I remember when I first watched the trailer for Netflix’s Arcane and was instantly intrigued by the quality of the animation I was seeing.
However, then I noticed the show was based off League of Legends.
I have never played this game but I know of it because of its reputation as having one of the most toxic fandoms out there.
This was not what made me hesitant to watch it though because you can’t judge a product off the actions of its fans alone.
No, the reason for my hesitation was that, since I had never played League, I would have no idea what was happening in Arcane‘s story.
So, despite liking what I saw in the trailer, I decided to give it a skip.
But then, I kept hearing the nonstop praise about Arcane being a masterpiece and I finally caved, deciding to give it a chance.
After all, I watched Squid Game because of the acclaim it was receiving and I had no regrets about that.
Although, after finishing Arcane, I did have one regret… that I did not watch this absolute masterpiece of a show sooner.
All of the praise this series has received since it was released in three acts on Netflix is accurate.
Created by Christian Linke and Alex Yee, Arcane tells the story of many different characters in the city of Piltover and its undercity of Zaun.
Zaun is a gang ridden, posion aired place, where sisters Vi (Hailee Steinfeld) and Powder (Ella Purnell) struggle to find their place in the world while under the guardianship of their father figure Vander (JB Blanc).
Meanwhile, in the rich and ever technologically progressing city of Piltover, scientist Jace (Kevin Alejandro) and his newfound friend Viktor (Harry Loyd) begin to experiment with creating magic through science.
The story then follows these different groups of characters, their paths occasionally intersecting, as tragic events push Piltover and Zaun to the edge of outright war.
What makes the potential for this conflict so suspenseful is how amazingly well written each character in this show is.
The way the relationship between Vi and Powder plays out, and what they go on to become by the end of the season, is highly engaging.
Another thing that really struck me was how even the minor characters felt like real people.
Take the corrupt enforcer Marcus (Remy Hill), for example.
It would have been incredibly easy for the writers to just make him a stereotypically evil corrupt cop but they didn’t.
They gave Marcus a lot of depth and characterization to the point that I actually sympathized with him, while knowing he was a terrible person.
Speaking of someone being a terrible person while also being a fantastic character, my favourite character in this entire show is definitely the main antagonist, Silco (Jason Spisak).
Much like Marcus, I thought he was going to turn out to be a stereotypical villain when we were first introduced to him but, as the show went on, he became incredibly complex.
I remember watching Episode Three, “The Base Violence Necessary for Change” and seeing him display some emotion and wondering if it was genuine.
The show then goes on to expand on this emotion for his character, making a part of himself so sympathetic that the way his storyline for the season concluded during the final episode “The Monster You Created” actually made me tear up.
Notice how I mentioned both Episodes Three and Nine there?
These two are the best episodes of Arcane, both being masterpieces in their own right, with so much tragedy in them.
The tragedy of this story is backed up by the fantastic voice acting, score and animation.
It was this animation that made me initially interested in the show in the first place, as I said when talking about the trailer, and seeing this animation actually play out in the series did not disappoint.
It reminded me a lot of the animation from Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse, creating absolutely amazing action set pieces, the best of which comes in Episode Seven “The Boy Saviour.”
As for the score, I have already put multiple songs from this show on my Spotify, including the opening by Imagine Dragons and JID, “Enemy,” so that alone should tell you how much I loved Arcane’s music.
As for the voice acting, there was not a weak member of the cast.
I was especially impressed with the voice acting of Mia Sinclair Jenessa who plays the young Powder, showing off some excellent range in Episode Three.
All of this combines with the amazing writing from Linke and Yee, creating fascinating lines like “in the pursuit of great, we failed to do good,” and “is there anything so undoing as a daughter.”
How certain lines and events from the beginning are paralleled right up to the final episode also quite impressed me, with the story of Arcane essentially boiling down to one tragic cycle.
This is a cycle that I look forward to seeing continue when we eventually get Season Two, which has been announced.
We do not know when this season will be released but it has been confirmed that we will not be getting it in 2022, to which I say, “good.”
Arcane is clearly a labour of love from its creators and they deserve to continue this labour with all the care and attention they used to craft the masterpiece that is this first season: one of the greatest opening seasons I have ever seen.
Season one of Arcane is a masterpiece and, if Season Two is at the very least just as good, then it may end up being one of my favourite shows of all time.
If you have not watched this show yet because of League of Legend’s reputation, or because you fear you won’t understand what’s happening like I feared, then take my advice and watch it.
You will understand what’s happening and it will most likely blow your mind.