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Netlfix’s “Arcane” is a Spellbinding, Character-Driven Animation Not to Be Missed, by Angela Rairden

Arcane League of Legends Netflix review

Once upon a time, for a brief time, I was somewhat obsessed with Riot’s League of Legends computer game. It would’ve been for longer than just a brief period of time if I had owned a computer that was capable of running the game but, sadly, my laptop at the time just wasn’t up to the task. Still, the online battle arena style of game with a plethora of difference champions that you could choose from to play as had me hooked pretty much immediately, even though I was admittedly absolutely terrible at it.

So, when I heard that Netflix had created a show set in the world of League of Legends and starring some of the game’s most well-known champions, I knew that I had to check it out.

And I was not disappointed. The show, titled Arcane, is a prequel of the game and an animated masterpiece. The artwork is crisp, the colors are bright, and the storyline are characters are compelling.

Netflix has chosen to release just three episodes at the time and the first three dropped on November 6th. Set simultaneously in the powerful and wealthy city of Piltover and its oppressed and underprivileged underground society called Zaun, the show weaves tales that set the stage for what will become the world where champions face off in the League of Legends (LoL).

The first three episodes focus on two young sisters, future LoL champion Vi (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) and Powder (voiced by Mia Sinclair Jenness and whom, it’s no spoiler to say, is obviously the precursor to the champion known as Jinx in the game), as they struggle to survive and prosper in Zaun. Although they have both a decent life and a makeshift family, including a father figure in Zaun’s unofficial leader, Vander, Vi in particular wants more.

Hoping to prove herself to Vander, scrappy, brash Vi, who looks to be a young teen at this point, leads her gang of would-be thieves, including her younger sister Powder, on a heist into the gleaming, golden city of Piltover. Working off a tip that they procured from their friend, a smart young boy named Ekko (another future LoL champion), they rather impressively break into the quarters of an inventor and begin to pilferage his things. Everything is going as Vi planned, until they hear voices outside of the room that heralds the inventor’s return. Panicked, Powder makes a move that would both prove why her name becomes Jinx, and ignite the events that would forever force a wedge between Vi and herself.

These episodes are also the tale of the inventor whose rooms Vi and her friends burgle, however. Another future LoL champion, Jayce (voiced by Kevin Alejandro) is a university student who is obsessed with using science to create magic, despite warnings from his professor, Heimerdinger, that magic is dangerous and has no place in Piltover. Regardless, he’s almost succeeded, until the actions of Powder nearly derail him completely.

Arcane is rife with tales of family, oppression, and striving to rise above your position in life. The first two episodes are largely character and plot building but, by episode three, the story explodes with spellbinding action that sets the pace for the rest of the series.

Although based in the world of LoL, and fans of the game will obviously enjoy seeing the backstories to some of their favorite champions come to life (even more than the ones that I mentioned here), viewers don’t have to have any knowledge of the game to enjoy the Arcane. The show is written in such a way that each character is introduced anew and with surprising depth. Furthermore, as I mentioned before, the animation is top-notch with such beautiful clarity that sometimes you forget that you’re even watching an animated show. The score also plays a large part in setting the scene for the series and features a song by Imagine Dragons for its opening credits.

The next set of episodes are set to release on Netflix on Saturday, November 13th and will likely feature slightly older versions of the characters that we’ve seen as children in these first three episodes. I’m extremely excited to see what happens next…but, until then, you can catch me playing newly re-downloaded League of Legends on my much more capable laptop. ;-)


Angela “LaLa” Rairden is an avid fan of comic books, Star Wars, and most things nerdy. A cosplayer, she loves to attend comic cons dressed as her favorite fictional characters, particularly Harley Quinn. Although her day job is at a grocery store, writing has always been her true calling. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, where she is currently writing her first novel.

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