Netflix Castlevania Series!!

I am definitely going to watch season 2 again soon, both because of the parts I liked and the parts I liked less. What I wish to address even now, before the clarity of a second viewing, is how the show balances its writing for fans of the games versus everyone else.

If the series used more than the so-far-only-one familiar Castlevania music track, if more familiar monster designs- and environmental shots were used etc then I would definitely be gushing more about this show. But I'd be gushing as a Castlevania fan and not necessarily as a fan of drama.

The way that Dracula was killed is a perfect example. If you've played the games, chances are you'll have this picture in your head of the main character (probably a Belmont) ascending the castle and defeating a dozen mythological beasts of immense power before finally traversing those last stairs to Dracula's throne room. You'll picture a crescendo of a heroic battle, of good vs evil, of Dracula transforming into a giant monstrosity, of the main hero triumphantly striking the final blow and the villain exploding while yelling AAAAAAAH and then the credits roll.

The video game fan in me did want that, yes. The gaming fan in me wanted Trevor Belmont to be more of THE hero and the one who ultimately slayed Dracula. The way that Trevor cuts off Dracula's head, when anybody could have done it at that moment, feels anti-climactic and runs contrary to my vision of the Belmont "legend".

But slaying Dracula in the style of the video games would be the obvious way out. Instead, they went for "love killed the beast". This appeals to the drama of the show, rather than video game iconography. I am not saying the latter wouldn't have worked but the former adds emotional intellect to the show. "Love killed the beast" is also thematically consistent with the very first episode of season one which established one core difference between the show and the video games: This Dracula isn't an insert-evil-caricature-here-for-a-final-boss 2D cut-out, this Dracula is an awful man who became afflicted with love and thus suffered very HUMAN pains.

I was actually expecting season 2 to show how, once Dracula's hordes had been released, Dracula became the two-dimensional villain we know from the games. After all, he did say in the very first episode "Kill for the endless lifetime of hate before me".

Eternity is a very long time though. Dracula spoke in foolish, temporary passion as season 2 shows us. Dracula spends most of the time depressed, hunched over, not caring and ultimately being suicidal for himself and the entire world. Ergo, the makers of this show decided to go the full length of making Dracula intensely HUMAN. For taking the more complicated route I think the writers and directors deserve much praise.


Now, there is of course a chance we could have our cake, eat it...and then have a second cake. In order for Castlevania Netflix to truly remain Castlevania, Dracula MUST be revived. Dracula always coming back to life is too much a part of his character not to include. The route I'd like to see is that the revived Dracula isn't the same as the original, with considerable memory loss and being more of the monstrous, two-dimensional force of nature that we know from the games. Dracula's personal, emotional arc is over and done with, after all. The villains and contexts of Dracula's revival will be where the writing is focused. I just really, really want to see a Belmont climb those iconic stairs, enter Dracula's iconic throne room and do battle with a giant monster. Even if only as a book-end to season 3, with the show jumping forward in time to show Simon Belmont encountering Dracula.


Short version: Castlevania on Netflix is a dignified adaptation of a video game franchise because they tip the scale ever-so-slightly more to quality writing- and drama than satisfying video game fans with familiar sights and scenes.

I obviously have more to say but I'll reserve some for after my second viewing.
 
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X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
I do have to say that when it comes to that particular conflict

I really liked how Gabe mentioned that they used the other generals to show how they're working as a team against something that's a proper threat, rather than minions, so that then they can push Dracula to the front, and show just how unbelievably terrifyingly overpowering he is by comparison. You get the SLIGHTEST hint of the power structure with the way that the, "LITTLE Godbrand." scene plays out when you see them face-to-face, but brilliantly, that's entirely verbal without and demonstration to keep the anticipation burning for it. You see him against humans, but he doesn't go beyond what the other Vampires had raiding the town. Then, when he is properly unleashed, you get a better sense of how and why he is who he is to them.

Insofar as Dracula's characterization, it makes sense with his S1 introduction that he's just tired of doing anything, as he mentions that he doesn't even stake people anymore, and he's massively apathetic and more of the people of Wallachia don't really believe he's even real. You have to understand why he wasn't just tearing everything apart all the time before this, and it's really that he's fucking tired of it all. We get to see hints of that with Carmilla's story (speaking of which, I'm quite excited to see how they use Carmilla).

When it comes to Dracula's death, I think that they got the best of both. Technically slain by a Belmont, but we also understand who Dracula really was as a person, and why NOW is when the armies of the darkness got raised up from the shadows, and the horrors were set in motion. The way that he saved Isaac, and his death as the massive smoke cloud of skulls really makes me think that everything with his resurrection / Death is gonna change the type of entity that Dracula is, insofar as his character's motivations.



X :neo:
 
The team behind Netflix Castlevania are quite active on Twitter. As you can see in the twitter link in X-SOLDIER's first post about the "wall chicken", the creators of the show acknowledge this discovery, saying that they'll give the person a signed poster as a reward.

Here are some Twitter links and easter eggs for those who have already watched season 2.
- Richard Armitage confirms that voice acting for Season 3 has already begun
Sypha's voice actress, Alejandra Reynoso, responds cheerfully in the comment section and has at the same time made her own post about 'recording in session'. It's great to know that work is already underway on season 3 which I am surprised that it's getting a whopping ten episodes.

- After every episode's ending credits there is a pixel art sequence.


We then have Adam Deats confirming that there are two variants to this pixel animation. Episodes 1, 2 and 4 end with Trevor using a leather whip.


