Review: Arcane’s Premiere Is A Visually Gorgeous Anime With A Story That Hooks You In From The Jump
Arcane is the latest Netflix anime series that really raises the streamer’s anime game. Coming from Riot Games, Arcane is supposedly a story based on their League Of Legends MMORPG franchise. So the first reaction would place Arcane as a supplemental promotional thing to build the franchise, fuelling brand awareness back to the game itself. But the Arcane premiere episode is so breathtaking visually, with a solid story to support it, that it definitely feels like a lot more. Check out my review of the Arcane premiere episode releasing on Netflix.
Arcane Is Light On Story But Features A Heavy World
Image via Netflix.
Honestly, there is no bigger takeaway from the Arcane premiere episode than its visuals and anime style. While the trailer definitely gave a glimpse of this kind of animation, it’s a different thing to see it in motion, in a cohesive story. It genuinely feels like a massive world unfolding before your eyes, while never feeling forced or out of place. The organic nature of this episode also provides light exposition, character backstory and world-building so far, which is a major testament to its writing too.
While the premiere episode of Arcane doesn’t go into too many details, it’s a simple story in a unique world. The episode opens with war, with two young girls seemingly orphaned in the middle of it. One warrior takes them in and walks away in the wake of the destruction and carnage behind them. The actual story then opens with those two girls, along with their friends, definitely up to no good. They’re pulling a heist. But a mysterious accident results in an explosion that sets them off on the run from the authorities. It’s a very simple sequence, but the animation style really pulls you into the events so much more.
Arcane Premiere Episode Has Breathtaking Animation
Image via Netflix.
Arcane’s animation style is that of a blend of 3D CGI and 2D animation. And while many other anime have tried that too, it doesn’t always pay off. Sometimes the 2D characters stick out of the 3D environment, or vice versa. Whereas the blending of all elements works wonderfully to Arcane’s advantage. It truly feels like those epic video game trailers, that never actually resemble gameplay. But at least here, we are part of the story as much as Vi and Powder, the two orphans.
Getting deeper into the premiere episode, Powder stole some gems, one of which caused the explosion. Although, no one really knows it. While their robbery was a bust, they retreat into their lair, which happens to be in an entirely underground world of its own. Hiding their misadventures from their leader, Vander, the group of adolescents mope in their misery. It’s through Vander that we get more world-building.
The World In The Arcane Premiere Episode In Interesting, Despite The Lack Of Details
Image via Netflix.
The premiere episode of Arcane is mostly focused on this little adventure by these misguided kids. But what unravels is uniquely interesting. Firstly, the explosion was caused by some mysterious gems that the younger sister steals. The trailers and the game is definitely focused on magic and mages and the otherwordly, but a lot of that is lacking in this first episode. Which I very much appreciate. What we get is interesting enough on its own to not need fantasy elements to rear their head so early on. It makes it clear that the focus is on the characters and the story and not any gimmicks.
And this is probably why I liked this episode so much, despite there not being a whole lot of story. The barkeep Vander definitely looks like he carries some weight in the underground civilization, but what kind, and what his backstory is, will be interesting to see unfold. The lead characters of Vi and Powder have great sibling chemistry. Vi always building up her little sister, while Powder shows that she has some teeth in some scenes too. It’s definitely not the cliched, cool sister-lame sister vibe. And while these characters are featured in the video gam franchise, it’s accessible enough for everyone. So I’m definitely in to see what else Arcane has to offer after this premiere episode. Good thing I won’t have to wait too long.
Arcane premieres on Netflix on November 6.
Let me know if you’ll be tuning in to this brand new anime series when it premieres, in the comments below.
Featured image via Netflix.
Shah Shahid is an entertainment writer, movie critic (so he thinks), host of the Split Screen Podcast (on Apple Podcasts & everywhere else) and filmy father on a mission to educate his girls on decades of film history. Armed with uncontrollable sarcasm and cautious optimism, Shah loves discussing film, television and comic book content until his wife’s eyes glaze over. So save her by engaging him on his own blog at BlankPageBeatdown.com or on Twitter @theshahshahid.