The Riot Games Retrospective
Riot Games celebrated its tenth anniversary on June 2, 2019. Riot announced many things at that time, starting from the release of new champions, new seasons, the arrival of League of Legends (a game made by Riot) on mobile phones to consoles until the announcement of its arrival. The crew once scheduled Arcane as the league of Netflix series to air in 2020. Finally, fans will not have to wait any longer. On November 6, 2021, Riot and Fortiche Production released the series, and the audience can watch it on the Netflix streaming service.
Such a presence of animation certainly makes the gaming community, especially League of Legends, very enthusiastic because when people see Riot’s promotional videos, the quality of the music and animation cannot be underestimated. Call it like one of the game-style girl bands known as K/DA, one of its music videos entitled POP/STARS has been watched more than 400 million times on the game’s official YouTube and does not include other video clips such as Warriors, Legends Never Die, Get Jinxed, and so on.
The league of Netflix series, Arcane, tells the story of two famous champions from the game who are sisters, namely Vi and Jinx. Not only that, but the series also explores the prolonged conflict between Piltover and Zaun. In the first three episodes, the series presents Jinx and Vi’s childhood under Vander’s care and the separation of the two sisters and makes them what they are today. The series introduces the background of the characters who inhabit Piltover and Zaun, such as Jayce, Heimerdinger, Ekko, Caitlyn, and Silco, as well as interactions between characters.
As the episode progresses, the series introduces more complex things, especially in Shimmer, a commodity made by Singed from Zaun that can turn people into monsters when used excessively. There is also Hextech, a breakthrough that Jayce and Viktor pioneered. The story’s plot does not bring the audience slowly uphill, being at the top and then sliding down. Instead, the background is constructed in such a way and then destroyed right before the characters’ eyes. It is why the story is so much more enjoyable.
The Dramatic and Political Elements
In essence, Arcane has two main storylines, divided into an upper city (Piltover) and a lower city (Zaun) perspective. Piltover’s perspective focuses on the development of Hextech, which is created from magic where the audience will get to know the figures of Jayce and Caitlyn. Zaun’s perspective focuses on the relationship between the two sisters, Violet or Vi and Powder or Jinx. For information, there is a social strata gap between Piltover and Zaun.
Piltover contains all the technological and scientific advances that their forefathers have achieved; a council presides over the city. The task of the councils is to bring glory to the city of Piltover. Meanwhile, Zaun is filled with outcasts; there is poverty and social inequality there. The place is so shabby, and many areas are not even touched by the sun. Zaun has only one respected leader, Vander, the town’s bartender.
How the animation connects these two very contrasting places is also very interesting. The initial premise of the series is that Vander saves Vi and Powder, who are victims of the war between the cities of Piltover and Zaun. After a lapse of several years, Vi and her group stole items in the city of Piltover, which turned out to be Jayce’s room. From there, the story of Arcane will begin. Audiences will know the concept of “power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely.”
It can be seen from how young Jayce had to lead the city of Piltover, which was very easily provoked because he only focused on Hextech, which he developed. On the other hand, the city of Zaun is made worse by the disappearance of its leader, Vander, whom Silco, the mafia, replaces. Since Silco replaced Vander, there has been a grand corruption about trading such a dangerous serum.
The Stunning Animation
One of the essential pillars in animation is from the animation itself. Starting from the style that is carried, the selection of shooting angles, to how smooth the movement per scene is, Arcane, as the league of Netflix series, without a doubt, manages to execute all of them in nine episodes, even the best part. Each episode feels like a new experience in the audience watching the series. The series itself uses a three-dimensional style with a touch of pastel colors in its animation. It makes it more authentic when compared to animations based on other games such as Dota: Dragon’s Blood and Castlevania. Not only that, the audience can see the use of brilliant colors, especially when the camera takes the background on the two cities that are still in the same shade but are opposite.
The use of dark primary colors lacks light. Still, with neon nicks that sometimes appear in the background or even on the characters when the audience is at Zaun, it manages to bring a gloomy but free-spirited atmosphere to its audience. Likewise, with Piltover, unlike its competitors, when the audience is in Piltover, the use of colors becomes brighter but monotonous, similar to the characters who live in Piltover. The choice of style and color must, of course, be supported by its animation that feels alive and flows following the dynamics of its characters. It is essential homework for an animator to make the animation not look dull and stiff.
The Interesting Story
Another less important thing in an animated film is the story itself. As people well known, Arcane came on the game League of Legends story and became a Netflix series. However, if the audience is not a player of the game, they do not need to worry because the series embraces film fans through stories introduced slowly as the plot goes on. However, it is undeniable that Riot put an easter egg in the series. Only then did the audience realize that they were playing the game. For example, the appearance of the crow, which is identical to the presence of Fiddlestick, the cupcake of Caitlyn, items from the game, the foreshadow of Warwick, and others. A solid background builds each character, primarily through the relationships between characters.
The main ones are Vi and Powder; in the first three episodes, the audience can see how they finally reunited with Vander and live together as sisters. Then, they separated due to an accident and growing bitterness in their lives throughout the show. Even such an experience turns Power into Jinx, a maniac who likes to shoot. Unlike Vi and Jinx, Jayce and Viktor on Piltover’s side have a tug-of-war relationship. United by Jayce’s curiosity about Hextech, Viktor and Jayce work together. They developed a breakthrough in science despite Heimerdinger’s repeated objections.
Jayce and Viktor both want to improve people’s lives through Hextech. However, each other’s ambitions sometimes hinder their common goals. Jayce wants Hextech to succeed and be safe. So, he repeatedly emphasized that innovations like this should take time to develop. On the other hand, Viktor wants Hextech to be ready before he dies and needs immediate help.
It is not just spoiling the audience with a story full of fights. The scriptwriter of Arcane wants to imply that someone is never completely good or bad. Behind every action of the characters, there is an underlying motive, whether revenge, pain, envy, jealousy or even pure business. Each character comes with their respective goals. They always know how to keep a plot rolling but not dull. In a way, the series is Riot’s masterpiece; it is impossible to forget the series for a long time.
They managed to present a dynamic and not confusing story even though there are so many terms. The audience also considers the interaction between characters significant in building world-building; there is no wasted dialogue there. Visual animation that spoils the eye is also a plus for the animation series. It becomes a new experience when the audience watches the series.
- Edwards, M. (2021). Netflix’s Arcane series is a major hit – and not just with League of Legend fans. Total Film | GamesRadar+.
- Goslin, A. (2021). Netflix’s Arcane is the best story League of Legends has ever had. Polygon.
- Li, J. (2021). ‘Arcane’ is a gift for ‘League of Legends’ fans. Annenberg Media.