By Ruth Johnson
The moderator of the VIZ Media panel on Friday, October 4 was wearing what can only be described as a dazzling mirrorball-esque suit. The announcements were even more dazzling. A sparkling conversation between the cast and creator of the hit animated series Castlevania closed out the panel. The panel started with the moderator and an editor from VIZ Media announcing upcoming releases and highlighting exclusives and giveaways at their booth on the show floor.
But it really kicked off with the trailer for their newest animated show Seis Manos, which was released on Netflix Thursday, October 3. Although this had already been released, the audience clearly enjoyed the trailer, which brought the gore, but also, diversity. Seis Manos is set in Mexico, and there were several audience members who were visibly excited by that fact. VIZ’s new video game Cat Lady was also brought up, with a cute trailer shown. Cat Lady continued to be brought up during prize giveaways where they gave away a lot of plushies based off the game.
Then, the real announcements started. First off, Samurai 8: The Tale of Hachimaru will be released in March 2020. The One Piece character Ace will get his own novel, releasing in May 2020; Ping Pong and Not Your Idol will also be released that month. Act-Age, a manga series about an actress who gets too involved in her characters, will have a physical release July 2020; Mujirushi will also be released. Naruto: Naruto’s Story-Family Day is coming June 2020, and Bleach: Can’t Fear Your Own World! will be released July 2020. Fushigi Yugi: Byakko Senki will be released August 2020; it will be the final book in the series. How Do We Relationship?, about a young woman who is a lesbian, will be released in June 2020.
Maison Ikkoku: Collector’s Editon will be released in June 2020. Rooster Teeth fans will be excited to hear that RWBY: The Official Manga will hit shelves a month later in July. Spy x Family, about a spy who must marry an assassin, will be released in June 2020. This manga got a special shout-out from the moderator for having good action scenes in addition to good comedy. A Korean manhwa The Kingdom of the Gods, about zombies, will be released May 2020.
While that seems like a lot of releases all at once, VIZ was clearly gearing up for its main announcement: VIZ Media and Disney are teaming up! While no release dates were set, Star Wars: The Legend of Luke Skywalker was announced along with a Frozen 2 manga. The crowd was visibly excited by this new partnership for VIZ.
The second half of the panel was dedicated to Castlevania. With the season 2 Blu-Ray/DVD release coming soon in November, and the season 3 release being widely anticipated but largely mysterious, the audience was clearly ready to hear more. While a light Q&A, there was a lot of laughter had and clearly a spirit of good cheer amongst the cast and its creator, Warren Ellis. As there is a Castlevania panel scheduled for Saturday night of the con, it makes sense that this panel was dedicated to getting to know the cast and its creator a little better.
Graham McTavish (Dracula), Alejandra Reynoso (Sypha), and James Callis (Alucard) were on hand for the panel, as was a boisterous Ellis. The Q&A got off to a good start, with Ellis jokingly threatening an audience member who claimed Castlevania was set in England while answering a trivia question. Ellis talked about how Castlevania was really in production all over the world at certain points, due to the various collaborations between different production companies and animation studios.
The cast was asked how they reacted to watching the series: Reynoso said she watched it with her dad, who’s a big fan. Callis referenced a Portlandia episode where they marathon Battlestar Galactica (which got cheers from the audience), and he said he marathoned Castlevania and afterwards tried to get other people to watch it.
The cast was asked about their relationships to their characters. McTavish discussed his long connection with Dracula starting with Bram Stoker’s Dracula as a child. Callis noted, to the audience’s amusement, that he was surprised by how handsome Alucard was, but also how much like Shakespeare’s Hamlet he was.
Ellis praised Reynoso for having a real tonal register and range, mentioning that she was the only actor to be cast off of auditions. He said of her performance as Sypha that she’s like, “I’m going to be nice to you up until a point, and then I’m going to wear your skin!” Ellis continued to praise the actors, saying, “If there’s anything bad on the show it’s on me, and if there’s anything good on the show it’s because of the actors.” He also praised the fact that since adult animation is such a new form in the United States, there’s so much room to play; he said it’s “unfiltered us.”
The panel closed out with a fun question: what is the cast’s and Ellis’s favorite vampire of all time? At first they joked that McTavish was, but then Callis said, with sincerity, the Count from Sesame Street, before launching into an impression of him. McTavish said late actor Christopher Lee’s portrayal of Dracula, which drew cheers from the audience. Ellis said Klaus Kinski in Werner Herzog’s Nosferatu the Vampyre. Reynoso said Bela Lugosi’s Dracula was her favorite.
At the end of the panel, the full Castlevania panel scheduled for Saturday, October 5 was plugged, and posters for Season 2 of the show were handed out to the audience as they left.
Season 2 of Castlevania comes out on Blu-Ray/DVD on November 5, 2019. Castlevania has been ordered for a third season, but no release date has been announced.