By Janie Walenda
There are many reasons why “Arcane” should have failed, such as its source material. the numerous characters and complex subject matter. Yet, in an interesting turn of events, not only is “Arcane” good, but I would go so far as to call it a masterpiece.
I went into this show completely blind, to the point that I didn’t even know it was based on a video game. It wasn’t until halfway through the show that I learned “Arcane” was a prequel series for the online game franchise “League of Legends.” Since then, all I’ve learned is that while the game is bad, the lore and cutscenes are great. The sheer amount of lore is staggering, and “Arcane” picked the tiniest sliver of it. Eight characters from the game are featured in “Arcane,” out of the over 150 characters from the game. The creators could’ve easily decided to jump right into the sprawling world of Runeterra and the actual league from “League of Legends,” but by focusing on just two cities, they made “Arcane” much more accessible to the average viewer. “Arcane” is rare in that your enjoyment will not be lessened if you haven’t played the game, but players of the game will still be rewarded.
“Arcane” represents the next step for animation.
One of the most jaw-dropping elements of “Arcane” is the animation. I’m neither artistic nor technologically savvy enough to explain why the animation is amazing, but I do have eyes. This blend of 2d and 3d animation creates an unique oil painting feel. The quality of the animation itself wouldn’t be as impactful if it wasn’t used in so many creative ways. In particular, a fight scene in episode 7 uses the animation in such a unique way to tell a story with no dialogue.
Even in a stacked ensemble, Powder is the standout character.
The complexity of the plot and characters is a marvel to behold and I am still at a loss as to how the creators did it. While I would say the main characters are Vi, Powder and Silco, there are nine other characters who all have complex motivations, personalities and relationships. Each character is so meticulously crafted that all of their decisions, even the objectively bad ones, make sense for that character. “Arcane” is ultimately a tragedy, and a tragedy works best with the audience knowing that the characters are making bad decisions, but also knowing that those characters wouldn’t make any other choice.
While I sing “Arcane’s” praises, I do want to give a bit of a content warning, as the show has a good amount of mature content. I can accept it as part of the show, as it isn’t gratuitous and usually serves a purpose. Still, I’d say it’s somewhere in between a PG-13 and R-rated film.
Despite dark storylines, “Arcane” still feels like a fun video game.
I really can’t recommend “Arcane” highly enough, and I recommend going in without any knowledge of what’s coming. The first three episodes completely hooked me on the show, and the finale is possibly the best episode of tv I’ve ever seen. Despite how dark of a show it is, it’s incredibly entertaining and rewatchable. I just recently finished rewatching it, and I’m considering going back for a third time. Every aspect of the show, from the animation to the writing to the music, combines to create a fantastic story.
Arcane is now available to watch on Netflix.
Janie Walenda is a freshman Global Business major and an A&E writer for Cedars. She enjoys watching musicals and movies as well as rereading the same books ten times over.