I’d really recommend this. I found it really enjoyable, though not without its flaws.
The choreography and animation in general is amazing. It manages a reasonably nuanced take on religion, which is rare in itself and extremely rare coexisting with evil priests murdering innocent people. The overall structure is…unique, let’s say. This is by a comics author (relatedly, it is extremely gory) and although I do not make comics or animation, you can really feel that this is plotted using comic beats instead of film ones. And the dialogue is at once extremely clever and astoundingly stupid.
I actually watched Castlevania after watching many images pop up on Tumblr with what I assumed were joke captioned, then I watched a short and ridiculous animation that did not seem like it could’ve been easily edited, then I saw a clip that involved the characters saying the words out loud and realized it was marginally more likely that this was the actual unedited show than that people were willing to fandub for the sake of a joke.
Now, I discussed how despite enjoying Dororo, it still conforms to standard tropes about women’s deaths and being there to motivate the men around them.
Castlevania straight up opens with Dracula’s wife getting murdered, leading to him flipping out and setting off the events of the rest of the series. Everything revolves around this dead woman.
What made the this-isn’t-technically-anime-but-if-I-say-adult-cartoon-you’ll-grossly-misinterpret-anime so strangely charming to me is the sincerity that it brings this trope. Part of the bitterness of fridging is that, for all the man claims to be motivated by it, we know he gets over it. Her death is an excuse and he’ll feel better afterward.
Not here. This is a story about people desperately trying to cling to the last dregs of anger to finish what they were doing when they just want to die already. The conflict is between Dracula, who’s going to kill everyone and then himself because she was so great and it hurts so much, and her son, who is pretty sure she said, “Dracula, honor my memory by not killing everyone in retaliation, I do not want everyone dead, don’t kill everyone, I became a doctor to not kill everyone, seriously don’t kill them all in my name when I am explicitly telling you I don’t want that.” so instead he’s going to kill his dad and then himself because she was so great and it hurts so much.
The depressed child is aided by the last remaining vampire-hunting Belmont, who’s more directionlessly depressed and so willing to obey whatever woman starts telling him to shut up and go on the damn quest, and a magic using Speaker, who’s female and so a functional human being. “Is that feminist, Farla?” Oh my no. But like with the fridging, it’s rare you see media actually go, “And the woman was competent and not a neurotic mess…so we have put her in charge.”
(I am really excited for season three and finding out if the current guy who’s sad and angry has more discipline than everybody else or if he too runs out of angry halfway through. On the one hand he seems the most together of anyone, on the other hand he also seems worryingly low on angry already. Possibly denial will fill the gap? Looking forward to watching more people fall apart for my viewing pleasure!)