After a strong showing in season 1, Castlevania is back for a 2nd season with double the episodes! Season 1 served as more of an extended prologue, a setting up of the characters, surroundings & circumstances. With all of that established season 2 is an improvement in many areas but also fails to fully capitalise on some of the characters introduced.
You can read our review of season 1 here.
Based off the Konami game series of the same name but particularly the 1989 game, Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse. The series follows Trevor Belmont of the fallen Belmont family as he tries to defend the lands of Wallachia from the hordes of Dracula.
From this point on there will be massive spoilers for both seasons so be warned!
Picking up directly from the events of season 1, Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) and his companion, Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) have repelled the forces of Dracula (Graham McTavish) temporarily and found Alucard (James Callis), the half-vampire of the Count.
Alucard agrees to help the pair stop his father’s quest for vengeance on humanity and they travel to the ruins of the Belmont estate to find some way to stop Dracula’s castle from moving. After the initial setup, these three take a bit of a backseat to the introduction of many new characters, both villains and heroes. As well as delving deeper into Dracula and his tragic story.
The focus on the trio travelling and bonding might annoy fans of the series hoping for more action. However, Trevor and Alucard’s constant bickering is kind of endearing and helps build the bond between them as the show reaches its epic conclusion. When fights do happen, they are gloriously fun to watch. A mix of top-notch animation and gory violence.
One of the more surprising elements of this season is just how character driven it is. Whereas season 1 was heavy on the animated violence, this tones it back to deliver a more sombre and atmospheric story-telling albeit with flashes of intense gore.
In fact, focus is mainly spent inside Dracula’s castle and around his group of generals. A mix of new and game-related characters such as Carmilla (Jamie Murray), Godbrand (Peter Stormare), Hector (Theo James) and Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack). The latter two really form the backbone to this season as the only two humans in Dracula’s court. Asked to lead his war because of their disdain for humanity, their backstories are fantastically written and played out.
The heavy political story certainly won’t be for everyone and there is a ‘Game of Thrones’ feel about all the backstabbing and conniving that goes on but it’s told really well.
Of course, Dracula himself is a major presence of the show but this is not the ripping and tearing beast most expect. This Dracula is consumed by grief and tired of the world. He despises humanity for what they did to his wife but as later episodes show, he is also tired of vampires too.
A lot of the time he is apathetic and brooding, hiding away in his study but the show does a great job of reminding us of his strength on occasion. As his generals get bolder and begin to question his rule, Dracula is forced to confront his own kind.
He is a hell of a character and Graham McTavish voices him wonderfully. In fact, all the voice acting is excellent.
The slow burn and character driven story builds towards a frantic finish that dispenses with the gothic undertones and imagery for a full-on blood-letting finale. If you’re watching Castlevania for blood to spray, heads to be crushed and eyes to be gouged out then you’ll get your wish by time the final episodes come around. Up to that point it’s fair to say that a few might find it boring even though it tells a fascinating story. The slow pacing, particularly around the middle, serves as a chance for us to really get to know the characters and that is no bad thing.
The animation style is often astounding and this feels like Castlevania in both look and tone with a little of Vampire Hunter D thrown in too. It’s hard not to be impressed by the work gone in here.
A satisfying finale leaves just enough sub-plots for there to be future stories and going off this season, we can all be very excited to see what comes next.
Castlevania – Season 2