Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Volume 1 by Kou Sasakura

A tense, theatrical take on the Dracula theme.
Castlevania: Curse of Darkness Volume 1 book cover

Based on the popular video game, one brother defies his father and twin brother to walk a different path than the one laid out for him.

Many years ago, students of alchemy had experimented to turn metal into gold, but it was not long before they also dabbled in the demonic arts, creating two humanoid males in Satan's own image. The result was the red haired Isaac, and the white haired Hector. The place where the experiments took place was Castlevania. And this is where it all starts…

Dracula is annoyed at Hector leaving and not coming back to the castle. He sees how much he has a mind of his own, and sends Isaac, his more faithful son to go after him. Hector seems to give the impression he is trying to come to terms with being a demon, and wants to shed that image, helping humanity into the bargain. This leads him to rid himself of the demons that lurk out there in the shadows. Hector has a good idea others will think of him as bad due to him being a demon, but he has a will of his own and won't let his brother, Isaac defy him. Isaac on the other hand loves his father and is the perfect tool for finding and bringing him back. He tells count Dracula
of the success he and his demon army have had destroying the Greek Orthodox army, and their plans for world domination are fast becoming a reality.

Isaac as a character is a blood thirsty type who enjoys killing and hurting others as he sees humans as not worth bothering with unless they are his prey. Their only problem is that the Belmont family in the west have started to move against them, and are out to destroy all demons and vampires. He mocks them saying they are only humans, yet if their movement grows in size, they might have a chance of taking them on, and Count Dracula can't have that. In his wisdom, Isaac asks only that he should be allowed to hunt and kill the Belmont family, but Dracula sends him on an entirely different mission.

Hector has been missing for a while. After his mission was to find and slay the Belmont's, he had a change of heart, keeping out of the way and hiding his demon powers. It is only when his whereabouts are discovered by a werewolf does he use those powers for good. Apart from the two brothers, Ted, a boy living in the same place as Hector is the main focus of the story. The werewolf has murdered his father and he is terrified once the werewolf comes in, and threatens to eat him and Rosalie, the nun. Ted is the sort of kid who is afraid of his own shadow and needs a hero like Hector to help him out. He has to have someone there to replace his father, and Hector could be his father figure, but only if he embraces his using his dark power for good.

The idea of Castlevania is not to put your faith in God, but to believe in yourself. Hector feels humanity has a good chance of being saved if less people put too much emphasis on sins, and more on independent thought. During a flashback of Isaac's past, we get a clear idea of how he feels about Hector. He has always seen him as a rival to overcome, and a rival to Dracula's affections. He wants to be considered the most worthy commander of Dracula's army. Isaac's desire is to find Hector, bring him back and let Dracula punish him. He does have a punishment in mind, and it isn't pretty.

For a first volume, Kou puts readers into the situation Hector is in, and also throws the Belmonts in as well. Castlevania: Curse of Darkness is a tense, theatrical take on the Dracula theme and his art does justice to Ayami Kojima's original concepts of the characters.

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