In 2017, the first season of Castlevania, although it didn’t entirely satisfy me, had demonstrated its potential. While the first season revolved around Dracula and his son Alucard, the subsequent three seasons deviated completely from that path and transformed into something entirely different—focusing on the adventures of Trevor and Sypha. Not only in terms of the story but also visually, the series underwent a profound transformation, evolving into an RPG spectacle. With two main characters battling creatures and engaging in dazzling fights embellished with colorful magic, it became a thoroughly enjoyable adventure, particularly for those like me, who are fans of MMORPGs. It was precisely because of this RPG approach that Castlevania displayed in its last three seasons that I eagerly anticipated Castlevania: Nocturne. I can say that I got what I was waiting for.
Let’s briefly delve into the plot… Set 250 years after the fourth season, the series tells the story of Richer Belmont, the 6th generation descendant of Trevor Belmont. Richer, whose mother was killed by a vampire right before his eyes, practices vampire hunting as a family legacy. Pursuing an unusual vampire surge, Richer learns of the impending arrival of the Vampire Messiah and the vampires’ quest for a revolution. He then embarks on a journey to find this Messiah.
The series begins with a powerful opening, depicting the deadly battle between Olrox and Sophia Belmont before transporting us to Richer’s youth years later. We don’t see a skilled warrior like his great-great-grandfather Trevor. Instead, he is still trying to discover himself. As the episodes progress, Richer, who develops his skills over time, gradually transforms into a true Belmont. During this process, he is accompanied not by one but several warriors. In the new series, Maria Renard is my current favorite. Maria is a visual delight with her Druid-Mage hybrid magic.
As always, the series features impressive action scenes, but this time it does things differently. Firstly, Castlevania: Nocturne is the most diverse season in the series to date. There’s a significant shift in terms of color and race diversity, and the new series is predominantly composed of female characters. Our main antagonist and her chief military officer are also women. What’s commendable is that the series doesn’t seek to sexualize its characters. Instead, it emphasizes their personalities and, of course, their powers, rather than objectifying female bodies.
Another notable change is how it leaves the door open for future seasons. Heroic tales often conclude with the triumph of the good guys. However, Castlevania: Nocturne directly hints at a second season. The Messiah lives up to its name and conveys the message that we will meet again after her triumph. After narrating the story of Dracula throughout four seasons, Castlevania has now turned its camera to Erzsebet Báthory, who appears as the Messiah this time. Countess Elizabeth Báthory de Ecsed, known for bathing in the blood of her victims, one of the most horrifying women in history, will likely emerge as the main antagonist for several seasons to come. Given the names she aims to bring to their knees once she gains power, we may also encounter many significant characters in the upcoming seasons, ranging from the Ottomans to the Pope.
What endeared Castlevania to me is its RPG-style approach. In each episode, the characters engage in battles with various creatures and use their skills to eliminate them. The series has constantly reminded me of Diablo, which I never had the chance to experience. Character designs, especially creature designs, in Castlevania are top-notch. Nocturne doesn’t fall behind the previous four seasons in this regard. The designs of Maria and Olrox’s spells, the creature transformation of Eduard, and Drolta herself are all superb from start to finish. Especially, the design of Eduard’s hands emerging from his neck and covering his eyes captivated someone like me, who has a fondness for 80s horror aesthetics.
In essence, Castlevania: Nocturne is a fantastic piece of work that will thoroughly satisfy anyone who has enjoyed the previous four seasons. Unfortunately, there are few projects on screen that match the flavor of Castlevania. Castlevania retains its RPG style, especially reminiscent of the Diablo universe, with its brutality and grotesque character designs. However, this time, it’s notable that there are more diverse characters, and the fact that the main story still revolves around Belmont doesn’t overshadow the detail that those around him, including the villains, are predominantly women. After watching Dracula for four years, we will now have some time with Elizabeth Báthory.
Finally, although the series does not end in favor of the good guys to leave room for future seasons, it provides a beautiful hope for the future: Alucard.
Cast & Crew
CREATOR: Clive Bradley
writers: Clive Bradley
starring: Edward Bluemel, Zahn McClarnon, Nastassja Kinski, Richard Dormer, Thuso Mbedu, Pixie Davies, Sydney James Harcourt,
USA | 2023 | 8 EPISODES |