Thinking back, I believe I started playing League of Legends in season 4, maybe season 3. It was daunting at first, but as hubby and I made friends who were more than happy to play with us and give us pointers, it wasn’t that bad, the game that is. Due to lack of interest, I stopped playing around season 10. I don’t really miss it.
As the visuals were updated and trailers for new champs and seasons were released, there was a cry from the LoL community. They wanted Riot to release a movie. With all the talent they had in the animation and art departments no one thought it would be that hard.
Enter 2021… Enter Arcane. This is my review.
If you haven’t seen Arcane, note that there will be spoilers in this review. All I can say is that you will not be disappointed, and you don’t have to have prior knowledge nor play League of Legends to enjoy the series. Now, that is out of the way…
Two Cities, Two stories
Arcane balances two stories in the first season of the series:
A tale of two sisters in a city forgotten by progress, and
A tale of an up-and-coming inventor who pairs with an older scientist for the sake of progress.
Vi(olet) and Powder (Jinx)
The Undercity, later to be named Zaun, is a place that has been forgotten by the brilliant city of Piltover that rests above it. Here, we find two sisters trying to survive by being a part of a rag-tag group of rogues. Vi is scrappy, agile, and doesn’t back down from a fight. Powder, the younger of the two, can’t seem to do anything right. Both lost their parents in a conflict between Piltover and the Undercity. They were taken in by Zander.
In the opening theft, Powder finds blue crystals brimming with power. She shows Vi later and they decide to hide them.
Zander has a rival, Silco, who would do anything to put Zaun on the map and free its people from poverty. Zander wishes to do the same but has lost a lot of fight within him after the last major conflict.
In a final confrontation, Silco kidnaps Zander forcing Vi and the crew to attempt a rescue. There are two sticking points with this. Zander told them not to, and Vi told Powder to stay behind.
After a good cry, Powder pitches a fit and remembers the crystals. She fashions a crude explosive from them, and off she goes to help, or what she thinks is helping. She ends up blowing up Zander and her friends, killing them. Vi narrowly escapes and says that she is a jinx and walks off, leaving Powder crying and repeating that she was only trying to help. When Vi decides to go back for her sister, she is kidnapped by a Piltover guard and enprisoned.
Silco finds Powder and decides to take her in. In a time skip, we learn Powder has come into her own, but still causes calamity where ever she goes. She also goes by the name Jinx.
We discover she was lied to and told her sister was dead. Through the storytelling, we see that she has PTSD, schizophrenia, and unresolved issues which make her mentally unstable.
Vi gets out of jail with the help of Caitlyn and Jayce (later). She tries to help Caitlyn, but the council of Piltover will not listen to either of them. Jinx, in a scene where she has a schizophrenic episode from having to choose between Silco and Vi, kills Silco accidentally. After Vi and Caitlyn end up watching as Jinx bombs the Piltover council chambers, helpless to stop it.
Jayce and Viktor
Jayce is an idealistic inventor from a modest house. He was under the patronage of a large house to pursue his dreams, even if it means doing things that breaks the rules. When this is found out, he is expelled from the academy, and his experiments were given to Heimerdinger for disposal.
He meets Viktor, a man who made his way from the Undercity to become a scientist in Piltover. After looking at Jayce’s notes, Viktor talks the young one into breaking into Heimerdinger’s laboratory to make his experiment work. Hextech is born, but not without its opposition.
Heimerdinger feels that a slow approach should be taken, but Jayce is off to the races, and then there is the love interest… We will get to that.
Instead of unveiling the inventions they are working on during his first speech to the masses, Jayce changes his mind, much to Viktor’s disappointment. This creates a momentary tension between the two.
Jayce is put on the council after hooking up with a female council member who knows how to work the political side of things and Jayce as well.
Viktor, out of desperation, unlocks the secret of the hex-core by realizing his blood triggers its function. During one of these sessions, he loses an assistant he did not know was in love with him. When he realizes this, he is crushed.
Jayce and Viktor have a talk and clear the air.
Piltover has agreed to recognize Zaun as a nation unto itself.
As someone who is writing a novel with at least four plotlines, I can understand and respect the gravity of having to make sure each plot and subplot is cohesive, easy to follow, and engaging. Arcane does this beautifully. Not only can we follow the sister’s journey, we feel for Jayce and can see how he is manipulated.
We can also feel the raw emotion Jinx feels when she is split from her sister and when her sister seemingly betrays her. You can follow her descent into madness. Each plot and interaction unfolds masterfully making me want to see more.
The Voice actors conveyed the emotions of each character wonderfully. I cried with Powder when she couldn’t go with her sister, and I felt her hopelessness and sense of loss when Vi walked away. It was gut-wrenching. It was perfect.
You could feel the camaraderie between Viktor and Jayce. You could hear the concern in Heimerdinger’s voice and the frustration in Caitlyn’s. Everything was there. You could even feel the caring in Echo’s voice when he talked about helping people survive in the Undercity.
From the character models to the vistas and the depiction of Jinx’s madness, it was…
Chef’s Kiss. The colors were true to each character as well as the cities. I have no complaints.
SEAMLESS. In some small instances, it was jerky, but overall, it was smooth and seamless. The fight scenes were well done as were the camera angles.
The soundtrack is solid. I loved it.
I give Arcane five out of five espresso shots. I highly recommend this series.