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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Cross

Archives on TV: Castlevania, "Shadow Battles"

Updated: Aug 20, 2021

[Spoiler Alert for Netflix's Castlevania!!]

The history and lore of Castlevania is something of which I have zero knowledge. If I have one weak area of expertise concerning pop culture it's video games and that arm of gaming culture in general. That being said, when Netflix turned the Konami video game into an animated series written by Warren Ellis (Transmetropolitan, The Authority, Planetary) I was basically on board sight unseen.

The two season series keeps to general premise of the games with Dracula as the main antagonist. Following the death of his human wife, Lisa, who was accused of witchcraft and burnt at the stake, Dracula swears revenge and moves to destroy all of humankind. Standing in his way is Trevor Belmont, last of the Belmont family of monster hunters, Sypha Belnades, a powerful magic user, and Alucard, the dhampir son of Dracula and Lisa.

In the second season, Trevor, Sypha, and Alucard travel to the Belmont ancestral home in hopes of finding something that will help them in their fight against Dracula and the monstrous hoards stalking the darkness. While the Belmont estate was burnt to the ground when Trevor was still a child, the vast archives of research, weapons, and artifacts remains in tact below the ruins protected by a magic door. Breaking through the seal, the trio take in the massive legacy of knowledge accumulated by Trevor's family before diving into the task ahead.

For the duration of the season our heroes are seen scouring the archives looking for the smoking gun that will help them defeat Dracula. Hindering their task, however, is a lack of finding aids or inventory that might guide them more effectively towards something of use. I assume the idea was that the Belmonts would pass down their complicated filing system so one of their own would be able to find what they needed, but they were all probably planning on living too and look how well that turned out. When the eureka moment finally occurs to Sypha it's only because she just happened to remember a book she'd previously looked through, at random, somewhere else in the archives.

The Belmont Hold shares some commonality with Dracula's library that, throughout the series, is said to contain the greatest collection of modern science and medicine - knowledge the church would rather not be shared with the lay people. When the series begins, Lisa tracks down Dracula and demands access to his library so she can use it to help people. Dracula is skeptical of her good intentions since his view of humanity is fairly low when they meet. His reasons: ignorance and superstition propagated by the church and nurtured within humankind. Lisa, however, persists in her faith that people aren't as bad as Dracula believes. He eventually relents and gives her access to his wealth of knowledge.

In the case of both the Belmont family archives and Dracula's library knowledge is a commodity. The two repositories exist because of the necessity of hoarding in a time where extensive knowledge beyond the average human scope of reality is considered dangerous. To understand is to be curious and to be curious means one has to be able and willing to question the world around them. Ultimately, the lesson learned by the end of the series is that knowledge is also necessary to combat the forces of darkness and the unknown. Lisa saw it when she knocked on Dracula's door and Trevor eventually sees it when Dracula's castle sits on top of the Belmont Hold. Between the two is the greatest knowledge of worlds seemingly at odds with each other presided over by Alucard, the son of two worlds in constant conflict.

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