Feb. 15, 2023

Midweek Mention... Castlevania

Midweek Mention... Castlevania

Award winning comic book writer Warren Ellis brought gothic horror franchise CASTLEVANIA from Japanese video game developers Konami to the streaming service Netflix in 2017 and we sat down to watch the first episode. A story of love and revenge set initially in the year 1455 which sees intrepid scientist Lisa seek out Vlad Tepes Dracula to learn from him in the hope of becoming a better doctor only for the pair to fall in love. When Lisa is burnt at the stake 20 years later after the local clergy declare her a heretic, an enraged Dracula vows revenge, and it is a violent and bloodthirsty one when it arrives, Netflix being unafraid to embrace the brutality with a cast of many dispatched in multiple creative and horrific ways. Sidey was a huge fan of this, and there is a lot to enjoy including great animation and strong serialised story-telling but this was a little bit too grim and serious for me though the scenes featuring drunken peasants declaring their 'affection' for an attractive local goat hint that the series does have a much needed sense of humour.

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Until next time, we remain...

Bad Dads



Reegs: side. We're doing something a little bit different this week.

Sidey: Well, we're keeping it animated this week.

Reegs: Yeah.

Sidey: And there was a, an ulterior motive for that because there's quite a lot going on this week. And so we thought a cunning plan would be the to pick animation where we could have shorter duration things to watch, but no less quality.

Reegs: yeah. But this is the second attempt that we've had at this.

Sidey: So it didn't work.

Reegs: in the end, it is taken about as much time as it normally takes

Sidey: Yeah, we were originally gonna record on Sunday. This is really boring for everyone, but this is, that was the plan was to record on Sunday because we had birthdays and today is Valentine's Day when we're recording this, so we want to skip all that. Yeah. And

Reegs: and you chatting to each other on

Sidey: and it all went fucking completely peaked on when we tried to do it on Sunday.

And so here we are recording on our usual, one of our usual days.

Reegs: because we won't be stopped much like the Sylvania franchise, we're due to talk about

Sidey: Yeah.

Reegs: That was pretty, pretty slick,

Sidey: Seamless. Yeah.

Reegs: Yeah.

You got fond memories of the cast franchise side.

Got any memories? Do you even know what it

Sidey: I, yeah, I do have memories of it because I used to play briefly the original. Like n e s version of Carve. So I think that was like game one.

Reegs: Well, I, yeah, I had 1980 nines cast the Adventure on the Game Boy.

Sidey: that's pretty rad.

Reegs: Yeah. And it was Punishingly Punishingly hard

Sidey: Yeah. There was a screen in. Cast. Think it was the first one where you had to jump from platform to platform, but they were all invisible and there was no way of knowing. It was just like relentless trial and error of guesswork

Reegs: this leap of

Sidey: and that's kind of shit. Yeah, that's kind of really turd. And then I bought in a nostalgia fest, the n e s like retro thing that you plug into, tell you that's got like 20 games built in.

And it's the same. It's

Reegs: did it have super cast four on it then? Because that was the snares one that was released that I also

Sidey: Well, I bought the snares and the NES retro things. They're just in the loft now because I just find them

Reegs: play him

Sidey: too difficult. Yeah, and actually the the retro appeal wears off pretty quick because it's just really fucking

Reegs: Well, I was gonna say this, this, the, the snares one sort of shook things up from the punishingly hard game, game Boy one, the snares one was more just exceptionally difficult very much like, Eldon ring or something like that. Not with the R PPG elements, but just that whole trial and error combat, the whole idea that it's supposed to be difficult.

That's part of the challenge. And that's why I never really saw more than the first level on either.

Sidey: Yeah, I, I never got through that one. I've con, you know, I was considered myself to be reasonably competent at playing the old video games, but not that one. It's too difficult. But there, then years later, emerged in this is Netflix first goer, anime the Cave series created by Warren Ellis. And it's not the Warren Ellis who's in the Bad Seeds with Nick Cave.

This is a different Warren Ellis. Yeah.

Reegs: Yeah. This, that's the, this is the multiple award-winning comic writer, the authority. He wrote Batman, obviously, and yeah, he wrote for a, a number of different comics and very influential. So yeah, Netflix, I guess getting the big talent in for. Launching of this huge franchise as it is in Japan.

Sidey: Yeah. Had you had a look at this before? I picked it for the show.

Reegs: I had not, no.

Sidey: So I had watched. At least the first two series. And so was going back to, to start this again cuz we did series one, episode one and intro and it starts off the intro. It makes it pretty clear from the GetGo that this is not for kids.

Reegs: Yes.

