Castlevania Season 4 interview with producer Kevin Kolde

Trevor Belmont
In this interview with Castlevania producer Kevin Kolde, we discuss the themes and characters of the final season, the Castlevania Season 5 sequel rumors, the ethics of the depiction of gory violence, and even Grant Danasty. Pic credit: Netflix

Netflix’s Castlevania Season 4 will have Wallachia collapsing into chaos as factions clash. Some attempt to take control, while others are attempting to bring Dracula back from the dead.  Nobody is who they seem, and nobody can be trusted. These are the end times.

The Castlevania Season 4 release date is May 13, 2021. The fourth and final season will have 10 episodes in total, which is the same length as the third season.

Vampire hunter Trevor Belmont (Richard Armitage), sorceress Sypha Belnades (Alejandra Reynoso), and Dracula’s son Adrian “Alucard” Tepes (James Callis) will be confronting the Count for the final time.

The Castlevania animated series is being produced by Frederator Studios, with Studio Powerhouse Animation doing the animation. Director Sam Deats is helming the Castlevania Season 4 project with his brother Adam Deats working as an associate director. Kevin Kolde, Fred Seibert and Adi Shankar, and writer Warren Ellis are executive producers.

READ: Castlevania Season 4 interview with directors Sam Deats and Adam Deats

We had a chance to sit down with Mr. Kolde for an interview. Kolde was a producer on Adventure Time and Bravest Warriors. His company, Project 51, originally planned the project as a direct-to-video movie back in 2007, but Netflix eventually picked it up.

In past interviews, Kolde has talked about how the series has used gore and violence in its thematic elements. He’s also mentioned that he enjoyed more quiet, emotional moments like the scene with Alucard in Dracula’s castle.

Monsters & Critics: Castlevania Season 4 is the final season featuring this set of characters. What’s the biggest theme of the story?

Kevin Kolde: I don’t think there is a “biggest theme of the story.” These kind of characters are sort of on their own journeying. They’ve been on that journey for however long they’ve been. Some came in Season 2, some of it with us in Season 1. The goal of the fourth season is really to come to and give us characters’ stories a proper ending. In a lot of ways, a proper beginning. I don’t know that we had a specific theme for the season because the storylines are different in each character’s arc. There’s no particular theme for the season.

M&C: You just mentioned that it’s coming to an ending. Can you comment on the Castlevania Season 5 rumors generated by the April 2021 Deadline news story; that there will be a new series with new characters set in the same universe?

Kevin Kolde: There’s not much to say about that at this point in time to talk about the new Castlevania. In the future, we’re definitely looking at continuing the Castlevania universe. But in terms of any specifics of how we’re going to do that, that’s something I’ll be happy to talk about in the future as more details are available.

M&C: I understand that you can’t talk about specific storylines and things of that nature. Although, Deadline also asserted that writer Warren Ellis “has not been part of the conversations about a potential new show which likely won’t include him as a creative auspice.” Can you comment on this?

Kevin Kolde: In the terms of the new [Castlevania] series, when we’re ready to officially talk about a new series then we’ll talk about the creative team. Who would be involved in it at that time is just premature right now.

M&C: What has changed, if anything, in the production process for Castlevania Season 4?

Kevin Kolde: What has changed… Everyone worked from home.

M&C: <Laughs> Has that impacted the story in any fashion you might imagine?

Kevin Kolde: It’s hard to say. I think it presents benefits and challenges. People are stuck in their houses, so maybe they don’t have as much to do, so they focus more on their work. <Laughs> Maybe they have kids and things, stresses, and challenges. The creative team and the animation team all knew that Season 4 was the final season of this journey, so I think people pretty much put all they got into it. So, I think in terms of story and animation and everything that it’s the best season. I’m pretty proud of it. I’m pretty proud of the team. It’s pretty spectacular.

Castlevania 4
The key visual for Netflix’s Castlevania Season 4 episodes. Pic credit: Netflix

M&C: I know I’m looking forward to it. Past seasons have had scenes that were originally not in the script written by Warren Ellis. For example, the giant ball of floating humans and when all the winged creatures fly out of the priory. Will there be similar creative changes in Castlevania Season 4?

Kevin Kolde: Occasionally, there’s stuff like that which happens. I’m trying to think in Season 4 if there’s major things that were altered, and nothing is really jumping to mind. And just to be clear on that stuff, no one is really altering the story. Those are things that occur organically between animators and writers, like the things we discussed. There are elements, some scenes, I think, and sequences in Season 4 where the script just says, “They need to fight for two minutes.” <laughs> It’s up to the animators and storyboard artists to figure out how that works and how to work it into the story. I don’t think there’s anything [in Season 4] to the extent of the Legion character and the big battle in Season 3.

M&C: The animated series has extreme graphic violence and the third season even had sex, violence, and sexual manipulation. You’ve stated in past interviews that “gore can make the story more real,” but “you don’t want it to be gratuitous.” What would you consider to be going too far in depicting violence?

Kevin Kolde: I don’t know how to answer that question without context. It’s all about context, right? You have to make those judgment calls at the time in the context of what is being told in the story, what’s supposed to be happening, what’s the character. Is it necessary? Is it not necessary? I don’t think there’s really any hard and fast answer to that question. Every time it comes up, it’s a choice, right? You have to hope you make the right, reasonable, responsible choice in terms of what you need to tell your story and what is meaningful to be depicted based on the journey the characters are on or the characters you are talking about. I don’t think there’s really any straight answer there.

