This week, the eagerly anticipated second season of Castlevania premieres on Netflix, continuing the story of vampire hunter Trevor Belmont teaming up with Dracula's son Alucard, as well as the warrior priestess Sypha Belnades, to stop the vampire lord's reign of death and destruction over Transylvania.
Even with the first season only running for four episodes, the animated series boasts a solid 79% on review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes and a Metacritic score of 71. While not universally praised, it still stands as the highest rated video game adaptation of all time, with this year's Rampage holding a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, and fan-favorite adaptations from years past, 1995's Mortal Kombat and 2005's Silent Hill, holding 34% and 29%, respectively.
Additionally, a significant amount of criticism leveled against the Netflix series is the truncated length, not necessarily the quality of the individual episodes themselves. Of course, to leave critics wanting more is not the worst point of criticism.
Initially written by acclaimed comic book writer Warren Ellis as an animated film, the project was eventually developed for television by showrunner Adi Shankar, which turned out to perhaps be the series' greatest source of success. By design, stories developed for film are restricted to anywhere from one to two hours, whereas the multi-season format the adaptation ultimately adopted gave the narrative the room it needed to breathe and let the story progress more naturally.
And while the first season of Castlevania did feature a noticeably short episode order, the second season doubles the size with an eight-episode order while a third season is already in active production.
Another significant strength of the animated series is the impressive caliber of talent behind it, both in terms of its cast and crew. Ellis is one of the most celebrated writers in the modern comics industry, co-creating universally praised series such as Planetary with John Cassady, Transmetropolitan with Darick Robertson, and Injection with Declan Shalvey.
In addition to having a scribe of that pedigree penning the episodes, Shankar as the series' executive producer and showrunner is a fantastic boon; a popular indie filmmaker who previously adapted properties, he is a self-professed fan of in true labors of love. Castlevania is no exception.
Voicing the series' characters is classically trained actor Richard Armitage as the protagonist Trevor Belmont, teaming once again with his co-star from The Hobbit trilogy, Graham McTavish, who portrays Dracula. Rounding out the cast is Battlestar Galactica alum James Callis, who voices fan-favorite character Alucard.