Spoiler-free review of Netflix’s ‘Arcane’ season one

Photo Courtesy of League of Legends and Netflix

By Clay Thompson | Intern

Now that all the episodes for Netflix’s new show, “Arcane” by Riot Games, have been released, viewers are finally forming their own opinions on how the show is.

Many viewers, including myself, now consider this show a masterpiece. I want all video game adaptations for the big or small screen to take notes for the future.

The first season of “Arcane” consists of nine episodes which were released in groups of three for three consecutive weeks in November on Netflix. This strategy seemed to work in the show’s favor, as from Nov. 15 to Nov. 21, “Arcane” sat in Netflix’s top ten globally, with around 38.4 million hours watched on average, according to Deadline. Overall, “Arcane” sits at a 9.4/10 viewer rating on IMDB, making it currently Netflix’s highest-rated original series, beating out shows like “Stranger Things” and “Narcos.” IMDB currently holds “Arcane” at its No. 14 spot of top TV shows of all time, falling behind “The Sopranos” and before “Rick and Morty.”

Why are viewers liking “Arcane” so much? What is the appeal it has? To put it in the most basic terms: It’s an amazing show. From the complex characters and their development to the unique animation style, everything about “Arcane” came together and worked really well.

Yes, the show and characters are based on the video game “League of Legends” by Riot Games, but both video game veterans and people with no knowledge or interest in the game can follow along. The first three episodes set up the main characters and their personalities perfectly and set them on a course for growth. Their origin stories brilliantly set up a complex but tightly interwoven web that has them intersect with each other in equally profound and devastating ways as time goes on.

One thing the first three episodes do especially well is make the characters complex, even the ones that do not make it to the end. For the protagonists, there are things you equally admire and hate, and the same goes for the villains. One of the breakout characters of the show, who viewers have lauded for a phenomenal voice acting performance, was actually the main antagonist.

The second set of three episodes show how time has changed the characters and set them up for the overarching conflict. It is in this act that the development of each character stands out. As they begin to interact more with each other, they realize their beliefs are not the only ones to exist, and have to face and confront themselves to change, hopefully for the better. This set also explores the relationships between the characters and gets the audiences invested in them. There are real stakes present in this act and it creates tension and attachment.

The final three episodes bring the main story and conflict together with bursting results and set up a brilliant cliffhanger for audiences who will be rolling for the next season, which as of November 21, was officially confirmed by Riot Games, according to Polygon. In the final three episodes, the setup created by the first six episodes brings everything to an explosive head, as characters confront their previous feelings and beliefs and begin to change into who they were developing toward.

This was an emotional final act, as I was feeling many different things and crying uncontrollably many times. The standout factor, aside from the emotion, of course, was the animation, as every fight scene was animated so beautifully it transcended what live action could ever achieve.

Overall, I do agree with the masses that “Arcane” is one of the best video game adaptations, and one of the best shows I have ever seen. With projects like this and “Spiderman: Into the Spiderverse,” I am hopeful that studios and audiences alike will begin to take animation more seriously as a medium. “Arcane” is the perfect example of what the medium of animation can achieve — legendary status.