Let the title of this article be my introduction to what you’re about to read. I speak no word of a lie when I say that I have no experience with the League of Legends universe. Though I have friends who are huge fans, there’s no doubt that they too would find this series intriguing and would understand the lore behind it much better than I do. As I’m typing this, only three episodes have been released but by the time this article is released, I’ll have the entire season watched. Keep in mind that this is entirely non biased as I have no experience with the game and know nothing about it so I dove into this show with no expectations. So let’s get cranking.
THIS REVIEW IS SPOILER FREE
The story is set in an unknown future where the rich and the poor clash, the poor just trying to survive while the rich just get richer. Our two heroines, Vi and Powder, venture into the upper world of Piltover where it’s citizens are both rich in both money and advancement in technology. The sisters are from the underground world of Zaun, where their citizens are poor and barely hanging onto life. After a rescue mission goes wrong, Vi and Powder are separated for ten or so years and reunited under stressful circumstances–but they’re both very different from the people they once were when they were younger. With the threat of underground drug lord Silco and his gang looming over everyone’s heads, it’s only a matter of time before all Hell breaks loose.
Let’s discuss the animation. Arcane has an animation style that I’ve never seen before in my life. Not only is it unique and stylish, it also has a feel to it that can only be described as “mature”. It’s not your average run of the mill cartoon or typical animated project. This is top tier stylization that, as I’ve said already, is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. It’s smooth, has depth and so much color representation. For example, Piltover is bright with neutral colors symbolizing “goodness” and serenity whereas Zaun is dark, symbolizing evil and trouble, with the neon colors feeling very much like chaos disrupting the dark palette. It’s phenomenal. In addition to that, the show has some of the greatest portrayal of emotion through animation which another thing that I’ve never seen before. The way the characters emote and their expressions is some of the best animation to witness. The amount of work, time and patience that had to go into this is absolutely wild and it’s evident by the show itself that many, many hours were put into this to create such a masterpiece.
When it comes to showcasing mental health, Powder is a perfect example of the effects of trauma and what happens when you’re alone at the most vulnerable of times. Without saying too much (because massive spoilers obviously), it was interesting to see her battle with the voices in her head and how her fragile mind was represented by color and childhood scribbles as if being a kid trapped inside an adult body. She almost reminds me of Harley Quinn in a sense when she has some spurts of sanity every now and then, but quickly goes back to a broken, unstable state of mind. While everyone on the show have an interesting story, Powder is definitely one of the most intriguing characters to watch out for sure.
In conjunction to the animation, the artwork is just as gorgeous. The background showcases so much depth and range that sometimes it’s just nice to pause an episode on a really pretty setting to admire it. A personal favorite is an overhead shot of Piltover in broad daylight. The way the sun dances on the buildings, the architecture of the city, it’s just breathtaking. It’s easy to forget that what you’re looking at isn’t real but regardless if it’s real or not, you have to admit that it’s gorgeous and an art form in its own right.
With the ending sure to leave viewers wanting more, and whether or not you’re familiar with the League of Legends game, Arcane is definitely going to reel you in and keep you on your toes with its non stop action, gorgeous animation and captivating storyline.
Arcane: League of Legends is available to stream now on Netflix.