Arcane (TV series)

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Arcane
Also known asArcane: League of Legends
Genre
Created by
  • Christian Linke
  • Alex Yee
Based onLeague of Legends
by Riot Games
Directed by
  • Pascal Charrue
  • Arnaud Delord
Voices of
Theme music composer
Opening theme"Enemy"
Composers
Country of origin
Original languageEnglish
No. of seasons1
No. of episodes9
Production
Executive producers
  • Christian Linke
  • Marc Merrill
  • Brandon Beck
  • Jane Chung
  • Thomas Vu
Running time39–44 minutes
Production companies
Original release
NetworkNetflix
ReleaseNovember 6, 2021 (2021-11-06) –
present (present)

Arcane (titled onscreen as Arcane: League of Legends) is an animated steampunk action-adventure television series created by Christian Linke and Alex Yee. It was produced by the French animation studio Fortiche under the supervision of Riot Games, and distributed by Netflix. Set in Riot's League of Legends universe, it primarily focuses on sisters Vi and Jinx. The series was announced at the League of Legends 10th anniversary celebration in 2019, and first released in November 2021. Following the conclusion of the first season, Riot Games and Netflix announced that a second season was in production, to be released in November 2024.

Arcane was released to widespread acclaim, with praise directed at its animation, story, worldbuilding, action sequences, characters, emotional weight, sound, and voice acting. Some have noted the series' appeal both to casual viewers who have never played League of Legends and to long-time fans of the game.[1] It also set the record as Netflix's highest-rated series at the time within a week of its premiere, ranked first on the Netflix Top 10 Chart in 52 countries, and ranked second on the chart in the United States. Several critics and publications considered it one of the best video game adaptations ever made.[2] In 2022, the series became the first streaming series to win a Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Animated Program and won an Annie Award for Best General Audience Animated Television Broadcast Production.

Premise[edit]

Amidst the escalating unrest between the rich, utopian city of Piltover and the seedy, oppressed underbelly of Zaun, sisters Vi and Jinx find themselves embroiled in a developing conflict over clashing convictions and arcane technologies.[3]

Cast and characters[edit]

Main[edit]

Supporting[edit]

Episodes[edit]

