Picture Courtesy: Netflix, Riot Games, Fortiche
You don’t have to be a cinephile to know that the majority of films or TV shows based on popular video game franchises do not fare well. While there have been some exceptions (The Last of Us), most are downright abominations (Alone in the Dark).
Despite this, an animated show on Netflix, based on one of the most beloved video games of all time, became a phenomenal hit. And we’re not only talking about viewing records.
The show currently has a 9/10 rating on IMDb and a 100% score on Rotten Tomatoes, meaning both audiences and critics loved the heck out of it.
In case you couldn’t connect the dots, the show is Arcane, set in the same world as the multiplayer battle arena online game League of Legends (LoL).
So, in today’s blog, we’ll uncover what strategies the creators followed and the pitfalls they avoided to make Arcane a super engaging television series. Perhaps there’s a lesson in it for you, too.
Arcane follows two sisters, Vi and Powder, who find themselves on opposing sides of a brewing conflict in a fictional city, Plitover. The conflicts revolve around highly advanced technologies that certain higher powers are after for their personal means.
Many factors contribute to making Arcane an incredibly engrossing and immersive show. They include:
Though Arcane primarily follows two sisters, it’s not to say that the show focuses only on the siblings. There is a plethora of other characters in the show, each with their own strengths and weaknesses – none are one-dimensional.
And that’s precisely what makes the series a delightful watch.
Every character is given their moment to shine, and the villains are not villains for the sake of it; they go through a lot, which shapes their behavior.
In fact, one of the show’s villains, Silco, might go down as one of the most menacing yet well-understood characters. Because he’s simply fighting for his people.
Believe us when we say you haven’t seen anything like Arcane, appearance-wise, at least. It’s the Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse of the streaming industry.
You’ll be in awe of every frame, whether it shows characters or landscapes.
One of the reasons behind the show’s jaw-dropping animation is that, while the characters are 3D, they’re also animated in a 2D style, giving them a more graphic look.
The backgrounds, on the other hand, are digitally hand-painted.
As you can imagine, the company behind the animation – Fortiche Production – pushed the boundaries of possibilities. And the result is a visually breathtaking watch you will not be able to take your eyes off of.
It’s no secret that female characters have always been relegated to secondary roles. They’re mostly there to serve as a catalyst for the leading man’s story to move forward.
Fun Fact: This relegation of female characters has a term: Women in Refrigerators (WiR).
Fortunately, Arcane never falls into that category.
As we’ve mentioned, the show follows two sisters who couldn’t be more different from one another. Other female characters take multiple roles in the show, from councilors to warriors.
How these female characters are animated also deserves a shout-out. They’re of varying skin types and colors, and there’s no male gaze in the show that sexualizes them.
In today’s world, where every other film or TV show is shot using CGI or green screen, it can be hard to follow fight sequences. They’re badly choreographed, ruining your entire experience.
That’s another department where Arcane passes with flying colors. The fight scenes are edited meticulously, and viewers have a clear vision of every punch landing.
It’s reported that the animators took inspiration from real-life hand-to-hand combat and boxing. And it’s evident in some frames, where a character is injured just as they would in reality.
Moreover, the emotional weight added to the fight sequences also helped make them memorable.
The background score of a music or TV show can significantly impact the viewing experience. It seems like Arcane’s creators thoroughly understood this, because the show is filled with excellent songs that are in line with how the scenes are played out.
For starters, the show’s opening theme, Enemy, is composed by Imagine Dragons. Its lyrics say, ‘Everybody wants to be my enemy.’ Going in the show, that’s what happens with one of the leading characters, Powder.
A misunderstanding causes a rift between Powder and everyone around her, including her sister, Vi.
Other notable songs include Playground by Bea Miller and What Could Have Been by Sting and Ray Chen.
Before Arcane premiered, many people wondered whether they’d be able to understand it. After all, it was based on a game, and TV shows or movies adapted from games require viewers to have certain knowledge pertaining to them.
The moment Arcane hit Netflix and people tuned in, they realized having an idea about the lore wasn’t a pre-requisite to enjoy the show – its story made sense to those who hadn’t even heard of the game before.
At the same time, die-hard fans of LoL had a great time watching their favorite characters come to life.
Because of this, Arcane is easily accessible to newcomers as well as lovers of the franchise.
Arcane is rated TV-14. Meaning, the target audience is individuals above 14. And the TV series leverages the rating to the fullest, as the show is relatively darker in nature, indulging in themes like trauma, tragedy, loyalty, and sacrifice.
There are no white and black characters; all have a tint of grey. They’re led by desires, making them believable and human. The villains have redeeming qualities, while the heroes have shortcomings.
Arcane is often matched with Game of Thrones, which had similar themes. And just like it, Arcane isn’t afraid to kill off the main characters. So, be warned.
It’s not every day you call a TV show a masterpiece, but Arcane fits the bill. It has spectacular animation, multi-dimensional characters, and a killer music score – what’s not to like?
Here’s to hoping they announce the release of Season 2 soon.