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Netflix Castlevania Season 2 Review: Pulls You in By The Neck and Doesn’t Let Go

As soon as I heard Adi Shankar was creating an animated series based on the beloved Castlevania franchise, I was tuned in and ready to go. I knew Shankar was a nerd and hearing him talk about the series in an interview gave me enough confidence that he would stay true to the video game while adding much-needed plot development.  In the first season we only got a taste of what was to come and although the first episodes were great I quickly forgot about the series entirely. That is until I discovered Season 2 and was absolutely blown away.

Castlevania the video game has an enormous amount of iterations filled with tons of characters and alternate endings. To be honest, I was never all that interested in any of them before watching this series. With that being said I can assure you that you will more than likely fall in love with the show regardless of your past knowledge of the lore. Approaching this almost completely blind, I have to say that Dracula is one of the most fleshed out and loveable villains I’ve seen since Killmonger. I truly felt the pain of losing his wife to a corrupt and ignorant Church dominated, human population. I would have wanted revenge as well. I absolutely loved how Dracula was framed but the show also did an excellent job capturing his degradation into grief and his inability to truly commit to his cause. By setting up the descent within the war council we see a metaphoric introspection of Dracula’s mind; confused and unable to truly lead. The juxtaposition between the main protagonists and the main villains further strengthen the overall theme of vengeance. On one hand, we have Dracula whose lost his wife to humans along with Hector and Isaac who have both been exiled and tortured by humanity. On the other hand, Trevor’s family are all wanted criminals, Alucard has no family and is regarded as an abomination on both sides, and Sylph is using demon magic. The only true villain in this series is the church and I love how that struggle for vengeance ties all the main characters together.

Camilla, a vampiress and main conspirators against Dracula within his own court, is also ruled by revenge. She was turned by a Male vampire lord who, like Dracula, descended into madness. Instead of wasting away with him, she executed him, vowing never to be dragged down by another man again. Her eloquent dialogue and bravado are truly a sight to see and she is a wonderful addition to the cast this season. The art style is adaptive, giving elegance and emotion to vampires when necessary and then unveiling their true beastly appearances when it’s time to feed. I recommend giving this show a watch even if you have never heard of Castlevania before or even if you aren’t a fan of anime because it truly excels at telling a compelling story. It does this by avoiding some of the classic anime tropes that turn off a lot of first-time viewers like infinite flashbacks taking away from action scenes or overly cartoony scenes. I would highly rank flashbacks in this series because each one was actually interesting to watch and give me unique insight into the minds of characters that had no backstory in the video game.

Speaking of the video game there are tons of easter eggs riddles within the television series for those hardcore fans.

Trevor Belmont, the main protagonist of Castlevania 3 makes a return to the screen and although he is not equipped with his famed Vampire Killer immediately we get quite a bit of Morning Star, its final upgrade. Isaac and Hector were both in the game but not nearly as fleshed out as they’ve become in the series. We, as an audience of both newcomers and veterans to the franchise, needed to know why two humans would serve Dracula through genocide and with a few tasteful flashbacks of their origins, we get just that. Carmilla more equates to the original Dracula novella predating Bram Stoker but she does appear in Castlevania 2 as a sexual symbol. It was an amazing and progressive move to have her undermine male authority in the second season and the departure from sex object to dominatrix fits perfectly. It seems only fitting that a widowed Dracula would be betrayed by the black widow Carmilla. Another notable easter egg appears very early in season 2. Slogra and Gaibon, the two bosses just before facing Dracula himself, make a pleasant appearance in one of the few action sequences of this series and although they get slaughtered it was an appreciated addition. Overall, I would recommend this show to anyone because it pulls you in by the neck and it doesn’t let go.

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