No.TitleDirected byWritten byOriginal release date
Act 1
1"Welcome to the Playground"Pascal Charrue & Arnaud DelordChristian Linke & Alex YeeNovember 6, 2021 (2021-11-06)
Sisters Powder and Vi find their parents dead among the bodies and the rubble of a battle on a bridge. They are taken in by Vander, the leader of the failed rebellion, as his own children. Years later, Vi and Powder rob a Piltover penthouse with their adopted brothers, Mylo and Claggor. Powder steals a set of magical crystals and accidentally shatters one. This causes an explosion that destroys a large portion of the building. Returning to the undercity, the siblings encounter Deckard and his thugs; while they beat them in a fistfight, Powder is chased and loses the loot. Vander, now a community leader in Zaun, scolds the children for their carelessness and attempts to smooth things over with Grayson, the Sheriff of the enforcers, and her subordinate Marcus. Vi berates Mylo for calling Powder a "jinx" and reassures her sister that things will get better. In the lowest parts of the undercity, crime lord Silco extracts information from Deckard and tests a new mutagen known as Shimmer on a rat together with Singed, a Zaunite scientist.
2"Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved"Pascal Charrue & Arnaud DelordNick LuddingtonNovember 6, 2021 (2021-11-06)
The crystals that Powder stole turn out to belong to Jayce Talis, a student at Piltover's academy. Piltover's ruling council has him testify about using illegal equipment in unsanctioned experiments. As a child, Jayce was saved by arcane magic and believes it can be a new resource for Piltover's evolution. The academy expels him when he admits the magical nature of the experiments, and his research is ordered to be destroyed. On the verge of suicide, his beliefs are renewed when Viktor, the disabled assistant of the academy's Professor Heimerdinger, offers to help him. In Zaun, Marcus pressures Vander to reveal the true culprits of the robbery, while the Zaunites pressure him to fight back against the interference of the enforcers. He chooses to keep his family safe and remain neutral, leaving some unsure of his leadership. Vi decides to turn herself in. Meanwhile, Silco manipulates Deckard into swallowing a vial of Shimmer.
3"The Base Violence Necessary for Change"Pascal Charrue & Arnaud DelordAsh BrannonNovember 6, 2021 (2021-11-06)
Vander stops Vi from turning herself in, offering himself to Grayson instead. However, Silco intervenes and captures Vander after a heavily mutated Deckard kills Grayson and her men, sparing only Marcus. Vi, Mylo, and Claggor go to rescue Vander, leaving Powder alone. In Piltover, Jayce and Viktor secretly work with the crystals under the discretion of councilor Mel Medarda and invent Hextech, a new arcane technology. It is revealed that Vander betrayed Silco in the past and tried to drown him. In the undercity, the siblings reach Vander but are cut off by Silco. Vi fights off Silco's thugs but is badly beaten by Deckard. In attempting to save her, Powder causes an explosion with the stolen crystals, killing Claggor and Mylo. Vander, wounded by Silco, takes Shimmer, kills Deckard, and saves Vi before dying. In her grief, Vi hits Powder, calls her a "jinx," and walks away. Seeing Silco approach Powder, Vi attempts to return to her but is ambushed and captured by Marcus. Believing Vi abandoned her, Powder breaks down in Silco's arms. He embraces Powder and tells her, "We'll show them all."
Act 2
4"Happy Progress Day!"Pascal Charrue & Arnaud DelordDavid DunneNovember 13, 2021 (2021-11-13)
Several years later, Piltover prospers with Jayce's Hextech technology and celebrates its 200th anniversary on a holiday called "Progress Day." Jayce initially hopes to reveal his and Viktor's latest gemstone device at the ceremony but decides not to after Heimerdinger warns him of its potential dangers. Elsewhere, Powder, now a teenager going by the name of Jinx, works for Silco, who she views as a surrogate father. She helps him smuggle materials, mainly Shimmer, into Piltover. A job goes awry when the Firelights, an undercity gang, interfere. While fighting, Jinx briefly mistakes a Firelight for Vi and has a violent breakdown. Caitlyn, an enforcer and Jayce's childhood friend, investigates what happened. Attempting to repair her damaged reputation with Silco, Jinx steals Jayce's gemstone and sets off an explosion that kills six enforcers. Jayce is given a Piltover council seat to protect their people from the stolen gemstone. Looking for information, Caitlyn travels to Stillwater prison and encounters an adult Vi, who has been imprisoned there by Marcus.
5"Everybody Wants to Be My Enemy"Pascal Charrue & Arnaud DelordAmanda OvertonNovember 13, 2021 (2021-11-13)
Using forged paperwork, Caitlyn releases Vi from prison because of her knowledge of the undercity and works with her to find Silco. Vi tracks down Silco's second-in-command, Sevika, who reveals Jinx's relationship with Silco, a shock that allows Sevika to stab her. Meanwhile, it is revealed that Marcus was promoted to Sheriff with Silco's help. In exchange, Marcus allows Shimmer to be smuggled and blames the Progress Day bombing and robbery on the Firelights. Jinx refuses to work on the new Hextech gemstones because of the trauma of killing her family with a similar device. In response, Silco takes her to the river where Vander tried to drown him and tries to convince Powder to accept her new identity as Jinx via a baptism. Back in Piltover, Councilor Medarda starts a romantic relationship with Jayce while helping him navigate the complex political sphere he now finds himself in as a councilor. Meanwhile, Viktor's illness worsens, and he grows increasingly desperate to find a cure through Hextech technology.
