Going into Arcane, I already had a high level of expectation for this League of Legend animation but truthfully told, I was pleasantly surprised by the high quality and strong narrative it presented!
Arcane gave us the introduction to two of its most iconic characters, Jinx and Vi, while fleshing out other characters from its universe! Admittedly I didn’t know too much of Vi as a character other than she had two huge gauntlets as weapons but by the end of the first season, I grew to like her a lot and also learned a lot about Jinx too. The story takes place in two key locations, Piltover and Zaun. Piltover stands on the precipice of progress and invention, all the while Zaun (Undercity) ended up being the complete opposite! A dreaded place reserved for the most unfortunate! It’s a classic tale of rich vs the poor in its rawest. That is what made Arcane so interesting to watch! They took a simple story concept and layered it with such an immersive story that captivates you from episode 1!
In Piltover, we follow Jayce and Viktor, two scientists on the verge of being able to harness magic through technology, and the societal cost of rapid technological advance. We watch as two people who meant well in wanting to change the world but get roped up in the politics of power, where everyone only has their pocket’s best interest. On the streets of Zaun, we follow orphan sisters Vi and Powder as they do heist to make means end in an unforgiving environment. All four of these characters and their supporting cast were all well written and compelling, and whether you hated one or not, you wanted to see how their story would end.
What I personally liked the most was that the villain and hero stick were blurred. Even though someone like Silco may come off as a traditional villain, you could understand his motive to do whatever it took to protect his city and his home. All the while we see Jayce and Viktor slowly descent into a dark area and the world around them demanded more of their tech, with Victor on the clock, pushing him further to do things he normally wouldn’t have. However, the most impressive character for me was Jinx, seeing how she earned her name-sake but satisfying and saddening at the same time. Jinx, or as she was known before as Powder, wanted to be useful, but every time she failed, she was referred to as a jinx. This clearly bothered her and we already so her mentally breaking apart from it. However and she made the ultimate mistake, it was honestly hard to pity her and blame her at the same time. She was a complex character to follow that’s for sure.
As for the animation, Arcane actually sustained its quality throughout the first season’s nine episodes which to me was very impressive. There was no shortage of great scenes or repeated animation. Every frame had meaning and care taken into account. Honestly, this should be the standard for animation going forward but given the high budget cost, realistically I felt only Riot games could deliver on this and they did. At the very least this should be the model all adaptations of video games should follow. Abandon live-action film and embrace high-quality animation I say!
Overall Arcane delivered a memorable experience and showed how video games movies or TV shows adaptions should be adapted, with compelling characters that don’t insult them or the fans. With an endearing story, and intriguing lore and worldbuilding, Arcane will be remembered for years to come and used as a measuring tool as a standard for quality animation. I am truly looking forward to season 2!