(Potential light spoiler warning)
My partner is a League of Legends fanatic and can watch championships for hours on end—needless to say, I personally find them painfully boring. I assumed I’d get the same amount of enjoyment out of Netflix’s new Arcane series. By all means, I shouldn’t have enjoyed it. I can never follow what happens in the game, nor did I care about its characters or lore. One of Arcane’s strongest qualities is that you needn’t know anything about the League franchise going into the series! I and a friend went in blind, and we were able to follow the plot and get into the narrative quickly! It perhaps provides more of a gratifying experience to those already invested in LoL (for example, the characters with game counterparts have the series work as an origin story for them) where their previous knowledge of the universe is expanded. However, it’s still approachable enough to newcomers that you don’t feel lost without that previous knowledge of characterization and the world.
One of the first things that impressed me about the show is the animation quality! It’s dazzling, stylized, and highly detailed! Arcane legitimately has the visual artistry of an animated feature (better than some features, may I add!). The way the characters move is so fluid, especially during action scenes! The color schemes are stunning. My one criticism is how the mix of the shades and the rough, doodle-type scribbles that appear in Jinx’s (Ella Purnell) break down scenes look a tad too similar to visuals that are present in The Suicide Squad. Generally, the character designs in Arcane are well orchestrated, and the diversity amongst the cast is considerable! There’s a variety of skin tones and body builds. The characters are easily recognizable by their striking looks (which is crucial when there are so many to keep track of).
For that matter, Jinx and Harley Quinn have a strikingly similar archetype—both portrayed to be trigger happy, wild, have pigtails, etc. Despite this, Jinx is a distinct enough character that she doesn’t feel stale, even if she does feel like practically the same character. Everyone in the series is great, and I found myself feeling at odds as I started liking multiple characters on opposing sides! There are no clear-cut answers as to who’s right or wrong in any given conflict. The connections they have between each other read as complex—whether it be Jinx and Vi (Hailee Steinfeld), or Jinx and Silco, (Jason Spisak) Jayce (Kevin Alejandro) and Viktor (Harry Lloyd), and countless other interpersonal relationships. The writers do a great job of establishing the reasoning behind the character's actions. You may not agree with what they do, but I think you can still understand and, to a point, empathize with them—even with antagonists! Certain baddies I initially detested I eventually began to soften towards with more episodes that explored them deeper than the surface level. In that way, Arcane sort of reminds me of Game of Thrones (back when it was still good) especially with the shifting perspectives of who we follow.
I rate Arcane a general score of 4.5/5! The animation is phenomenal, the story, characters, and their relationships are compelling!
I also rate Arcane an Incluvie score of another 4.5/5! The narrative largely revolves around the main two sisters, and beyond them, there are a plethora of women, people of color, and some gay representation! The series is one of the better examples of a diversified cast!