Media Review: Castlevania: Nocturne (Season 1)

Media Review: Castlevania: Nocturne (Season 1)

By: Alex Tilton

I loved the first Castlevania series. It understood all of the things needed for a successful adaptation. First; Castlevania knew you had to keep true to the spirit of the source material without being shackled to it. The plot of a video game is rarely going to work as the plot of a movie or a show. You have to write your own story. Second; It knew its audience, and it gave them what they wanted…in spades. Well-developed characters you could root for, and oodles of bloody battles with vampires and other monsters. It was great.

Rather than milk it to death, they decided to continue the story with a different generation of characters in a new location. This time we follow Richter Belmont as he and his crew battle vampires in revolutionary France.

The decision to portray French nobles who exploited their peasants as literal vampires is a little on the nose, but it works well enough. The story simply leans into it without batting an eye. The new support characters are similar to the last batch, but their people with their own stories.

Nocturne presents a French Catholic Church in league with vampires in an attempt to crush the nascent rebellion to preserve what both groups consider to be ‘the natural order’. Each faction admits that they hate the idea of change more than they hate one another.

Opposing this is a group of young, but well-seasoned demon killers descended from still more demon killers. Old before their years, the children of a century’s violent struggle; are resigned to their fate, but unafraid of it. They fight, they joke, they bleed, they grow, and some of them die. They feel very human and it’s easy to root for them. It’s well executed from start to finish. As with the last series, the action is taut and tightly directed, the voice acting is excellent, and the music is superbly woven into the story.

I do have one complaint. The main character, naturally, has a personal flaw he must overcome to triumph. And I thought they could have done a better job of weaving it in. It’s an on/off switch, rather than a rising and falling threat, and to me, it felt clunky. Richter goes from cocky badass to terrified child instantly in response to a particular person. Better storytelling would have been him getting, say, nervous and fighting poorly in this person’s presence and having to work at it to improve.

And in general, this kind of thing is what characterizes the very few flaws that Castlevania has. The atmosphere, the voice acting, the plotting, the pacing, the action, and the story beats are all superb. But to facilitate the endgame the plot has to take a certain shape. To accomplish this a character will make an unlikely bad choice or have an inexplicably rapid change of heart. This does keep the plot on track, but it’s janky and I can’t help but notice it every time. It’s a speed bump where the road should rise and fall smoothly so you don’t notice it. I don’t pretend to know how to write a TV series, but I know it can be done better than this, and it should be.

That being said, Castlevania: Nocturne is a worthy successor to an excellent series. Enjoy it at your earliest convenience.

Image Sources: Rotten Tomatoes

Copyrights © 2024  All Rights Reserved by