When Animation Proves It’s Not Just for the Kids

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Animation is a storytelling medium that’s often infantilized and looked down upon as something that mainly appeals to younger people, with many adults choosing to stick to their live-action shows instead. Of course, it’s anyone’s prerogative what they want to watch, but it would be doing a disservice to the art and painstaking craft behind the world of animation to simply label it as something meant for kids. Arcane is a show that proves you don’t need real people to have an effective and emotional story. Sometimes, the animation works even better to showcase the grandiose nature of the world-building and display scenes that never would’ve worked quite as well in a live-action setting. 

 The premise of Arcane is action-filled and can be graphic at times. A city is on the verge of a civil war between the flourishing main capital and the undercity that has been abandoned to violence and addiction. It’s a story of oppression, trauma, and greed through a harrowing depiction of the deep price of war. At the heart of the show are two sisters, Vi and Powder, who find themselves caught in the middle of a power struggle between the corrupt leaders of their city. The way their relationship develops and unfolds shows how often the innocent and helpless are the ones most deeply affected by the corruption of those in power. The sisters act as foils for each other as they end up in different places in the fight for their city. 

The way that the show is structured splits it into three acts over nine episodes. This helps keep it cohesive and organized through all the world-building and character backstories that are required to tell a story on this scale. It’s a large cast of characters, all with their own unique histories. The first three episodes set the groundwork for what happens as a result through the rest of the show, with the characters facing everlasting consequences for their actions. 

Now, it’s no secret that video game adaptations have had a rocky history translating to film, often underperforming at the box office and being negatively received by both fans of the game and casual moviegoers as well. It’s difficult to adapt an interactive game into a storytelling format while still keeping the audience engaged and staying authentic to the original. That’s why there was a skeptical response when it was announced that the League of Legends creators were adapting their very well-known game into a TV show. Many went in with low expectations of everything except the animation, but when the show was released, it had some of the most positive and universally loved reviews of any Netflix show and the best reviews for a video game adaptation. Arcane showed how compelling a show can be when it’s told with heart and a desire for complexity in its characters and world.