The Castlevania Netflix TV series of the hugely popular Konami video game known in Japan as Akumajō Dracula is officially happening. The show will be made as an adult animation and the first four episodes, each 30 minutes long and which Netflix are calling 'Season 1, Part 1,' will be available to stream in 2017. The second season will follow in 2018. For fans of the original video game this will come as some very exciting news.
The Netflix animated series will be produced by Adi Shankar (Dredd, The Grey) with Warren Ellis (who wrote graphic novel Red and Transmetropolitan) writing, and Adventure Time's Kevin Kolde is also involved.
Here's the official press release for Castlevania from Netflix.
Inspired by the classic video game series, Castlevania is a dark medieval fantasy following the last surviving member of the disgraced Belmont clan, trying to save Eastern Europe from extinction at the hand of Vlad Dracula Tepe himself. The animated series is from Frederator Studios, a Wow! Unlimited Media company, written by best-selling author and comic book icon Warren Ellis and executive produced by Warren Ellis, Kevin Kolde, Fred Seibert and Adi Shankar.
UPDATE: The first Castlevania trailer has dropped for the series.
The Netflix Castlevania Animated TV Series
Producer Shankar had hinted a few years back that he was making a Castlevania animated series, an adaptation of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse, posting to his Facebook in 2015, "Breaking News: I’m producing a super violent Castlevania mini-series with my homies Fred Seibert and Kevin Klode. It’s going to be dark, satirical, and after a decade of propaganda it will flip the vampire sub-genre on its head."
Those high hopes haven't diminished, his recent Facebook post following Netflix's announcement said "I personally guarantee that it will end the streak and be the western world’s first good video game adaptation."
While there aren't any exact details about the episodes or the cast, Warren Ellis said in his newsletter Orbital Operations, "I've been asked not to say more. So I can't say more about structure, tone, or the amazing voice cast we somehow managed to gather."—so why he hasn't actually revealed details, it looks like they might have some big names attached for the voices. Ellis also said they've been working on it for over a year.
Ellis also had the following to say in a later Oribital Operations newsletter. "Writing season 2 (2018) of CASTLEVANIA while going through animation passes on episode 3 of season 1 (2017) is kind of like those stories where time travel involves sending a consciousness from the future into a body in the past. We've been on this job a long time." He also said, "Reviewing environment renders for season 2. We are very deep into this thing." And he posted a cleaner look at the logo, see below.
Speaking with IGN Shankar confirmed this Castlevania series will be an adaptation of Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse which is set in 1476 and follows Trevor Belmont as he fights to fend off Dracula from ravaging Europe with an army of monsters.
It was the last Castlevania game on the Nintendo Entertainment System console but even those not on one like Castlevania: Symphony of the Night, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow, Castlevania: Lords of Shadow 2 have all been heavy on the violence, which is something Shankar wants to bring to the Netflix show.
Castlevania Series Influences
Speaking with Collider back in 2015 Shankar was asked whether there will be violence and gore he said, "There will be a lot. The goal is to bring hard hitting anime to the America and be America’s first animated series for adults." He also said the animation he was basing it on would be "Akira, Ghost in [the] Shell, Ninja Scroll, Young Justice aka the best series ever."
In his conversation with IGN Shankar said more about the tone and inspirations, "This is very much Castlevania done in the vein of Game of Thrones," continuing with it's "going to be R-rated as f*ck." He also praised Ellis' contribution saying he "added so much depth to the material."
And ended by reiterating that he doesn't want this to follow the path of other video game adaptations, which have always fallen flat noting "this is going to be the best f*****g video game adaptation we've had to date."
The New Netflix Series' Animation Style
Shankar hasn't revealed any details about the animation style just yet, so far the only visuals have been the poster of Dracula's Castle (see below). But he recently posted a link on his Facebook to Happy Tree Friends.
The cartoon features cutesy woodland characters who do horribly violent things to one another. It's both hilarious and disturbing all at once. He posted it with the following, "Here is a late night treat of a cartoon that's can tow the line between cute and bloody. How many of you watched this when it was on air?"
