Okay, so I’m going to get super nerdy and personal simultaneously… And this might be a bit of a lengthy ramble, so bear with me. Also, if you have not seen Castlevania season 2 on Netflix and do not want spoilers, READ NO FURTHER.
First off, when this little vampire anime popped up on my Netflix one day last year, I had no idea what I was getting myself into. I literally just had nothing better watch, and thought “what the heck is this?”. Then I fell for Alucard, because hey, pretty vampire boy! I thought nothing of it when I decided to start working on a cosplay for him.
Then out of the blue, sitting at my sewing desk, a realization hit me that made this series, and this character, far more personal than I ever thought. Alucard is the half-vampire son of Dracula, and has to fight against his father for the sake of mankind and all that jazz. Take away the fantasy aspect of it, and you have an adult survivor of an abusive parent. For me, the adult daughter of an alcoholic mother, the story took on a whole new meaning.
I clung to Alucard like a lifeline; I’m fairly certain many of my friends and family now question my grip on reality, but I swear I don’t literally believe I’m Alucard. But in the middle of my personal crisis, here’s a character with the same story as me, who is unwavering, unbreakable, and unafraid. And with an awesome cape to top it off (at least in his game design).
Now if you missed the spoiler alert at the top, this is your last warning!
Season two of the anime came out this past Friday, and I couldn’t have been more excited- I had the past year to fangirl over my newfound obsession, and I was dying to see my beautiful boy Alucard again. But oh boy, I didn’t expect it to hit home quite that hard.
In one of the first scenes, Alucard has a short monologue about his identity as an opposite to Dracula. That struck a chord with me, because it was honestly too relatable. When people talk about cutting out toxic friends or relationships, they always say you should get rid of everything from your time with them… That’s not possible with a toxic parent. My mother left when I was 19; I can’t just cut out everything from the first 19 years of my life. I have had a long battle reminding myself that my childhood belongs to me, not to her. Like Alucard, I’ve struggled with the idea that I am not defined by my mother, and that I have an identity outside of my relation to her.
Also like Alucard, I didn’t have an unhappy childhood. I have good memories with my mother, just enough to make things confusing. Like everyone else, I remember making mothers day gifts, telling her how much I loved her. And I thought, like any other mother, she loved her children. Her abuse wasn’t obvious when I was young; I don’t have physical scars. She never beat me, and I didn’t go to school with horrific injuries (except one incident of too-realistic makeup scaring my history teacher, but that’s another story). It was more subtle than that, and I just accepted it as the way things were. I didn’t think of myself as an abused child, because I didn’t know anything else.
It got worse as I got older; her drinking problem was acknowledged about the time I graduated high school, and it only got progressively worse. Hardly a day went by when she wasn’t angry at someone or something; she lied, she yelled, and she manipulated everyone she encountered. No matter who tried to help her or how, anyone who wasn’t enabling her became an obstacle for her to circumvent, including me and my family. I always had a hard time standing up for myself, especially with her; it caused less trouble for me to just keep my head down and try not to set her off. After a lifetime of practice, I’d gotten pretty good at that.
It all came to a head the night before Halloween in 2013. She picked a fight with me so bad that I left the house, and I was too scared to go back until I saw my dad’s truck in the driveway. I told him what happened, and the incident escalated into a family-wide dispute in which my dad told her she had to choose the alcohol or us. She left the next morning. I don’t think any of us knew how to react; I put on my Halloween costume and went to work. That period was the calm before the storm. For the first time in my life, there were no arguments, no slamming doors, and no fear of going home. We all thought it was over, but that was only the beginning of the war.
We spent the last few years in divorce proceedings (and yes, I say we because we’re a family, and all in this together) that have been a strain beyond what any of us could have imagined, and sometimes beyond what we thought we could endure. Every time we went to the court house felt like walking onto a battlefield. It felt exactly like Trevor asking Alucard if he was ready to face Dracula. “No, but let’s put an end to this anyway.”
EVERYTHING IN THE FIGHT WITH DRACULA HURT ME. A part of me wishes I could have spoken to my mother like Alucard faced Dracula. I couldn’t have done it when she first left, but I’m a different person now. I’ve grown, I’ve gotten stronger, and like Alucard, I’m not alone. I have my family and friends around me, and I’m more grateful for them than words could ever express. Just like Trevor and Sypha, I know they all have my back.
And then came THAT scene. If you’ve seen season two, you know what I’m talking about. Dracula throws Alucard through a wall, steps through, and stops just as he looks ready to it him again. “It’s your room,” he says, and all of a sudden Alucard is in the context of being his son again. He’s not an obstacle or an enemy. “My boy… I’m killing my boy, Lisa… I’m killing our boy.” I’m sure you all know my opinions on people who hurt their children (see my previous article, Responsibilities of Being a Parent) and you should know how much that line broke me down. In that scene, Dracula showed more humanity than my mother has. I would give anything to see her realize the damage and the hurt she’s inflicting on people she used to claim she loved.
In going through my house to clear out her things, I spent probably two days sifting through old family photos. I found some of my baby photos, from what I assume was my first birthday. She looked just like any other mom holding her baby. And it hurts so much to think that somewhere along the way, she stopped seeing us as her family. I stopped being her baby. I don’t want her back in my life, but I just wish for even a second, she could stop and see what she’s done.
Even Alucard is not unbreakable, which to be honest, I really appreciate. The final episode of the season shows the aftermath of Dracula’s defeat, especially in regards to Alucard. His walking through the empty castle reminded me of being home alone after my mother was gone. I’ve found that I actually like being alone a lot of the time, but it’s not always a good thing. Like Alucard, I had to pick up the broken pieces of everything, and there were reminders of both the good and the bad times everywhere. Even without any dialogue, the last scenes spoke louder than the entire rest of the season in my opinion. Alucard takes a chair, sits down, and cries. And not just a single tear for dramatic effect; he weeps, overwhelmed by the weight of everything that’s happened. And I felt that scene in the very core of my being. Through Alucard, I saw every time I have had to excuse myself to avoid melting down in front of someone else. He looked exactly how I felt every time I’ve cried so hard I didn’t know if I could stop. And in a way, it makes me feel okay. It’s okay to break down, and it’s not a sign of weakness. Alucard is shown to be a strong, capable character, and even he breaks down and cries because of what he’s been through.
And even to someone who doesn’t have my issues, I think that last scene is important. It brings a sense of realism to Alucard’s character, and I think it’s really important to have an emotionally vulnerable moment like that for him. He’s never once seen as weak or incapable; he’s just… human. And as far as I know, that’s something that anyone can relate to. It hurts, and in my case it felt like a punch to the stomach, but I am honestly glad to see something like that portrayed. What happens after the battle is just as important as the battle itself. Recovering from trauma takes time, speaking from experience, and I am just very grateful to see that portrayed in Castlevania.
Also just saying, his friends TOTALLY need to go back for him. The boy needs a hug. And heck, hug me too.