Netflix Castlevania Season 2: impressions?

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#1 Posted by mellotronrules (2615 posts) -

I gotta say- this show continues to be highly entertaining. It's clearly not the deepest of stories- but I'm continuously surprised by A) how metal and brutal it is, B) how entertaining the smart-ass banter between Alucard and Belmont remains, and C) how the show manages to give interesting motivations to its 'evil' antagonists (I'm thinking of the human generals here).

Bonus points:

-Peter fuckin Stomare (looking in your direction @alex)

-Season 2 Episode 7: an incredible fight sequence that will have specific significance to this website. SPOILER: we're going to BARKERVILLE.

Anyone else finding it as enjoyable as I am? I've one episode left and I really hope they intend to produce more.

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#2 Edited by Justin258 (15676 posts) -

I actually finished watching it the day it came out. I thought it was pretty great! It has some weird pacing issues and the heroes don't really do much of anything until it comes time to actually fight their way through the castle. It's a villain's show, really, and on the hero's side Alucard gets most of the focus while Sypha does some cool magic and Trevor is still a smartass drunkard.

I thought Dracula's characterization was great. Maybe not the most entertaining thing to see on the screen, but he is a complete and total subversion of everything you'd expect from the Dracula of the video games. He's not just a mustache-twirling villain, he's got a lot more depth than that, and in a way that shouldn't work but somehow does.

That episode 7 fight isn't significant to just the Giantbomb audience and fans of Vinnyvania. Bloody Tears is a recurring Castlevania theme and probably one of its most iconic musical pieces, perhaps only behind Vampire Killer. And I am so, so happy that they found a way to get it into this show. I thought it wouldn't make it, I thought it wouldn't fit with the tone they were going for and felt like it might not work with everything else they were going for in the soundtrack. But nope. That version of Bloody Tears and its use here was on-point. Perfect.

Anyway, episode 8 does finish off this story arc but also leaves things open for some more interesting stuff to happen. I poked around the internet a bit after finishing this show and a lot of people think that there will be a season 3 and it will be an adaptation of Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, a game which takes place three years after Castlevania III and covers the story of some dude named Hector who is out to defeat some dude named Isaac. Yeah, they'll probably significantly alter the plot of Curse of Darkness to the point where it's barely recognizable, or just use something else entirely.

In any case, if there is a season 3, I'd much rather see more focus on Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard, as all three of them happened to have a good dynamic going on there. Trevor's an immature smartass who cracks jokes all the time, Alucard is more straight-faced but isn't afraid to snipe back at Trevor, and Sypha keeps them in line. Which sounds like a really generic character setup but, much like everything else in Castlevania Season 2, it works way better than it should.

Anyway, I really enjoyed it and I'd suggest giving it a shot if you think you can handle how gory it is.

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#3 Edited by TechnoSyndrome (1614 posts) -

I liked this season but felt a bit let down. It felt like 90% of the season was dedicated to Dracula's underlings, while the Cv3 party spends 6 episodes just going to Trevor's basement and then hanging out. I understand the show isn't going to just be a 1:1 recreation of them going through the jungle level and then the clock tower level and then the boat level, but I feel like they could have done more with them, had them go through more to be able to stop Dracula than have Sypha find a spell in a book and then have Alucard do all the work against the big guy. And I feel like Trevor in particular was completely under-utilized, essentially his entire point in the season was just having access to a warehouse full of magical mcguffins. All three of them should have worked together in the end to be able to take down Dracula, rather than it essentially coming down to just Alucard. I enjoyed the show, but the ending to the first season felt like it was going to be the start of a huge adventure, and we just didn't get that.

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#4 Posted by Justin258 (15676 posts) -

@TechnoSyndrome: As far as Trevor being under-utilized - I feel like he did get plenty of action scenes to his name. He had to fight all those monsters that were coming into the library, did plenty while barging into Dracula's castle, and did get to do some damage against Dracula. I agree that Trevor didn't get much characterization outside of snarky commentary, which is kind of unfortunate. This season wound up being about Dracula and his grief more than anything else. I said this in the anime and cartoon thread about this show:

it is pretty depressing and sad (as you would expect from a tale exploring the pathos of a man who is out to commit genocide to avenge his wife and the son that's trying to kill his father to prevent said genocide).

