A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Castlevania is an adaptation of a classic video game about vampire hunters. It's remarkably violent: Characters are suddenly killed on-screen -- stabbed, disemboweled, or dismembered by an inhuman creature or burned at the stake. There's blood, vomit, hacked-off limbs, and piles of gore. Many episodes call the morality of religious officials into question. Cursing includes "f--k," "s--t," and archaic vulgar words for body parts such as "peck" (penis). One episode has a raunchy and violent anecdote about bestiality with a goat. Spooky, gothic imagery -- bats, skeletons, tornadoes of fire -- may frighten young or sensitive viewers.
What's the story?
Inspired by the computer game series of the same name, CASTLEVANIA is an animated series that centers on Vlad Dracula Tepe (Graham McTavish), who's attempting to wipe out humanity as retribution for the Church burning his wife Lisa (Emily Swallow) at the stake. It appears that no one can stop the hurricane of destruction that Dracula has unleashed upon 15th-century Eastern Europe. But vampire hunter Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), the last remaining member of a once-great family, is willing to try to stop Dracula and his demonic army. Along the way, Belmont meets a few allies, including sorceress Sypha (Alejandra Reynoso) and Dracula's renegade son Alucard (James Callis). The odds of success are long -- but Belmont and his friends are the last forces standing between Europe and extinction.
Is it any good?
Stuffed with both gothic imagery and startling violence, this adaptation is not for kids, but teens and adults, particularly gamers, may find something intriguing to chew on. The main plot isn't anything new, but there are some interesting angles. That's the worst thing about Castlevania -- it vacillates between comic book tropes and fresh, innovative ideas. One moment, Lisa is murdered solely to give Dracula a reason to go vengeful-demon on humanity, and the next, the show is making sophisticated points about the Church being as much of an evil as Dracula himself.
Matters are enlivened considerably by the show's beautiful animation style -- which calls to mind 1990s cult fave animated series Aeon Flux -- and plenty of Halloween-y sights and sounds. Viewers who watch with closed-captioning on may be amused to see the wealth of captions describing the nonverbal spookiness: "Aings fluttering," "screeching bats," and "choir vocalizing somberly" are only three descriptions in the show's first episode. It should also be said that Castlevania is easy to binge-watch; with only four episodes in the show's first season, totaling just under 100 minutes, it's sort of like Netflix made an anime movie and tried to fool us into thinking it was a series.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why a video game was adapted into a TV series. What about the game Castlevania lent itself to a dramatic show? What other games can you think of that would make good TV shows?
Castlevania is set in Wallachia; is this a real place? Look it up. Why would this show about fictional characters be set in a real historical place? Does it lend the story gravity or believability?
For kids who love spooky adventures
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.