Are you a fan of horror? Then you should absolutely watch one of Netflix’s newest horror shows, Castlevania!
Castlevania took most people by surprise. Not only was it an anime based on the Castlevania video game series owned by Konami, the infamously shady and secluded Japanese video game company, but it was produced and written by Warren Ellis.
Yes, Warren Ellis.
The British comic book writer of genre-defining titles like Transmetropolitan and Planetary. While Castlevania is far from Ellis’ first time screenwriting, he was given the daunting task of adapting a video game. Even in the realm of anime, video game adaptations rarely go over well, often barely rising above mediocre. The show seemed set to fail. Instead, Castlevania is a grand show that can sit proudly next to Netflix’s other anime classic, Devilman Crybaby.
Ellis’ masterful writing is on full-display in both seasons of the show, even though the first and second season are completely different beasts. The first season is a Slayer album come to life, complete with raining blood and demons killing priests and burning churches. With only four episodes, every scene is packed with over-the-top violence that would make both the practical-effect horror films of the 80’s and the hyper-violent anime of the 90’s proud. However, before all the action kicks off, Ellis takes time to set the scene by exploring Dracula’s sullen character in the very first scene of the show. While the scene only lasts a few minutes, it goes a long way to paint a complex picture of the show’s villain and give weight to actions he takes.
The second season is far less action-packed, due to it’s eight episode length. Instead of focusing on action sequences, Ellis uses the second season to flesh out the characters and world of Castlevania, creating a complex narrative of vampire politics. The season spends most of its time exploring Dracula’s war council and his motivations. The necromancer Issac and the vampire Camilla absolutely steal the show later in the season, as their Game of Thrones-esque power plays set-up an explosive and cathartic finale. The focus on Dracula’s court also transforms from the psychotic Dracula from a demonic killer to a brooding, doomed figure.
The war at the end of the second season is an absolute highlight. Every character in the show, small and large, gets a chance to flex their muscles in a climatic and bloody extravaganza filled with references to the original video games. More than that, Ellis also sets up a great hook for a third season that can’t come soon enough.