I just don't think Trevor as the protagonist or the "main guy" really fits into this story. There were some token notions that he's sort of the leader of the group and that's fine, but when you have something as compelling and complicated as the relationship between Dracula and Alucard, you can't really focus on the rather generic "jerk who is actually a good guy when it counts" trope that Trevor falls into. If you do focus on Trevor, you're missing out on a vastly more interesting character arc. If I were a writer, I would find it downright impossible to focus on Trevor over Alucard as the hero of the story, especially since Trevor really got his own character arc in the first season.

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#5 Posted by AlKusanagi (1650 posts) -

No Grant Danasty. 0/5

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#6 Posted by jacksukeru (6785 posts) -

I´m a little unsure of how I feel about it.

On the one hand, I love how much they pull from the different games in terms of lore and characters, as someone who is still pretty up on that stuff, I thought that they used it well. On the other, I often felt like the show was lacking a direction, or just very uneven writing. There was half of an episode dedicated to showing the church coming to arrest Lisa, which was pretty much just showing us things that we had already been told about in season one, with no new information. Heck, all of the recognizable characters that showed up in that scene, save for the old woman, was already dead at that point. Then there was Godbrand taking with him a bunch of the other generals to raid a town, which I don´t remember leading to anything either, and likely won´t as they are also all dead by the end of the season. The heroes mostly hang out in a library until it´s suddenly time for the final battle.

I did enjoy a lot of what the villains were up to, though. Carmilla´s scheming, Dracula being sad and the two devil forgemasters backstories. Hector basically just got setup in this season, and not a lot of it so I´m really hoping that a third can deliver on him coming into his own. Meanwhile Isaac was definitely the stronger, more interesting character. I don´t remember a lot of about his character from Curse of Darkness, other than him looking different, but I´m very much looking forward to what he´ll be up to in the future.

Overall, I enjoy it because it´s Castlevania with a really cool style and more cohesive takes on its characters and lore than the games, and I´d definitely reup my Netflix subscription again if they make a third season. It´s not fantastic or anything, but it´s got some cool stuff going on.

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#7 Posted by Sarnecki (1354 posts) -

I gave this a try and Sabrina to get in the Halloween mood. I'm digging it way more than Sabrina, although to be fair to that well made show I'm not a 16 year old girl and not the demographic.

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#8 Posted by FrodoBaggins (2085 posts) -

Haven't watched yet but can't wait to, loved the first season and glad this is twice as long.

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#9 Posted by BabyChooChoo (7092 posts) -

My only issue was the sound design/editing was weird. For one, none of Dracula's generals or generic soldiers have any voice acting whatsoever which was really weird to me. They don't say a fucking word at any point. Now, normally, that wouldn't be so bad, but when you have them slaughtering innocents or fighting, it starts to stand out in a bad way especially when you have Godbrand yelling his ass off whenever he does anything.

Also, there were just straight-up missing sounds. When the priests are destroying Lisa's home, there are several points when they're just flinging shit all over the place and none of it is making any noise from the moment it gets hit to the moment it hits the floor/wall. Same thing happens in a few of the action scenes where there's just no sound on impact whatsoever. A head will get ripped off and blood will spray everywhere and there's just nothing.

And lastly, some of the character animation did not line up with the voice at all. It's most noticeable with Carmilla who at one point had her character screaming her ass off, but the voice was slightly raised at best.

I need to be clear. None of this ruined the show for me, but noticing it did kinda take me out of whatever scene I was watching for a split second.

Other than that, I loved it.

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#10 Posted by MezZa (3049 posts) -

Have only seen the first couple episodes, but the initial pacing seems a bit...slow. Lots of character buildup and exposition that will hopefully pay off more later.

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#11 Posted by soulcake (2811 posts) -

Was waiting for Season 2 glad they finally made it, can't wait to watch it all.

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#12 Posted by Gundato (294 posts) -

Loved season 1. Rewatched it on an international flight a few months back and it actually gets better on a rewatch

Binge watched the entirety of season 2 on Sunday (?):

Its... good. Not great, but good.

More detailed: Note, I won't be spoilering anything that (I remember) is bog standard Castlevania lore

I really enjoyed Trevor and Alucard's interactions. Its clear from their first scene that they have a very Tough Guy friendship with lots of playful teasing and mockery. Sypha felt like the straight (wo)man to their jackassery, but she had her moments as well.

