Back in February I reviewed Castlevania, season 1. It’s high time to move onto season 2. I’ll leave my warning upfront and center for anyone who’s made it this far.
Castlevania is not for kids. Don’t let the animation fool you. There is extreme gore, violence, innuendo and mature themes.
And, I still think it’s amazing. All the elements that make up my favorite stories are in here so I’m certainly going to continue watching.
At the end of season one we left Trevor Belmont and Sypha Belnades in the aftermath of a massive battle between Dracula’s forces and the people of Gresit. During the battle, the two of them fall into deep catacombs beneath the city and find Adrian Tepes, who is the half vampire son (also known as a dhampir) of Vlad Dracula Tepes and his wife Lisa.
Adrian, now known as Alucard (which is dracula spelled backwards) fights Trevor and Sypha to test them before joining them to challenge Dracula and stop him from wiping out all mankind.
Season two follows their journey and also steps back to fill in the gaps left by season one. We see details on Lisa’s arrest and subsequent execution – the reason why Dracula has become incensed and feels driven to make the world of men pay. We also see Dracula’s world and the political forces within it, including a few human necromancers who create the undead army of grotesque creatures. This is important, because not only is this a fight between Dracula’s forces and the world, but there is also plenty of tension between the vampires and the necromancers.
Meanwhile, Trevor, Alucard, and Sypha return to Trevor’s destroyed childhood home and uncover the massive secret underground library which contains the answers about how they can possibly stop Dracula’s forces, as well as several specialized monster hunting weapons.
All of this leads up to several heated conflicts and battles. Several of Dracula’s vampires have agendas of their own, and will stop at nothing to see them through. There is an attack on another city as well as a showdown at the Belmont Estate where undead creatures work to eliminate our three heroes.
We end the season with a epic vampire battle between Alucard and Dracula, the outcome of which changes everything.
Where many second seasons suffer from a lack of focus and a sense that the writers never planned on continuing the story, Castlevania flourishes. All the hectic story building in season one slows down and we finally get to see things happen at a much more reasonable pace. When there needs to be a flashback, it’s satisfying and fits into the story in a way that enriches the experience instead of distracting from it.
The complexity of the plot is Castlevania’s two-edged sword. People are going to love it or hate it because of just how many storylines are running amok. This complexity comes from the massive cast of important characters, all of which have relevant backstories that need to be explored to make the decisions they are making in the present make sense. This means lots of flashbacks to build up these stories. Some might feel this slows down the story and the action too much and takes away from the good parts of the story that’s unfolding in the present.
For me, it makes the conflict all the more interesting and meaningful. No one in this story is a mindless puppet. Each one carries an emotional wound that they are desperately working to heal in often the most dramatic way possible. In a way, Game of Thrones tried to do the same thing. Each kingdom had an agenda and the viewer spent lots of time learning the motivations behind them. Where GOT fell short was not fulfilling any of those agendas even in a clever way. No one in GOT found satisfying closure to their stories, which is why everyone hated the end of season eight.
For Castlevania to be successful, each character with an agenda needs to end up with what they deserve and it needs to be a poetic twist on what they wanted.
While season one seemed to delight in shocking the audience, season two made up for it by adding additional depth. There is still plenty of gore and violence, but it now feels balanced to what the story is trying to accomplish.
This one is for high school aged viewers and up. Period.
I give Castlevania, Season 2, 5/5 stars for it’s depth of story, stunning art, and complex characters.
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