It’s a known fact that when video game properties are adapted to movies or TV, it doesn’t go so well. They almost always turn out pretty bad or just okay. Castlevania is the exception.
After just one episode, Dracula was already one of my favourite characters of all time. And as the show kept growing throughout those first two seasons, it only got better and better. But when Dracula’s story came to a close at the end of the second season, I was worried that the show would lose what made it so special. Imagine my surprise when season 3 ends up being just as good as the first two, even without Dracula.
But now comes the 4th and potentially final season of Netflix’s anime. And while it’s not exactly perfect, it’s a fun time and does a great job wrapping up the story in a nice little bow.
A World of Believable Characters
I think the strongest part of Castlevania has always been its characters. Everyone feels believable and fleshed out, and seeing these characters confront each other is always a treat.
The heroes of the show are all fantastic characters. Trevor Belmont is just the perfect representation of a video game protagonist. He finds new weapons which unlock new abilities and even has a boss fight at the end. Trevor and Sypha also just have great chemistry throughout the show and every interaction between the two is just enjoyable.
Alucard is also just as fun to watch through every awkward interaction with any human. However, I was a bit let down that they just abandoned his arc they started in season 3. I would have loved to see him realise that he was slowly turning into his father, but I still enjoyed his journey this season.
But the real standouts have always been the show’s villains and morally ambiguous characters. An easy highlight is Hector and Isaac. The two humans forge-masters have always questioned the morality of humans and vampires and led to some of the most interesting scenes of the show. Another standout is easily Carmilla, who just shows what a great evil villain looks like.
Although not every character is just as good. The main villain of the show ends up being a new character named Varney, who is a fine villain but nowhere near as interesting as some of the show’s other characters. He serves his purpose well and becomes significantly more interesting towards the end, but making him the big bad seems like a bit of a misstep.
Action, Action, Action
Some of the best moments of the show are just watching characters talk to each other. The writing is so good in most cases that I could just listen to a conversation in this show for 10 episodes and be happy. But there’s got to be some action, and season 4 provides some beautiful scenes.
The best fight is in episode 6 between Isaac and Carmilla. Every movement is beautiful and every hit has weight. The imagery of them fighting in a pool of blood gives the whole sequence a beautiful look.
What’s always been impressive about the fights though is the interesting ways they use magic. Rather than just shooting beams, the animators always find cool and unique ways for Sypha to use ice and fire. And the way Isaac uses his night creatures or Alucard uses his sword during their fights is always so fun to watch.
Just a Shame Some Ideas Had to be Abandoned.
While season 4 does bring everything to a satisfying conclusion, it looks like some ideas were never really developed.
As I mentioned before, Alucard seemed to be becoming more like Dracula at the end of the last season and may have started to dislike humans. But season 4 starts with him accepting a call for aid from a nearby village without really questioning it. It would have been interesting to see Alucard struggle with the idea of becoming his father. Instead, he just meets a group of nice villagers that he offers to help.
Season 4 also brings up the theme of reacting vs acting. Both Trevor and Isaac bring up this idea and vow to start taking action rather than reacting to others’ actions. This works well for Isaac as it seems to complete his character arc, but doesn’t quite work for Trevor. Even though he lectures Sypha about how they need to stop reacting and start acting, they seem to only ever react. They react to Varney going through a portal by also going through it, and when they see Alucard fighting they instantly react by joining him. It’s a theme that’s told to the audience but never actually shown affecting the characters.
While it doesn’t quite understand what its central themes are, Castlevania season 4 is a fantastic watch. With some amazing characters, beautiful action and great writing, it’s a satisfying conclusion and one of (if not the) best adaptations of a video game property.
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It’s a fact that movies and TV based on video games aren’t that great. They almost always end up as terrible or just okay. Castlevania is the exception.