When Castlevania was announced back in 2017, I was surprised to see a video game property getting a television show. Usually, video games became movies like Mortal Kombat or Doom. Who knew that this was a sign for times to come, now we have Detective Pikachu and Sonic The Hedgehog. Even with all of the video game properties getting motion pictures or television adaptations, Castlevania has been a constant source of interest to this day. The first season marked one of the first commercial animations for adults made in the west. Its focus on being real 2D animation was a roadblock that Netflix overcame and has allowed the show to continue into its third season.
I was not planning on rewatching the first two seasons of Castlevania, but it just kind of happened. Since the first season debuted three years ago, it might have been a happy accident that I received this refresher course before jumping into the latest addition. The first two seasons were famously repurposed from an old movie script, so this marks the first outing without an established roadmap. This change-up is immediately felt as the show’s structure has come to resemble a traditional television show. There is a lot of switching between characters and multiple plot lines going on at once. So now that season 3 has a full ten episodes and has switched over to actually being Tv, does the quality of the show stay the same?
Castlevania continues to be some of the best television you can watch. I am infatuated with how it tells its story. The dedication to characters, their progression, and development push the show to punch above its weight. It works because I’m interested in these people; they feel true to themselves and have to work towards their goals. The groups in which they have been separated also helps their best traits to be put on display. Having Trevor and Sipha together is cute and charming, while Issac being by himself is enthralling. This allows the viewer not only to follow multiple people but to explore more of the world that has been mostly absent. It seems that everything included so far has been in service of building foundations for what’s to come next.
Just like all great things, there are a couple of hiccups that occasionally disrupt the flow of what is a terrific show. Some of the character’s stories are a little more obvious than others, draining the tension from their situations. Two characters are plagued by poor dialogue that never seems to land. Thankfully, all of that is in the minority as Castlevania earns every minute that is on display.
There is never a situation that feels forced and never makes you wonder why you’re watching something. This accomplishment extends to action sequences as well; you would think that a show about monster hunters in a world full of vampires and demons would make any excuse for fights to break out. The measured approach paces these scenes, so they feel monumental each time they happen. With the culmination of the last two episodes, the show rewards you with an action-packed finale that rocks a small town and your world.
I hope Castlevania gets a fourth season gets to continue until the creators find an ending that they find satisfying. I will be along for the ride until the end, as the show continues to be a pleasure. Its wit and humor mix perfectly with the dark despair that permeates throughout the story it tells. The show should be at the top of people’s watchlist as there isn’t anything quite like it.
Whenever I heard anything about this show, it was always about how David Fincher was connected to it. It became the main reason I was interested in and ultimately finished the whole season. I would implore you to watch, not because a name is attached to it, but because it stands on its own merit. Love, Death, & Robots, brought to you by the studio making the Sonic the Hedgehog movie, is an anthology show. It has 18 episodes, all of which have a run time under 20 minutes; thus making it very easy to binge the whole thing.
This is my first time watching an anthology show which really added to my experience. The best thing about the show though was how short each episode was. Short episodes allowed for each story to be told quickly and cut out most of the fat. Even if you didn't particularly like the current story being told, you could wait it out. The show never got stale in presentation either since it kept changing aesthetics. Other than one episode being live-action, each story had an animation style that fit. There would be seemingly hand-drawn animation to full-on CG. The art styles were plentiful which kept the momentum of the show moving.
Everything wasn't great though, the show suffered from a thematic problem. Anthology shows like Channel Zero or American Horror Story center around the theme of horror, its the aspect that connects all of the episodes together. Even Black Mirror is known for something, its not just a collection of different stories, each show has a thematic throughline. Love, Death, & Robots decided that it would be centered around "wouldn't this be cool". All of the episodes are little more than fleshed out writing prompts from the subreddit of the same name, that's what it felt like anyway. The show feels like little shorts someone put together as a demo reel, all of varying quality.
There isn't too much to dissect about the show. You either like the episodes' premises or not. There are no secrets hidden that require more thought about them, everything stays surface level. It's not that every show needs to be a thoughtful experience, but it feels like you are sprinting through the season due to each episode's length. I particularly like episodes 2 and 6, the former having the picture for this review.
Rating: Give it a Chance
The first Castlevania season caught everyone by surprise. A video game property whose adaptation was fantastic, an outlier to the rule. It had people clamoring for more as the four episode season had a total runtime of less than two hours. The show vividly brought to life a world plagued by war; in utilizing hand-drawn animation, it was unparalleled in polish and style.
Coming in at double the duration, season 2 aimed to surpass expectations by keeping the production values high while doubling down on what makes the show great. It introduces a wide range of new characters, keeping its story fresh and exciting. It still makes time for the main cast, expanding their relationships and anchoring the show. Not everything is perfect; there are a few rough patches but are few and far between. Castlevania season 2 is peerless when it comes to adult animation and is a gift for us in the West whom are sorely lacking in that department.
The plot of the show is fantastic; it knows all the story beats it wants to hit and ensures the audience is never bored. This wouldn’t be possible without the amazing characters; they are unique and mesh together extraordinarily well. Just listening to them talk is fun, even if it might be a little cheesy. Since the characters are so well drawn, even if there are no battles taking place, stakes still feel high and engaging. They might not always have the best motivations, but the actions they take always keep you interested and propel the show forward.
If I were to complain about anything, it would definitely come down to one main area. The show consistently doesn’t know how to score its scenes. There is a persistent problem with music being too loud, being the wrong tone, and distracting from events unfolding on screen. Some people expand this complaint by going as far to say that the show needs music from the games that inspired it. I do not fall in this camp for the simple fact that I have never heard the music from the game franchise before. This problem is huge for me though, as it straight up ruined great dialogue and an amazing battle sequence. There were also 3 instances where the animation wasn't up to snuff, but it only happened in one episode so it wasn't a big deal.
You should watch this show if you haven’t. It is honestly one of the best things on Netflix and has no chance of being canceled. Since this is the end of the show, there are no current plans to make more episodes, thus it makes it easier to recommend. Twelve 25 minute episodes to engross you in a world and enjoy watching it do its thing.