Death, darkness, decay, and damnation return with the ornate, mystifying and gothic trappings of Netflix’s original animated series Castlevania: Nocturne. Created by Konami, the renowned action/horror RPG game franchise of the same name dominated the game arena for over two decades up to the mid-2010s and got its due revival with Netflix’s original animated series consisting of four seasons. Arguably the strongest entry in Netflix’s original animation content, the series paved the way for a more accurate adaptation of game-oriented narratives, as well as instilling contemporary sensibilities with the creation.
Majorly revolving around the rivalry between the vampire hunter Belmont family legacy and Dracula himself, the Castlevania series has inspired a number of classic narratives dealing with gothic horror and similar themes. The recently released Castlevania: Nocturne acts as a follow-up to the original animated series. The narrative of the animated series has been adapted from two Castlevania games: Rondo of Blood and Symphony of Night. The first season, consisting of eight episodes, takes viewers to late eighteenth-century France, where the legacy of Belmont faces the threat of extinction with the arrival of a powerful primitive evil.
A Tragic Beginning: What Brings Belmont To France?
The original Castlevania animated series left a mark pretty quickly by beginning with the tragic death of Lisa, wife of Vlad Dracula Tepes, which led to the master vampire swearing vengeance on humanity. In a similar vein, Nocturne begins its pilot episode “A Common Enemy in Evil” with a tragic death, this time one from the Belmont family. The episode begins in Boston, in 1783. As the country celebrates the end of the American Revolutionary War, vampire hunter Julia Belmont rushes to send her young son, Richter, across the ocean to France, as she feels he will be safe with his auntie, Tera. Both Julia and Richter inherit the mystical powers of Speakers (those who battle demons with their magic and element manipulation powers) due to Sypha (one of the strongest Speakers) being one of their ancestors, and Richter is willing to help his mother in her battle against the undead, much to her dismay. The duo are attacked by Olrox, an ancient and powerful Aztec vampire who harbors a grudge against Julia for killing one of his close ones. Despite putting up a valiant fight, Julia ends up getting killed by the vampire, and as young Richter watches helplessly in horror, Orlox decides to spare his life. At this point in his life, a traumatized Richter loses the ability to use magic.
Scene shifts to nine years later, 1792, during the early stages of another momentous event in human history—the French Revolution—and appropriately, viewers are taken to the small town of Machecoul in western France, where Richter is living with aunt Tera Renard and her daughter Maria (both are Speakers). As the country is going through a transition period, the blood-sucking bourgeois upper class has secretly shaken hands with literal bloodsuckers, to curb the revolution. As Victor and Maria battle an attacking flock of vampires at a makeshift revolution campaign, one of the assailants mentions a certain Messiah of vampires, whose arrival will spell doom for the country.
Who Is The Messiah Of Vampires?
As the duo wonders about the identity of the said vampire, they inform the local abbot, Father Emmanuel, and share their suspicions about the Château of the town’s Marquis being the hiding place of the nosferatu denizens. Later that night, the Richter and Renard families are attacked by a horde of night creatures (corrupted, demonic forms of deceased humans), and as they fight against the undead, two strangers, Annette and Edouard, arrive and help them. After exchanging identities, it is revealed that the duo has arrived in France from the Caribbean island of Saint Domingue. Annette is a strong sorcerer who gained her powers due to being a descendant of African gods, and Edouard is an opera singer who helped Annette escape from her slaver. Annette reveals that her master, Cecile, informed her about meeting with Belmont in France to counter the impending doom that will be cast by the vampire messiah, Countess Erzsebet Bethory, a cruel, sadistic master vampire whose inhumane atrocities are the stuff of legend.
Tera, visibly shaken by the mention of the person, shares her sordid past in Russia, where Bethory and her attack dog, Drolta Tzuentes, horrifically massacred her clan of Speakers and took Tera’s sister away to torture in various heinous ways, turning her into one of the captive undead. Assessing the gravity of the situation, the ragtag team of vampire hunters decides to survey the château and learn as much as they can about their adversaries. On the other hand, Drolta has been sent to Machecoul by Bethory to initiate her plan of forming a new world order with vampires at the absolute position of power, and an alliance with the elite upper class ensures the beginning of the prolonged scheme.
How Is the Church Involved In This Situation?
En route, Annette speculates on the existence of a powerful forgemaster who must be helping the vampires create the Night Creatures, and knowing the identity of the person will be instrumental in stopping the undead right on their track. As the team arrives at Château, the sight of her former slaver, Comte de Vaublanc, infuriates Annette, and the team gets cornered by hordes of vampires. As they escape, Edouard gets caught, and out of options, the group has to leave him to his fate. Annette starts blaming herself for Edouard’s predicament, and the Renards try to comfort her by reminding her of the stakes and risks.
