surprise in the final moments of the final episode that fans of Castlevania will not want spoiled.
Who would have thought that an animated Castlevania show would constantly give such great returns? Nocturne had a lot to live up to, and it manages to hold its own, while setting off on its own exciting path.
Castlevania: Nocturne - Season 1
The Final Score - 9/10