6"When These Walls Come Tumbling Down"Pascal Charrue & Arnaud DelordAlex YeeNovember 13, 2021 (2021-11-13)
After Viktor collapses in the lab from his illness, he and Jayce begin to study the "Hexcore," a new Hextech machine that reacts to organic matter and has the potential to cure it. Heimerdinger tries to have it destroyed due to its danger, prompting Jayce to orchestrate his removal from the council. Viktor approaches Singed, his childhood mentor, to help perfect the Hexcore. Silco, now aware of Vi's reappearance, orders Marcus to kill her and Caitlyn before they can resurface in Piltover. Marcus presents false proof that the Firelights were behind the attacks; Jayce orders a bridge blockade to protect Piltover. Jinx interrogates Sevika and learns of Vi's return. Vi and Caitlyn find a safehouse in the lowest slums of Zaun so Vi can recover from her fight with Sevika, but Silco finds them after bribing the local addicts with Shimmer. After escaping, the pair notice the blue smoke from a flare Vi gave Jinx before their ill-fated mission to rescue Vander years ago, and the sisters reunite. However, Caitlyn's presence triggers Jinx's mistrust. The Firelights intervene, steal the gemstone, and kidnap Caitlyn and Vi. Jinx, left behind, screams in despair.
Act 3
7"The Boy Savior"Pascal Charrue & Arnaud DelordNick LuddingtonNovember 20, 2021 (2021-11-20)
The Firelights leader is actually Vi and Powder's childhood friend Ekko, now a gruff and battle-hardened warrior. After Vander's death, Silco took over the undercity and made the populace dependent on Shimmer; the Firelights have been leading efforts to thwart him and rehabilitate addicts. Ekko warns Vi that Powder is gone and only Jinx remains, something Vi refuses to accept. Meanwhile, Singed provides Viktor with a variant of Shimmer. Jayce's blockades increase unrest between the two cities. Viktor decides not to tell Jayce about using Shimmer to enable the Hexcore to modify his failing body after Jayce accidentally insults Viktor's undercity heritage. Caitlyn convinces Ekko to return the gemstone to Piltover, but Vi parts ways with them to find Jinx. Marcus stops Ekko and Caitlyn at the blockade, shoots Ekko, and prepares to kill Caitlyn. Seeing this, Vi runs back to help her. Envious of Caitlyn, Jinx detonates robotic insects on the bridge, killing Marcus and his enforcers. Ekko and Jinx face off as Vi and injured Caitlyn flee to Piltover. Ekko bests her in a fight but hesitates to deliver the final blow, allowing Jinx to detonate a grenade near them.
8"Oil and Water"Pascal Charrue & Arnaud DelordBen St. John & Mollie St. JohnNovember 20, 2021 (2021-11-20)
Silco finds the heavily injured Jinx in the explosion's aftermath and sees that she managed to steal back the gemstone. He takes her to Singed to heal her wounds. As Jinx endures Singed's treatment, she hallucinates that it is Vi and Caitlyn inflicting the pain. He injects her with Shimmer, turning her eyes violet. Meanwhile, Mel's mother arrives in Piltover following the assassination of Mel's brother and attempts to prepare her for the brewing war with Zaun. While trying to help the locals of Zaun, Heimerdinger encounters Ekko, who injured his leg escaping from Jinx's grenade. Meanwhile, Viktor succeeds in healing his body through the Hexcore and is able to run for the first time. However, further experimentation results in the death of his childhood friend and assistant, Sky. After failing to convince the council to intervene against Silco, Vi abandons Caitlyn and partners with Jayce to take down Silco's Shimmer factories. Armed with Hextech weaponry, they defeat a group of Shimmer-enhanced soldiers, but Jayce accidentally kills a child worker. After returning home, Caitlyn is kidnapped by Jinx.
9"The Monster You Created"Pascal Charrue & Arnaud DelordChristian Linke & Alex YeeNovember 20, 2021 (2021-11-20)
The child's death makes Jayce realize the potential cost of intra-city war. He brokers a peace treaty with Silco, offering Zaun's independence in exchange for Jinx. Ekko reveals his hideout to Heimerdinger. Feeling guilty over the death of Sky, Viktor makes Jayce promise to destroy the Hexcore. Meanwhile, Silco laments choosing between Zaun and Jinx, who overhears him. After beating Sevika in a fight, Vi is abducted by Jinx. She, Silco, and Caitlyn awaken restrained in the warehouse where Vander died. Jinx gives Vi a pistol, telling her to choose between Caitlyn and herself. Vi refuses and appeals to her childhood memories, causing Jinx to suffer a traumatic attack. Silco breaks free and shoots at Vi but misses, and Jinx guns him down. Silco reaffirms his paternal love for her before dying. Jinx, distraught, finally accepts her new identity and acknowledges that she and Vi have diverged. Jinx weaponizes the gemstone into a rocket launcher and fires at the Piltover council as they approve Jayce's proposal to grant Zaun independence.