M&C: I see. So you have to take in the particular context of when the story is being written. And the audience, I assume, right? Of course, the audience may change over time. 10 years from now, people will go back on streaming platforms and be looking at old stuff and watching it with fresh eyes. I’m sure that will change how things are viewed.

Kevin Kolde: Look, I don’t know. There’s a lot of outside influences, things you can think about when you’re telling a story. Again, I think you have to be responsible, but you have to be true to your story and your characters and make your choices based on those factors, not based on whatever time period you’re living in.

M&C: The Castlevania animation is essentially a retelling of Konami’s video game Castlevania 3: Dracula’s Curse and Castlevania: Curse of Darkness, which focused on the Devil Forgemaster Hector. Is there anything from the original video games that you wished could have been adapted by the animated series but wasn’t?

Kevin Kolde: Uhh…. no. There’s not anything. Generally, the story that we told, there’s nothing that I wish that we had pulled from the games that we didn’t.

M&C: Not even Grant Danasty? A cameo by him or something?

Kevin Kolde: <laughs> Free Grant! No, I don’t regret Grant not being in the show.

M&C: Sorry Grant!

Kevin Kolde: I’m sorry, Grant fans, it’s kind of become humorous at this point because every year, every season, Netflix will put out new cast members, and there’s never Grant. All the comments are always, “Where’s Grant?”

M&C: Of course, in order to have a good story you have to have a focus and sometimes a big cast is not that great for that.

Kevin Kolde: It was a choice. We made it, and we’ve lived with it, and we’re sorry to all the Grant fans that he didn’t make it into the show. I don’t know if it would have made the show any better. Maybe it would have made it worse; I don’t know. Maybe he’ll get his own show at some point.

M&C: A spin-off at some point? That would be fun. Of course, no one is saying, “Give us Grant or we riot.”

Kevin Kolde: <laughs> They might be. I’m just not aware of it. Who knows?

M&C: Speaking of characters, what’s your favorite Castlevania game/main protagonist and why?

Kevin Kolde: That’s really hard. I think Castlevania: Symphony of the Night was a great game [Note: SOTN featured playable characters Alucard, Richter Belmont, and Maria Renard.]. The stories for the characters in the earlier games were thinner, right, because of the platforms and the technology at the time. In some cases, there’s more there for a character than other characters. If you look at Simon Belmont. He’s one of the more famous Belmont characters, but the stories are pretty thin. A lot of it is in how you interpret it or how you imagine it in some cases. I don’t know. Right now, Trevor’s my favorite Belmont, not just because we’ve been able to build the character so much more than what was there in the games. Richard Armitage [the English voice actor for Trevor Belmont] has done an amazing job with building [Trevor’s] personality with his voice work. His acting has been pretty incredible. As for later, if we do another Castlevania series, I may have another favorite Belmont, but for right now, it’s definitely Trevor.

Alucard as depicted in Castlevania: Symphony of the Night by Japanese artist Ayami Kojima. Pic credit: Konami

M&C: Here at Monsters and Critics we tend to focus more on anime, Japanese animation. A lot of times, people have referred to Castlevania as like a Netflix anime. Four seasons in, what do you think of that comparison?

Kevin Kolde: A comparison of Castlevania versus anime?

M&C: Your type of animation versus Japanese anime.

Kevin Kolde: I don’t think it’s actually a relevant discussion, to be honest with you. Obviously, our creative team draws inspiration from Japanese anime. A lot of it we borrowed from live-action and other cinematic elements. I don’t think we creatively set out to make an anime, so to speak. That was really not the goal. A lot of the visual aspects, at least in terms of the character look, was really a creative decision that was based more on finding a familiarity point for fans to find a way visually into the series. We looked at a lot of different early characters, design styles before we landed where we were, and we really ended up focusing on the artwork from Ayami Kojima, who has done all of the most famous, sort of iconic Castlevania game covers and Castlevania posters. All the beautiful, gothic characters. That was really more our reason for the visual design direction that we took than anything else. We definitely did not– the goal is not to make anime, and it’s still not to make anime, although there are plenty of influences there.

Christopher Belmont
While Ayami Kojima never created artwork depicting Christopher Belmont, many have tried recreating the Castlevania 2: Belmont’s Revenge character using her style. Pic credit: Konami

M&C: You were speaking of different characters like Simon Belmont and how everyone loves him, but his plot is pretty thin, of course, based on being the oldest games. The next [character] in the [official Konami Castlevania] timeline would be Christopher Belmont. Honestly, still a pretty thin plot, but at least you have that father-son dynamic that’s going on there. What do you think of that character?

Kevin Kolde: Again, I like Christopher Belmont. I like all of the Belmont characters. I think that you have to judge a question like that in terms of the context of the question. Do I like him enough to make him the focus of a new series of Castlevania? It’s hard to say, right? We wouldn’t necessarily have him like Trevor, you know, to be that character. Again, it’s about context. I like the game. I like him as a game character and, perhaps, I’ll guess we’ll see.

M&C: Thank you so much for your time! Looking forward to watching it.

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