As promised, I plopped myself down for a blood-soaked afternoon with Castlevania on Netflix, and yeah, I had a pretty good time. It took a while to settle into the groove and realize that only a brief amount of time was going to be covered in this first season, but once I realized these four episodes were nothing more than a teaser to measure our interest, I started to enjoy it more.
If this is what a Castlevania show looks like in 2017, I’m totally down. Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust and other gothic-horror classics immediately came to mind, but the writing, too, is better than I expected. The slow buildup of Trevor’s interpersonal issues made me want to route for him more as the action started picking up. Thank goodness the writers decided to get us invested in the character before he started whipping around, something a lot cheaper shows would no doubt forget to do. Let’s not forget Dracula either, who scored a lot of points with his introduction scene, setting up genuine motivations for his horrible actions.
It’s almost as if this Warren Ellis guy is an established, experienced writer who knows what he’s doing! Oh wait… he is.
The final episode, like many other viewers out there, left me wanting more. A whole lot more! Alucard finally made an appearance, Sypha established herself as a magical powerhouse, and the fight against Dracula finally got itself underway… and “Noooooo! It’s all over?”
Luckily, the series has been picked up for a second season that Netflix promises will be longer. But where do we go from here? What untapped potential in the Castlevania series is still left to be unturned? A whole lot actually! Centuries worth of content is just waiting to be tapped into, and Netflix could run the gammit if we fans support the show properly.
Where is Danasty?
No doubt, the biggest question entering the second season, at least in the minds of Castlevania III’s fans, is whether or not the show will introduce the thief Grant Danasty into the team. By the end of this first season, Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard all team up to bring down Dracula, and Alucard alludes to a prophecy which states they should be all it takes to bring down the Prince of Darkness.
And yet… Castlevania III stars FOUR characters, not three. Grant enjoys a strong popularity within the Castlevania fanbase, and they will riot if his exclusion becomes a reality. At least, if the series only gets better from here on out, they might be fine with the decision, but leaving the pirate extraordinaire out would forever leave this series feeling like it was unfinished.
The problem is that Grant is somewhat underdeveloped in terms of drama within the game, and Ellis might have to start from scratch with him. Trevor Belmont fights for the sake of restoring his family name, and Sypha is on a mission to clear the suspicions around magic. Alucard comes with the most baggage as he is half-human/half-vampire, and he must contend with battling against his father.
Grant Danasty, on the other hand, is just a thief in the game. He’s part of a rebel group that was slaughtered by Dracula’s minions, and he joins the team once Trevor restores his form from that of a demon. Revenge against Dracula for the murder of his comrades is fine, but I wonder if Ellis can justify a fourth character to focus relatively weak mostivations on. I also wonder if Netflix is willing to fit the bill for artwork and a new voice actor. Tough call, but it has to happen if this rendition of Castlevania is to remain faithful to the canon.
Of course, I would love to see Ellis go crazy with Grant, but not too crazy. We saw what happened in Castlevania: Judgement. Eww..
Alucard’s development could lead to hints about how far this will go
Speaking of Alucard being a vampire lord of unceasing inner turmoil, he currently finds himself as the key for how far Netflix can take this series. Most of what we know about Alucard: his past, his heritage, his romances, and his motivations cast upon him by his human mother, all come from Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, which takes place centuries after the events of Castlevania III and this Netflix series.
However, Ellis will no doubt tap into some of this latent character development to make the show intriguing. After all, the show exists “in the now,” and it can’t bet on future seasons to wrap up the character’s complex past while the jury is still out on how long this Castlevania show will be around for. How much we get a glimpse into the soul of Alucard will reveal how far Netflix intends to take this series and which games it will tap into for inspiration.
If we see a lot in the coming episodes, this could be a short run.
If we see a little, it could mean Netflix has future plans for him. The character could evolve into the series’ consistent element, and he will slowly reveal himself as we travel through Castlevania’s centuries-long canon. Each generation of Belmont has some sort of interaction with Alucard, and each time Alucard picks up his sword against his father, we have more opportunities to get to know him better.
Why waste all that potential on the first season?
Of course, all this depends on how far Netflix intends to take this. If we go three, four, five seasons throughout history, the immortal Alucard could be the protagonist who binds it all together.
And while we are on the subject, we’re going to come to a conclusion to Trevor Belmont at some point. He and his team will ransack Dracula’s lair, bring down the Prince of Darkness, and free the land of his curses and demons. Hooray, the good guys win!
But there is a reason the Casltevania series has so many games. Dracula always rises again, meaning there is potential for plenty of seasons down the line if this first one proves successful enough. Does Netflix continue the journey of Trevor Belmont and his vampire hunting adventures? I would hope not. I pray that the events of this series end where they should” with the Belmont name restored to glory and the door open for its descendants to carry that name on.
Simon Belmont’s ordeal comes to mind as the obvious successor to this series, but that’s asking a bit much of Ellis. Whereas Castlevania III comes loaded with drama and established characters for him to work with, the original Castlevania is nothing more than “a dude enters a castle to kill Dracula.” That’s it.
If Simon Belmont were the key, then the season should start with him killing the reincarnated Dracula and then focus on the events of Castlevania II: Simon’s Quest as he tours the countryside looking for the body parts of Dracula to free him of his deadly curse. We learn how Dracula reincarnates and other secrets behind his ways, and the drama is set by a countdown that will end with Simon’s death if he fails. That would be a very fresh, original direction for the series to take.
Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night naturally loan the best drama for the series to latch onto. Dracula arises, kidnaps a lot of women, and ignites the anger of the hot-blooded Ritcher Belmont. He storms the castle, kills Dracula, but then vanishes without a trace. Alucard rises from his coffin to discover his father was not properly vanquished and sees that a Belmont now sits on his father’s evil throne.
Oh man, my mind is exploding with the thought of further exploring that story.
Castlevania: Bloodlines has the unique backdrop of World War I as a solid foundation to tell an original Castlevania story, and both Aria of Sorrow and Dawn of Sorrow provide us with Soma Cruz, a man destined to be the unfortunate host of Dracula’s spirit. His season revolves around him fighting every dark urge and struggling to keep the evil from overtaking his body.
Please, more of that!
Finally, Castlevania fans are well aware of the Demon Castle Wars, an event which takes place at the turn of the millennium when Dracula arises in our modern times. This event is never shown in any Castlevania game and is only hinted at in the Aria of Sorrow. The biggest evidence of this war occurring comes through Julius Belmont, who lost his memory battling Dracula in that era.
Fans finally getting to see some closure there would be a sweet little gift wrapped up for them from Netflix.
So many stories to choose from
As you can see, Castlevania is about more than Dracula just showing up and a Belmont killing him. There is a lore and a legacy here that spans much of the Dark Ages all the way up into the mid 21st century, and each story is just as interesting as the last.
Netflix has already given loads of context to the events of Castlevania III, and plenty other chapters from this long history could benefit from the same treatment. It all depends on how popular this new series becomes and how far those involved are willing to take it.