SPOILER WARNING!

Arcane is a must-watch animated series on Netflix. With one season so far, it takes place in the League of Legends universe. Set in the past, Arcane serves as a prequel to League of Legends and retells the origin story of several characters in the game.

The series has received widespread critical acclaim from critics, who praised the balance of hand-drawn and CGI animation; as well as the story, world-building, characters, and voice acting. On November 20, 2021, following the conclusion to Arcane’s first season, Riot Games, a video game developer for League of Legends, and Netflix had announced that a second season was in the making for a post-2022 release.

The first season is set into three acts; the first act was the origin story of how the young sisters, Vi and Powder, came to be, the second act was based on learning more about Hextech and what it can do (plus some other details regarding the main characters), and then the third is revolving mainly around Powder, or Jinx, and how she’s becoming her person. The intro to Arcane is a well-animated showing of the main characters and their designs, plus a very catchy song played by the Imagine Dragons called “Everyone Wants To Be My Enemy”.

Welcome to the Playground 9/10

Vander taking in both Powder and Vi as young kids.

The very beginning of Arcane was such a wonderful kick-off to the origin story of the very young main characters, Vi and Powder. It served as a great stepping stone to the next transition into their a bit older selves, becoming robbers who steal things to survive with their adopted brothers Mylo and Claggor; to help their adopted father Vander.

When they are their older selves robbing homes, the one house they rob in rich neighborhood Piltover, the city of progress, they steal a variety of things from this lab. Powder finds these mesmerizing blue crystals, which when the owner of the home returns, she drops one. In the escape to not be caught, the crystal hits a wall and it explodes in such a beautiful ray of blues and electricity, which destroys half the building.

On their escape home, it was an amazing take on the running of both teams, it keeps you on your toes. An absolute masterpiece of a first episode.

Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved 9.5/10

Powder finds the blue crystal in the apartment.

The second episode of Arcane kicks off at the explosion scene at the lab home, except from the point of view of the owner of the home from the previous episode at the door. He tries to kick down the door when the explosion knocks him back into the wall, rendering him unconscious. When he cuts out to a flashback of the man’s mom and him as a child, we learn more about how the blue crystals were given to him.

Another man in the snow, where the man’s mom and he were, helped them survive. He created magic. It was absolutely breathtaking to watch this whole scene take place, it was gorgeous and incredibly well done. It then continues back to the young kids, running away from the Piltover officers yet again for fighting back when the officers searched because even though they lost the loot, Powder still had the blue crystals stashed away, which could be used as evidence and lead Powder into major trouble.

As the episode continues, we learn the man from the home is named Jayce, who claims to be creating magic, which is forbidden in the city he lives in. The scene was a major letdown, only because the music didn’t match the scene playing out under it.

Skipping to the end of episode two, Vi takes one for the team and tries to surrender herself so her siblings don’t get caught. Trying to understand this episode and its ever-changing point of view is confusing as a viewer, but I was still so caught up in the designs and the flow that it stopped bothering me after a while.

The Base Violence Necessary for Change 10/10

Silco finding Powder after Vi left her.

We learn the back story of Vander and Silco, a once-dynamic duo that turned sour, both fighting for a change of their home. This episode of Arcane begins with Silco’s voice, talking about drowning. We then learn more about a mutant serum he was creating he dubbed “Shimmer.”

After the amazing intro from the popular band, Imagine Dragons, we cut to exactly where the last episode ended. This scene gave me so many chills and even kept me on my toes, it was absolutely nerve-racking to see what the shimmer does to someone, and what they turn into.

Vander was then taken by Silco and his mutant shimmer experiment. Vi, Mylo, and Claggor go and find Vander while Powder stays behind because Vi doesn’t want to lose another one of her family members. She gives Powder this torch, that when she lights it up, Vi will find her.

The point of view then bounces to Jayce and an assistant to the main professor in Piltover, Viktor, sneak back into the building where Jayce’s equipment is, which they get caught of course. However, the counselor, Medarda, decided to help them out which goes against every rule that she is supposed to stand for. When they got that blue crystal to stabilize, Jayce named it “Hextech”, and that name would be used all throughout this season.

This whole episode was such an emotional rollercoaster, to watch Vi deal with all these new things, plus Jayce and Viktor trying to get to the research and finding out how to stabilize it. Everything was done in immense detail and it showed.

Happy Progress Day! 9/10

Jayce talking to a crowd of people on Progress Day.

Time seems to have fast-forwarded a bit for the main characters, and to a much celebrated day; Progress Day. Arcane Progress Day may be the name of a celebration, but it also represents a theme of technological revolution. A much older Jayce, became a well-known scientist for his work of Hextech, yet what Jayce and Viktor want is to give it to the public so they can thrive; but Jayce is being tugged at all sides – by Heimerdinger (the head scientist in Piltover), by Medarda, by people with way more power than him, and by people, he owes a debt to for how far he’s come with this progress.