That being said, I really enjoyed when they dug a bit deeper. The trip to the Belmont Hold was a frigging master class in character development. When we started S1 we knew Trevor had seen some shit, but the realization that Alucard had more of a childhood than Trevor was the exact right amount of sad. And Sypha, as a nomad, was a perfect addition to that as she never truly had a home and always defined her life by the people around her. People who she has grown away from. I love that they never needed to be explicit, but it was clear that we had three oprhans clinging to each other for stability. In their own, slightly broken, ways. And I loved that the series focused on Alucard as a man torn between two peoples rather than just the generic angsty douche he usually is. His genuine discomfort at Trevor's family's fetishization of hunting his own was great.

I also like that Sypha grew into her own. While she was kind of a badass in S1, she was also the damsel who was largely a summon for Trevor (did she even engage in the Alucard fight?). This time she is their heavy hitting glass cannon. And I felt her comic relief transitioned from petulant child (piss in his mug and call it beer) and more into a trope I can't think of the name for (not quite heroic sociopathy but with a similar sense of having a broken mind from so much power). "God hates me. See?" (paraphrase) was great.

The Sypha/Trevor relationship felt shoehorned in though. I can't help but think the plan was to stretch this out a bit more, but things like Grant and pacing issues cut out the middle arc. The only reason they seemed to have any meaningful chemistry was because it is Known that they get together, and it felt like they went from "you're my friend" to "Let's allude to banging" very quickly.

And if Dracula stole both seasons largely on the back of s01e01, Alucard is primed to do the same for Season 3 (which is effectively confirmed by Armitage). I pretty much hate Alucard in the games (which is a shame as Symphony is amazing) because he is a generic angsty douche with no real motivation other than "my dad is evil". Netflix Alucard actually has motivation and seems torn between his love for his father and his need to protect his mother's world. And the realization that he is, at most, a teenager (which kind of makes sense because of Lisa's age when she died) justifies a lot of the brooding.

Fight scenes, as always, were great. I love that each character got their own style and am further happy that Grant didn't make an appearance. Trevor continues to be focused on acrobatics and using the whip more as a mobility tool. Sypha was probably one of the best depictions of magic-based combat in media (to be fair, the bar is REALLY low). Alucard simultaneously using his telekinesis to control his sword while punching and kicking people was great. And Dracula reminded me a lot of a Wolverine-style character that just face tanks everything while relying on his strength to survive and his power to kill anything he touches.

Isaac gets special mention for feeling very primal and aggressive. If (season 1) Trevor was Officer Rama in The Raid with a focus on acrobatics punctuated by really brutal strikes, Isaac is The Raid: Redemption's Rama with a focus on just straight up brutality as a way to survive.

Which brings us to the ending: I like that, barring Trevor/Sypha's relationship upgrade, it very much built on the earlier themes. It is a low bar, but far too many shows/animes/movies really cash in on that kind of groundwork and tend to just leave it as a nice scene for people to reference. Trevor realizing he was just as much of a nomad as Sypha and trusting Alucard, who is a boy in need of a home, with his own was touching. The same with Sypha pointing out that Trevor needs to be A Belmont to function and that it truly brings out the best in him. And, while I doubt this will be the case, I would love if Sypha's ongoing desire to right the wrongs of the world through magic leads her down a dark path. Especially as, with Dracula dead (pending Death), there is no real shades of grey villain anymore. Speaking of, where the fuck was Death?

Careful eyed readers will note I barely talked about what was probably over half of the season: The Vampire Court. Quite frankly, I disliked it. Stormare aside, everyone felt generic. Even Jaime Murray felt like she was phoning in Carmilla. And she managed to turn frigging HG Wells into a vamp, so clearly something went horribly wrong. That would be like Stormare portraying someone who seemed perfectly sane and normal and not at all creepy or evil.

Hector (interesting reference there) was okay, but he just felt more stupid than anything else. Isaac was a more interesting character, but his portrayal as a dogmatic minion really took away any chance of his personality driving things. And while Carmilla's performance was shite, her character was generic Starscream.

And even Dracula took a hit this season. I like the idea that his war was an act of murder-suicide, but it never really dwelled on that and most aspects of that were Told, not Shown. How many times did Carmilla or GODBRAND!!! need to say "So.. .does anyone really think this plan is going to lead to enough surviving humans to sustain us?". Obviously I am a genius who knows everything, but I would have loved another Dracula Episode that showed him recruiting Hector and Isaac and maybe even showing his motivation waver during his war with humanity.

