In 2009, Riot Games released League of Legends, a multiplayer battle arena game based on a Warcraft mod that took life on its own. Twelve years later, the game has become a massive phenomenon around the world. The game is one of the most profitable free-to-play games on the internet, and its low system requirements make it an affordable game to play for almost everyone with a PC.
The success of the main game allowed Riot Games to go the logical route, expanding their portfolio with more games based on popular genres but giving them their own spin. They create their own original characters or use existing popular characters from League of Legends and put them into a new context. With every new success, Riot Games seems unstoppable, and with Arcane, their new TV series, made to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of League of Legends, the company proves that their intellectual properties are ready to go beyond the realm of games and into many other mediums.
Arcane is produced by Riot Games with the help of Fortiche Productions, an animation studio based in France that has helped Riot Games throughout the years make cinematics for their games. The series stars Hailee Steinfeld, Ella Purnell, Kevin Alejandro, Katie Leung, Jason Spisak, Toks Olagundoye, JB Blanc and Harry Lloyd, and tells the origin stories of several League of Legends ‘Champions’. Specifically, it focuses on the backstories of fan favorites like Vin, Jinx, Jayce, and Viktor. As the class struggles between the rich and the poor get more and more volatile in the city of Piltover and new technology threatens to change the world, forever.
The world Riot Games has been building up for more than a decade is rich and exciting and the perfect place to tell stories full of intrigue, action, and drama. Arcane is one of the best animated shows not only on Netflix but on any platform. It really speaks volumes about the talent inside Riot Games, as much of the work, from scriptwriting, to direction and music, is done internally by members of the development team. Some of whom might not have experience doing any sort of TV or film work, but who have stepped up and have created a true work of art.
Fortiche Productions does most of the animation work in this TV series and their work is outstanding. So far, the studio has mostly been making advertisement videos and music videos for Riot Games, and Arcane is without a doubt the biggest project they have tackled in their history. Fortunately, they were up to the task. Arcane’s presentation is magnificent, in every aspect. The characters are all incredibly well-designed, and their movements flow with such grace that they feel more real and present than even many live-action films out there.
The studio has also done an amazing job of recreating the city of Piltover in all of its splendor. Both the rich and poor sections of the city explode with detail, and for a genre that has so much trouble finding acceptance in the visual medium, Fortiche manages to pull off the steampunk palette to perfection. With each new episode, you would wish the city was real and that you could visit it.
The visual presentation isn’t the only good thing in Arcane. The story is fantastic, creating a rich and detailed backstory for some of these characters that so far have only been ideas in the games. Now, they are more than an idea and have transformed into such powerful characters that seeing multiple seasons of Arcane following their adventures becomes an exciting prospect. Again, it becomes impressive that most of the writing comes internally from Riot Games themselves, showing their talent for creating stories and showing how much command they have over their own characters and concepts.
The score by Alexander Temple, who creates music for the games, and Alex Seaver is stunning and helps to create a unique atmosphere for the city of Piltover and its surrounding areas. The sound mix is also stunning, especially during the action sequences, where you will be able to feel each punch and explosion.
The voice actors are also doing amazing work. Hailee Steinfeld and Ella Purnell might be the biggest names on the roster, and they do an incredible job of bringing Vi and Powder to life, but every single other actor swings and hits big. Arcane makes astounding use of some real voice actors, veterans who have been working in the medium for years, and whose voices are filled with such command and texture that the characters truly feel unique. It is a real accomplishment and also a good thing to do, as in current times, most of the big animation productions decide to cast only celebrities in place of career voice actors in their most important roles.
Arcane is divided into three acts. Each act is composed of three episodes, for a total of nine episodes. Netflix will be delivering three episodes each Saturday from November 6 to November 20. This release schedule is fantastic, as each episode’s runtime is around 45 minutes. There’s a lot of story in here, and a good time to digest it is appreciated. Make no mistake. If Arcane had delivered all nine episodes in one, it would have been a remarkable binge-watch, but having an intermission between acts, becomes a great way to experience the story and raise expectations for what is coming.
Hoping that Arcane is successful enough to warrant more seasons, then we are facing the beginning of a huge franchise on Netflix, and one that can go for years. Riot Games has hundreds of interesting characters with amazing stories to tell. Let’s hope the word of mouth can really spread just how good this is.