Review: ‘Castlevania’ Season 3

There sure is something about vampire-themed animated shows that stirs me. Perhaps they awaken memories of an era where video stores would be filled with OVAs of graphic yet scintillating anime like ‘Hellsing’. Back then, anime rarely surfaced on the big screen; at least not in most Western countries. But the tunnel vision surrounding animation is now slowly starting to fade and streaming giants like Netflix are exploring a previously ignored medium.

Now it may be questionable if ‘Castlevania’ truly qualifies to be an anime or not, considering its lack of Japanese production. However, it does serve as a stepping stone for Netflix into the world of anime. What started off as a goofy yet exhilarating game adaptation has now become one of the best-animated series created by the platform, which is appreciated by gamers and non-gamers alike. ‘Castlevania’ Season 3 is more of a beginning than an end as it marks the inception of its story into somewhat of an unforeseeable domain.

The series initially started off by introducing a rather typical yet intriguing storyline in which the great Dracula attempts to take over the world. That’s when three heroes come into the picture and bring an end to his fiery reign. His death in the final moments of the second season shuts many doors to a possible sequel but who would’ve guessed that it literally unhinges several others to present something even deeper and far better. ‘Castlevania’ Season 3 is easily amongst Netflix’s best offerings in the anime genre and is also a springboard for the platform into something much bigger.

Castlevania Season 3 Plot Summary

The third season unfolds itself with four different narratives, each of which revolves around the pivotal characters of the second season. As most would expect, Trevor and Sypha get a pleasant beginning where they embark on their own little monster-slaying adventure. However, just when you start believing that their side of the story is going to follow the widely familiar “monster of the week” format, it takes a grave turn and becomes insanely dark.

Meanwhile, Alucard struggles to deal with loneliness, and the tragedies of his past still haunt him. Instead of making good use of his father’s mansion and all the Belmont resources that are buried underneath it, he succumbs into his own isolation until he meets a pair of Japanese vampire hunters. Alucard’s part of the story remains the same throughout and barely goes through any drastic developments. However, somewhere near the end, Alucard, too, has his own moment of catharsis

The two forgemasters, Isaac and Hector, who have now become sworn enemies because of Hector’s betrayal, exist in two polar corners of the world. While Isaac’s journey spans across the fabled lands of Europe where he builds his own army and tries to find his way back, Hector is stripped naked and imprisoned in Carmilla’s castle. Speaking of Carmilla, she plots to invade a vast area of land to enslave humans and feed on them for the rest of her life and to execute this, she takes the help of her “sisterhood”—Lenore, Morana, and Striga.

Castlevania Season 3 Review

The series opens with astonishing visuals of the forests that surround Alucard’s massive castle. From this scene itself, as a viewer, you can tell that Powerhouse Studio has upped the production value to a whole new level. And it’s not just the animation that has improved but it’s also the animation style that is so much better than the first two seasons. Especially during the action scenes, there’s so much happening in each of them that it becomes hard for you to comprehend what’s truly going on.

Somewhere near the end of the season, the fight sequences are so well choreographed and animated, they almost remind you of ‘Attack on Titan.’ The only issues I had with the overall animation were the random and unnecessary CGI cuts and the glitches here and there. But of course, since it’s a full-fledged series with 10 episodes and not an hour-long movie, such flaws can be ignored.

Undeniably, Season 3 is far more gritty and grotesque compared to the first two installments of the show. However, the season also has its share of slice-of-life moments, most of which revolve around Sypha and Trevor’s blooming relationship. Their chemistry truly shines on the screen when they’re simply fooling around with one another and even when they’re slaying monsters as a team. Speaking of feel-good moments, for a while even Alucard gets his moments of joy and happiness. In the first few scenes, he can be seen losing his mind in his loneliness while he imagines having conversations with Sypha and Trevor over dinner. But things get better for him when he meets the two Japanese vampire hunters and takes them under his shadow. However, there’s a lot more to him than that.

As a fan of the series, I was really bothered by Dracula’s death in the last season not just because I found myself empathizing with his motives but also because he proved to be a brilliant antagonist. So the biggest concern for this season was its villains. But unlike the first two installments, the third season has many antagonistic players in the game and it reaches a point where it’s hard to judge who’s who.

The desolate world of ‘Castlevania’ where power and greed rules all goes far deeper than just vampire-slaying in the third season. ‘Castlevania 3’ has really made a reputation for itself and I’m not even talking about commercial sales. I’m referring to how it has evolved from being a mere war between humans and vampires. Through its characterization and the intricacies of its storyline, it also proves that it doesn’t need fancy action and cinematics to make an appealing series. Gaming adaptations may have a bad name, especially in the anime community, but in this ocean of piss, ‘Castlevania’ is slowly becoming somewhat of a masterpiece.

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Rating: 4.5/5