The future is unclear for many of Konami’s franchises following a change in their business strategy along with the cancellation of Silent Hills and their ugly feud with Hideo Kojima back in 2016. One would have assumed that Konami had burned all their bridges to the entertainment world.
So when I heard the news that Netflix was making an animated adaptation of Castlevania, my reaction was mixed if I’m being honest. The idea of a Castlevania show meant that series could live on outside the realm of gaming. However given the past history of video game adaptations was a good reason to be very skeptic of this project.
It’s going to surprise everyone that Netflix’s Castlevania is an excellent adaptation of the iconic video game series. I don’t mean its good because the bar has been set so low but instead its a work that respects the source material and will be enjoyed by fans of the series.
Symphony of the Night
Set in the Principality of Wallachia during the late 1400’s, Lisa seeks the guidance of Vlad Dracula in her pursuit of scientific knowledge in exchange for rebuilding his faith in humanity. The two soon get married and all seems well until Lisa is accused of being a witch and burned at the stake. In response, Dracula gives the people of Wallachia one year to leave or suffer at the hands of a demonic army. One year passes and Dracula unleashes his army of darkness upon the land. Soon the country side is overrun by demons while major cities are under siege.
In the midst of this reign of terror, viewers are introduced to a disgraced Trevor Belmont as he washes his sorrow in a tavern. After a drunken altercation, Trevor stumbles into the city of Gresit looking for food. However he is soon dragged into conflict between the Speakers, the corrupt Church officials and Dracula’s army.
The only issue I had with Castlevania was that the season has only four episodes while also feeling more like a pilot than a true commitment. In their defense, this also makes sense since Netflix is taking a big risk by making show based on a video game. While many have failed, Netflix has done the impossible by making a good adaptation of a popular video game series.
Season 1 may only have four episodes, but it makes the best with the limited time. No moment is wasted on unnecessary exhibition while the story is properly paced so that non-fans could understand what is going on.
Similar to how Christopher Nolan crafted his Dark Knight trilogy, the Season 1 takes plot devices from several games (with Dracula’s Curse and Symphony of the Night being the primary source) to create an original story that is respectful of the Castlevania lore. Every plot device or character from the series is not suppose to be a nod to the source material but instead is part of the story just like in the game. This could all be attributed to Warren Ellis, who has rich career as a comic writer along with a screen writer and video game writer.
Netflix has shown the entertainment world how to make a proper video game adaptation and hopefully other follow this example. Konami may not have any interest in doing anything with its media properties (or being a game publisher) but thankfully Castlevania could live on through Netflix.
Lets hope the next video game that Netflix adopts into an anime series would be Metal Gear Solid.
Final Score: 9/10
Disclaimer: I watched the entire First Season twice during the weekend before writing this review.