By Joseph Walter
Fans have felt like they've been trapped in that long, axe-armor filled hallway right before the Grim Reaper in the first "Castlevania" for years, dying repeatedly, awaiting a multi-media "Castlevania," whether it be a film or a television show, and this seems like an answer to their prayers.
And as a huge fan myself, these are my hopes for this project, so that it can take "Castlevania" to the ultimate height.
***Keep in mind that many of the details aren't quite concrete just yet, so a lot of my speculation is based on rumors.***
Don't Overdue the Fan Service
I'm almost certain that the backers of this show want it to reach a wider audience than the just the fans, so my fears that the writers will be trying too hard to cater to hardcore fans instead of making a good, widely-loved show are already put to rest... but there's still that lingering fear.
Fingers crossed that dumb things like the Ebony Stone and the Forest of Eternal Night are not discussed at length or, God-willing, aren't included at all, while things like Aljiba Town are included instead to satiate the fanbase while not getting bogged down into purposeless minutia.
That's all well and good, but, simultaneously, I'd hate for "Castlevania" to be turned into a goofy action-comedy show with random humor.
The last thing I want to see is a Finn-esque Simon Belmont, mouth agape in a toothy grin, swinging a shimmering whip above his head while bellowing a banal catchphrase to an anthropomorphic, floating candle-stick friend.
Instead, just take the spirit of the Warren Ellis' seemingly-cancelled "Castlevania III" script. Just tone down the goat-fucking.
(Note: It's rumored that this project WILL use the Ellis penned script. I won't hold my breath, but if it ends up being the case, very cool!)
In fact, the music is so legendary that I have no doubt that Netflix will use it throughout the episodes (although, despite loving their "Voltron," I've yet to hear the memorable theme tune...)
However, I hope the music is less in-your-face with the references, and instead goes down the "Lords of Shadow" route where they took famous themes and weaved them into motifs that stood for something other than nostalgic fan service.
A great example of that is how "Beginning" from "Castlevania III" is used throughout the first "Lords of Shadow," heard in its basic form here, from 2:10 to 2:30.
Overall, I'm hoping for a more ambient, sinister soundtrack, because I also hope they'll...
Embrace the Horror Aspects
I always felt that was the right direction, as it resonated with the monster-filled Castle and bloody gameplay.
Unfortunately, a large chunk of the series turned into more of an anime-inspired tone, largely eschewing the grim takes of previous games. This, of course, is not a criticism of the games themselves (in fact, many of the non-horror focused games are some of the best in the series!), but the look and antics of those characters never fully seemed to mesh with what the series was originally going for, so hopefully the story is more horror-focused and not "high school kid ends up in Castlevania when hanging with his girlfriend, and then happens to be the chosen one."
Of course, aside from the horror, I'm hoping there's also healthy helping of action with some old-fashioned blood and gore.
It'd be great to see a marriage of the two genres. Imagine watching the protagonist wander through the decrepit, haunted halls of Castlevania, the echoing of their footsteps fading into the cavernous halls, all while eerie images of ghastly ghosts fade in and out of our reality. Suddenly, dropping from a chandelier on the ceiling, decayed corpses splatter into pools of blood.
The hero is shocked (as is the viewer) and takes a step back. The blood from the crushed bodies begins to swirl and then re-enters the gaping wounds. A horrifying moan erupts from the beasts' mouthes as dark magic re-animates their shifting masses of flesh and bone into hideous monstrosities.
Our hero grimaces, cracks his whip and brandishes a vial of incendiary holy water, heralding in a smooth action sequence as he does battle with the beasts.
That sort of action-horror mixture would be a unique entity on Netflix (and in general). And it's something the series clearly begs for.
If Animated, Have a Unique Art Style
And if that is the case, I'm hoping that they use a unique art style, such as Ayami Kojima's breath-taking work that's graced much of the franchise, or perhaps take inspiration from the cover art of the earliest titles.
As mentioned above, the "Castlevania" franchise takes a detour into anime-inspired aesthetics, and anime-style shows are seemingly a dime-a-dozen these days. So not only does that kind of look never quite work with the material, it also doesn't stand out.
In order to have this Castlevania series maintain a unique place among the animated crowd, I'm hoping (and praying) that a dark, gothic aesthetic and unique art style take the reins.
Don't Be Afraid to Take Inspiration from "Lords of Shadow"
A notable one would be LOS' take on the origin story for Dracula, and his ties to the Belmont clan. Instead of the endless battle being an oath the vampire hunters take to hunt him down throughout the centuries, their task is instead one of personal responsibility. This set-up gives much needed emotional investment compared to the taxing "Dracula came back to life, better kill him" mantra of the original series.
Another concept to consider would be the more interesting dynamic between Simon Belmont, Trevor and Alucard, which was another alteration that left certain fan factions pulling their hair out in confusion and misguided anger. On the positive side, it gave depth to where there was none, which is something that's necessary to maintain interest in an ongoing plot.
If nothing else, "Lords of Shadow" fleshed out Dracula's personality, the Belmont family, the Castle, and the world in which it all took place in throughout the centuries, leaving a unique melting-pot of different myths that brought us a memorable, fascinating and sometimes chilling world.