Overall, Vampire Court aside, I liked it. And I'm looking forward to Season 3. The fact that Armitage is still involved suggests we might be seeing a Simon's Quest adaptation. Or they'll just have him voice all Belmonts. Similar to how Basco voiced Zuko's descendent.


And, because I positively love the "meta" aspect of TV and movies (I think I watch Game of Thrones more to predict what that means for the books than out of any enjoyment of either): My working theory is that they got the larger episode order while they were still writing season 2. After realizing there was no way to make Grant "serious" his combat style was folded in to Trevor. And when they realized that repeating the season 1 arc (enter town, protect town, move on) would hurt pacing, they needed filler. And, because everyone loved Dracula, we got more Dracula in the form of The Vampire Court.

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#13 Posted by Jurck (51 posts) -

I shouldn't be disappointed, since I didn't like the first season much either, but I am. At this point I'm only continuing to watch the series with the justification, "There's only three more episodes, might as well see it through."

As someone who only played the NES, GBA, and DS games, I don't see any connection between the show and the games. The names Dracula, Carmilla, Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard, sure, but beyond that, nothing. The humor is completely off-mark; I want to see the characters fight knock-off horror movie villains and go to a bar under Dracula's castle that's tended by a skeleton. Instead Trevor and Alucard cuss at each other back and forth as if that's funny. The story feels like it's focused almost entirely on Dracula and his lieutenants, which has failed to endear them to me at all. I feel like I'd prefer to see more of the heroic trio, but the snippets we do get for them are boring; instead of going on a grand adventure they've just been sitting in a vault for three episodes. And Trevor and Alucard are almost as despicable as the villains. The small references to the games I have noticed are inconsequential or differ from the source material.

Doing my best to put my disappointment as a Castlevania fan aside, the show exhibits a lot of pet peeves of mine: With each scene, the dialogue seems to get quieter, so I find myself turning up the volume every few minutes until something loud happens and I have to turn it back down. A lot of characters speak almost entirely in grumbly monotone (not helping the volume issue), which makes it even harder for me to get invested since there's a lot of talking. The end result is that I'm only interested in the action scenes at this point (never a good sign coming from me) and of course I take issue with those, too: They've so far all been entirely one-sided and excessively violent. No investment in the action because it's obvious from the start who's going to win and extreme gore has never been selling point for me.

Though the name suggests otherwise, it's just not for me.

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#14 Posted by ATastySlurpee (676 posts) -

I watched the first season back when it came out, liked it. Honestly cant tell you anything about it though other than it was only 4 episodes. I will have to rewatch the first season again

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#15 Posted by burncoat (559 posts) -

It was fantastic.

It has some of the best choreographed and animated fight scenes I've ever seen. I love the banter between all the characters. I was really glad how they handled Dracula as not just some evil monster, but as a whole person with motivations and failings.

There's so much they can do in the future with the series as there's so much Castlevania lore to pull from and I'd love if they didn't try to adhere too strictly to the videogame canon. What I would like is if this becomes an ongoing thing, we might get an animated version of the events of 1999 that we never see in the games.

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#16 Edited by mellotronrules (2615 posts) -

not sure if someone else mentioned it already, but:

looks like they got the green light for season 3!

i'm thrilled! i also thought the conclusion was very tastefully done (while leaving plenty for future episodes). that sobbing at the end- genuinely touching, and impressive given the first season basically is a heavy metal record album cover that's been animated.

@justin258 thanks for that link/info on Bloody Tears! I'm largely a Castlevania rube, so I had no idea it was such a consistent theme throughout the series. And yes- knowing that, I feel it was very tastefully done!

this whole business has inspired me to finally play through SotN for the first time. I bought it on 360 ages ago as a bucket-list goal- I feel like I finally have the momentum to get it done now.

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#17 Posted by Relkin (1199 posts) -

Just finished it earlier tonight. Wonderful, just wonderful. Some of the folks here have already said a lot of what's on my mind, so I won't bother writing it all out. I had a fucking blast with this season, and I'm very excited for whatever they do next.

The one negative thing I have to say about it, though, is about the music. It was specifically when that rendition of Bloody Tears came on in the seventh episode that I found myself asking, "Why isn't this show full of arrangements of Castlevania songs?" Man alive, it's not like they're short on amazing soundtracks to pull from. This was a problem with the first season as well; whoever is in charge of the music in this show needs some direction. I'm going to watch episode seven over again. What a phenomenal set of fight-scenes. Absolutely fantastic.