Sidey: the video games as a 11, 12 year old, I guess when I was on the, on the nets at that time. This is way , way too violent and I don't think there's any f-bombs in the first episode, but I did re-watch episode two and there's like, just like effing and jing and like horrendously violent, so,

Reegs: It's definitely mature content and a, a dark

Sidey: Yeah. Yeah. So the first, the first shot I think is the introduction of what turns out to be Dracula's wife.

Reegs: Yeah, Lisa, an aspiring doctor from a nearby village. She walks across a battlefield, I think, and there's like a, a swarm of bats and a whole like, field of corpses. And the year is 1455, and I think we're in, they, they say walachia, but it's like somewhere in Romania.

Sidey: Yeah, there are like just an endless sea of impaled corpses on spikes, just like they must have been there a while cuz they're down to skeletal remains now and she manages to. Catch a bat on a dagger. That's their introduction to her, and I was expecting that to be Simon Belmont. But it isn't.

It's, it's Lisa, as you say. She is on her way to this pretty imposing looking castle, I guess it is.

Reegs: Yeah. And she is after knowledge basically. She wants to become a doctor. She's not interested in the witchcraft that the rest of her village are into. She knows, she's heard about Dracula and who he is and what he can do, and she wants to exploit him in the name of science to help people effectively.

Sidey: Yeah, I mean, I think that's a pretty bold approach because it is not the most inviting place to rock up to on your own as a single white female. It,

Reegs: As, as a single, as as a person, really, because he, he's got, I mean, this is Dracula that we're talking about, and even if you didn't know of his supernatural powers, he sort of s sculpts around in the shadows anyway. And he sidles up to her when he's talking to her. And,

Sidey: Yeah, when she walks into his abode, he Dracula that is, is just kind of standing, staring out over his Foyer and he looks pale as you'd expect. I think you would describe him, his complexion as English rose. And he can kind of disappear and appear at will. So he, he vanishes and then appears right behind her which some people might find quite intimidating.

Reegs: Yeah, but she doesn't seem to or at least she's intent on asking him for help. And he does in fact take her to this study where there's rows and rows of books and science equipment and she's like absolutely under no illusions to him what she's there to improve people's lives with the knowledge she can learn from Dracula.

Sidey: Yeah, she

Reegs: and also.

Sidey: she, she says that she can help him regain some humanity instead of being this monstrous thing in a castle. And he just needs to help her learn and, and become a doctor. It's kind of different take on the Dracula story, I think.

Reegs: Yeah. Yeah, very much so. So it's clear they're starting a relationship. And she has even in this brief meeting, awakened something in him. And then you know, we're sort of, I think at this point we sort of flash forwards 20.

Sidey: Yeah.

Reegs: And we're still in which earlier, and we see Lisa clearly her surrounded, she's being.

Sidey: She's been burnt at the stake. Yeah, the, the church have got hold of her and she has been burnt at the stake for witchcraft.

Reegs: Yeah, essentially she's a heretic. Science needs to be kept simple in the archbishop's mind and even in this moment where she's being burned at the stake in her, with her very last breath, she cries out at the sky to Dracula for him not to seek revenge.

Sidey: forgive them. They know not what they do, that sort of thing. He didn't really receive that message or the way it was intended.

Reegs: No, I mean, it wasn't completely clear where he was anyway, but he, he sort of turns up and he finds out from a, from an old woman down the road about the bishop and, and all this, you know, what's been going on. Because Dracula has been off, there's been this whole thing about he's never really traveled.

So he's been traveled at the, you know, his wife Lisa, asked him to live as a man to travel out in the world.

Sidey: Interrailing.

Reegs: Yeah, basically he's got dreadlocks. He's started smoking marriage Iana. Yeah.

Sidey: but he's like pretty disgruntled when he hears the news about. Lisa that she has now merged with the Infinite. And he, you're right, he hears from this lady, I think she was dropping off some flowers to to her grave or whatever it was. And yeah, she drops the bombshell that she is no more. And he is not in the mood to forgive them for what they've done.

Reegs: No, he's more in the mood to reappear his face made out of flame in the ashes of. Body and ask the bishops directly what they've done to her. And, and they, they scorn him. They, they say to him, she's a witch. She's not real. And he doesn't take this very particularly well. In fact, you know, he sort of rains fire from the sky and tells them that he's gonna come back in one year's time and destroy them

Sidey: Yeah. Was, was there a particular reason why it was gonna take a year? Was it a gap year? I don't know.

Reegs: He could be. Could be. I. They did hand wave it away. When he goes back to this castle, he does say something about it. It'll take me a year to build the

Sidey: Right. Okay. Because this didn't seem like, you know, there's no time like the present and he could have just put any, yeah. Yeah. So there's, is it blood or something that rains down the next time? They're all the church altogether?

