Arcane sets the bar high for video game adaptations

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Understandably, film adaptations of video games are generally frowned upon. Wave after wave of disappointing adaptations of gaming classics hit the big screen, but they never achieved critical or public acclaim.

However, not this time. Arcane swings for the fences every which way and wins every time. This Netflix series, from heart-pounding action to paint-like animation aesthetics to sweet emotional moments, is a must-watch.

It is, quite simply, magnificent. It’s the perfect video game adaptation, bringing ‘League of Legends’ (LOL) characters to the small screen while retaining all the quirks and features fans have come to expect from LOL.

Even those unfamiliar with games will find something to like in this presentation, which is both visually spectacular and narratively impressive.

The plot of this story takes place in a world on the verge of total war. The utopian Piltover (a city of LOL) sits above ground. They thrive on food left irresponsibly on rooftops and unlimited sunlight. Basically, these men have a lot of money. Underground, however, the story is quite different.

The underground metropolis of Zaun (also known as the Undercity) is in trouble, and its resentment of Piltover’s progress seems ripe for rebellion.

Powder and Vi, two sisters, are at the heart of this epic battle. Their friendship is ultimately what propels this series forward, and the show does a great job of depicting their various paths to becoming legendary League of Legends champions.

The opposing fortunes of these two sisters are triumphant and tragic, and they spread across the nine episodes to terrible effect. The two sisters, however, are just one cog in this well-oiled mechanism, as viewers are introduced to various other individuals who form a greater whole.

Silco, the maniacal villain, aims to raise his own army and force Zaun to rise up and become a powerhouse like Piltover.

To do this, he persuades one of the sisters to go with him, while devising a plan to take the Hex Stone from Piltover. These orbs are powerful magical artifacts with unfathomable power. Jayce and Victor, two budding scientists from Piltover, decide to use this ability to improve the growth of their town.

The political and social themes at work in this series are well balanced with the dramatic and suspenseful elements, allowing the film to both build the world-building for this fantasy land and effectively juxtapose our own capitalist world.

A rich/poor split, drug addiction, and even mental health issues are all covered, resulting in a dizzying concoction that’s as conceptually relevant at the end as it is at the start.

The pacing is great here too. Arcane has thrilling music and a soundtrack to boot. Each edit serves a larger purpose, and the show has the guts and ingenuity to leave out some of the exposure dumps to allow the program to visually represent what’s going on.

The show, co-created by French studio Fortiche Production and Riot Games, uses a distinct animation style that is neither shadow nor CGI.

The backdrops are digitally hand painted and all effects are fully 2D. It has a true matte paint quality, which adds to Arcane’s strength and uniqueness.

Aside from the open conclusion and a few minor character flaws, Arcane is easily one of the best video game adaptations of all time. It’s a great example of how, with the right intentions, video games can be converted and brought to life for enthusiasts and beginners.

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