Vi and Jinx are the focus
You can’t really escape League of Legends’ Jinx, as she’s been chosen for all sorts of cross-promotional material that you’ve probably seen even if you haven’t played a second of League. Well, now she’s featured in an animated Netflix series named Arcane alongside of Vi (and a few others), and it’s given me a whole new perspective on the character. That show is Arcane, and it debuted over the weekend and has been getting quite a bit of buzz. Having watched the first three episodes (with more coming weekly), I think it’s lived up to the hype. Here’s some Arcane impressions.
The thing about Arcane that really hit me the most, immediately, was the animation style. Fortiche Production has outdone themselves, as the animation is far beyond even what Marvel is putting out recently with the What If series. You really need to see it in action within each episode to judge it fully, but the phrase “every frame a painting” rings true so far. Arcane was stunning with its backdrops, as I feel like I could hang most of the structural artwork on my wall without batting an eye. Many characters are also more emotive thanks to the effort of the animation style, which helps, because there’s a ton of drama throughout: so being connected to these people is important.
The casting is also on point, featuring a mix of traditional actors and voice talent, who come together to add levity when needed, but keep things serious and avoid tinges of camp. The interpersonal drama never really drops to the level of soapy, as each character’s motivations actually make sense, big picture, framed by the upper city (Piltover) and lower city (Zaun) conflict. There’s plenty of nuance from both factions, all of which provides extra commentary into the world of League as a whole.
To be clear, you don’t really need to be a League fan to enjoy or start Arcane. It’s fairly easy to follow without too much expository dialogue, as the classist themes are obvious enough for most viewers to sniff out. That said, you are going to get more out of it if you are a fan; like whenever you see a Champion appear on screen and immediately know who it is. A few appearances made me audibly gasp a few times, having played League since the start, and the promise of potentially exploring more in future seasons has me excited for the show to continue. Just last week I wasn’t even sure if I’d be watching it.
Regardless of how you might feel about the drama and narrative of the show, or the writing, or the performances, most people would agree that it looks fantastic, and is higher effort than a lot of other gaming adaptations: even in recent years. Instead of passing off the IP to someone else, Riot Games took it upon themselves to actually craft the series brick by brick with Fortiche Production handling the animation.
Every once in a while you’re reminded of how Riot Games has more money than many countries, and can put out projects that would have been a cash grab if another studio did it. While many game universes have come and gone, League of Legends has been trucking since 2009. I get why people might not like MOBAs (or all the other games they’ve released so far), but Riot makes it easy to get invested, at the very least.