There were a lot of skeptics regarding the release of Riot Game’s Arcane since the show originated from League of Legends. Former and even active players of the game were not convinced that a game studio that does not update their champions and disregards most of the older champions’ designs and playability in League, can make a good animated show about their beloved champions. Well, let’s just say they were wrong, and Arcane became one of the best TV shows of the last year and more. In this article, we will discuss if Arcane is an anime or a cartoon?
Arcane is not an anime nor a cartoon in the full sense of the word. It is safe to say that Arcane is an animated TV series that was influenced by cartoon style. There is also a combination of 2D and 3D animations present in the Arcane style, and it was confirmed by the show executive confirmed that their goal was to find a good balance between realism and “cartoon” style, which made the animation of the show really unique.
Is Arcane an Anime?
Arcane truly has a unique style to its animation, and it kind of does remind us of anime in some shots of the show. However, Arcane is not an anime, primarily because of its geographical location. All animation made in Japan is called anime, and they have their own style that is unique to them. Yes, expressive facial expressions, face movements, and even scenery can be considered “anime-ish”.
However, that is not the case in Arcane. While talking with the animation director Barthélémy Maunoury who worked on the show, along with his animation studio Fortiche, he confirmed that they took some cues from anime.
More precisely, Maunoury talked about how they made fighting scenes for Arcane characters. In the League of Legends game, Jinx is a fast sharpshooter and canonically an insane person, which makes her movements fast, rapid, and sharp. The animators took that into account and used smears and the illusion of multiple arms from anime to replicate those movements from the game to the TV screen. They succeeded magnificently but that is the only thing we can spot that was inspired by anime.
Arcane definitely looks more “cartoonish” than “anime-ish” and that is the case with most western TV animated shows in recent years. Yes, they have some cues or details from anime but that does not mean Arcane is a full pledged anime.
It was also developed by a French animated studio Fortiche, and it mostly used 2D and 3D animation.
Is Arcane a Cartoon?
After everything that we discussed, now it is time to determine if Arcane is a cartoon? No, it just isn’t. Traditional cartoons were always made for children and their movements, and visual effects were far simpler in comparison to anime. There was always a distinction in art styles as well, which is specific for each animation style.
Cartoons learned a lot from anime in the last few decades, especially with the global popularity of animes like Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece, Sailor Moon, and more. There is more attention to detail, emotional aspect of the cartoons, and even maturity that was upgraded from just children’s topics to real, serious topics and situations that happen in real life. Cartoons are watched by every age group today, which wasn’t the case two decades ago.
That is why Arcane is not your typical cartoon – it is not Teen Titans or Ultimate Spiderman or even The Simpsons. These cartoons took over the cartoon style completely and kept the short episodes so viewers can jump from episode to episode and follow the new adventures of the characters every episode.
That is not the case with Arcane because it has long episodes like live-action TV dramas, have continuity in the episodes and the season arc is spread all over the season. We can conclude that Arcane is not a cartoon – it borrowed its cues and subtly put in the show’s style, which is not odd at all.
What Is Arcane?
After confirming that Arcane is not an anime or a cartoon, we now have to find out what is it? To do that, we need to go back to the beginning – League of Legends. This MOBA, besides being frustrating to play, has really specific styled champions. Those champions have lore, which means they have released comics and stories available for reading. Even though Arcane is not necessarily a full replica of League of Legends lore, since they only borrowed the characters and modified the story for the TV show, there are traces of League-specific animation style.
Some of them were modernized since champions that appear in Arcane are almost a decade old, and League of Legends games used the release of Arcane to upgrade their character styles. The French animation studio Fortiche needed to find a blend of League style and animation that is going to be absolutely stunning on television, and boy did they find a great blend.
As we already mentioned, the animators used a combination of 2D and 3D animation, where they used 3D to animate their characters and then used 2D animation for texture and effects like smoke, water, fire, and more. This is similar to The Legends of Korra style of animation – they used CGI for industrial machines and items and drew the background, nature, scenery, and everything else by hand. The result was amazing, and the same could be said for Arcane.
Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse is also a great example – they used CGI but also 2D hand-drawn animation that looks like panels from comic books. Animators did the same for Arcane but instead of comic book panels (which actually can be seen in a fight between Jinx and Ekko in the show), they drew inspiration from Summoners Rift.
In conclusion, we live in a postmodern era of culture, which means that art draws inspiration from older eras and refers to it in the new media. More specifically, art is blending old, already seen styles from previous eras and making unique styles, which can definitely be seen in newer media. Animation evolved a lot and there is a reason why most newer shows are not called just anime or cartoon – they adopted a new name and refer to themselves as animated TV shows or animated movies.
This is the end of the article, hopefully, you liked it and agree with us on this topic. Thank you for reading, and until the next time!