In episodes 3 and 5 - 8 the Morningstar Whip is used for the post-credits sequence. Trevor does find the Morningstar Whip in episode 3 but in episode 4 we see the leather whip still attached to Belmont's side.

- Samuel Deats confirms the inspiration for Sypha's "Ice Needle" attack from episode 7. The character performing the spell is Charlotte Aulin from Castlevania: Portrait of Ruin. The character has similarities to Sypha and is, according to Koji Igarashi, related to the Belnades/Fernandez clan.

In the comment section to the same twitter post it is confirmed that the staff-wielding night creature is the priest who lost both his eyes in season 1. Nothing is said about if the other night creatures are meant to be made from familiar season 1 characters though my personal bet is that the Minotaur night creature was made from the brown-bearded priest who was killed by the mob at the end of season 1.

- Hector's necro-puppy "Cezar" is an homage to a pug owned by Samuel Deats and his wife. The pug died shortly before production of season 2 started.

- An interview with Spencer Wan who talks about how he entered the field of animation and how production differed between seasons 1 & 2 of Castlevania.
 
The texts read by the main characters in season 2 are taunting me. It's not beyond the realm of possibility that some secret message(s) is/are hidden in the show though it could all just of course be gibberish. Big images in the spoiler tags below.

S2E4, when there is 11m22s left of the episode.



The same seven rows of text are repeated across the scroll. It looks like the roman/latin alphabet turned more squiggly to give it a west-asian exotic look. The stylization is so heavy that it becomes ambiguous which symbols should be turned into which latin letters or if they belong to some different alphabet entirely.

In one attempt at typing out the letters this is what I get:
NAYSNA-MIXANNIMENN TIA
CANA OAPOYAATTOKON SOF
TNNAOYTAOYANCO-AAAAAAA
XOYPSOYAENAIMEAOYEITIN
KOCMOCICOAOTN TICYANEAAU

S2E6, when there is 9m51s left of the episode.



I haven't bothered with extensive color coding here but you can see how the rows of runes I've marked on the upper left region of the right page are repeated everywhere. You'll find many runes match real-life ones (and I found one rune that matched one of Tolkien's elven runes) but then there are runes that don't match ANY runic alphabet, whether real or fictional.

And I haven't even tried to decipher the crest on the left page!

Particularly in episode 5 you will see Sypha opening books and you'll see more examples of what are clearly runes. Then there is this instance from S2E5 (20m17s left of the episode), where we only briefly see the inside of the book but it looks like a different set of symbols compared to the rest.


Again these are all probably just gibberish but a background designer did bother with the "wall chicken" easter egg so it wouldn't surprise me if there are hidden messages to be deciphered as well.
 
NO LITH DON'T YOU SEE THEY ARE TRYING TO TELL US SOMETHING



<3 <3 <3

These characters never have their names revealed in the show. Their only lines are grunt noises so really anyone could be their voice actor(s).



- Samuel Deats's twitter post

This in fact highlights a limitation with the ending credits (and the intro credits to the first episode of each season) : The voice actors aren't linked to their roles so you have to find external sources (and/or go from your familiarity with said voices) to know who voices who.
 
Twitter posts where backgrounds from the show are shared:

Season 1

Season 2 - a
Season 2 - b
Season 2 - c

In these twitter posts we see how the cabinet with the vampire skulls was changed. Some skulls were turned slightly, while most notably the central skull was shrunk to baby size for dramatic shock value. This is what was used in the final product.

Background designer "Just Steve" says the following about this background and one way they planned to use it:


BEFORE



AFTER

They promise that more backgrounds will be shared in the near future. Looking forward to it!
 
Powerhouse Animations is uploading more Season 2 backgrounds to their facebook account than on their Twitter so don't forget to check that out.

Just watched a fan-made easter egg video, "27 Easter Eggs & References in Castlevania Season 2" (beware SPOILERS for all of Season 2 and some of the games). There are parts of the video I disagree with and dislike, but then there was this part...

...where he observes that the display cabinet objects and their ID numbers match up with the bestiary from Symphony of the Night. I had not caught onto how the enemies are lined up so perfectly with the in-game bestiary nor taken the time to draw conclusions for all the objects seen in the cabinet(s). This is quite awesome. He then analyzes some more of the objects seen in the library.
 

X-SOLDIER

Harbinger O Great Justice
AKA
X
I unabashedly love all of the crazy work that everyone put into this series, and really supporting the fans for engaging with it like this. It's just so overwhelmingly positive and exciting in all the very best ways. THIS is the sort of thing that defines what fandom really is to me.




X :neo:
 
Interesting context to reveal that Dracula
is the first vampire.
I was sorta hoping they would keep that question unanswered. We already knew a key difference between game lore and the Netflix version from season 1: That Dracula refers to Lisa as the only love he ever knew. This differs from Castlevania: Lament of Innocence where it's revealed that in the late 11th century "Dracula" became a vampire because of losing his wife Elisabetha.

While I have a soft spot for Lament of Innocence I do think that the Netflix story is better off for having Lisa be THE love of Dracula, rather than just the second one. With that initial dismissal of Lament of Innocence I did not dare expect any references to Leon Belmont but thankfully we got that anyway, much to my squee delight! But now with this new revelation about Netflix Dracula we see how the lore of the universes split even further from each other.
 
Adi Shankar says on his facebook post from December 22 ...
I wonder when we're going to recreate this moment

We already had the implication that the prophecy of the sleeping soldier is in fact referring to the events of Symphony of the Night, so this further shows where Adi Shankar wants to go with the Netflix show. Here's hoping they get that far in the timeline and perhaps further.
 
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