Review: Castlevania Season 4 Ends The Series With A Beautiful Flourish And Lots Of Closure
Castlevania is an anime series that has consistently topped the critics’ ‘best of’ lists. It was originally one of the first Netflix anime ever, and upon the end of its series, remains its best. Especially considering that endings are hard to land. The build-up to storylines, character plots, and larger arcs are hard to resolve in a way that is satisfying to audiences. But with four seasons under their belt, creators Warren Ellis and director Sam Deats masterfully tell find a completion to the show that goes beyond just ending the stories. But the overall vibe and atmosphere leave the audiences with a sense of closure, that few genre fiction has ever done. Find out more in my Castlevania season 4 review, with some mild spoilers.
Castlevania Season 4 Review Is About The Show’s Success In Thematic Storytelling
This guy… | Image via Netflix.
The thematic tone of Castlevania has differed through its seasons. Season 1 was an action-packed introduction to the world and its few characters. The sophomore season 2 slowed things down to a crawl with a lot of new characters, and the personal motivations of each. Season 3 combined both aspects into a more general season, full of newer, otherworldly concepts. So it’s a feat in and of itself that Castlevania season 4 blends all those tones and themes into a massive season that is as deep and substantial, as it is jaw-droppingly full of epic action sequences.
Season 4 had the daunting task of reconnecting the separate storylines of Alucard, Trevor Belmont, and Sypha. Not to mention adding in even more subplots that drove these characters together. Which also meant more characters, some revealed to be as mythically infamous as Dracula himself. But director Keats crafts the story with equal parts exposition and world-building, and some of the most cinematic visuals and set pieces I’ve seen ever in animation.
How Alucard’s Story Brings Him Back From The Brink
A new outfit to go with that new purpose in life. | Image via Netflix.
Season 3 saw Dracula’s half-human, half-Vampire son Alucard (James Callis) as a lonely, depressed man. Who by the end, became bitter through a new betrayal. The season hinted at Alucard’s future being as dark as his father’s, but thankfully, Castlevania season 4 doesn’t go that route. Receiving a letter from a village for help, Alucard suits up to save innocents from the scourge of Dracula’s remaining night-creatures.
In doing so, Alucard finds peace and redemption. It’s a great arc for a character on the brink of darkness. Finding a purpose with new characters and a new mission, allowed Alucard’s story to have meaning, without devolving into a villain’s story. Which is a trope that is all too easy; the good-at-heart anti-hero turned villain due to tragedy. Castlevania season 4 finds a proper ending to Alucard’s story, one that honors his human heritage, and doesn’t undermine his character’s arc through the series.
Trevor And Sypha’s Love Story Is For The Ages
The first couple of anime-action love stories. | Image via Netflix.
One of my most favorite things about Castlevania is the relationship between monster hunter Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage) and magician-monk Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso). With an unconventional love story, we last saw the two slightly worn down after the events of season 3. Castlevania season 4 picks up their story right from there, as the constant adventuring and killing of monsters begins to take a toll on them personally. The season actually opens on Belmont and Sypha as they follow a trail mysterious forces trying to resurrect Dracula.
Going from fight to fight wears thin for the couple, but their relationship is never hurt by it. It’s one of the best and worst things about Castlevania. Their relationship is awesome to watch, as the characters as a romantic couple still stay true to their respective, individual character traits. Which makes them all the more delightful to watch. The worst part is that in a series with multiple story arcs, we don’t get nearly enough of their love story as I would like. Which is a weird criticism coming from me, but a testament to how good their storyline and chemistry is. Oh, I stan!
The Main Focus Of The Castlevania Season 4 Review Focuses on Its Beginnings
Plaything and master. But which is which? | Image via Netflix.
While season 3 was a departure from the origins of the Castlevania anime series, its finale season brings everything back full circle. The story of this season is all about some attempting to bring back Dracula, and how Belmont, Sypha, and Alucard fit into it all. It’s the perfect compliment to the story, given that it’s those three main characters that were the catalyst for the events of the entire series. So to reunite them as part of the plot that they were responsible for resolving is such a fitting finale.
Castlevania Season 4 Resolves All Its Subplots In Meaningful Ways
Isaac goes on a rampage! | Image via Netflix.
The thing that surprised me the most was the format of this last season of Castlevania. When they announced the Castlevania season 4 release date, I was concerned about how all the multiple storylines will end. With a lot of characters and seemingly separate arcs, having them all converge might have felt forced. But Deats and Ellis surprise me again with a season that almost has two parts to it, but still feels seamless. While Belmont, Sypha, and Alucard complete their journeys with Dracula, the others get their own equal, but separate endings.
Carmilla (Jaime Murray) has been living in the villainess shadow of Dracula himself, but season 4 brings it all to a close. Now, you can definitely argue that Carmilla’s story is the one aspect of this final season that feels rushed. She was built up to be this formidable force of evil, only to be deemed too ambitious in her evil-ness, even by her own lesser evil cohorts. But on the other hand, it’s was an ending that made sense with who they established all these characters to be. Sure, Lenore (Jessica Brown Findlay) felt sidelined, compared to the savage and backstabby way she dominated Hector (Theo James) in season 3. But it definitely feels like the Vampire sisters’ stories took a back seat to the Hector and Isaac (Adetokumboh M’Cormack) resolution. Which was beautiful and breathtaking enough for me to ignore those deficiencies.
The Action Is Mind-Blowingly Insane
Eat your heart out, Blade! | Image via Netflix.
I’ve been going on and on over the action sequences of Castlevania since season 1. But season 4 really amps it up with some epic and cinematic sequences. One of the best is Vampire warrior Striga (Ivana Milicevic), suiting up in ‘day-armor’ and taking out a bunch of humans in the bright light of day. Not to mention the humungous fight scenes in the end that were just non-stop heart-pumping extravaganza of blood. And no season of Castlavania is complete without Trevor getting a new weapon, of course. Castlevania season 4 really finds a way to end this series in a near-perfect way. While all characters get some sense of closure, the series is even able to bring a sense of completion and happiness to two characters that began the series, appearing in the first scene of the show.
This Part Of The Castlevania Season 4 Review Features Major Spoilers!
Scarier in the end, than she ever was before. | Image via Netflix.
Castlevania began with the relationship between Dracula (Graham McTavish) and Lisa (Emily Swallow). In many ways, that relationship was the foundation of the show. The violent end of which is what opens the entire series, with consequences that have spanned all seasons. So it’s incredibly heartwarming that, out of the depths of hell, those two still end up with a happy ending. And while a lesser show might have left things on a cliffhanger, Castlevania doesn’t. The show definitively ends the story, while resolving a plot point that honestly, didn’t need to be resolved. But the show is all the better for it.
The entire Castlevania series is a testament to dedicated storytelling. It’s always had the courage to lean into its deeper and slower moments. While also not holding back on the outrageous action and the more mindless and entertaining aspects of its story. It’s a seminal work of anime, deserving of all the accolades that it’s sure to get in the coming months. Powerhouse Animation is undoubtedly one of the best animation studios of the medium. And this season of Castlevania just solidified its status in an industry with one of the greatest anime ever made.
All seasons of Castelvania are now streaming on Netflix.
How did you feel about how Castlevania season 4 ended? Let us know in the comments below.
Featured image via Netflix.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.