In 2017, Netflix captivated new and old fans alike with the release of the anime series Castlevania by Frederator and Mua Film. Since then, the series has enjoyed continued popularity leading up to the upcoming release of its fourth season later this week.

Based on the classic retro video game series also named Castlevania, the anime follows Trevor Belmont, a beleaguered outcast from a noble family of demon hunters who fell from grace, as he travels the lands fighting the monstrous servants of Count Dracula, a powerful vampire. Joining Trevor on his adventures are the powerful but compassionate Sypha Belnades, a magician from a stoic religious order called the Speakers, and Alucard, the mysterious half-vampire son of Dracula himself.

The first season is only four episodes long but does a lot in a short amount of time. Along with introducing each of these three protagonists, we also learn Count Dracula’s tragic backstory and the motivation behind his dark actions. Enraged by the unjust execution of his human wife, Dracula vows revenge on all humans in the land and unleashes a hoard of “Night Creatures” on the city. But Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard team up just in time to help the city protect itself from the monsters.

The second season, a full ten episodes in length, has the space to move more slowly. Trevor, Sypha and Alucard spend much of the season searching the library in Trevor’s abandoned family home for information and tools to help fight Dracula. Meanwhile, we get more insight into the world of the villains as Dracula rallies forces for his next attack against all of humanity. Many battles and power plays roll out, culminating in a climactic confrontation with Dracula at his imposing, industrial castle.

Season three picks up a month later, with Trevor and Sypha travelling together and Alucard remaining back to guard the castle. Trevor and Sypha stumble upon the village of Lindenfeld where they meet a whole new cast of characters including a stalwart town judge, and an enigmatic group of monks. Meanwhile, we also see Hector and Isaac, Dracula’s two human helpers going their separate ways following the attack on Dracula’s castle.

Castlevania’s grim and gruesome subject matter is matched perfectly by its dramatic art style. The atmosphere is intense and oppressive, with black and gray clouds looming above a landscape red with blood. The lines are hard and bold, with fast-paced animation to meet the action, and characters that stand stark against their moody backdrops. 

The violence in the show is not understated; in fact, it often errs on the side of exaggerated and even gratuitous. But it isn’t all doom and gloom, as the show finds ways to intersperse moments of serenity and beauty, of humour and even of genuine emotional connection between the principal characters.

With season 4 of Castlevania coming Thursday, May 13th, the official trailer promises the new season will see our heroes back in action facing new challenges, and dealing with the aftermath of Dracula’s legacy.