Castlevania is an American adult animated web television series based on the 1989 video game Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse by Konami. The series follows Trevor Belmont, who defends the nation of Wallachia from Dracula and his minions. The series premiered on the Netflix streaming service on July 7, 2017, and was renewed for an expanded 8-episode second season on the same day. Originally planned with a script written by Warren Ellis in 2007, the project entered development hell until about 2015 where it was finally funded with help from animation studios Frederator Studios and Powerhouse Animation Studios, along with Netflix. Its art style is heavily influenced by that of Japanese anime and Ayami Kojima’s artwork in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night.
When his wife is burned at the stake after being falsely accused of witchcraft, the vampire Count Vlad Dracula Tepes declares all the people of Wallachia will pay with their lives. His army of monsters and demons overruns the country, causing the people to live lives of fear and distrust. To combat this, the disgraced demon hunter Trevor Belmont takes up arms against Dracula’s forces, aided by the magician Sypha Belnades and Dracula’s son Alucard.
In March 2007, Frederator Studios acquired the rights to produce an animated film adaption of Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse, intended as a direct-to-video production. Frederator brought writer Warren Ellis aboard as the screenwriter for the series. In an interview with Paste, Warren Ellis said that when he was contacted about Castlevania he had no previous knowledge of the series and discovered it was a “Japanese transposition of the Hammer Horror films I grew up with and loved”. Ellis explained how he worked with Castlevania producer Koji Igarashi to fit the film into the timeline of the series, including writing a new backstory, and how he was frustrated that Igarashi wanted eight full re-writes of pre-production material before giving approval. Ellis noted that Frederator’s Kevin Kolde, who was slated to produce the work, did not want the film to be aimed at children, allowing Ellis to use gruesome imagery and scenes as necessary to tell the story he wanted to write, something that Ellis had found restrictive in working with normal television animation.
In adapting the game for the film, Ellis did not want to make a point-for-point adaption, but instead provide some material to flesh out the game’s world and elements behind it. At this stage, the film was anticipated to be only 80 minutes long, which Ellis knew would not be enough to tell the full story he wanted, so was able to break apart his script into a trilogy of works, each part having a self-contained three-act structure; the first part would be to introduce the characters of Dracula, Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard and with a meaningful narrative resolution. In this manner, Ellis noted that if the other two parts were never greenlit, the first work “doesn’t demand the presence of the other two parts for it to work as its own thing”. Due to the limited time, Ellis opted to drop Grant Danasty, a pirate character in the game; Ellis noted that besides “the stupid name”, he felt the pirate was misplaced in the setting and that the limited run time would not allow him to develop the character fully.
The show was revitalized when Powerhouse Animation Studios’s Sam Deats was able to negotiate a deal with Netflix for the production, using the existing scripts that had been written nearly a decade prior. Powerhouse reached out to Frederator to help with the show’s production. According to Ellis, Netflix was very positive about his original scripts that he wrote in 2007, and so he had to only make a few changes to fit the Netflix format while staying true to the version of the script Konami had accepted. Shankar was approached with the opportunity to produce the work, which he took as neither Powerhouse or Frederator sought to restrict his creative vision from Ellis’ scripts. Fred Seibert and Kevin Kolde of Frederator Studios also co-produce. The series was animated by Frederator Studios and Powerhouse Animation Studios and
directed by Sam Deats. Trevor Morris composed the show’s music.
The show’s art style was heavily influenced by the work Ayami Kojima did for Castlevania: Symphony of the Night. They also took ideas from anime like Cowboy Bebop and Berserk for character expressions and inserting humor among the more serious elements. The production works closely with Konami, the holders of the Castlevania franchise, who helped to identify small continuity issues but were otherwise very receptive towards the work.