So how does this relate to Castlevania? Well, the Castlevania Netflix series is going to be a "dark medieval fantasy" but Shankar has also noted it will be satirical as well. And with Kevin Kolde and Frederator Studios involved, who have worked on Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors, Castlevania might have a visual style similar to these type of cute cartoon characters. But mesh it with the ultra-violence that's in Happy Tree Friends. So perhaps we'll see a mix of dark medieval fantasy and cute, meeting somewhere in the middle with some anime influence thrown in too.
Adi Shankar On Video Game Adaptations
Shanakr spoke further to iO9 about his respect for the video game format and how he wants to get it right when it comes to adapting Castlevania.
Here's a snippet of what he was saying in the interview:
I’ve seen your quote saying “Castlevania is going to be the best video game adaptation” floating around. What do you think has been the problem with other attempts?
The bar is very low. Right? And why is the bar low? People ask this question a lot. People are like, “Oh man, this guy’s really into video games, he understands how they’re made and the mechanics—why are video game movies so bad?” And I’m like, “Because they’re treated like video game movies.” It’s just storytelling. You’re just telling a story. You’re just telling the story badly.
Now, do you think that’s because of the difference of the mediums?
I think it’s a lack of respect. If you look at early comic book movies, they were totally bad, because people would go into it [reluctantly] and you could tell! You could tell when the actor—at least I can tell—I can tell when the actor is like, putting on a costume and thinks the costume is ridiculous. And it’s like, “I’m not going to commit to this role, because the fuck am I wearing?” You can literally tell within a few frames of shot design whether someone gives a shit about the thing they’re making or not.
What Might The Castlevania Netflix Series Be About?
Obviously until we know more information people can only speculate about what to expect from the Castlevania Netflix series, but any thoughts from people in that medium is useful.
In the video above comic book fan Tony G and video gamer Peter Brown from Gamespot discuss what could be included in the upcoming series. Both agree that it will have a dark storyline format and agree that the mix of talent involved, Ellis, Shankar, and Kolde, should bring something exciting to the table.
They also note how the game will feature the last surviving member of the Belmont clan who is Julius Belmont who wasn't born until the 1980s. They also note that Vlad Dracula Tepe, in the game, was last seen in 1999. Which means that Julius would be quite young or if it goes back even further Julius could be very young.
But that might tie in with the Adventure Time aesthetic of having a young kid battling evil, and mixing cute and violence as stated above. It would, however, contradict Shankar saying he was adapting Castlevania III which is set in 1476. Unless, he's going to bring that plot of Dracula ravaging Eastern Europe forward and set it in the 1980s with a kid Julius battling an adult Vald. This idea of mixing cute and violence would tie in with Shankar's concept of "flipping the vampire medium on its head"—which has traditionally been all dark and broody, not dark and cutesy. Not sure how that would go down with fans of the video game though. But it would certainly be an interesting take.
Castlevania Netflix Series Poster
Adi Shanker posted the first artwork from Netflix's Castlevania Series, a poster of Dracula's castle, giving fans the first look at the possibly tone of the series. The castle is a huge feature of the games and the style of the one in the poster will be familiar to anyone who's played the original Castlevania game or Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
The imposing fortress is set against a blood-red moon with bats flying around it. Check it out below:
Since that teaser poster was released, Adi Shankar has also revealed the official poster for Castlevania. He wrote on Facebook, "While I will be eternally grateful for my live action career, animation has always held an extra special place in my heart. As a child, cartoons (and video games) were the preeminent art form that unlocked my imagination. They showed me that nothing is impossible and that if I can dream it then I can build it. Here's the official poster for Castlevania."
Check it out below.
It obviously pays direct homage to the original cover artwork from the NES game by Konami. See below.
Castlevania Main Title Theme
Adi Shankar recently revealed the title theme for the Castlevania Netflix show created by Trevor Morris. See below.
Castlevania Origins - Nintendo NES Game
Castlevania was released by Konami and came out for the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) in May 1987 in North America and a year later in Europe. The first game was set in 1691 and players got to control Simon Belmont as he traversed Dracula's Castle to defeat the Count. On the NES this was followed by Castlevania II: Simon's Quest and Castlevania III: Dracula's Curse (1989).
A fourth game was released for the Super NES called Super Castlevania IV which went over the events of the first.
Check out the video below for some classic Castlevania NES Gameplay. See Adi Shankar's Facebook page for more updates.
Castlevania Netflix Series Release Date
The Castlevania animation is out July 7 worldwide on Netflix.
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