Piltover’s general uplift isn’t the only change in “Happy Progress Day!”. The passage of time between acts has also allowed Powder, now going by the more recognizable moniker of Jinx, to develop into a dangerous but unstable fighter, closely allied with Silco but grappling with her own paranoia and unresolved relationship with Vi. It’s Jinx, in a rash move, who steals Jayce’s crystals on Progress Day, leaving the Council panicking and Piltover at risk.

Everybody Wants To Be My Enemy 9.6/10

For Caitlyn, an enforcer or an officer for Piltover, the preservation of her people, of the city, is the long-term goal, allowing her to make short-term sacrifices secure in the knowledge they’re for the right reason. Jayce is very much the same up in Piltover; he believes in the city, he believes in his research, so he’s determined to do right by both despite the pressures from people.

What is quickly emerging as another theme, that of doing the wrong thing for the right reasons, looking the other way regarding matters of corruption so as not to paint a target on one’s own back, even if it means becoming part of the problem.

We also see that passage of time in Jinx, who is almost literally baptized by Silco in this big lake – which gives me such a Joker and Harley Quinn vibe. Jinx is barely holding things together; the angry kid, desperate to please, that we met in the first Act isn’t much different from the version of the character we see here – she’s just closer to the edge, more adrift in her own psyche and more tightly ensnared by those who would use her to do others harm.

When These Walls Come Tumbling Down 8/10

Jinx, holding the torch so Vi can find her.

Arcane kicks this episode off with emotions, Jayce gradually finagling power in Piltover – this is all building toward a long-awaited confrontation between Vi and Jinx, which we get in an all-action climax evoking, full of great visuals, cool action, and resonant moments.

The relationship between Vi and Jinx is complex and complicated further by the involvement of Caitlyn and the crystals. Motivations aren’t clear, or at least aren’t to someone like Jinx, who is tortured by her past losses and experiences. The arrival of the Firelights, an organization of rebels who have similar aspects of wanting to find peace in this war, only makes things harder to manage, especially once they whisk away both the crystals and Vi, leaving Jinx alone with her screams.

It’s a big cliff-hanger, obviously. A big fight is obviously on the horizon, and with Heimerdinger having been ousted from the council and the crystals in possession of the Firelights, there’s everything to play for in the final three episodes.

The Boy Savior 9/10

Elsewhere, the crucial matter of Viktor’s health, and the lengths both he and Jayce will go to in order to preserve it, not to mention the lengths Silco will go to in order to preserve his power, are both of the utmost importance. Willing to do anything, sacrifice anything, to power through.

There are lots of themes and different dynamics buried in all this — Viktor being offered Shimmer (an option for life), Silco stamping out dissent by reminding his followers of what he has done for them — but the essentials are pretty simple. Jayce doesn’t want Viktor to die; Silco doesn’t want to die.

Jinx’s personal spiral is also well-handled, and a good excuse for a lot of flourishes in the animation, as are the two extended sequences that play out like animated rap music videos. This remains an impressive and unique-looking show without being pretentious about its style.

Oil and Water 10/10

Vi, fighting the creepy shimmer experiments.

Caitlyn takes Vi home to meet her snooty parents and treat their wounds, and they both pitch the idea of addressing the Council, letting them know that Silco is responsible for everything.

Silco finds Jinx badly injured on the bridge after and takes her to this doctor. His thoughts on medicine are the same as his thoughts on everything else — whatever it takes. This is, essentially, accelerating Jinx’s ongoing arc of being at war with herself. The procedure will save her life, but cost her something in return.

With the Council dragging their feet and Vi’s firm belief that Silco isn’t going to play nice, she goes to Jayce. He’s the only high-ranking member of Piltover’s Council who seems to want to get things done, and those things include taking out Silco’s Shimmer manufacturing facilities to loosen his hold on the undercity. Jayce and Vi head there with a team of Enforcers, and a big, very cool-looking battle breaks out, Vi with her new gauntlets, and Jayce with his giant hammer, both fighting off creepy Shimmer experiments.

The Monster You Created 10000/10

Jinx, sitting in the Jinx chair.

The last episode to Arcane, a long but awaited haul, serves as the stepping stone to Jinx becoming her own person. Her fighting her demons and in doing so had killed Silco, the man who wasn’t willing to turn in his “daughter”. Vi had the choice, to get her Powder back or get Jinx. In doing so, Jinx was reborn, and Powder diminished. When Jinx sits in her broken yet beautiful Jinx chair, she looks almost saddened. Broken even. Jinx became a villain, one of the villains. A tragic backstory, rejected from family, used and misplaced, broken and most notably- alone.

A great way to end the season, and a perfect cliffhanger is left in its place, makes me wonder how season 2 will play out and how Vi will handle this new version of Jinx.

Some more information about Arcane: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt11126994/

By Jasmine Adams

Jasmine Adams is a junior at Timber Creek High School. She has a year of Talon under her belt, as well as five years of AVID. She has a passion for digital art and photography.