Want another great video game adaptation like The Last of Us?  Watch Arcane.

Want another great video game adaptation like The Last of Us? Watch Arcane.

HBO’s adaptation of The last of us has received much well-deserved praise since its premiere, including recognition as the series that breaks the so-called “video game curse.”(Opens in a new window) While some game adaptations have earned their critical hits, recent efforts are like werewolves inside and Castlevania have proven themselves and should not be overlooked. My favorite of these newer customizations is the Stellar arcanea 2021 animated series loosely adapting the hugely popular game League of Legends.

arcane takes existing characters and lore from the game and blends them with new elements to create a stunningly executed story. You don’t really need to know anything league to understand and love arcane; all i know League, I learned from this show. With its great animation, rich steampunk world and fascinating characters arcane packs a delightfully mean punch.

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arcane is a story of two cities – and two sisters.

Jinx and Vi from Arcane stand on a rooftop overlooking the massive city of Piltover.

Jinx and Vi experience the wonders of Piltover.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix

arcane introduces us to Piltover, also known as the City of Progress. Here, magical hextech technology powers everything from transportation to weapons, creating what at first seems like a thriving fantasy utopia. But problems lurk beneath the surface, particularly in Piltover’s sister city, the “lower city” of Zaun. Poverty and toxic fumes from nearby mines create terrible living conditions for the Zaunites, but Piltover’s citizens are too content to ignore them. It doesn’t take long for the powder key of tension between the two cities to burst into flames.

Entangled in the conflict between these two cities are sisters Vi (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) and Jinx (voiced by Ella Purnell). After years of childhood tragedy keeping them apart, the two have unwittingly come together on opposite sides of the battlefield. Vi was recruited by Piltover Enforcer Caitlyn (voiced by Katie Leung) to help track down a notorious Zaunite criminal. Little does she know she is hunting her own sister who is now working for the nefarious Silco (voiced by Jason Spisak).

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arcane is successful in large part because it invests so much time developing Jinx and Vi’s relationship. The first three episodes focus on their life as children and show how dependent Jinx is on the older, more street-savvy Vi. After a time jump into the later episodes, we see the magnitude of the impact of losing each other. But with the ever-widening rift between Piltover and Zaun, will Vi and Jinx be able to reconcile? Or is their bond broken beyond repair?

As this heartbreaking family drama unfolds, arcane dips his toes into other genres to fill his world. Piltover’s upper class gets the political thriller treatment, with council members like Mel Medarda (voiced by Toks Olagundoye) luring hextech inventors Jayce (voiced by Kevin Alejandro) and Viktor (voiced by Harry Lloyd) to their side. Meanwhile, Caitlyn and Vi’s investigation plays out like a noir mystery, complete with moody atmospheric lighting cast from the streets of Zaun. Everything is set in an immersive fantasy world where magic weapons and ability-enhancing drugs can mean the difference between victory and defeat.

arcane is immaculately finished.

Vi from 'Arcane' raises her hands in a fighting stance;  she wears massive metal gauntlets.

Vi is watching.
Photo credit: Courtesy of Netflix

As Mashable UK editor Shannon Connellan rightly pointed out in 2021, arcane is a “masterpiece of animation”. The series is a visual marvel thanks to the work of the animation studio Fortiche, which brings the fantastical world of League of Legends to live. A combination of 2D hand painting and computer-generated 3D animation is ideal arcane a unique look that bridges the line between cartoons and realism. Facial expressions and backgrounds are faithfully reproduced. From the lofty, Art Deco-inspired heights of Piltover to the dark, neon-hued alleyways of Zaun, it’s impossible not to immerse yourself in this world.

arcane shines especially in action sequences; if you adapt a battle arena game like leaguebetter bring your A game to the fight scenes and all arcane team does not disappoint. Weapons like hextech explosives and massive gauntlets pack murderous punches, while street brawls and enforcer heists are held in riveting ways. These sequences take place arcane‘s creativity on full display – look no further than a pivotal battle between Jinx and rebel leader Ekko (voiced by Reed Shannon) as it switches back and forth between the games they played as children and the very deadly showdown, in which they are in the present.

None of these fight sequences were going to land as hard as before arcane didn’t work as thoroughly to establish his characters and their motivations. This intense focus on the character elevates an already technically stunning show to a narrative marvel. Mature, heartbreaking and endlessly captivating, arcane should be one of the blueprints for not just solid video game customization, but customization in general.

arcane now streaming on Netflix.(Opens in a new window)(opens in a new tab)

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