I popped into the Castlevania animated series late in the game. I had a vague recollection of the videogames (none of which I was old enough to play for the longest of times) but, as a gal with a hankering for all things vampiric and Dracula-related, I eventually crawled my way onto the wagon and found myself swept away by the Castlevanian world. From relatable, funny, heartbreaking characters to its heightened stakes, the four seasons of Castlevania took me on a whirlwind journey that had me weeping once completed.
Now, fans can dust off the cobwebs and rise up from the grave with Netflix’s spin-off series, Castlevania: Nocturne. Loosely based on the games, Rondo of Blood and Symphony of the Night, fans – both new and old – can finally meet arguably the most famous Belmont of all – Richter.
1. Reimagined faves!
The previous four seasons of Castlevania already sold fans on embracing a spinoff series. So, there’s a lot of goodwill already. With Castlevania: Nocturne pulling inspo from two well-known games, this means we get to see some of our faves reimagined for the series. Pulling in Richter Belmont (Edward Bluemel), Maria Renard (Pixie Davies), and a completely reimagined version of Annette (Thuso Mbedu), the team over at Netflix has set the stage for awesome fights and stakes featuring this trio.
Where people may get a little dicey is wanting the characters to be exactly like they were from the video games. It’s 2023. Trust me when I say that sometimes characters don’t need to be a carbon copy of what they were in the source material. Cast your assumptions aside, sit down, and take in the new and improved versions of these characters. Particularly, Annette. This isn’t the damsel-in-distress you’re looking for.
One other character that gets reimagined is a pleasant surprise. This leads me to…
2. Orlox, just Orlox…
I’ll admit that I had to dust off the memory to remind myself who Orlox was after seeing the Castlevania: Nocturne teaser. While the character is sort of a blink-and-you-miss-it boss you’d encounter in Rondo of Blood, in Castlevania: Nocturne, at least based on the teaser, his presence is undeniable. Honestly, his impact just from the teaser alone positively radiates and snatches attention away from Richter. Shots fired!
Voiced by Zahn McClarnon, just hearing Orlox speak smoothly and calmly lets you know that he’s no one to mess with. Though, not poised to be a major baddie this season of Castlevania: Nocturne, there’s enough interest sparked from the teaser to make me want more and hope he plays a major role.
The question is how far will his character go? Will we get hints of the reptilian form he sheds into from the game? In terms of his personality, will they pull from the Kabuchi no Tsuisoukyoku novel? It’s too soon to say, but he’s not the only villain the gang has to worry about.
3. The Rise of the Messiah
The French Revolution is ongoing, stirring things up, and keeping our young heroes on their toes. However, something has stirred up the monsters in the area. And, as we’ve seen in the Castlevania: Nocturne trailer, all signs point to the rise of the Messiah, the one who will devour the sun and bring eternal night to the vampire populace.
While not mentioned by name in the trailer, the messiah in question is the legendary Erzsebet Báthory, and she’s almost godlike. Commandingly regal and statuesque, she’s the big baddie of the season. Anyone who can command and inspire legions of vampires to take on a cult-like mentality is honestly someone of major concern. I’d say girl boss goals, but this is a bit too extreme.
Supporting Báthory are swarms of vampires, including one vampiress that’s dressed to kill, seduce, and likely hit the top of cosplayers’ lists of characters to try to emulate. Both Báthory and her vamp squad are secret fashionistas, killing with style and flair. But where there are vampires, the youth aren’t too far behind trying their darnedest to keep the monsters from destroying life as they know it.
That means all the action sequences!
4. Lights, Camera & Action!
Listen. If you’re familiar enough with the games or the previous animated series, you know that the mention of Castlevania comes with the expectation of some fights. And, based on the Castlevania: Nocturne footage released thus far, we are IN for some beautifully executed, fluid, and gory fights.
Featuring some of the animation changes depicted in the final season of Castlevania, the movements are fluid, well-coordinated, and offer plenty of wiggle room to display the quickness of the action that takes place on screen. Whether it’s fighting with magic, a whip, or fists, there are plenty of fighting styles and foes to illustrate for audiences, and boy, does it look fantastic.
With animation, there’s a lot more that can be done to depict this fantastical world from the minds of Clive Bradley and Netflix. But animation, familiar faves, and frighteningly intriguing villains aren’t enough to make us invested. No, there’s just one more necessary ingredient to pull everything together.
5. A World Worth Rescuing
In a fight between good versus evil, there needs to be motivation. For our gang of heroes, surviving and aiding in the French Revolution to topple over the corrupt wealthy was the goal at first. They want to shape a world where everyone is equal, where no one is less than, or enslaved. However, confronted with the emergence of the vampiric Messiah, there’s more at stake. Humanity, the world at large, is up for grabs, and they may be the only ones able to do anything.
The vampires, though, are motivated by other means. Stuck in the shadows and forced into hiding, they are ready to create a world where there is no need to hide. The sun reminds them of the mortality they sought to rid themselves of. With the arrival of the Messiah, they can craft a world to their own needs. Endless night and free reign over humanity to gorge upon.
Both sides seek to shape a world to their ideals, creating something larger than the fight for good versus evil. The world hangs in a balance, and in Castlevania: Nocturne, there’s no telling who will come out on top. History, be damned.
With a series filled to the brim with potential for good, solid, and tense viewing, Castlevania: Nocturne is a must-add to your October viewing lists.