A spoiler-free review
I have watched quite a few good shows in the past year, but Arcane is by far the show I’ve watched all year.
If you haven’t heard of this one, Arcane is a show based on the video game League of Legends. Now, I don’t normally play mobile video games nor pay much attention to what happens to them, but two of my friends recommended it. It is well written and an amazing show, they said. You will like it, they said. I gave it a shot. Wow, They were right.
The story takes place in the fictional rivaling cities of Piltover, the city of progress, and Zuan, the city of iron and glass or the under city. The show mainly follows the story of two sisters, Vi and Jinx, who live in Zuan, but it also features characters like Mel, Jace, Caitlyn, and Viktor who hold power in Piltover.
The premise immediately drew me in. Perhaps it is my Grove City College education setting in but I’m skeptical of a city of progress. There is no way it can be that perfect–nothing is in this world is–especially in this show based on a war game. But the people in Zuan aren’t automatically good either.
The character development makes it hard to dislike or write any characters off as purely bad. Everyone has deep-rooted flaws and backstories that explain why they act the way they do. The writers understand so well how humans think and how they react to trauma. I understood why Jace behaved as he did and why Jinx became who she became. I liked all the characters, because I felt like I understood all of them.
They also show an older authority figure with Heimerdinger, he’s not completely good nor is he completely bad. I’ve read that the show is politically neutral, and somehow it works. Perhaps because the characters and relationships feel so realistic and tied to a real world full of flawed people and systems that can’t easily be fixed.
The way the characters relate to each other feels natural. All of the relationships were well written whether they were friends, siblings, mentor-and-mentee (whether official or unofficial; Vander and Vi, Jinx and Silco), or romances (Mel and Jace, Vi and Caitlyn).
The dialogue is amazing. It is serious, funny, and charming.
But I can’t talk about this show without talking about the animation. The art style bewitched me, body and soul. It drew me in completely like I’ve been thrown into a fantastic virtual reality world. The animation takes over my thoughts, and I can’t think of anything else.
Everything they animate is amazing. The animators put effort into accurately portraying people’s facial expressions and reactions. The animation really makes the show what it is. The writers and animators understand human psychology well and you can tell when you look at their anger, sadness, or excitement. I’d go on to say I prefer it over a lot of live-action shows because it feels very real and vulnerable. The art style is just beautiful overall. I love Jinx’s blue hair and Vi’s pink hair, and Mel’s and Viktor’s styles. I adore all the details of Piltover and Zuan.
The battle scenes are super cool to watch. The characters actually look like they’ve been injured and they don’t always need to look good or beautiful. They look human. I appreciated how none of the characters were sexualized, especially since the main characters are women. The animation style and the outfits are so so cool.
The soundtrack is also fantastic. The song “Enemy” by Imagine Dragons sets the tone for each episode.
The writers also wrote women really well, so well. I liked the men as well. Honestly, I love them all so much. I want to protect every one of them from harm forever.
Overall, it’s a great show. Can you tell that I watched the first season of Arcane over a single weekend? I watched a few months ago. The next season was supposed to come out this September, but it seems we’ll have to wait. But whenever it comes out, I’m super excited for Season 2. I’m curious about where the conversation will go next and what will happen with all these characters. Will it be as good as Season 1?
Have you seen Arcane? What did you think? Let me know in the comments below.