Series Review: Arcane – Season 1 (2021)

Since Arcane serves as something of a prequel to it, it’s worth noting that I’ve never played League of Legends and had zero knowledge of the lore behind its world before starting this show. Not only does that lack of familiarity not hinder my viewing experience in the slightest, but I would go so far as to say it enhanced it. I went in blind, and in doing so, was not previously privy to the eventualities of certain character arcs and plot-points.  

With that in mind, Arcane is a fantastic show, and definitely some of Netflix’s best content to date. It’s apparent right from the get-go that the writers value good writing over the simple cash-grab fan-service that other video game adaptations tend towards. The world-building, though a lot to take in at times, is carried out very well, and provides a great steampunk-y backdrop for an emotionally-captivating story. 

Plot-wise, the show tells multiple individual stories that constantly overlap and influence each other. Something I really appreciated about the writing was its bluntness; It doesn’t hold back punches, and isn’t afraid to tell tragic and heartbreaking tales. One character in particular has an utterly gut-wrenching journey throughout the 9-episode run, and it makes for a fantastically-devastating arc. 

Speaking of… the character writing in Arcane is extremely compelling on every level. As an audience member, you understand where almost every primary and secondary character is coming from regarding how they feel and act in the politically-charged ordeals they end up in. Even when their actions aren’t completely justified, you sympathize with them nonetheless. It blurs the line between protagonist and antagonist so much at times that the characters often shy away from a hero/villain label and just become human.

Getting across that humanity for each character is never easy in animation, but the team here have really outdone themselves. The attention to minute details on characters’ faces gives the opportunity to show a wider range of emotion than most other animated films or shows. The animators also do a great job seamlessly and effectively blending both 2D and 3D animation. 

Regardless of whether you enjoy animated content or are a League of Legends fan, I highly recommend checking out Arcane. I can wholeheartedly say it’s one of the best things to come out this year, movie or show.

Overall rating: 9/10

Published by Jeremy Bader

Aspiring writer, film and music lover, drummer.

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