Review

Netflix's Castlevania Season 3 Review - As Metal As Cartoon Vampires Get

  • First Released Jul 7, 2017
    released
  • television

With Season 3, Netflix's Castlevania show has hit its stride.

With Castlevania Season 4 confirmed to be on the way, now's the perfect time to catch up. Read our Season 3 review below to find out why.

With its third and longest season, Netflix's Castlevania is finally exactly what fans want. At 10 episodes, Castlevania Season 3 is a far cry from Season 1's truncated feel. And with a tighter plot and cast, more and better action, and just generally improved pacing compared to Season 2, it feels safe to say that Castlevania has cemented itself as the most awesomely metal show around right now.

Season 3 picks up within a few months of Season 2's finale, which saw Alucard (James Callis) defeating his father Dracula, while Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) and Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) hit the road together following the battle at Dracula's castle. In Season 3's first act, Alucard deals with his loneliness, while Trevor and Sypha, having begun a romantic relationship, enjoy adventuring with one another, slaying demons, and helping townsfolk.

These storylines go in very different directions in Season 3, as a pair of new characters complicates Alucard's solitude, while Trevor and Sypha arrive in a town that appears to have been infiltrated by Dracula-worshipping cultists with a nefarious plan. These disparate groups of characters don't intersect at all throughout the season, which is unfortunate--although it's still far more interesting than the time the three protagonists spent cloistered in a library during Season 2. Season 3 does a better job of mixing in other characters, including existing ones like the Forgemasters Isaac (Adetokumboh M'Cormack) and Hector (Theo James), as well as new characters like Carmilla's vampire sisters (particularly Jessica Brown Findlay's Lenore) and the residents of the village Trevor and Sypha visit. Season 3 strikes a healthy balance among its multiple separate storylines, devoting just the right amount of time to each. This goes a long way in offsetting the mild disappointment when they don't actually converge in the end.

That will come, it seems, should Castlevania get a Season 4. Plenty happens throughout these 10 episodes, but the season also puts a lot of work into setting up later events. That makes the ending feel a bit abrupt, but all the pieces are in place for the future nevertheless.

Anyway, you'll be too busy soaking up Season 3's ample sex, debauchery, and carnage to wallow too long in that mild disappointment. Netflix's Castlevania is extremely metal in every way. There are whole episodes that feel like extended Dethklok music videos, or like modern versions of those animated Heavy Metal movies from the '80s. Trevor puts his family's mythical whip to good use, while Sypha's spells are more varied than ever, and all the season's action is animated in the show's signature, unique style blending elements of anime and video games. Demons pour out of portals to Hell, and then usually get exploded, shredded, sliced, diced, and/or bludgeoned in various spectacular, brutal, and hilarious ways. One character goes on an episode-long side quest to defeat a powerful magician who's enslaved an entire city; the fight escalates into a full-on war between red-glowing demons and ensorcelled townsfolk wearing glowing green mind control crowns, eventually incorporating body horror Megazording action as the thousands of magical slaves conform into one kaiju-sized mass of pulsating, writhing, flying human flesh. And that's the B-plot for that particular episode.

In the show's animated form, the sex scenes can be somewhat uncomfortable. And although they may largely feel gratuitous, they usually tie back into the plot in some way, from a beautiful vampiress using sex to manipulate a gullible human, to the other way around. Castlevania often blends sex and violence together--sometimes cutting rapidly between battles and sex, and sometimes in the same, single scene--in ways that are discomfiting, but if you have the stomach for it, the depravity can also be a delight. There's certainly nothing else quite like it on TV at the moment.

Netflix's Castlevania is absolutely a guilty pleasure; a grindhouse cartoon for adults who grew up playing Symphony of the Night, listening to metal, and watching shonen anime. But it's also an exceptionally well-made guilty pleasure, with a fantastic cast, unique animated action, mature tone, decent writing, smart pacing, and generally gorgeous look, feel, and sound. In the end, you'll want to pick up a controller and revisit your favorite game in the series, which, in the troubled landscape of video game adaptations, is maybe the biggest compliment one can pay.

Castlevania Season 3 hits Netflix March 5.

Disclosure: ViacomCBS is GameSpot's parent company

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The Good

  • Extremely metal in every way
  • Gorgeous art and animated action
  • Strikes the right balance between focusing on existing and new characters
  • Snappy pacing makes up for Season 2's sluggishness
  • Will make you want to replay your favorite Castlevania game

The Bad

  • Blending violence with gratuitous sexuality is occasionally uncomfortable
  • The multiple disparate storylines never converge

About the Author

Mike Rougeau is GameSpot's Managing Editor of Entertainment. He watched all ten episodes of Castlevania Season 3, provided by Netflix in advance. The first time he ever completed Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was not on the original PlayStation, but on a modded PSP.