When it comes to Netflix original content, Warren Ellis and Adi Shankar’s “Castlevania” series represents the very best of the streaming service. After suffering in development hell for an eternity, Netflix finally took a chance on them. What rose from the ashes was a 3-season long epic chronicling a trio’s battle against vampiric and demonic forces. By the penultimate season of the show, it had honed the series to masterful perfection. After the high-point of season 2’s titanic struggle against Dracula, we worried the show had ran out of steam. Oh, we were so very wrong. Like a well-oiled machine fuelled by the very fires of hell itself, it went the distance.
Western animes often get a bad rep but Netflix is showing the world that it can be done right. It wears its Japanese influence on its sleeve while staying true to its Medieval European aesthetics. In lieu of loud, dramatic war cries, we get Ellis’ deliciously wicked dry sense of humour. Yet balanced with heart-wrenching moments of loss, despair and death. All set within a nightmarish world brought to horrific life by Powerhouse Animation. They’re the guys responsible for the “Blood of Zeus” series. Sadly, the series now draws to an end. Like the night before dawn, all good things must come to night.
In the wake of Dracula’s death, a civil war has errupted amongst his ranks. The vampiric queens of Styria, led by Carmilla seek to turn all the world into a livestock farm. Loyalists like Isaac, seek to make good on Dracula’s mission of exterminating all human life. The board is set, the pieces are moving and the final war for the night has begun. The only thing standing between Carmilla and Isaac are our three lovable heroes. The brash and vulgar monster hunter, Trevor Belmont, the Speaker sorceress Sypha and Alucard, Dracula’s noble son. While this war rages on, hidden forces seek to ressurect the Lord of Night from Hell.
We didn’t think it was possible but yet again Warren, Shankar and company delivered! Since the second season of the series, we’ve noticed its habit of creating and weaving multiple subplots. The third season, arguably, was nothing but subplots. There was a strong possibility of the show collapsing under the weight of its web of stories. Miracously, it doesn’t. It manages to weave most of its subplots into a jaw-dropping finale. Especially within the last three episodes of the show. Revealing to us, the hidden player lurking in the shadows all this while.
We won’t lie, the reveal will definitely be polarising for fans of the show. We foresee some people flipping their tables or scratching their heads’ in confusion. For us, it made clear the thematic sense. That being said, we found its sixth episode “You Don’t Deserve My Blood” the most gratifying out of the lot. After waiting for two seasons, a certain character finally got their comeuppance. Along with it, came some well-earned character development for our favourite Devil Forgemaster, Isaac. We have a strong feeling that his story is far from over.
As much as we’re gushing over the series’ final season, we do need address a minor gripe with the show. It’s not very friendly to newcomers. Therefore, a lot of the payoff and powerful moments will be lost on those without prior context. So if you haven’t seen all three seasons of it, go watch it now.
“Castlevania” excels in its storytelling, primarily because Ellis and comapny have done fabulously in the writing department. Once again, Ellis adds layers and new dimensions to these characters we’ve come to know and love. Nearly every character has undergone growth, reached an organic epiphany or has forged new relationships. Even the freaking demons in the show are given these little moments of levity and humanity! Without ever having them break character. It’s bloody sorcery is what it is.
This voice work in this final season was nothing short of sensational. Richard Armitage as the incorrigble Trevor and Alejandra Reynoso as Sypha continue to be our favourite monster-hunting couple in all of anime. Over the seasons, you can sense the chemistry between our dynamic duo grow. James Callis as the perpetually stoic Alucard is as solid as ever. Again, the real star of this season is Isaac, voiced by Adetokumboh M’Cormack. Watching his character grow from vengeful servant to enlightened philosopher has been an utter joy for us.
As for the animation work… By using a mixture of traditional 2D animation and 3D rendering, they’ve managed to create character models and movement that are sheer eye candy. At first glance, the Night Creature models and demons seem similar at first. Then you get in up close and you how they interact with the environment around them. That’s the key here, personality in motion. From the subtlest of eye glaze to mad outburst of unadulterated rage, Powerhouse makes every character a memorable one.
Then, there’s the fight scenes. They were moments we thought we were watching a video game cutscene, and we mean that in the best way possible! As video game fans, we recognize a lot of the moves and mechanics in the games. So to see these moves given a truly cinematic treatment was a shot of ecstasy for our little nerd hearts. Imagine the battle at Dracula’s castle in the second season but on steroids. The penultimate episode had us yelling “Combo Kill” at the screen like madmen. Next to perhaps “The Witcher”, no other video game adaptation has so beautifully captured the essence of their source material as “Castlevania” has.
“Castlevania” has made history with its final season. Creators Warren Ellis and Adi Shankar’s groundbreaking series has at long last broken the curse of video game adaptations. Proving to the world, that they can be more than mere fan service. They can be horrifying, funny, cerebral and emotionally resonant. They can be high-art. The bar has been set and we look forward to seeing who will top it. Till another dethrones it though, the Lord of Night shall rule this genre.
You can now watch final season of “Castlevania” on Netflix!
So what did you think of Netflix’s “Castlevania”? Were you just as satisfied as we were with the series finale? What’s your favourite video game adaptation, film or television? Be sure to let us know in the comments.
Netflix's "Castlevania" Final Season Review
"Castlevania" has made history with its final season. Creators Warren Ellis and Adi Shankar's groundbreaking series has at long last broken the curse of video game adaptations. Proving to the world, that they can be more than mere fan service. They can be horrifying, funny, cerebral and emotionally resonant. They can be high-art.
- Netflix's "Castlevania" Final Season Review