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I started seeing Castlevania every season that got out, and overall, I liked it! But there was something... weird about this whole deal, like a lasagna that you chew and think that there is something odd, but it's so wrapped in ham and pasta and cheese that you have a hard time knowing what it was...
Was it the writing? Nah, the harrowing tale of how a town is condemned to suffer because of the ignorance of the church and the apathy of the people under it, or how grief can be so maddening that destroys everything a good person stood for.
Was it the dialogues? Nope, Dracula talking with Isaac about the nature of trust is really good, and I dare you to not be touched by the "I'm killing our boy!" scene.
Was it the animation? Close, but no cigar. While the animation has its problems with flapping mouths, stationary characters and sometimes wonky scenes, it is known that the producing value is focused on the action scenes (which sadly took a hit on the third season but it still has quality).
The characters? My only problem is how Cypha keeps berating Trevor, insulting him left and right, but she isn't the focus.
Then the third season arrived, and it hit me.
The series is badly directed.
Warren Ellis is the beast behind the script, the story overall and the dialogues, but the brunt of it, pacing, selected scenes and combat is handled (as far as I know) by the director, and when you have a series with limited budged and episodes, you need to focus on essential scenes that will flesh out the characters as much as they can, right?
Then why waste seven minutes of screentime in a flashback for Godbrand that serves no purpose? I love the character, Peter Stormare is as awesome as garlic bread, but if the intent was break the monotony of the dialogues, you have a literal castle full of vampires in the middle of a war and a trio of vampire hunters. And it gets worse in the third season where there are five minutes for a character that is already dead!
Carmilla is painted as a genius schemer by the other vampires... five times. That's four times too many, and repetition such as this plagues other parts of the scenario eating precious time that could be used fleshing out characters. The party takes too long to act in a town that is obviously endangered for the sake of keeping things to the last episode, sure, the priests have numbers, but the militia has armor, experience and halberds, it would be such a one-sided fight it could belong to a one punch man episode.
Who the hell stops the middle of a climax fight to show sex scenes?! Where are the bows the militia used against the monsters? And while their fights were awesome, Cypha and Trevor say that they got each other's backs to... go fight individually and nearly die individually.
Honestly, I still enjoy the series and this actually shows that a good story can most of the times surpass a bad directing. I just hope things don't get worse in season 4.
I've not played a Castlevania game, but I've watched enough of them over my brother's shoulder to get the general gist. Borrowing heavily from Vampire Hunter D, Castlevania tells the story about how a medieval nation gets into Dracula's bad books by burning his wife at the stake. I don't know if fans will appreciate this anime-esque adaptation of the games, but I certainly didn't.
Right away, there seems to be some problems with the animation. Characters on screen only do one thing at a time - a character will stand stationery and flap their mouth to talk at a bunch of other stationery characters. Then he'll stop talking so that he can make a gesture with his arm. Whilst he does this, everyone remains motionless. Only when his gesture is done can he then continue talking to the still motionless room. It feels like watching an amateur try out stop motion animation for the first time, lacking the know how to coordinate multiple actions at once. As a result, every scene trudges along, with people saying and doing things very slowly. It's not helped by the writing either, as people will repeat redundant dialogue over and over again in some ridiculously exaggerated regional accent. Even in the show's best and most dynamic action scene, the hero Trevor Belmont starts lecturing to a vampire that he's a vampire that he must kill, whilst he is trying to kill the vampire (who is very obviously a vampire, whom he is very obviously trying to kill).
The characters are also badly conceived. Trevor Belmont is presented as generic prettyboy edgy anime badass No. 403, first introduced in a scene where he reluctantly enters and wins a bar fight with some nameless thugs. How scintillating. Other characters are the broadest, most one dimensional creations, such as the evil priest, the other evil priest, or the elderly evil priest. Even by the standards of the most childish and derivative anime going, they are offensively boring.
A better production would have made this an hour long episode to a much longer story, but instead we get four overly stretched episodes to a boring, unimaginative and uncool series that ends just as things barely get started. Just go watch a Vampire Hunter D movie instead - this thing is embarrassing to watch.
The first season of Netflix's Castlevania series, written and executive produced by veteran comic book writer Warren Ellis, was long-anticipated. But is it any good? Well, depends what you're looking for. On one hand, there's a lot of strong action and animation, memorable exchanges, humor, and lots of gore.
On the other hand, it also has a wildly inconsistent tone, weak character motivations, so much edge it gets cheesy, some bafflingly badly-written dialogue exchanges, and ham-fisted 'commentary' on the medieval Catholic church. It's a mix of moments of extreme cool mixed with a laundry list of annoyances.
We go from a gory massacre to a discussion about goat-fucking. Dracula is introduced in detail and given motivation before stepping away from the series so that the real antagonist can be a cartoonishly evil Church that poses no threat to the main character (this is after they're the instigation for the central conflict, burning Dracula's wife at the stake for witchcraft because she did science - because conflict thesis just will not leave our popular culture).
The season's fourth episode is easily its strongest, having the best pacing and action, but the season ends before any actual plot happens. It remains to be seen if the next seasons will improve on it.
As it is, it's a mixed bag, but at four twenty-minute episodes it's easy to knock out in a single binge-session and is a fairly low investment. Some viewers will enjoy the humor and action scenes, while others will be put off by the tonal problems and barely-contained author tracting.
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