Reegs: Well, that's when they come back, isn't it? Exactly. A year later the archbishop is addressing his people and he's saying, ah, the devil's lied. I thought this was a bit, I'd waited until a year and a day, or even a year and a couple of weeks, not exactly a year later to go, oh, he didn't do it, did he? And in fact, he does.

He sort of, everything goes dark. Blood rains from the sky and Flash falls, and there's a huge. His face appears in the sky of in fire, doesn't it?

Sidey: Yeah. And like some kind of demonic creatures rain down from the sky as well, so it is it's pretty unpleasant.

Reegs: Yeah. I mean, there is, I mean, it's, it's really unpleasant. You know, men, women and children are torn in half decapitated, stabbed, burned. It's very creative and very horrific.

Sidey: Yeah. They, he blows out all the The stained glass from the church window and that just like imp pales on the archbishop and stuff. I thought that was pretty cool. They were getting just shredded in one way or another. And

Reegs: he makes good on his promise. He commands his army to, to go to Walachia and take downtown after town and, and all that. And yeah, it's, it's brutal.

Sidey: it really is.

Reegs: And then we get a little cut. We get thankfully a little bit of humor where we get sort of two drunk cousins. I think they are. They're talking about goat sex. Remember

Sidey: Yeah.

Reegs: Yeah.

Sidey: Well, you need a bit of, you need a bit of levity after all that. Maiming and

Reegs: certainly did, because it's very grim. And then somebody comes in and rushes in and says, oh, the town nearby has been attacked to these drunk fools.

And then there's a guy in the corner who I think they announce as is, I wanna say, Trevor, is it Trevor Belmont? Something

Sidey: I wanna say Simon, but we

Reegs: not because Simon in the games, isn't

Sidey: Yeah, we don't get announced. Cause I, I went and watched episode two. I dunno if you did. But they, they expand on that scene and it's the guys talking about goat sex and all the rest of it. And then they, they, they go on to say about, they they're the sort of peasants I guess, and they are.

Just going on and on about how much they hate these these old families. And they go on and, and mention the Belmont specifically. And then when let's just call him Mr. Belmont, he, he, he orders some more drinks. He's just there getting pissed up. And he reaches for some money and they see he's got a crest on his.

Shirt, which is the old

So there's a fight in Susan, it's like drunken master. He has to beat them up while he is pissed. But he takes a good thrashing night and he, that's when all the there's loads of swearing and stuff in that one.

Reegs: If you like

Sidey: yeah. So even after, after the first two episodes are still, you know, you haven't really got to the castle of it all yet.

Reegs: No, this is

Sidey: There's not a scene

Reegs: tortured backstory of Dracula and let you know that it's all a bit of a tragedy and stuff. So you obviously really liked this, huh?

Sidey: Yeah. I plowed through series one when I first watched it, and then series two I did a lot of snoozing through it. So I, I do want to find the time to catch up on it, but I think there's four or five series now,

Reegs: Oh gosh.

Sidey: like that. Yeah, it was quite quite successful. But there is some unpleasantness about Mr.

Ellis that we. We talked about him. He got caught up in the kind of me too movement, didn't he?

Reegs: As always. Yeah. Yeah. It seems like every piece of art that we review each week, there's some piece of shit attached to it. And yeah, been accused of sexual coercion and, and manipulation.

Sidey: Yeah. It's unfortunate cuz I, I really enjoyed this thought. It's actually really good. It's you know, this

Reegs: when it's, thats, you know, we, we, we are big fans of, of serialized storytelling and animation. We've talked about that on the pod before, and this is mature, graphically violent. I think the animation was superb. Generally, you know, really, really excellent and so many, like really creative scenes, little bit, you know, it, it, it enjoys its violence and I enjoyed that about it, but it's a little bit dark, a bit grim, dark, and a bit serious for my, for my tastes.

This one, I, if it develops a bit more of a sense of humor, I was happy for the goat fucking because I really needed that relief. I

Sidey: it doesn't really, you get Yeah, the odd bits like that, but just, yeah. Lots of violence. It's got James Callis in it who was Garis Alfa from baka.

Reegs: Ah, I wondered who, though I recognized the voice

Sidey: well. Cause I like him.

Reegs: and Richard Armitage as well, who you would just totally know if you'd ever watched him, but he'd been in Oceans Eight and a few, few other bits and

Sidey: It is Trevor Belmont.

Reegs: yes.

Sidey: I dunno.

Reegs: Simon was from the comic. I remember that.

Sidey: Yeah.

Reegs: From the game. Sorry.

Sidey: Yeah. So strong recommend for me this one. I got no, like financial data, obviously, because it's Netflix and they're very secretive about that. But I did look up, you know, metrics and, and really, really high scoring stuff. So it seems to be well received across the board.

So, yeah, a good one.