As a gamer, I had given up on Konami.
Since I wager a chunk of my fans aren’t gamers, all you really need to know is that the game company, Konami, shamed Metal Gear writer Hideo Kojima and basically sold out their fans in favor of their slot machine market. This, combined with a string of stories surrounding Konami’s employee environment, turned off a lot of former fans from ever buying their products again as a show of protest. But, in the wake of this chaos, the last thing anyone expected Konami to do was to produce an anime.
And wouldn’t you know it, it’s an anime about my favorite game series.
Blow cartrage to start your adventure
It’s not often my two hobbies cross like this. I have to talk about it; the power of geek compels me. Konami could redeem themselves in one swoop or bring it all crashing down.
Brief History Lesson Time
If you missed out on the Nintendo Craze, Castlevania was one of the first platformers to be released on the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) back in 1986. It was a classic take on the horror genre that had players storm a dangerous castle packed to the brim with horrific creatures and take on famous Universal Movie Monsters, ending with the eponimous Count Dracula. It’s famous for being super hard, super weird, and just super fun in general. If there was ever a game that made people hit their heads against the wall and leave a face-dent, it was this game.
There was talk of a Castlevania movie for years, but that baby got trapped in development hell. No, instead we’re going to get a full-fledged anime courtesy of Netflix. Even more so, it appears the anime will be animated by the team behind Adventure Time and the writing team has connections to the overnight success that was Stranger Things. The cherry on top of it all? The anime will be eschewing the Lords of Shadow game and aiming more for Dracula’s Curse from way back in the day.
Back when Dracky still bore a striking resemblance to Bella Lugosi and men could weark skirts made entirely of metal and leather
So, what are my initial thoughts on this big reveal?
This is a Match Made in Heaven
Once upon a time, I waxed poetic on how much I love anime that go big or go home, that embrace the weird. The are no creative limits when it comes to anime, and the same can definitely be said about the universe of cool Castlevania cultivated.
Castlevania has always portrayed itself as super serious when it came to adventure and horror, but there have always been parts of it that are onsensical. We’re talking games where chickens could be beaten out of walls; little men hopped around to attack you via headbutts, and one villain had an outfit that could literally be described as “pieces of leather and chains.”
Ladies and gents – Issac
What’s even funnier is that most of this off-the-wall content was meant to be taken 100% serious back in the day; the 80’s and 90’s were an odd time for fantasy. But now this serious take translates to some weapons-grade hilarity and I’m excited to see what the animators can do with it.
How Serious Are We Gonna Be?
Speaking of that solemn tone, one has to wonder just how serious they are aiming for. As I said, the game plots themselves haven’t aged particularly well, meaning any attempt at being serious can come off as narmy at best, eye-rolling at worst. And yet, as I watch the trailer, I can see skeletons impaled in Dracula’s front yard, blood flying everywhere, a man taking a dagger right to the eye, and lots of glorious violence. This, combined with my reading of the Den of Geek article , makes me think they are aiming for a semi-serious, ultraviolent take.
But, given the retro nature of the content, I can’t help but wonder if that will mix.
Image from Fobman
If you haven’t trolled the hilarious – albeit biased – depths that is TV Tropes, allow me to force some internet slang on you. Narm refers to an attempt at an emotion that is so ridiculous, so insane, that it swings back around like a wrecking ball on a string and smashes your suspension of disbelief. In short, the horrific becomes hilarious, and your poignant characters turn into professional scenery chewers. Castlevania has always aimed to pay tribute to the old monster movies, and attempting to make a serious show out of that can result in some weapons-grade narm.
Than again, anime can thrive on narm so, maybe that will work on in its favor.
Some can even weaponize it
Our Story Will Involve…?
My last thought is a valid concern, after seeing the Mario Brother’s Movie, the Street Fighter movie, and reading the Five Night’s at Freddy’s novel. Translation between mediums is always a painful, complicated process. It’s a bit like the early experimental days of the transporter in science-fiction novels; you’re likely to arrive on the other side missing some vital organs.
“Hey Jim, my foot’s missing some toes…”
They want to make a full series out a game that spends all day jumping, whipping, destroying candles and beating up famous monsters. I can’t help but question how exactly the anime plans to fill the time and turn what is sometimes aimless wandering into a coherent storyline. What parts will they keep and what part will they cut? Or is it gonna be an endless gorefest with a “monster of the week” feel, like Power Rangers did?
What a crossover that would be
It’s hard to say from a simple trailer which characters they’ll keep and how they intend to shape the plot. But I can say that I am super excited to see the results, especially if it means treading into my favorite games in the series.