Reviews - Updated on April 7, 2022

The first season of Netflix’s Castlevania had only four episodes, while the second season had twice as many. The third continued to increase the number of episodes: it has as many as ten episodes, many of which are slightly longer than usual and run for about half an hour. The increase in the volume of content, on the one hand, cannot but rejoice, but on the other hand, empty dialogues and scenes can stand behind it, which do not affect the plot in any way and were created only to stretch the story. Are there any similar episodes in the new season of Castlevania? Alas, yes. Fortunately, many of the other things that viewers love this adaptation from Netflix, it also lacks.

blood lines

The second season ended with the death of the main villain. But, as we well know from the games, Dracula’s death is only the beginning. At the same time, the plot of the adaptation moves further and further away from the original source and introduces new characters and new events into the story. There were also references, but I will talk about them last.

In the series, four storylines develop in parallel: Trevor and Saif, who set off to rid Europe of monsters; left alone Alucard; Carmilla, who captured the devilish blacksmith Hector; and Isaac, eager to avenge his betrayal. The narrative alternately switches to some characters, then to others, not forgetting to surprise the viewer with unexpected twists at the end.

Each of the story branches reveals the characters we already know and introduces us to new ones. So, in the town of Lindenfield, where Trevor and Sayfa arrive, a certain Count Saint-Germain is also hanging around. A mysterious nobleman has arrived in the wilderness to explore a monastery where some dark and creepy deeds are going on. Of course, our couple joins the investigation.

Dracula Doesn't Live Here Anymore - Castlevania season 3 review

Trevor and Saifa’s relationship has become much more romantic than before, which is quite in line with the gaming canon. The girl is the ringleader in this duet and clearly enjoys defeating monsters. Belmont does not always share the enthusiasm of his passion, but still indulges her whims.

Alucard, unfortunately, stayed away from his friends. Dampier, vampire hunter and sorceress formed a very harmonious team, and it’s a pity that in the new season there were no chemistry in this trio. However, Alucard did not long long in the loneliness of voluntary exile: Zumi and Takka, people who dream of effectively fighting vampires, made their way to the ruins of Dracula’s castle from distant Japan. Alucard agrees to train the couple, and from that moment on, perhaps the strangest storyline begins in the series, which was clearly written only for the sake of ending. I don’t know if the creators of Castlevania just wanted to shock the viewer – perhaps they are setting the stage for the further transformation of Alucard. However, the image of Dracula’s cruel successor is very different from the game canon, so we can only wait for the continuation to see where the dhampir story arc will lead.

The Carmilla line is also intriguing. The vampire returned to her castle, where three more comrades-in-arms were waiting for her – Striga, Morana and Lenore. The new characters were created specifically for the series and have never appeared in games before. Each of the girls is ambitious and good at something. So, Morana is a competent strategist and economist, Striga is well versed in military craft and battles, and Lenore is an excellent manipulator and, as a result, a diplomat. The vampire ruling council wants to strengthen their power and expand their holdings, but for this they need an army. The devilish blacksmith Hector could well provide them with hordes of demons, but for this he still needs to be negotiated with.

Dracula Doesn't Live Here Anymore - Castlevania season 3 review

The names of vampires, as they say, with meaning. Moran’s name refers us to the Slavic goddess of winter and death (words such as “pestilence” and “wraith” are still consonant with him). Striga probably comes from the Romanian strigoi (“vampire”), and fans of The Witcher can draw parallels with striga: in Polish, this word also means a vampire-like monster. Well, Lenore brings back memories of the poem of the same name by Edgar Allan Poe.

Calm before the storm

Judging by the huge amount of dialogue, you might think that the original source of the Castlevania series is a visual novel, and not peppy side-scrollers about the confrontation between Dracula and the Belmont clan. There are practically no battles in the third season – only the final episodes please them. But a lot of time is devoted to chatter, all kinds of ranting about good and evil, about choosing one’s own path, about how cruel people are. At the same time, there is still a place for humor in the series – the characters sometimes tease each other, but mostly, of course, Sayf and Trevor are wisecracking.

In the past two seasons, we were also not spoiled with action scenes, but now, with even more episodes, the lack of bright and dynamic events is felt especially acutely. One can also feel the length of some non-combat scenes. Take at least the Isaac line. Throughout the season, he is filled with grim determination and moves from Africa to Europe to take revenge on Hector. A couple of times he has skirmishes with people, but most often he indulges in the same philosophical reflections.

Fortunately, in the last episodes of the third season, a second wind opens up, and you can’t take your eyes off the rapid denouement of events. These series are filled with action and everything that Castlevania is so loved by the audience – brutal battles and references to the original video games.

Dracula Doesn't Live Here Anymore - Castlevania season 3 review

It is unlikely that the alchemical symbol of sulfur on the bandages of the monks and the walls of the church should be considered as an allusion to the Brimstone Society from BloodRayne, but I simply cannot help but note such a coincidence!

All the colors of the rainbow

Despite the fact that in the third season of Castlevania there are enough characters and locations specially invented for the series, you can still see Easter eggs from the original source in it. The first thing that comes to mind is the monsters. Pretty standard for fantasy, the Minotaur and the werewolf often met in games. Brought into the show and much more unusual guests – flying Kagnazio from Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow and Malachy. This Cthulhu-shaped foe first appeared in Symphony of the Night and has since been seen more than once in subsequent installments. It’s funny that the name Cthulhu in the series went to another demon, which does not at all look like a Lovecraftian monster with a squid head. Effectively “lit up” in the adaptation and the Legion, a giant ball of human bodies.

Vigilant viewers noticed even the smallest details – for example, in the third season, Dante’s sword from Devil May Cry hangs on one of the walls. Even such a small reference pleases fans, as an animated series based on this slasher franchise is also in development at Netflix.

Of the much more noticeable parallels with games, it is worth mentioning the Count of Saint-Germain. This character, like Hector and Isaac, first appeared in Castlevania: Curse of Darkness. In the game, he was a kind of experienced traveler in time and space, wore a top hat and a red tailcoat. In the series, the image of the adventurer has changed a little, but is still recognizable.

Straight from the Curse of Darkness, the Infinite Corridor is one of the most impressive finds in Season 3. It connects various worlds with each other and opens up a huge scope for the scriptwriters’ imagination: now, if desired, the characters can be thrown literally at any place and time.

The success of the first two seasons of Castlevania has had a beneficial effect on the continuation: it looks richer and more detailed. Take, for example, the same Endless Corridor, in which 3D elements are so interspersed that it is simply impossible not to admire them. In the new season, there are more colors, backgrounds are painstakingly drawn, and focus and defocus are actively used in scenes.

There are no complaints about the voice acting either. The characters have amazing accents – the Slavic dialect of Striga especially sunk into my soul. I will also add that the eminent British actor Bill Nighy gave his voice to Saint-Germain. The involvement of such stars in the voice acting also indicates that the budget of the series continues to grow. The only pity is that, as in the first season, there is no music from the games in the new episodes.

***

The canon of the Castlevania series says that even if Dracula was killed in one part, nothing prevents him from returning as the final boss in the next – there will always be someone who wants to resurrect the bloodsucker. And although the third season of the series did without the intrigues of the main antagonist of the franchise, it is obvious that he will return to action.

It is also felt that we were shown only the beginning of the story, which has many more unexpected plot twists and new bright characters ahead. The Netflix series is moving further and further away from the original source, but at the same time retains a strong connection with it, combining both intrigue and a bunch of references.

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