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#18 Posted by Isslander (72 posts) -

I didn't mind the slow burn, especially since it came together in an absolutely mental final battle.

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#19 Edited by mezmero (3763 posts) -

I watched the new season over the weekend. Generally speaking I'd say I definitely liked it. However it has fairly noticeable faults. I'll spoiler block so I can speak of the story and production freely.

First off I was stoked to see them rope in some of the Curse of Darkness fiction. I've not played the game but I was aware of the character of Hector and was kind of blown away to see him. I also liked that it references Leon Belmont from Lament of Innocence and even has a dapper portrait of him. Judging by the redesign of Issac and where the story ends this season I can't help but wonder if they consolidated the characters of Issac and Shaft to make for a better story down the line. Necromancers have been an important part of the lore and Devilforgers seem like they could also fulfill that role. As cool as Devilforging as a concept is it does lead to some confusion with Dracula's actual military strength. In this season the army he spent a year summoning from hell seems to have disappeared and Drac has mobilized the Vampire aristocracy and employed Devilforgers to recycle the dead. So was that hell army doing night raids completely destroyed when they were repelled one time in the first season? Also why do the Vampire aristocracy seem so inept?

This show has a bunch of issues with directing. I would describe so many scenes as "gratuitous". That's not just referring to the action or violence, it's with most things. If you ever wondered how long it could take for someone to open a chest or barricade a door or question Dracula's resolve this show has got you covered. Don't get me wrong, I can take the sweet voice of Peter Stormare all day, but why is this scene of Dracula browbeating him not finished already? So many times watching this I was asking myself "Why has this scene not ended by now?" or "Why is this scene even here?" The dialogue between characters is pretty dry across the board and is delivered without much feeling from the VAs. Even if it was done well most of the things actually being said aren't very interesting. Perhaps the only bit of dialogue I liked was Carmilla verbally castrating everyone else and even that is somewhat ruined by random F bombs thrown in just cuz. The sound design seems like it's full of problems though the music seems somewhat better than the first four episodes thanks mostly to the inclusion of some classic tracks from the games.

Despite all these complaints I know all too well just how bad video game cartoons can be and honestly this is easily one of the best adaptations made in the past several years. So for as dry and gratuitous as a lot of it comes across even the newest Castlevania GAMES haven't handled the fiction of the series this well. The end of this story is open ended enough that I'd certainly be interested in seeing more especially since Konami's doing nothing with this IP.

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#20 Posted by SkullPanda1 (1625 posts) -

I had a fun time watching it all the day it came out.

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#21 Posted by Vortextk (944 posts) -

Watched it. Liked it. Wish the heroes did a bit more in the library or before they got to the library. Wish the vampire court did more besides Carmilla. Wish a lot of things were slightly different. I'm good with the current day swearing; I like it.

Hearing Barkerville in the show? That was fucking good.

In my eyes, it's one of the best video game adaptations ever. It's not without flaws, but is truer to the source while also being good for something on it's own more than almost any other adaptation and especially the big expensive video game movies.

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#22 Posted by inkerman (1520 posts) -

I liked it, not as much as the first though. I've never played a Castlevania game or watched Vinny play it, so I know basically nothing about the actual story/lore. I feel like this one was less brutal than the first, and the inclusion of the other vampire generals seemed mostly unnecessary. At the very least the focus on Godbrand seemed ultimately pointless, but the human servants' backstories were at least interesting. For the amount of time they spend in that library/basement, I wanted more character development with the heroes.

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#23 Posted by Pilgrimm1981 (160 posts) -

I liked it a lot. Wasn't perfect by any means, but I really like how they take the original concept and give it their own spin. I'll definitely be checking out season 3 as well.

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#24 Posted by FlashFlood_29 (4446 posts) -

It's out? It's finally out? Gosh, I've really been out of the loop. Been waiting for this.

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#25 Posted by sammo21 (5974 posts) -

I really enjoyed the season but the war council focus made the season sometimes feel like anime filler. I wish we had more time with the protagonists or got some backstory/time with the Belmont's history. I loved the Lament of Innocence references and episode 7 is probably one of my favorite scenes in anime in years. The voice acting is top notch, the general story direction was great, and the animation was also good. The season would be a 9/10 or 10/10 for me but the war council focus and lack of focus on any of the heroes really drug the season down into closer to something like 7/10 or something. Still good.

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