Baby Richter with his baby blues.

Why I Love ‘Castlevania’ So Much (Despite Never Playing the Games)

WOO-HOO, a new season of Castlevania on Netflix! Titled Castlevania: Nocturne, this new season will follow the adventures of Richter Belmont, a descendent of our beloved Trevor and Sypha. This is apparently the first time Richter’s backstory—which takes place during the French Revolution—has been explored in-depth:

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I need to be candid: I don’t know my Richters from my Simons. I know nothing about this franchise beyond vampires, shounen art-styles, and how surprisingly fun Castlevania characters are to play in Super Smash Bros. With so many video games out there that I know I want to play, I will likely never play a Castlevania title purely because my backlog is already long enough.

And yet. My god. I am down so bad for this franchise purely because of the Netflix show. The first season came out late in 2016, when I was visiting family for winter break and got stuck inside due to a rainstorm. I had nothing to do except watch TV and take baths. As such, I watched Castlevania on a whim.

And then I rewatched it. And then rewatched it again as I was leaving the house. And when all the following seasons were announced, I reacted to each announcement like a cat who’s recently come into a hefty endowment of catnip. As someone who loves animation yet struggles to properly “get into” it, especially anime (I find most animated tropes to be dull and boring), Castlevania checks almost all of my boxes.

Most obviously, the animation and art style is absolutely gorgeous. Everything looks so delicate yet weighty, and it’s clear that the animators took a lot of care in each little motion the characters make. But what I love even more is how most of the main cast is written, with complexity and layers that aren’t always seen in animated shows. I still hold a torch for Isaac as one of my favorite TV characters of all time, and apparently he isn’t even anything like his game counterpart. So be it, because this is the man of my dreams, right here:

Which brings us to our next point: the writing in Castlevania isn’t perfect (nor is its former lead writer, by a long shot), and the dialogue sometimes strays into Joss Whedon territory. But when it shines, it shines impeccably. I felt so engrossed in a world I barely knew anything about, in large part because the series knows when to balance its darker themes and world-building with the levity and wonder that any good piece of fantasy leans into. I still think about Sypha freezing Trevor’s beer when she got mad at him, simply because it was such a charming display of in-world magic use.

All of these positives ultimately coalesced into an animated show that, in my opinion, stands uniquely amongst its peers. Castlevania is a video game adaptation that feels almost entirely self-possessed, with enough homage to the source material to be beloved by fans and enough ingenuity to make it accessible to newcomers like me. The result is a piece of work that’s so intriguing on its own merit, it’s even attracted the voice talents of such legendary actors as Bill Nighy and Malcolm McDowell—like, damn, for real!

Richter, sweetie, I don’t have a clue who you are, I don’t know anything about you other than you’re a fan-favorite and you have Sypha’s eyes. But I’m so excited to see you strut yourself in revolutionary vampiric France!

(featured image: Netflix)

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Image of Madeline Carpou
Madeline Carpou
Madeline (she/her) is a staff writer with a focus on AANHPI and mixed-race representation. She enjoys covering a wide variety of topics, but her primary beats are music and gaming. Her journey into digital media began in college, primarily regarding audio: in 2018, she started producing her own music, which helped her secure a radio show and co-produce a local history podcast through 2019 and 2020. After graduating from UC Santa Cruz summa cum laude, her focus shifted to digital writing, where she's happy to say her History degree has certainly come in handy! When she's not working, she enjoys taking long walks, playing the guitar, and writing her own little stories (which may or may not ever see the light of day).