Bless Your Dead Little Hearts | Review Score = 3.5/5
The Reparation Of My Heart | Review Score = 3.5/5
Investigators | Review Score = 4/5
I Have A Scheme | Review Score = 3.5/5
A Seat of Civilization | Review Score = 3/5
The Good Dream | Review Score = 3/5
Worse Things Than Betrayal | Review Score = 3.5/5
What The Night Brings | Review Score = 3.5/5
The Harvest | Review Score = 5/5
Abandon All Hope | Review Score = 4.5/5
Castlevania could prove to be one of the biggest surprises this year. From the gorgeous backdrops and slow-building story, Netflix’s latest anime offering is a reminder that hand-drawn animation is still as popular and effective as it’s ever been. Alongside The Dragon Prince, this is turning into a real flagship animation for the streaming platform. While the first season suffered from its disappointingly short run-time, and the second season slipped up with a somewhat slow pace, Castlevania returns for a much-improved third season.
Building up from what’s come before, Castlevania essentially splits its story into four different narratives that run parallel to one another but each have a consistent goal in mind. The main focus here is on Belmont and Sypha who stumble upon a dark conspiracy brewing in the underbelly of a nearby town called Lindenfeld. Driven to find out more about the mysterious Sala and his Priory, what they uncover there is far more shocking than they could have imagined.
At the same time, Carmilla returns to the castle with Hector as a prisoner and as the ladies scheme and set their attention to conquering the East, Lorene sets to work in convincing Hector to see their way of thinking. Running alongside this tale of friendship and betrayal is the isolated Alucard, who finds himself in the company of twins Taka and Sumi, desperate for his help in becoming prolific vampire hunters and haunted by the ghosts of their previous captive; Dracula’s right hand woman Cho.
The fourth tale sees Isaac return, after being pushed through the mirror in the previous season, marching purposefully with his undead army in search of Hector. All of these stories remain isolated from one another for the entirety of the season but it also allows for much more consistent character arcs to flow through each of these tales. Every character grows and evolves across the course of the season and although Alucard arguably has one of the weaker stories this year, there’s enough in this to enjoy the ride and look forward to a potential fourth set of episodes to come.
In terms of pacing, the series itself suffers from some of the previous issues the show has had in the past. A couple of the episodes here feel like filler, with one whole episode dedicated to a dream sequence, and another not doing much to move the plot forward. Having said that, the final two episodes more than make up for this with one heck of a final battle, boasting plenty of violence, bloodshed and explosive action to reward those who stick with this one until the end.
Aesthetically the series blends hand-drawn animations with gorgeous watercolour backdrops, with the faint glimmer of CGI used to give a little more depth. While the series is far from the stunning level of beauty something like Violet Evergarden had through its run, there’s enough in this to make for a stylistically decent series, improving on the animations and boasting a consistent Gothic-inspired colour palette throughout.
Overall, if you’re after a decent anime and a continuation of the good work done in the previous Castlevania seasons, these 10 episodes absolutely deliver. While some may lament the cliffhanger ending and the series slumps a little in the middle, the season as a whole does a fantastic job elevating this franchise and standing proudly atop the video game adaptation podium as one of the best. For that alone, Castlevania is well worth a watch and if you’ve made it this far, you’ll almost certainly be thirsty for more of this franchise’s blood when the final credits roll.