Arcane: Akira and Cowboy Bebop on Steriods
I loved Arcane! There was a longstanding jinx in the media industry that the movie adaptation of video games sucks (such as World of Warcraft, WoW, and Warcraft), but League of Legends’ Arcane finally broke free from it by using their champion, Jinx.
League of Legends has numerous champions and background stories complexly intertwined. I am curious why Riot and Netflix chose to portray the story of Jinx at Piltover and Zaun, and here are my thoughts.
First, the contrasting cities of Piltover and Zaun can best portray the human drama caused by class conflicts. Piltover and Zaun used to be the same city, but they got physically divided into different altitudes by an earthquake. Naturally, the rich live at the high ground Piltover and the poor sink at the bottom ground Zaun. Jinx is from Zaun and the storyline of Arcane spirals around how Jinx becomes an uncontrollable terrorist.
As such, Piltover and Zaun are the most human regions you can find on the planet of Runeterra. Two cities create conflicts between socio-economic classes, and each is again fragmented into different interest groups. Piltover is divided into conservatives and progressives when it comes to technology, and Zaun into radicals and moderates when it comes to political autonomy from Piltover. Those dynamics are the most humane narrative we can delve into.
Second, Jinx is the character that induced the most curiosity out of League of Legends players. Jinx has been heavily portrayed as a radical explosion maniac, which makes her one of the most single-dimensionally illustrated characters in the game. As a gamer myself, I was always curious about what drove her that crazy, and I can see many others shared the same curiosity upon the success of this series. Pressured curiosity finally bursts through Arcane, as the show details how Jinx became who she is.
Third, the visual aesthetics was shockingly new and mind-blowing. It was like Akira and Cowboy Bebop on steroids. The rapid transitions between 2D and 3D wearing a neon cyberpunk tone truly caught my eye, and each episode experimenting with different cinematics kept me excited.
Netflix and League of Legends just announced season 2 of Arcane, which gets me very excited. I hope they can continue to grow the element of humanity and experimental visuals for upcoming seasons, and make the series into something more than just game cinematics.