Castlevania: Bloody fun, but…

Quick disclosure, I’ve never actually played Castlevania and all I know about it is that Dracula’s being a dick to people, the Belmont’s are the only people who can kill demons/Dracula and that I really want to play Symphony of the Night. So when I caught wind of this new Castlevania anime I was intrigued, then people started going nuts about it and I became wary. See when something get’s really popular in an instant it makes me more cautious than excited. Because normally when something new comes out and gains a massive popularity spike and is so popular that every man, woman, child, old lady, small dog and cadaver is either a fan of the show, dressed up as one of the characters en mass, or act like a disciple that has to spread the holy word of this series only to later find out that the story is shit, the protagonist is a prat and the plot is strung together about as gracefully as a noose around my neck I start to question if there’s been an outbreak of the stupid virus. I realized that this phenomenon would occur more often than not so naturally I decided to call this the “Sword Art Online Stigma” or “SAO Stigma” for short, to remind me that just because a bunch of people like something, doesn’t mean it’s good. But I should clarify that I actually enjoyed Castlevania and that it shook off the SAO Stigma faster than I can shake off rose-tinted glasses. Of course Castlevania has a few problems, one of them a major problem but I’m in far too good a mood to dwell on that for now so let’s get invested about bloody sweet animation and revenge.

Our story opens up in the European country of Wallachia. I heard that they were originally  going to have it be in Transylvania but then the development team realised that’d a hair too obvious. A young woman named Lisa finds her way to Dracula’s castle and asks to learn  the sciences to be a doctor that can save lives. In return of Dracula letting her use his knowledge she’ll help Dracula learn that humans aren’t that bad and are good-by nature. Soon Lisa and Dracula fall in love, get married, have a quaint little cottage in the woods and Lisa is burned at the stake by the church on suspicions of being a witch. So much for that whole “humans are good” thing she tries to get across. When Dracula learns of his wife’s demise he gives the people who roasted her one year to pack up and leave the country or else he’d release an army from Hell to kill them all. One year past and not only are the inhabitants still there but they’re throwing a festival in celebration of burning Dracula’s wife, at this point these people and the church are just fucking asking for it. So of course Dracula releases his night hoard to kill all humans and frankly I don’t blame him. Normally if you want to have Dracula do something evil in a story you don’t have to give him a ton of motivation to do what he does, he’s fucking Dracula. He could kill a whole country just because he was bored and I really wouldn’t be too critical of his character. But they actually humanized Dracula and the fact that he blames himself first for being unable to save his wife because he was traveling like a human; on foot and very slowly, is actually pretty sad and Dracula going back to being a prince of darkness out of rage towards the humans that killed the only “good one” is not only believable, it’s expected. I recall quite a few people going crazy with glee that the series has blood and gore in it, the way they were describing it made it seem like this was a porno specifically made for Jeffery Dahmer and yes there is plenty of blood and guts. I mean the skies start raining blood before Dracula’s monsters rip people to shreds, but Castlevania knows the age-old saying of “too much of a good thing is bad” because the gore part of “blood and gore” is used sparingly, with gore only showing up when demons are fucking people up, which makes it all the more special to see.

After the slaughtering we transition to a tavern where we overhear the most charming story involving a man shagging a goat we’re then introduced to our protagonist Trevor Belmont, the last son of the house Belmont, a family that has a history of hunting demons and vampires for generations who may very well be the winner for anime protagonist who gives the least amount of fucks yet is still a great character. Now some of you who read my review of Ajin may remember how much I hate the main character Nagai. Seriously, I honestly can’t say how much I hate Nagai, there isn’t a word in the english language that comes close to describing the seething  hatred I have for him. I wish Dracula’s army would tear him asunder for all eternity that’s how much I hate him but I digress, because Nagai is also a character that gives zero fucks about anything. So what sets Trevor Belmont aside from and above Nagai? Well it’s actually rather simple, one of the reasons is that Trevor is actually likable. When we first meet Trevor he gets caught up in a bar fight because the people at the tavern blame the Belmonts for the country going to shit and Trevor keeps trying to slyly slip out until he gets kicked in the bollocks and then he switches on the ass kicking, sarcastic and cocky aristocrat that sticks with us throughout the series. I think the quote that sums up Trevor’s badass-ness is when he says “I’m Trevor fucking Belmont. and I’ve never lost a fight to man, nor fucking beast!” I don’t know about you but I loved Trevor from that point forward. You know in a way Trevor reminds me a lot of Joseph Joestar from Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure part two. Because Joseph is also an ass kicking, sarcastic and cocky person with an aristocratic heritage and a family history of fighting the supernatural. But while Joseph relies on quick thinking and a shit ton of luck, Trevor relies on his experience and skill. We see Trevor show us that he’s a completely competent fighter who can stay cool under pressure and doesn’t rely on much or any luck at all.

