On March 5th, Netflix premiered the third season of “Castlevania,” its anime adaptation of the popular video game series of the same name. After defeating Dracula and his war against humanity, Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso), Alucard (James Callis), and Trevor (Richard Armitage) find themselves separated as Alucard tries to rebuild his castle, formerly Dracula’s castle, and Trevor and Sypha travel looking for adventure. Coming upon the town of Lindenfield, Trevor and Sypha investigate a mysterious church that is planning to bring Dracula back from hell.
Season 3 of “Castlevania” builds on the strong foundations that were previously laid in seasons one and two, its strongest aspect being its characters. “My favorite character is definitely Alucard,” says UNO graduate Grecia Medina, who’s been a fan of the show for a little over a year. “But right after that comes Sypha and Trevor because they are great. As a group, they are comedic gold.” When not fighting against Dracula’s monsters, the series’ three main characters spend their time throwing quips at each other in entertaining battles of wit. With Sypha as the upbeat magician, Alucard as the dark and depressed vampire, and Trevor as the stoic, feigning apathetic monster slayer, their personalities compliment each other incredibly well.
It’s not just the main three characters that serve as protagonists, as with each season the list of characters and strong side plots grows. Season one introduced us to Sypha, Trevor and Alucard. Season two showed us Dracula’s vampire war council with Carmilla (Jaime Murray), and the two human forge smiths, who create his army of demons, Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack) and Hector (Theo James). Now, in season three, we meet new characters such as Carmilla’s own sisterhood of vampires, and the mysterious Saint Germine, voiced by award-winning actor Bill Nighy. While all of these characters have their own agendas pushing them forward, it’s hard to find a character that you’re not rooting against. There are clear lines between the sides of good and evil, but audiences still found themselves hoping to see Isaac succeed in his goal of growing his demonic army in hopes of defeating Dracula’s killers, Sypha, Alucard, and Trevor. “The series is really interesting and I love how they portray each character. The art is also amazing and don’t get me started on the music. It’s superb,” says Medina.
The quality of this show is due in large part of this being a work of passion, at least for its producer, Adi Shankar. While still relatively unknown as a filmmaker, Shankar has a popular following of his “Bootleg Universe” on YouTube where he’s made short films of popular titles like “The Punisher: Dirty Laundry” (2012) starring Thomas Jane, which gave the initial “Punisher” (2004) a second chance to be as brutally close to the comics as possible. Shankar makes these short films as a fan himself, which shows his ethics of care when handling a video game adaptation, a genre that has consistently received poor reception. “Watching the series does make me want to try the games,” says Medina. “but I find myself stuck because the games aren’t as interesting as the show is to me.” As “Castlevania” has been seen as one of the best video game adaptions, it serves as a small hope that the quality of future videogame adaptations will increase, and perhaps the Netflix series will bring new fans to the older game series.
Trying to find something critical to say about “Castlevania” is often as hard as the original games can be. As a videogame adaptation, it presents a strong story with nostalgic characters from the games. As an anime, it strikes the balance of comedic and dramatic storytelling, mixed in with powerful and often overexaggerated fight scenes. The one negative aspect of the show is its runtime; twenty to twenty-five minutes, with only ten episodes a season that premier once a year. This show is so good it’s a tragedy that it’s so short. On the other hand, its short length may be an advantage. With such limited time, “Castlevania” delivers quality over quantity.
“What I really hope for is a reunion between Alucard, Trevor, and Sypha,” says Medina. “I also want to see the Vampire Council of women start to move their plans into action. It’s gonna be really interesting and crazy.” By the end of season three, the main characters are left in a state of melancholy after the season’s events, especially Alucard, who may begin to understand his father’s feelings about humanity. Audiences could take this chance to play through many of the old “Castlevania” games and learn the series’ history, but as the show doesn’t strictly follow the games’ timeline, that could leave them with more questions than answers.