Riot Games' animated show might just be the best piece of content on Netflix in 2021.
If you haven't already heard of Riot Games' animated Netflix series Arcane, you've probably been living under a rock these past three weeks. Originally debuting following the conclusion of the 2021 League of Legends World Championship, the show has been released in three weekly parts ever since, and has taken us on a journey into the lore of the iconic MOBA video game, explaining the story of the vibrant world of Runeterra like never before.
Based in the neighbouring city states of Piltover and Zaun, Arcane looked into the lives of a bunch of the game's most memorable Champions in a storyline filled with betrayal, heartache, and passion. It's dark, gritty, and never strays away from approaching the complex socio-economic situations that plague the polarising states that define the wealthy Piltover and the downtrodden Zaun. What this makes for is a mature take on the video game world, a take that will make you look at the various Champions it represents in new light as you begin to unravel their motivations and what led them to become the people they are known to be in the Summoner's Rift.
The majority of the storyline is centralised around the sisters of Vi and Jinx, as they drift apart and find themselves at odds, with one looking to stop an all-out war between Piltover and Zaun, and another looking to spark it. It's a tale that starts small in nature, as the pair navigate their youth, causing trouble and havoc in a vicious world, but soon (in the space of two-to-three episodes) spirals out of control, leading one sister to find herself in the grips of the law, with the other being transformed into a terrorised soul who dishes out violence with bombs and bullets.
But, as League of Legends is much broader in scope, so is Arcane. This is a tale that encompasses a broad array of characters, displaying how they interconnect and how they became the people we know them as in the MOBA. Where did Jayce get the inspiration behind his iconic hammer? Why is Jinx as psychotic as she is? Who built Vi's metal fists? How did Caitlyn become known as the Sheriff of Piltover? All of these questions are either directly answered or rather eluded to in parts of the storyline, and they're also just sections of a whole grander tale that also sees the appearances of other well-known Legends such as Ekko and Heimerdinger.
This is an ad:
While this might seem like a lot to absorb and take in, it's precisely also what makes Arcane so fantastic. For a player that isn't already deeply invested in the game, League of Legends is a massive task to get into. The lore, characters, gameplay, it all requires a huge amount of time to familiarise yourself with, so much so that it can be a little overwhelming to do so. But, Arcane takes that issue and simplifies it considerably, making the lore comprehendible and disarming the complicated nature of the overarching world of Runeterra in the process.
For those who are massive fans of League of Legends, Arcane is a top-of-the-line production that takes the source material and respectfully adapts it, never failing to leave a stone of lore unturned. For the newer audience, Arcane acts as a stepping on point, giving you a very basic degree of knowledge so that you can dive into the MOBA without feeling completely bewildered.
This is a show that is hard to find a fault with, it's that well made. The animation is incredible, the cast and their performances are brilliant, and the narrative is absolutely enthralling from minute one until its conclusion - there really isn't a dull moment. I personally would be hard-pressed to think of a TV series that is pound-for-pound more entertaining and well-produced than Arcane, although as this is just the first season, I can't quite yet bring myself to say this is the best animated TV series I've ever watched, because there are a few others up there (I'm looking at you Bojack Horseman and Attack on Titan).
This is an ad:
Still, if you haven't yet had the chance to experience this TV series, whether you are a fan of League of Legends or not, I'd highly recommend giving it a watch, as this might just go down as the best piece of content Netflix will produce in 2021.