TV Show Review: Arcane

Photo Courtesy: Pixabay by Fazelll

The term “League of Legends” evokes several different emotions depending on who you talk to. It’s long been criticized as a game for having an unfriendly new player experience. However, one of Riot Games’ most consistently excellent works as of late has been their lore and storytelling department. Over the last few years, they have been carefully developing the lore behind their existing characters, going so far as to retcon information we thought we knew about them. By far their largest and most successful venture in this direction has been “Arcane,” an animated series on Netflix that dives deep into some of LoL’s most beloved characters.

Back in 2013, Jinx was revealed as the newest League of Legends champion alongside a totally original music video titled “Get Jinxed,” which sits at 106 million views today. It was a hit, and Jinx quickly became a fan favorite for how utterly crazy she was. She also added a connection to a previous character, Vi. The hints suggested that Jinx was Vi’s sister. But with no confirmation for years, it was reduced to speculation on how their lores intertwined. However, in 2021, all of that would be laid to rest.

“Arcane” was advertised as a show that depicted Jinx’s descent into madness, but it became so much more than that. The story takes place in the city of Piltover, the “City of Progress” that takes its pride in being technologically superior to the rest of Runeterra. The city is pristine and organized, inhabited by eccentric people determined to make advancements that better the world. However, within Piltover’s undercity is a faction that disagrees with this notion. Impoverished and abandoned by the world above, this undercity created a set of residents with violent and promiscuous tendencies. Piltover looked down on them, and they did the same.

Among the undercity is a ragtag group of kids who took matters into their own hands. Under the leadership of Vi, the four of them would travel to Piltover and commit various acts of theft and other crimes. Oftentimes, these plans go astray due to a familiar-looking girl with blue hair named Powder. The nature of these incidents prompts the attention of the Piltover Enforcers who end up getting more involved in the undercity’s business. What follows is one of the best pieces of Western animation ever seen.

It’s emotional and intriguing, delving deep into powerful emotions. The characters make you feel sympathetic, regardless of their role in the situation. No character is taken for granted as they all end up in situations that they would rather have avoided altogether. As a result, even the bad guys end up being hard to hate. It’s a masterpiece of storytelling that words cannot do justice for.

For League of Legends fans (both current and former), there’s an additional level of enjoyment to be had. Aside from Jinx and Vi, we get to see the origins and development of several different champions we know and love. Caitlyn, Jayce, Viktor, Singed, and Ekko are all fleshed out in ways that give us a newfound respect for their characters. However, there is something to be said for viewers that haven’t participated in the franchise. LoL players know very well the fates of the characters we see, which might limit the emotional potential when it comes to their character arcs. Viewers who are coming in blind get that added level of surprise when they get to see the twists as they come.

Regardless of who you are or what your thoughts on League of Legends or Riot Games are, “Arcane” is a must-watch. IGN called it a once-in-a-generation masterpiece. If it’s exaggerating, it’s not by much. “Arcane” hits all the right notes and absolutely shatters the notion that shows based on video games can’t be good. The voice acting is great, the music is phenomenal and the story is second to none. A second season has been announced already, an inevitable result of the insane acclaim it received. We won’t see it in 2022, but for now, I urge everyone to give the first season a watch. You will come away feeling like most media you’ve consumed pales before it.