Castlevania’s fourth and final season premiers this Thursday on Netflix. With its final season fast approaching I spoke with executive producer Kevin Kolde. We discussed the characters, final thoughts on the series, and if there is any desire to continue the series.
Ben Schmidt: I’ve read in previous interviews that to you the series is all about the characters and that one of your favorite arcs was Isaac’s. I’m interested in if there was anything from the game canon of Castlevania that you were wanting to follow? Or did you pick the characters that were most interesting to you and made it your own?
Kevin Kolde: It’s a little bit of both right? I mean, to be honest with you when you look at Castlevania III: Dracula’s Curse which is sort of the basis for the whole thing. There’s not a whole lot of story there. There are basically major story beats and that’s about it. That kind of leads us to fill in the rest of those things. So a lot of that stuff we created from scratch. When we get into characters like Hector and Isaac who are in some later games. Those are more story-driven and we start making choices as to what to keep and what to change and alter for our story. It depends on what’s appropriate. I don’t think Isaac the game character would have worked super well in our story. He’s a little bit too over the top. Too cartoon villain you know?
BS: Exactly, and that’s something I really like about the show. Other than maybe one or two characters, everyone’s pretty three-dimensional. Yes, they are the “bad guys” but you can understand their motivations. Like Hector in season two, we probably aren’t too big a fan of but I’m sure most of us were feeling for the guy by the end of season three. One thing going from the game canon is Trevor and Sypha’s relationship. You kind of made it in your face that they’re together but also subtle about how they’ve grown together. Was there anything specific on how you wanted to handle that relationship or just let it flow naturally?
KK: To the extent that something that someone writes can naturally happen right? I mean Warren had a plan that the characters would come together. Again going back to the game, they meet during the game the implication is that they’re together at the end of the game. At some point because Trevor is the last of the Belmont’s they have to get together right? Those are kind of the known elements. How they go on that journey is sort of in the character development and in the writing. Also, how Alucard plays into that relationship. They spend a lot of time apart in terms of Alucard vs Trevor and Sypha. Especially in the early part when Trevor and Sypha are starting to find each other.
BS: Absolutely, and coming from a fan perspective you would think as a series that defeating Dracula would be the foundation of the story. Not the midpoint of it. Was it hard to keep the series interesting and the story beats still cohesive after taking out the main villain in Dracula during season two?
KK: I don’t think it was a big issue right? I mean there is the element in Castlevania where Dracula is never really gone forever. Someone is always trying to bring him back, with Dracula not there it allowed us to focus on the other characters. Also, the world with Dracula’s influence under his power then you have a world with him gone. That creates another set of issues for everybody. This is demonstrated by season three, things aren’t necessarily any better than they were when Dracula was there. So I mean again you just find your way, you find your way with the characters. I think because their developed and the world is developed it’s just a natural progression.
BS: I think that’s the thing I’ve been most impressed by is how it does feel so natural. You’re making these different character arcs come together and feel cohesive. Even though they’re in such different places. Hector, Isaac, Alucard, Sypha, and Trevor are all more or less in the same place. Then by the end of season two and beginning of season three, Trevor and Sypha are together but everyone else is in different places. As far as the narrative goes, going back and forth between a bunch of different places was it hard to make everything feel cohesive?
KK: You know credit to Warren Ellis for managing those elements. Warren would outline the season beats before we would start. There was always kind of a blueprint before we started the season. When we started season three our plan was to end in season four. We didn’t know if we would get a season four but we certainly knew where the story would go. Assuming that we were lucky enough to get the season. So that’s certainly helpful in the story arcs. I think the biggest challenge and one of the things that the team figured out really well was just that normally in live-action these stories are told in much longer episodes. Ya know live-action fantasy drama shows are hour-long or forty-five-minute-long stories but we are doing it in animation which is anywhere from twenty-two to thirty which is a bit more difficult to have those sort of elements and keep those multiple storylines going. I’m pretty proud of how it all came together.
BS: I know that you work a lot on animation and one thing that is kind of hard to get past is the stigma that if it’s animated it’s for children. Castlevania is definitely not for children. Do you think something like this will take steps toward adult animation being taken a little more seriously by the powers at be? Or is that something that adult animation fans just have to deal with moving forward?
KK: I think absolutely Castlevania has opened the doors to looking at adult animation differently. Absolutely, one hundred percent. I mean you have shows like Invincible on Amazon which I don’t think would have happened without Castlevania. Netflix has a lot of more adult fare that is going to be coming out. I mean for me it took ten years to get Castlevania made as a series. I think that it’s extremely gratifying that it happened at all and credit to Netflix and thanks to Netflix for taking a chance on it and seeing the potential. As somebody who grew up not just on animation like Looney Tunes or cartoons or what have you. I was someone who grew up on Marvel Comic Books and DC Comic Books, playing video games. You know this is squarely in my wheelhouse and I think a lot of other peoples as well. So, I think it’s just the beginning. I think we are going to get a lot more adult animation and a lot more mature content. A lot more diverse content, I think it’s a really exciting time if you’re a fan.
BS: I agree, I am really excited to see where shows like Castlevania and even the recent Netflix DOTA animated series go. I was pleasantly surprised with how well DOTA turned out. The last thing I’m curious about is I know this is the “final season” but are there any plans to continue the series? There are a ton of Belmont’s we could follow after Trevor. If you get the go-ahead would you like to continue the Castlevania series or would you like to end it how you wanted to end it?
KK: I think that question has two parts. Season four ends the storyline of Trevor, Sypha, and the characters that we followed for four seasons or begins it depending on how you wanna look at it. That is absolutely what we wanted to do. The Castlevania game universe is much bigger as you know. There are characters and stories that take place in a historical sense before the story of Trevor and Sypha. After the story of Trevor and Sypha and you know we will absolutely look to continue or to do additional series or what have you in the Castlevania universe.
Castlevania season four premieres May 13th only on Netflix. This interview was edited and condensed for clarity.