Production[edit]

Riot Games CEO Nicolo Laurent said it took six years to make the first season of Arcane.[5]

Arcane's production differed from standard industry practice. The idea for Arcane first came from Christian Linke in 2015 after Riot had initially delved into other media to help strengthen the connections players had with the IP such as cinematic trailers and music videos. But at that point, none of the promotional content had any dialogue. Next, instead of finding a new animation studio that specialized in television animation, Riot decided to continue their partnership with Fortiche who had produced music videos for them. Riot also targeted the "adult-minded" animation market instead of more established markets for video game to television animation adaptations.[6]

Arcane was first announced at the League of Legends 10th anniversary celebration in 2019,[7] and is set in Riot's League of Legends fictional universe,[8][9] In September 2021, it was announced that Hailee Steinfeld, Ella Purnell, Kevin Alejandro, Katie Leung, Jason Spisak, Toks Olagundoye, JB Blanc and Harry Lloyd had joined the voice cast.[10]

On November 20, 2021, following the conclusion of Arcane's first season, Riot Games and Netflix announced that a second season was in production for a post-2022 release.[11][5] In 2023, it was reported that the second season is set to premiere in the last quarter of 2024,[12] while an official announcement was made in November during the annual Netflix Geeked Week, with a release date set to November 2024.[13]

Broadcast[edit]

Marketing[edit]

Riot Games promoted the launch of Arcane through events in their games, including League of Legends, Legends of Runeterra, Teamfight Tactics, League of Legends: Wild Rift, and Valorant as "RiotX Arcane".[14] It launched promotional collaborations with non-Riot games such as PUBG Mobile,[15] Fortnite,[16] and Among Us.[17]

On November 6, 2021, for the global premiere, Riot Games streamed the first episode on Twitch. Some content creators were allowed to co-stream the first three episodes of the series once they received permission from Riot Games, a first for a Netflix series, which also allowed viewers to retrieve in-game drops during the premiere.[18] Drops were only included in the games League of Legends (Arcane Capsule), Wild Rift (“A Single Tear” Emote), Teamfight Tactics (Gizmos & Gadgets Little Legends Egg), Legends of Runeterra (“Fascinating” Emote), and Valorant ("Fishbones" Gun Buddy).[19] The premiere received 1.8 million concurrent viewers on Twitch.

On November 21, Netflix and Riot Games partnered with Secret Cinema to bring players directly into the world of Arcane with an in-person experience in Los Angeles, California. The experience was "equipped with bespoke backstories and missions, the line between actors and audience is truly blurred as players explore the dark and dangerous underworld and encounter its inhabitants—the strange, the sinister and sometimes even the friendly".[20]

Release[edit]

Originally set for a 2020 release, the show was rescheduled for a release in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.[21] It was scheduled for a simultaneous November 6, 2021, release on Netflix and China's Tencent Video,[22] with the series broken into nine episodes, with three episode "acts" being released once a week over three weeks.[23][24]

Soundtrack[edit]

On November 20, 2021, songs from the first season were released on Amazon Music.[25] The series had a different opening theme in China — "孤勇者 (Gu Yong Zhe)" performed by Eason Chan.

