Castlevania Season 2 maintains the excellence of the first season. In many regards, these eight episodes are better than season 1. There is more action, more swearing and more blood. This is easily the best video game adaptation, bar nothing. No other series or movie (animated or not) has been able to capture the pure essence of the source material like Castlevania. Even if you didn’t enjoy season 1 as much, this is still worth the watch. The improvements are that profound that you may change your opinion of the show.
The second season picks up exactly where the first one ends. Alucard, Trevor and Sypha have resolved to defeat Dracula and prevent his plans for human genocide. On the other hand, Dracula is preparing to launch a war on the human race as revenge for murdering his wife. In this season it becomes more apparent that Castlevania is not an adaptation of any single game in the series. Rather, it takes several stories and combines them with original elements. The end product is much cleaner than it sounds at first.
In fact, Castlevania benefits from the fact that it’s not an exact adaptation. The writers have more freedom to tell new stories and showcase a different side to these beloved characters. Trevor, Alucard and Dracula are the three highlights of the show. They have greater depth in their characterisation than in any Castlevania game. Dracula, in particular, is portrayed in a more “human” way. He is no longer the final boss of a video game. Dracula is an actual person who cares about his family and is a constant state of grief.
The main trio of Alucard, Trevor and Sypha have excellent chemistry. Their banter is funny and realistic. This could be any group of friends on a road trip. They just happen to be fighting the creatures of darkness along the way to their destination. There is a never a dull moment when these three are one screen. Honestly, there is never a dull moment in the entire show. It’s perfectly paced to ensure there is a balance between the action and more heartfelt moments.
The Dracula side of things is almost as good as the heroes’ banter. The internal conflicts in Dracula’s court make for some entertaining moments. Most of these vampires have despicable personalities. That’s not a complaint though. Their abhorrent behaviour is weirdly charming. Most people will be able to relate to the vampires on some level. What that says about us, I’m not sure. These guys are pretty damn funny as well. Their humour is a lot darker than the main trio, and some viewers might prefer that.
One half of Castlevania is entertaining storytelling and a strong narrative. The other half is hardcore and gory action sequences. There are more fighting scenes in the second season compared to the first, and they kick ass. Trevor, Alucard and Sypha fight together as a single unit. While Alucard is stronger than the humans, the other two are no slouches. Trevor maintains the Belmont tradition of using a whip in battle. Sypha has mastery of magic and can burst enemies with her fireblasts.
What helps the action standout (other than the awesome set pieces) is the gore. This show does not hold back at all. There are literal pools of blood and guts flying everywhere. Some of the brutality will make even Kratos from God of War sweat. At times, the gore is distractingly hardcore which isn’t a bad thing. This excessive violence is actually quite refreshing. A bit of spiritual healing to cleanse the soul. There’s a purpose to impactful gore, and it enhanced the experience. It’s meant to intimidate the audience and showcases the brutality of the world our heroes live in.
The animation is top notch as well. There may be a frame or two that looks off, but overall the quality is excellent. Character movements are smooth and camera angles enhance all of the action sequences. Castlevania uses darker colours, but they aren’t washed out or dull. The colours have enough saturation and variety. Making a mature show is no excuse to use boring colours that are unappealing to look at.
Voice acting in Castlevania is professional and high quality. Every voice actor does a great job with their character which gives the show a soul. The jokes wouldn’t be as if the delivery was poor. The characters also sound exactly as you would expect. Dracula and Alucard have an elegance to the way they speak. Even when Alucard uses a swear, it still sounds very noble and high-class. One of the vampires is a Viking and he has a kind of Irish/Scottish accent. I’m not exactly sure. It’s executed to perfection though.
Trevor has a certain roughness to the way he talks, which suits his personality. Sypha has a very thick accent, which is a little jarring at times. She is one of two characters in the show to have such a pronounced accent. It’s not bad, but it can throw you off a bit at times. This is more of a minor nitpick than a complaint. Her voice will not reduce your enjoyment of the show in any way or form, I can assure you of that.
The music in the show doesn’t stand out as much as the video games. That’s natural to expect due to the difference in mediums. However, the music in the show is still quite good. There is a wonderful orchestral remix of Bloody Tears from Castlevania II during one of the fights. It easily makes up for the fact that there aren’t more arrangements from the video game soundtracks. We’re still yet to hear themes like Vampire Killer or anything from Symphony of the Night. Avid fans of Castlevania may have picked up on more subtle remixes, but as a whole, there aren’t too many. In fact, this would be my greatest complaint. We need more music from the games!
There’s so much to love about Castlevania. It adds so much depth to the franchise without forgetting about the core themes of the video games. The show understands when to sit down and have an emotional moment. But it doesn’t forget to treat the viewers with satisfyingly bloody violence and crack a few jokes. Ultimately, Castlevania’s biggest achievement brings relatively two-dimensional character to life. This is a must-watch for everyone, regardless of your experience with the Castlevania franchise.