Ending a popular series that has amassed a huge audience of die-hard fans around the world can be a tricky proposition! (Just ask the producers of HBO’s Game of Thrones, which had to weather a never-ending storm of comments and criticisms during the final season of their show). However, the artistic team behind Netflix’s vampire-themed Castlevania was able to close the show with a fourth season (produced by Frederator Studios, Powerhouse Animation Studios and Project 51 Productions) that was gritty and exciting, as well as emotionally resonant for the audience.
While this specific show, which is based on the Konami video game and was created by comic-book writer Warren Ellis, has officially ended, the producers have revealed that they are developing a new show set in the same Castlevania universe with an entirely new cast of characters. The series’ Emmy-winning producer Kevin Kolde (Adventure Time, Bee and PuppyCat, Bravest Warriors) answered a few of our questions during a brief Zoom interview recently. Here is what he told us about his life with monster hunters, vampire queens and demon forgers:
So, congratulations on ending your show on such a high note! Looking back, what would you say was the secret behind Castlevania‘s success?
You know, it always starts with great characters and entertaining stories. We were fortunate to have that from the first season [in 2017] and continued that throughout these past few years. We were able to create a show for an audience that was not really not being served very much. There was not a lot of adult animation out there other than the family-style comedies. I also think it’s a simple truth that people have and will always like sexy vampires.
Did you continue with the same animation team during the fourth season of the show?
Yes, we worked with Powerhouse studio in Austin and Tiger Animation in Korea. For the final season, we were also able to use lots of freelance animators who joined the project and did some amazing work.
How does it feel to wrap the show up after four seasons?
It feels really great. Being able to start out on a series and finding initial success and being able to do it for four great seasons has been very rewarding. There’s no real sadness, because we were able to do everything we set out to do from the beginning and to plan a satisfying ending as well. All we had to do was anxiously wait for people to also watch the four seasons and get excited about it.
What did you enjoy about the fourth season and the finale of the show?
I don’t want to give too much away, but in the fourth season we got to witness the culmination of the journeys of the characters that we’ve followed in season two and three. There are some amazing moments for all the characters that have solid endings to their stories, while for a lot of them, this marks the beginning of their journey.
Were there any characters or storylines that you were especially proud of?
That’s hard to say, because all the characters are so great. I particularly liked Isaac’s storyline [who is introduced as one of the generals serving in Dracula’s army, and then becomes more of a protagonist]. I like Trevor Belmont and think Cornell is a great character. Dracula and Lisa’s relationship was also a great storyline. It has been very interesting for me to see how people responded to Isaac’s journey throughout the show.
You have been producing excellent TV animation for more than two decades now, working on shows such as The Ripping Friends, Random! Cartoons, Wow! Wow! Wubbzy, Fanboy & Chum Chum and, of course, Adventure Time, Bravest Warriors and Bee and PuppyCat at Frederator with Fred Seibert. What is your take on the current state of animation?
You know, it’s a pretty exciting time to be in animation. There is so much great work being done. The diversity of voices that are emerging today and the types of stories that are being told is very exciting. As a big fan of animation myself, I can’t recall a time like this in my 25 years of working in the business. It’s really exciting to have so much content and to see such a variety of styles, voices and storylines.
How did you get into animation?
I grew up in Michigan, and I was a huge comic-book and monster movie fan. I loved to read Marvel comics. I went to business school because I figured that was the most generic thing you could do after college. My journey to animation is a very long story, but I always knew that I loved cartoons and animation. I was very fortunate to find myself working in animation.
What have been the most memorable reactions people have had to Castlevania?
What stays with me is the overall passion that people have shown for the stories. People have focused on a variety of the characters. These stories have been meaningful for them. You pick ten people and each one of them will give you ten different reasons why they love the show.
Can you leave us with some helpful tips about succeeding in animation?
You have to practice your craft a lot. Study what’s out there. Get into animation social groups. Always be open to fresh ideas and criticism. But also be strong enough to have a great vision and to defend your vision. Just stick with it!
All four seasons of Castlevania are currently streaming on Netflix worldwide.