Netflix has given us a much-needed break from this very bleak and long year. From Squid Game to the 5th season of Money Heist, Lupin to the final season of Castlevania, Netflix has provided us with a vast selection of shows to choose from, catering to the taste of its diverse international audience. Today's focus will be on Arcane, the new animated series that everybody is talking about right now.
Situated in the League of Legends universe, the animated Netflix series was firstly introduced during the 10th year anniversary of the video game. The episodes were released in three acts, each act composed of three episodes. Arcane explores the delicate balance between the wealthy, utopian metropolis of Piltover, a glorious city celebrating progress and innovation. It’s a steampunk paradise with mechanical blimps and magical gates. In contrast, just sitting bellow, is the Undercity; the sleazy, downtrodden underworld of “Zaun”, where gang rules and illicit substances are out of control, and people are fighting every day for survival. However, the development of “hextech”, a technology that would allow anyone of controlling magical energy, puts that equilibrium in jeopardy. We follow the story of many characters; from two sisters trying to survive in the Undercity to an ambitious scientist hell-bent on making the world a better place, all of them living in a divided city on the edge of a war against itself.
Written with care and attention to detail, this show is first and foremost a tragedy, a dramatic and beautiful piece of fiction that portrays a story of sorrow and pain, leaving each frame bursting those emotions with an unparallel level of animation. From body language, facial expressions, to the battle scenes, all are painstakingly portrayed and gorgeously executed. And while a good adaptation of video games is scarce to come by, Arcane does a pretty good job at avoiding bad CGI, thanks to Riot Games and French-based Studio Fortiche Production, who did an amazing job at mixing both 2D and 3D animation together. You can really feel the budget with how the animation and characters were done. Moreover, the extremely stylish and well-choreographed action scenes are intense but easy to follow. It is also combined with an incredibly stunning sound design, which take this series up to the next level. It is a delight to watch, even if you've never played a single minute of League of Legends.
Contrary to other video games adaption, especially prequels, the way character change and evolve at the end of each arc feels natural and not rushed. Viewers, like myself, who haven’t played the game, weren’t even able to differentiate between the characters who were from the actual video game and those who were not. They somehow managed to take all those different characters, turning them into human-like characters with compelling backstories. What I especially liked is that Arcane delves into everyone’s stories of loss and betrayal. Every character has their own set of contradictions, and no one is entirely good or evil. Long story short, Arcane is by far, in my opinion, the best animation of this year. It’s a masterpiece. And whether you watch it because you stumbled across it by chance, or because you’re a fan of the video game, I promise you won’t be disappointed, so don’t shy away from giving it a chance. Meanwhile, aficionados of the series will be waiting for the release of second season this year.