The Castlevania Netflix anime series became very popular because of its gorgeous animation and mature handling of the franchise that inspired it. The first seasons of the show gave a new look into a classic video game franchise that was one of the cornerstones of action games, with a deep rich lore that fans loved to follow. And while this spinoff continues the Belmont legacy, it doesn’t manage to hit the same high points. Castlevania Nocturne still looks and sounds great overall, but its story is less impactful than its predecessor managed to be. But things only seem to be getting started with this new story, for better or worse.
Castlevania Nocturne takes place hundreds of years after the events of the previous season. The Belmont legacy has continued on with Richter Belmont being the next in line to uphold the family name. He hunts down vampires and other monsters with his sister-like companion Maria Renard in France, while the cloud of the French revolution looms over people who live there. Dark things begin to happen as more vampires gather within the area heralding the arrival of their savior, a vampire woman who fancies herself as a god. Teaming up with some unlikely allies, Richter and Maria must stop the growing threat before it unleashes the apocalypse on mankind.
The first season of Castlevania Nocturne has a lot of focus on the many side characters and their stories, despite Richter Belmont being the main selling point of the series. While Richter does have an impact on the overall plot, it feels like much of the time spent in each episode is used to flesh out every other character around him. And while in some cases this works well, in others it feels like wasting a lot of time drifting off on tangents instead of further developing the main plot. Characters like Maria are good to have subplots in progress parallel to Richter’s story, but there are many others that the series tries to give the same treatment. And in the end, it feels crowded.
Much of this is further hammered down by some of the creative decisions made for various characters from the original source material. Castlevania Nocturne takes a lot of inspiration from Castlevania: Rondo of Blood and Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, as well as a few other spinoff games. But the majority of things it pulls from them are changed significantly or lightly mentioned.
Certain characters from Rondo of Blood and other games are heavily changed to something completely different from their video game counterparts, to the point that they feel like entirely new characters instead of who they are supposed to be. Another big difference is how Dracula is hardly mentioned in the season at all, which seems like a weird choice for a Castlevania-related story. Even in the games where Dracula isn’t the main antagonist, his presence and relevance are still felt throughout since it’s the struggle between Dracula and the Belmonts that make up the core of the Castlevania series.
All that being said, the animation and sound design of the show is still fantastic with its presentation. The battles that happen look awesome, with a lot of great action shots for each character that engages in battle. Both the heroes and villains we meet get multiple moments to showcase their powers and look spectacular in motion, even in the most gruesome sense. There are a lot of nods to the powers and attacks that some characters have in the games, and they look really good when given the anime treatment.
If you’re a big fan of the Castlevania games, you’ll be able to point out specific attacks you may be very familiar with. There are even a few music tracks that are remixes of classic tracks from Rondo of Blood that sound amazing, even though you only hear them for a very brief time. Both the original Castlevania series and Castlevania Nocturne could definitely benefit greatly from having more classic tracks from the games reimagined for the series.
Unfortunately, this season is only eight episodes and ends on a pretty big cliffhanger. While many Castlevania fans will be excited about who shows up and what will come next, the ending of the final episode of the season isn’t a great bookend. It almost feels like Castlevania Nocturne ends right at the point when it’s about to fully embrace its inspiration and kick into high gear.
It would’ve been so much better to get to the point where the season ends much earlier and spend more time with the characters in their element as they match up more to how they are in the games. The stakes are definitely high by the time the season finale ends, but it’s a shame there wasn’t another episode or two to give a stronger sense of a conclusion before setting up for what is next.
Castlevania Nocturne definitely gives fans more of the best aspects of the original anime series, but with a new cast and story to follow. Although the story isn’t paced as well as the previous one, the animation in Nocturne is still enough of a spectacle for everyone to check out and enjoy. It will be interesting to see if the next season of the show brings more faithful elements from the games, especially Symphony of the Night, to round off the story it’s trying to tell. It might allow the series to end off completely on a better note than what the first season does. If you’re a big fan of the franchise, then you’ll still have something to really love in here despite the few setbacks.
What do you think of Castlevania Nocturne? Are you a big fan of the games? Who is your favorite Castlevania character? Talk about everything related down below in the comment section!
The presentation of this series is great, with very cool looking animation and sound design. However, the story is not as well-paced or thought out as its predecessor. A lot of time is spent on side stories, rather than the main hero and overarching story of the series. While there is a lot of inspiration from the Castlevania games, there are heavy changes made to certain characters that make them completely different. The cliffhanger ending may excite some fans, but doesn’t do well to round off the season in favor of setting up what comes later.
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