Meanwhile, it is revealed that the dungeons of the abbey are the transforming chamber of the Night creatures, and the forgemaster is none other than the abbot himself. Not only has he secretly involved all the clergies in this deal with the devil, but he has also raised an army of templar knights to assist Bethory and her cause. With the dwindling state of faith in the age of reason and revolution, the abbot would rather ally the church with the unholiest of institutions than accept change, and he plans to project Bethory as a new-age Joan of Arc to the people of France, who will bring them salvation. A deceased Edouard is brought to the dungeon of the abbey and turned into a night creature. Meanwhile, at Bethory’s invitation, Olrox arrives in France, quickly forms a connection and shares a bed with the noble general of the abbot’s army, Mizrak.
How Did The Encounter At The Dungeon Take Place?
Suspecting the abbey’s involvement, the team decides to pay a visit and get involved in a battle with Drolta’s forces, night creatures, and the abbot’s soldiers. Confronting Olrox once again triggers Richter’s PTSD, and he flees from the dungeon, while Tera, Maria, and Annette learn about the abbot’s involvement and Edouard’s predicament and are forced to return home. Annette recollects her troublesome past when considering Richter’s reaction to facing his worst fear, as she reveals how her mother was brutally killed by Vaublanc.
Later, a depressed Richter has a chance encounter with his grandfather, Juste, who had similarly lost his ability to conjure magic after losing his close ones. Soon enough, the duo gets flanked by Bethory’s vampires in the wilderness, and the urge of protecting people close to him trigger Richter’s latent powers, truly making him justify the legacy of the Belmonts. On the other hand, Annette overhears the conversation between Olrox and Drolta and learns that Bethory is the reincarnation of the ancient Egyptian god Sekhmet, who is determined to bring forever darkness to Earth by hiding the sun off of the sky. Annette encounters Vaublanc on her way and gets her revenge by killing him. She later channelizes her astral self into the spirit world to reconnect with her mentor and seek wisdom from her. Abbot Emmanuel pays a visit to Tera and Maria and tries to make amends for his deceit, but it is accidentally revealed that he is Maria’s father.
Richter returns to his aunt’s home and reconciles with Annette and the rest of his family. As the team plans to stop Bethory’s evil machinations, Olrox decides to swoop in and help them by providing them with the magic tome, which Emmanuel used to conjure night creatures. Meanwhile, Bethory arrives at Château and is greeted as a harbinger of faith by the brainwashed mass. Maria, disgruntled about the revelation of her parentage, meets with her father, Emmanuel, and Drolta, seeing the duo, is able to recognize the connection, of which she informs Bethory.
Did Alucard Return To Help Belmont And Co.?
To test Emmanuel’s loyalty, Bethory orders him to sacrifice his daughter, Maria, to her. Caught in a moral dilemma, Emmanuel ponders his actions when Maria herself arrives at the abbey to give her father a last chance to escape from the hellhole. However, by now, the abbot has been driven too far in his megalomaniacal quest to protect the faith and has captured his own daughter to sacrifice for the cause. Mizrak, who witnesses this horrendous occurrence, is at once shaken out of his apathy and deserts the abbot’s cause.
Reading the occult tome in its entirety, Tera has learned that the machine that transforms corpses into night creatures can be sent back to its origin, Hell, and using the tome, she can open a portal to Hell as well. At daybreak, Mizrak informs the hunters about the situation at the abbey, and the group at once heads there to rescue Maria and Edouard and destroy everything that can germinate evil. At the same time, Bethory uses her powerful hex to hide the sun, creating eternal darkness as a result, which empowers her, and she turns into her Sekhmet form.
At the abbey, a fight ensues between Drolta and Richter. Tera creates a portal in the dungeon, while Annette checks up on her friend Edouard. However, Edouard isn’t willing to leave with her, as he wants to reform his fellow hapless Night creatures first. Bethory enters the abbey, and at once the tables turn in the favor of the undead as she thwarts all resistance posed by Richter with ease. Annette goes to the dungeon and tries to push the transforming machine to Hell, but fails as Bethory’s control grows stronger with every passing moment. Bethory captures Maria, whom she wishes to turn into one of her undead associates by converting her into a vampire, but to save her daughter, Tera offers herself instead. Making the ultimate sacrifice, Tera gets transformed by Bethory, while Maria and the other hunters are forced to leave the abbey. Mizrak gets saved by Olrox in the nick of time, and it seems he has started growing feelings for him, but the latter only considers him a soulless monster and runs away from him.
Drolta and her horde of vampires chase the hunters into the valley, and just as it seems that Belmont and his comrades will perish in their onslaught, a familial silver sword is seen to pierce Drolta’s body, resulting in her gruesome death. The wielder of the sword is Alucard, the dhampir (vampire-human hybrid) of Dracula Vlad Tepes and his beloved wife, doctor Lisa. Series fans already know about his exploits during the events of Castlevania, when centuries ago he assisted Trevor Belmont and Sypha in their battle against Dracula.
In the present timeline, he has returned from slumber to assist another Belmont yet again, and this time the task at hand seems to be even more daunting. Bethory has the transformation machine, forgemaster, and eternal darkness by her side, along with her ridiculously exalted godly powers, to forever change the course of human history, and the upcoming seasons will most likely showcase just how diabolic her plans for a new world order can be. It will take Alucard, the entire might of the new generation of vampire hunters, and even more third-party assistance to even the playfield, and we can’t wait to see what the makers have in store for us in the following chapters.