Netflix’s Castlevania series debuted last week and has been applauded by fans of the original games. There is, however, one issue that people can’t seem to ignore and that’s the music used in the series.
To be perfectly clear, it’s not that the music used in Netflix’s Castlevania is bad by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s not what people who grew up with the Castlevania games were hoping for.
Some of the most popular tracks from Castlevania games, including “Bloody Tears” from Castlevania 2 and “Vampire Killer” from Castlevania, don’t make an appearance at all, even as background music. This isn’t too surprising and may be as simple as a rights disagreement between Castlevania publisher Konami and Netflix. Polygon has reached out to both companies for comment and will update when more information becomes available.
Regardless of the reasons the music isn’t included, people have pointed out it’s a shame considering just how loyal the adaptation is to the original source material. Castlevania is largely based on Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse, which was released in 1989 (1990 in the United States) for the Nintendo Entertainment System. The game acted as a prequel to the original Castlevania and followed Trevor Belmont, a vampire hunter tasked with destroying Dracula.
That specific game alone featured some memorable music, but it was the franchise as a whole that played home to some of the most well-regarded music from gaming’s 8-bit era.
“I really enjoyed the story and the animation,” the top comment on a post in the Casltevania subreddit reads. “The voice acting was done very well. But I still cannot get over the fact that we heard zero Castlevania music! I mean for Christ's sake give us atleast Bloody Tears or Vampire Killer as the theme!”
Another fan wrote a lengthy response about every aspect of the show that he enjoyed but noted that the soundtrack was lackluster and took away from the authentic vibe the series had going for it otherwise. It’s a sentiment that has been echoed by multiple fans on Twitter.
“Soundtrack was lackluster and I was disappointed that we didn't get to hear any of the original tracks in the animation,” they wrote. “Konami might have got greedy as usual and Netflix must've been unable to use any of the copyrighted soundtrack. I wanted Michiru Yamane to work on this so bad though, it would've been epic for sure. While the soundtrack wasn't good the voice acting was okay and even had some highlights.”
On a thread dedicated to the show’s music, another fan pointed out that considering Netflix’s Castlevania was going to change the sound associated with the franchise so drastically, it should have gone with a more orchestral theme than the heavy metal version used in the show.
“I would prefer orchestral and chamber music (original and/or arrangements of existing CV tunes), over anything rock/ metal,” the wrote. “I do love tracks like ‘The Tragic Prince’ from Symphony of the Night, but for whatever reason wouldn't prefer it in something animated.”
Federator Studios, the production company behind the new series, has also not addressed why the original music wasn’t incorporated into the show. Polygon has also reached out to Federator for comment.
With the exception of the music, however, Castlevania has debuted to high praise from both critics and fans. The first season, which is only four episodes and less than 100 minutes, is available to stream on Netflix. A second, eight-episode season has been ordered by Netflix. The soundtrack for the new season is available to stream on Spotify.