Arcane: League of Legends, Original Soundtrack[26]
No.TitleWriter(s)Artist(s)Length
1."Playground"Mako, Sebastien NajandBea Miller3:50
2."Our Love"Curtis Harding, Sam CohenCurtis Harding, Jazmine Sullivan3:38
3."Goodbye"MakoRamsey3:51
4."Dirty Little Animals"BONES UK, Sebastien NajandBONES UK3:25
5."Enemy"Imagine Dragons & JIDImagine Dragons & JID2:53
6."Guns for Hire"MakoWoodkid3:46
7."Misfit Toys"Pusha T & Mako3:09
8."Dynasties and Dystopia"Denzel Curry, Gizzle, Bren Joy2:58
9."Snakes"Pvris, Miyavi2:41
10."When Everything Went Wrong"Fantastic NegritoFantastic Negrito3:13
11."What Could Have Been"MakoSting, Ray Chen3:33
Total length:36:57

Reception[edit]

Critical reception[edit]

The performances of Hailee Steinfeld (top) and Ella Purnell (bottom), voice actors for Vi and Jinx, respectively, received praise.

The review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes reported a 100% approval rating with an average rating of 9.10/10, based on 29 reviews. The site's critical consensus reads, "Arcane makes an arresting first impression, combining a spectacular mix of 2D and 3D animation with an emotionally compelling story to deliver a video game adaptation that could become legendary."[27] The series also became Netflix's number-one show in November 2021,[28] setting the record as Netflix's highest-rated series so far within a week of its premiere, ranked first on the Netflix Top 10 Chart in 52 countries, and ranked second on the chart in the United States.[29]

Writing for IGN, Rafael Motamayor called the first season of Arcane a "classic in the making, and the nail in the coffin of the so-called video game curse." He noted that the show worked for fans of League of Legends and newcomers, saying that "the character stories are what keep you engaged episode after episode; the lore is just icing on the cake." He also praised the voice cast, highlighting the performances of Leung, Purnell, Aghdashloo and Steinfeld, calling the latter performance the show's standout. Praising the animation, Motamayor called it the "most stunning piece of animation since Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse" and compared it to Invincible in terms of episode structure. He concluded by saying that Arcane "delivers a killing blow to the idea that video games cannot be masterfully adapted... with compelling characters, an endearing story, and fascinating lore and worldbuilding, as well as striking visuals," calling it a "once-in-a-generation masterpiece" and giving it a 10 out of 10 rating.[30]

Andrew Webster of The Verge praised the "fantasy-meets-steampunk world" and how no knowledge of League was needed to understand the show. Despite calling Act 1 "a fairly typical fantasy tale" he lauded the animation, saying that "each frame looks like a gorgeous piece of hand-painted concept art; in motion, it's like nothing I've ever seen" and that "it's also a world that feels lived-in and fully realized."[31] Matt Cabral of Common Sense Media called the first season "visually stunning" and that it "features the sort of nuanced characterizations, thoughtful storytelling, and rich worldbuilding typically associated with big-budget, big-screen epics." He also took note of the blend of fantasy, steampunk and sci-fi with emphasis on how the story puts a "fresh spin on the heavily recycled premise." Cabral concluded that viewers didn't need to have played League to appreciate the show.[32]

Reviewing the first four episodes of the first season, Tara Bennett of Paste enjoyed the way that "[the creators] purposefully made an adult animated drama that unflinchingly utilizes violence, adult language, and very dark storylines when needed to make the lives of the large ensemble cast resonate." Bennett favorably compared the series to Game of Thrones, Shadow and Bone, Castlevania and BioShock. She was also positive about the "nuance and subtle facial movements" of Fortiche's animation combined with the performances from Steinfeld, Jenness, Purnell and Spisak. Bennett called "Enemy" by Imagine Dragons "infectious" and that the show is "the new benchmark for what can be done when it comes to successfully translating worthy videogame universes into a different medium."[33]