After a night in the woods he comes across the city of Gresit and catches Dracula’s monsters leaving the city after a night of slaughtering and  baby eating. I’m not kidding, literal baby eating. I’m actually a little shocked that they chose to show that to the audience, I mean I get that it makes sense that demons would eat babies but it’s pretty bold to show us that. He learns that the church and  the townsfolk blame a group of wandering magic users called Speakers for Dracula’s attack on their city. In another one of Trevor’s awesome-ness scenes he saves the Speakers’ elder from two corrupt priests and does so by whipping a stave out of the priest’s hand and cutting off a finger in the process and apologizing that he just meant to snatch the stave out of his hand and asks him “how’s your finger?” Not gonna lie, I had to pause the episode I was laughing so fucking hard. After Trevor warns the priests to just walk away before it gets nasty and then effortlessly taking the eye of the priest that wouldn’t listen to his warning, the elder insists that Trevor meets his fellow Speakers. Trevor tries to convince the Speakers to leave but the Elder refuses because his grandchild went missing under the city and he won’t leave her behind, Trevor makes a deal that if he finds his Grandchild they would leave the city. Another reason Trevor is superior to Nagai is because he’s redeemable. He comes off at first as a cold bastard with little to no compassion, but he helps the Elder from being beaten by the priests and even makes a deal to save on of their own so they can leave the city and get to safety.

In the Catacombs of the city Trevor encounters the grandchild turned to stone by a cyclops and after a pretty sweet display of Trevor’s monster hunting skill he meets Sypha Belnades, grandchild of the elder and magic lady who ventered into the catacombs in search of the “sleeping solider,” I great warrior said to aid the people of Greist in their darkest time. After returning the girl to the Speakers Trevor is summoned by the bishop of the city, who just so happens to be the same bishop who ordered Dracula’s wife killed and tells Trevor to leave the city by sundown and be spared from the mob he’s sending to kill the Speakers and Trevor basically tells him to go fuck himself. Trevor hides the Speakers in the catacombs and confronts the priests leading the mob. after escaping into the city Sypha appears and reveals to be a very powerful magic user and aides Trevor in his fight. He then reveals to the town that the clergy, not the Speaker’s are responsible for Dracula’s assault on the town. Don’t worry demons kill the bishop in such delicious irony as Dracula’s army attack the town. We then see Trevor’s experience and expertise in demon hunting. He organizes the town to fight off the demons with Sypha’s help. This is another similarity Trevor shares with Joseph Joestar. When Joseph fights we see his thought process, we see how he plans to make an attack on his enemy, Trevor does the same and gives us an action scene that we feel apart of. Then the ground collapses under Trevor and Sypha and they’re sent down into the deep submerged catacombs of Dracula’s castle. How did they fall into Dracula’s castle? Don’t know, not really revealed either. I suppose the hole they fell down was what they call a “plot-hole.” traveling deeper and deeper they discover the sleep solider; Dracula and Lisa’s son Alucard who was recovering for a whole year after his last encounter with Dracula. After a brief fight Alucard realize Trevor and Sypha’s potential and agrees to help them defeat Dracula. Wait a moment. A main character that’s similar to Joseph Joestar, a mysterious lady with great skill and ancient knowledge like Lisa Lisa, and a blond pretty boy who butts heads with the hero like Ceasar Zepoli? And the title “Castlevania,” if you re-arrange the letters, take some out and add some more in it spells “We based this off Jojo part two.” Don’t get me wrong if you wanna base your characters off Jojo part two then go right ahead I fucking love part two but this might be a little on the nose. But I don’t really care about that cause at this point I was so pumped. I remember saying “Oh fuck yeah! Good going KONAMI you finally did something useful with your life! Bring on the next episode!” then Castlevania made an awkward cough and shuffled towards the door. Then I read the first four words of  episode four’s description “In the season finale…” What?! Season finale? The entire first season is only four episodes? Fuck me running, what the hell kind of season ends after four episodes? Even FLCL had a whopping six episodes for its’ first season. So after a fun rollercoaster ride stopping abruptly I’m left with blue balls the size of hippity hops and wondering who I should be pissed off at the most. Netflix? KONAMI? Both? I’m leaning more towards KONAMI because they love to dick their fan base over for Pachinko machines, but that’s neither here nor there. In short yes I liked Castlevania and yes I recommend. But don’t get too attached because again, hippity hops.

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