First a disclaimer: I have not played a Castlevania game in my life, so I have no idea how accurate this is compared to the game series. Like always all I care about is a good story.
The Netflix series is about Dracula who after his wife Lisa is burnt alive for ‘witchcraft’ (which is actually medical science Dracula showed her), releases the forces of hell to wipe out all humans. During the start of this genocide, down on his luck Trevor Belmont, a former monster hunter travels to the city of Gresit which becomes besieged with demons.
Unfortunately the story for this show is very weak. The romance between Dracula and Lisa is literally non-existent. We only see Lisa meet Dracula, then next scene she’s being burnt at the stake by the church. The members of the church are all terrible, anti-science people which comes across as extremely shallow. Trevor is a somewhat interesting character in the fact that he’s a pretty cynical, burnt out character but it’s nothing that hasn’t been seen before.
There’s a group called The Speakers, who only recall history orally. I’m sorry but this comes across as very impractical and silly. Humans have been recording history using pictures since we lived in caves. I also couldn’t find any record of this group being in the games so if it’s an addition to the Castlevania universe it’s a poor one.
A lot of the humour is very childish, with plenty of quips and slapstick. In a lot of ways I feel children would love this show if it wasn’t so violent and profane. That’s fine, but using gore and swearing to make your show ‘adult’ comes across as extremely immature, especially considering there’s no real interesting themes or dialog.
That being said it’s not all bad. The fights are by far the most entertaining aspect of the show. The final episode was certainly the highlight for battles, especially the scene where Trevor instructs survivors on how to deal with the demon menace. The only fight I didn’t like was the one between two violent monks and Trevor which starts off as a slapstick-ish fun, until Trevor rips out a monk’s eye with his whip.
The animation also seems pretty good to me, but I don’t watch a lot of anime so my ability to compare this to other, similar looking material is extremely limited. I also appreciate the brutality of some of the combat, even if it did clash tonally with what was going on.
Finally, I do think the second season has potential. This isn’t a complete trainwreck and as the second season will be much longer, it will have time to expand on story elements. I wish Dracula and Lisa’s romance had been explored in more detail, and that the church weren’t just black and white villains.
Overall I’d struggle to recommend this show unless you really enjoy Castlevania. In a lot of ways it feels like a show for kids, but at the same time it’s extremely violent. A lot of story elements aren’t explored in any real detail and character motivations are very simple. That being said there’s light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully the second season is better. You certainly could do a lot worse for video game to film adaptations.