Vi bounces her leg when she’s nervous. It’s something he does for the first four episodes of Arcane, the Netflix series based on League of Legends tradition, and it’s a lovely little habit. Vi’s leg shakes up and down with anxious anger as she argues with her friend from a squashed couch in her makeshift lair; later, her knee bounces as she sits alone in a dark room, facing a fatal fate. It’s something that makes Vi feel real, like she has a story that she carries with her, as natural as her pink hair.
Although Arcane it’s packed with amazing action and luscious animation, little details like these really bring the world to life, only for Jinx to blow it all to pieces.
Warning: minor spoilers for the first four episodes of Arcane ahead.
Arcane It begins with a quintessential story of the class struggle, depicting the violent clashes between the wealthy citizens of Piltover and the oppressed criminal society of Zaun, where Vi, Jinx and their crew live. In the first three episodes, Vi and Jinx are children: Vi is the leader of a small gang of teenage outlaws, while Jinx, who is actually calling herself Powder at the moment, is her little sister, some years of heist experience. and streaks of growth. behind the others. In the fourth episode, Vi and Jinx are older and on an equal footing, even when they are on opposite sides.
The sisters start out surrounded by their chosen family members, including their father figure, Vander, who acts as the unofficial mayor of Zaun. A former resistance leader, Vander runs a bar called The Last Drop and tries to keep the peace with the Enforcers, Piltover’s militarized security team. Meanwhile, the Piltover scientists are about to harness synthetic magic, while Zaun’s most vile forces are creating monstrous soldiers by feeding people a glowing purple liquid. Altogether, it is a recipe for war.
ArcaneThe disparate worlds are vibrant, vast and alive, Piltover shining golden amid the clouds and Zaun buried underground, filled with toxic green light. The show itself feels less like an anime and more like a near-R-rated Disney movie, with buttery-smooth character movements and elaborate environments, courtesy of Riot Games animation studio Fortiche Production. Everything looks like it’s the product of motion capture technology, but it’s hand-animated in a mix of 2D and 3D.
The fights in Arcane they are particularly beautiful. Vi is a boxer, she dives with her fists raised, while Jinx has a bunch of semi-functional homemade grenades covered in crayon scribbles, allowing her to participate from afar, even though she wants to be with the big kids, in the center of action. The biggest battles tend to unfold in slow motion, with emotional electronic music vibrating through the scenes and close-up shots of vicious punches, hard kicks, and last-second dodges. At wider angles, each frame of these fights has desktop wallpaper potential.
Arcane takes his time establishing characters and revealing how they’re all intertwined, and at the end of episode three, this work crashes into a massive fight scene and pays off in a powerful way. On League of Legends tradition, Vi and Jinx are bitter rivals, but in ArcaneThey start out as sisters with a deep and true love for one another. They support each other, save lives, and fall apart together. They feel inseparable. It takes something catastrophic to tear them apart, and Arcane shows us every ghastly second. It is heartbreaking.
It’s not just about Vi and Jinx, and there are many others League of Legends characters with leading roles in Arcane, including Viktor, Jayce, Ekko, Caitlyn, and Heimerdinger. As a fan of the game, I feel a spark of happiness every time I recognize a face or name in ArcaneBut it won’t detract from the experience if you don’t already know who these people are. This is an origin story, after all.