Many publications noted that the series has been highlighted as one of the greatest video game adaptations.[34][35][36]

Accolades[edit]

Arcane became the first streaming television series based on a video game as well as the first video game adaptation to win both Annie Awards and Primetime Emmy Awards, as the former became the first streaming series to both win the most awards from the same nominations in a single year, and to sweep the Annies with nine, while the latter won Outstanding Animated Program, becoming the first Netflix series to do so.[37] Arcane also won the inaugural category Best Adaptation (awarded to media based on video games) from The Game Awards 2022.[38]

Year Award Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2022
Annecy International Animated Film Festival Best Television Production "When These Walls Come Tumbling Down" Nominated [39]
Annie Awards Best General Audience Animated Television/Broadcast Production "When These Walls Come Tumbling Down" Won [40]
Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production Guillaume Degroote, Aurélien Ressencourt, Martin Touzé, Frédéric Macé, and Jérôme Dupré (for "Oil and Water") Won
Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production Léa Chervet (for "The Monster You Created") Won
Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production Evan Monteiro (for "Some Mysteries Better Left Unsolved") Won
Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production Pascal Charrue, Arnaud Delord, and Barthelemy Maunoury (for "The Monster You Created") Won
Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production Julien Georgel, Aymeric Kevin, and Arnaud Baudry (for "Happy Progress Day!") Won
Outstanding Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production Simon Andriveau (for "When These Walls Come Tumbling Down") Won
Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production Ella Purnell (for "When These Walls Come Tumbling Down") Won
Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production Christian Linke and Alex Yee (for "The Monster You Created") Won
Billboard Music Awards Top Soundtrack Various Artists Nominated [41]
British Film Editors Cut Above Awards Best Edited Series: Animation Ivan Bilancio, Gilad Carmel, Roberto Fernandez, Lawrence Gan, Martin Jay, Benjamin Massoubre, Ernesto Matamoros Cox, Nazim Meslem, Emmanuel Pilinski, and David Ian Salter Won [42]
Dorian Awards Best Animated Show Arcane Nominated [43]
Golden Reel Awards Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Non-Theatrical Animation Brad Beaumont, Eliot Connors, Alexander Temple, Shannon Beaumont, Alexander Ephraim, Dan O' Connell, John Cucci, and Alex Seaver (for "When These Walls Come Tumbling Down") Won [44]
Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards Best Streaming Animated Series or Television Movie Arcane Won [45]
Hugo Awards Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form Christian Linke, Alex Yee, Conor Sheehy, Ash Brannon, Pascal Charrue, and Arnaud Delord (for "The Monster You Created") Nominated [46]
Primetime Emmy Awards Outstanding Animated Program Christian Linke, Marc Merrill, Brandon Beck, Jane Chung, Thomas Vu, Jerôme Combe, Melinda Wunsch Dilger, Pascal Charrue, Arnaud Delord, Alex Yee, Ash Brannon, Conor Sheehy, Barthelemy Maunoury, and David Lyerly (for "When These Walls Come Tumbling Down") Won [47]
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation Brad Beaumont, Eliot Connors, Shannon Beaumon, Alex Ephraim, Alexander Temple, Alex Seaver, Dan O'Connel, and John Cucci (for "When These Walls Come Tumbling Down") Nominated
Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation Bruno Couchinho (background designer) (for "When These Walls Come Tumbling Down") Won [48]
Julien Georgel (art direction) (for "Happy Progress Day!") Won
Anne-Laure To (color script artist) (for "The Boy Savior") Won
Saturn Awards Best Animated Series on Television Arcane Nominated [49]
The Game Awards Best Adaptation Arcane Won [50]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Animation and co-production
  2. ^ Production

References[edit]

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