Castlevania Nocturne Review: A Woke Mess or Hidden Gem?

Castlevania Nocturne centers around Richter Belmont and his crew, who stand as Earth’s last line of defense against a vampire messiah intent on plunging the world into vampiric darkness.

Characters/ Roast

Richter Belmont (Edward Bluemel) is a sassy boy who grapples with traumatic experiences that have left him with half fighting capabilities. As a grown man, he was only decent at best when it came to battling vampires, except when facing Olrox, the source of his trauma. Which caused Richter to run like a wimp. The only time I found myself truly rooting for Richter was when his magical abilities resurfaced, which happened a few episodes before the conclusion.

Annette (Thuso Mbedu) once a slave to a vampire owner, possesses abilities granted by a god. Her flirtatious interactions with Richter would have been more tolerable if her mulatto friend, who aided in her quest for freedom, had received the appreciation he deserved. Despite her strong independent vibe, I sort of liked it. Also it’s worth noting that this version of Annette represents a racial swap from her original counterpart. As someone who hasn’t played the games, my personal connection to the character representation remains unaffected.

Edouard (Sydney James Harcourt) is an opera singer and a rebel fighter. After discovering the last Belmont, he met a tragic end, being transformed into a night creature, still retaining an attractive appearance as an undead. In life, he proved ineffective in combat, and in death, he continued singing to inspire other night creatures who remembered their past lives. While this might sound noble, it’s difficult to overlook the fact that the only half-black male character in the Castlevania series is portrayed as a light-skinned opera singer with little to no vampire combat skills, which is undeniably disrespectful.

Olrox (Zahn McClarnon) is the vampire responsible for taking Richter’s mother’s life. Before the episodes even had a chance to fully reveal his character, my intuition led me to suspect that he might be the type to manipulate both sides, a suspicion that proved accurate. Olrox is portrayed as a vampire who indulges in both his bloodsucking nature and romantic encounters with humans. In this series, his love interest is Mizrak, a Middle Eastern Dean Winchester look-alike. While I could debate at length about the plausibility of this pairing, I’ve come to expect such liberties in Netflix productions over the years, leaving me with a sense of disappointment.

Erzsebet Báthory (Franka Potente) is a Hungarian vampire rumored to be on the path to becoming a messiah and driving the world into darkness. It remains unclear why she was absent when Dracula pursued a similar goal in Castlevania Season One. It’s possible that the timeline of her involvement occurs after Dracula’s reign, but her possession of god-like abilities raises questions about her transformation into a vampire. This weird premise aside, it’s essential to know that she was a real historical figure, a noblewoman who infamously committed heinous acts between 1590 and 1610. Her documented atrocities highlight that horror stories often draw from real life circumstances.

Castlevania Nocturne Thoughts

Castlevania has taken us on quite a journey, from battling Dracula, his son, and even death itself. Now, it’s the Belmont lineage’s turn to confront a vampire messiah. The narrative’s complexity is reaching almost Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure levels of absurdity. While I wish I could say it’s at least half as good, the truth is it falls short. Richter Belmont only starts to shine towards the end of the first part of the series. Unlike his ancestor, he lacks the toughness and coolness that fans have come to expect. Richter often appears whiny and inclined to flee, possibly reflecting the absence of positive male guidance in his life, revealing the matriarchal nature of the character’s world.

The rapid ascent of the vampire messiah to power within a short timeframe raises questions about her whereabouts during Dracula’s reign when he, too, sought to bring about the end of the world. Putting aside the narrative and its unrealistic historical elements, I found myself less concerned about the race swaps and more annoyed by the prevalent same-sex relationships, conforming to a trend in Netflix productions. Nevertheless, the series’ well-animated fight sequences are undeniably a standout feature.

Castlevania Nocturne Series Part One is a 4 out of 10

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