Hot damn, the animated series of Castlevania was fun! I say that as someone who up until about 5 hours ago knew next to nothing about the Castlevania games. Literally nothing. I honestly thought you played as Dracula in the game and he’d got himself some kind of fancy new whip. Which doesn’t make much sense considering he’s a vampire… but I digress.
So I came to the Castlevania animated series – released just this week on Netflix – with no expectations whatsoever and it smashed through them and beyond. Which is incredible considering it has two things in it I personally think are completely overrated: Vampires and Richard Armitage.
Apologies to Richard, but I’ve never really bought into his acting ability since he first ham-blasted my TV screen in BBC’s Robin Hood series as Guy of Gisborne. Since then, he bought back some kudos with a pretty good turn as Thorin Oakenshield in the Hobbit Trilogy. Sadly, however, that will be forever tarnished by the unnecessarily over-the-top portrayal of the book and the fact that Thorin never once carried Bilbo out of a window. Just a little The Hobbit 1982 joke there for all you Melbourne House fans.
That said, though – and maybe this was down to the ingeniously snarky writing of the anti-hero Trevor (Seriously? Your hero is called Trevor?) Belmont – Richard Armitage was the best damn thing about the delightfully too-short series.
Trevor Belmont is a refreshing entry into the world-weary, no-fucks-left-to-give archetype, and he seriously has some of the best one-liners out there. Armitage’s voice acting is spot on and he delivers each line with such dead-pan aplomb that you can’t help but like Trevor from the start. Which is just as well, because by the end of the first episode I was siding with Dracula. Told you he was the real hero of the series!
Personally, as someone who had no fanboy template into which this characters had to fit (unlike poor Thorin), I found the portrayal of Trevor to be hilarious as he spends each episode dragging himself from one accidental adventure to the next, ostensibly seeking only his next drink. Although it is made quite clear from his very first encounter that he is clearly looking for trouble wherever he goes, deep down under all the bile, self-hatred and bitterness there is of course that cliched heart of gold.
The supporting characters are equally well written and the voice acting across the board is excellent, with a pretty chunky cast including James Callis, Graham McTavish and Emily Swallow, who all turn in great performances.
At only four episodes long, the series is surprisingly easy to binge watch in one evening. I had to chuckle at the ‘NOT FOR KIDS’ label Netflix has stamped all over the Castlevania shopfront. This is made abundantly clear from the first episode, which depicted some pretty gruesome disembowelment. Remember parents – animated does not necessarily equal kid-friendly. No, really.
Castlevania: The Animated Series is based on the third entry in the Castlevania game franchise, the NES title Dracula’s Curse, which is something I now know because I read it on Wikipedia. How accurate the depiction is and how many nods and in-jokes sailed over my head like a podgy vampire bat, I couldn’t say. I mean, I only just found out that the 2D pixelated depiction I have in my head is not Dracula, for chrissake! Besides, Netflix claims that it is only ‘inspired’ by the game series. So I guess they can take some liberties.
All of that said: it is enormously bloody, gory fun and you should definitely give it a watch.
Castlevania: The Animated Series is available to watch now on Netflix.