Arcane: In a League of its Own 

A Game-Changer for Modern TV 


A screen capture from Arcane, showcasing the show’s beautiful graphics. Courtesy of Justin Park.

Justin Park, Section Editor

Netflix original “Arcane” has taken the world by storm, dethroning “Squid Game” as the hottest show on the platform. According to IMDB, it currently stands as Netflix’s best-rated series of all time with a score of 9.3 out of 10, while also receiving a 100% on critic’s review on Rotten Tomatoes. “Arcane” might be the ultimate cursebreaker, ending the notorious trend of terrible shows based on video games.

First things first, you don’t have to know anything about League of Legends (the game that inspired the show) to understand the plot. While the series shares characters and lore with the game, everything is explained and delivered super naturally as the story progresses. In fact, I actually think the experience is better for non-League fans, as they don’t know what to expect, having no idea how the key characters will end up. Don’t let the game’s reputation be a barrier to this masterpiece—you’d be missing out. 

Likewise, animation as a genre has its own reputation of being “not serious” or “for kids”. You’d be surprised if you expected something similar on Arcane. This show is not afraid to take things seriously; brutal and unexpected deaths, drug usage, drinking, and cursing are all featured on screen. These figures talk and act how real people would if they were put in a depressing underground city infested with drugs and corruption. Nonetheless, there is no violence for the sake of being gorey; mature themes are featured naturally, and it works.

Arcane’s artstyle takes a unique approach in breathing life into its scenes, providing explosive frames by using just the right amount of 2D and 3D together. Courtesy of Justin Park.

Arcane aims to impress with its art style – Fortiche, the French production studio behind “Arcane,” has done masterful work breathing life into the fictional cities of Zaun and Piltover, striking a perfect balance between realism and cartoonish effects. While close subjects like people or nearby furniture are portrayed through 3D renders with a touch of rough sketch-like skin, special effects like smoke and explosions, as well as distant backgrounds like the skyline or faraway buildings are depicted in strictly 2D drawings. The result forms a beautiful sequence of art – every single frame of the show is definitely wallpaper-worthy.

 Arcane’s soundtrack is just as ambitious as the animation, covering genres from hard rock to hip-hop. Big names like Imagine Dragons, Denzel Curry, Pusha T, just to name a few – merge together to create an inclusive album driving emotional experiences forward. All the music complements the characters and mise-en-scène; key moments packed with excitement accompany every moment the dynamic soundtrack drops in. “What if we had a mini music video in every episode?” said Christian Linne, music producer at Riot Games on the audio production of Arcane. And the show does exactly that – the “conscious decision” to decorate the show with spellbinding audio adds additional layers for your viewing enjoyment.

Political tension between the progressive city of Piltover and the coin-scrapping undercity of Zaun worsens over time. Courtesy of Justin Park.

Lastly, the storyline itself is fantastic. The show primarily focuses on two separate stories: the story of two sisters of Vi and Powder separated in the chaotic crime city of Zaun, and the story of inventors Jayce and Viktor who have discovered breakthrough technology that propels the advanced city of Piltover even further ahead of underdeveloped Zaun. Political tensions mount between the two cities, and the two primary stories eventually collide as the borders of Zaun and Piltover are blurred. As such, political drama, family feuds, moral dilemmas, and fundamental questions of conservatism vs. liberalism are all thrown at the audience without overcomplication. Arcane, in essence, is a tragedy disguised by thrilling action scenes and attention-grabbing soundtracks – featuring human corruption, flaws, and misunderstandings that cannot be undone. 

Long story short, Arcane is good. The story has proven captivating enough to keep many viewers, including myself, at the edge of their seats. Its visuals are unmatched, and the audio is great. What excites me the most, however, is that the show sets an industry standard for a game-based show that’s actually good, opening doors wide to directors and producers for other video game franchises with TV show potential. With the second season already announced and under way, I can’t wait to see what the rest of Arcane has to offer for us.