Produced by Riot Games Inc., Arcane pays homage to the company’s brainchild, League of Legends. It features numerous beloved characters, each one with its set of motivations. Although based on a video game, Arcane explores serious topics such as war, poverty, and social inequality.
The thing I liked about this show is that almost every character is inherently flawed in one way or another. Most of them are just trying to get by with limited resources at their disposal.
The series received excellent reviews from most aggregate sites. It also received several Annie Awards, British Film Editors Cut Above Award, two Golden Reel Awards, four Primetime Emmy Awards, and a Game Award for best adaptation.
Key Info Up Front
The story follows sisters Vi and Jinx as they try to survive the hard life on the streets of Zaun. During one of their usual thieving activities, they stumbled upon a mysterious artifact that completely changed the course of their lives.
Piltover, dubbed “the City of Progress,” is the Valoran cultural and scientific center. The settlement owes its success to an amazing tech called hextech. This incredible technology was made by using arcane magic, and the city’s mighty families are constantly debating whether to weaponize it.
Beneath Piltover, there’s another large city called Zaun. Unlike Piltover, which is located on the cliffs and has a beautiful view of the sea, Zaun is mostly deprived of light. Its citizens live from all the garbage their neighbors throw away, and its youth often ventures to the richer area seeking to loot noblemen’s homes.
The story revolves around a group of young Zaun thieves led by fearsome Vi. Powder, Vi’s younger sister, often follows them even though the other members reluctantly accept her. During one of their raids, they stumble upon arcane crystals that hold immeasurable power.
Unbeknownst to other members, Powder steals these powerful stones causing an explosion in the process. It turns out that the arcane crystals belonged to a young scientist Jayce, Heimerdinger’s protégé. Although the city’s Council is displeased with Jayce and his tinkering with forbidden knowledge, they avoid severe punishment.
Fleeing the authorities, the girls find refuge at Vander’s, who acts as their adoptive father. While all of this is happening, Silco, the story’s antagonist, is trying to perfect the formula for a mutagen called Shimmer.
As the story progresses, Powder and Vi become increasingly estranged. Ultimately, Powder leaves her older sister and joins up with Silco. After a few years, she becomes his right-hand woman and changes her name to Jinx. Silco, who acts as the city’s underground movement leader, is preparing for a paramilitary campaign against the Piltover.
While all of this was happening, Jayce and Victor continued working on hextech without Council’s permission. Acknowledging the duo’s progress, the Council gives them the green light for their future project. Jayce would eventually become a member of this ruling body.
Where to Watch Arcane?
Arcane is a Netflix series, and it’s not available on any other platform.
Arcane Critic Scores and Awards
Arcane had overwhelmingly positive reviews across the board.
The series had a 100% critic rating (based on 26 critic reviews) and a 96% audience score (based on 5539 user reviews) on Rotten Tomatoes. It also received 9 out of 10 on IMDB and 4.9 on Google (based on 15,894 user reviews).
Arcane received 17 awards and 6 award nominations in 2022.
- Annie – Best General Audience Animated Television/Broadcast Production
- Annie – Outstanding Achievement for Animated Effects in an Animated Television/Broadcast Production
- Annie – Outstanding Achievement for Character Animation in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production
- Annie – Outstanding Achievement for Character Design in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production
- Annie – Outstanding Achievement for Directing in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production
- Annie – Outstanding Achievement for Production Design in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production
- Annie – Outstanding Achievement for Storyboarding in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production
- Annie – Outstanding Achievement for Voice Acting in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production
- Annie – Outstanding Achievement for Writing in an Animated Television / Broadcast Production
- British Film Editors Cut Above Awards – Best Edited Series: Animation
- Golden Reel Awards – Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing – Non-Theatrical Animation
- Hollywood Critics Association TV Awards – Best Streaming Animated Series or Television Movie
- Primetime Emmy Awards – Outstanding Animated Program
- Primetime Emmy Awards – Outstanding Individual Achievement in Animation (3 awards)
- The Game Awards – Best Adaptation
- Annecy International Animated Film Festival – Best Television Production
- Billboard Music Awards – Top Soundtrack
- Dorian Awards – Best Animated Show
- Hugo Awards – Best Dramatic Presentation, Short Form
- Primetime Emmy Awards – Outstanding Sound Editing for a Comedy or Drama Series (Half-Hour) and Animation
- Saturn Awards – Best Animated Series on Television
Here is the full list of Arcane Season 1 episodes:
- S01.E1. – Welcome to the Playground (43 minutes runtime, 8.5 IMDB rating)
- S01.E2. – Some Mysteries Are Better Left Unsolved (41 minutes runtime, 8.5 IMDB rating)
- S01.E3. – The Base Violence Necessary for Change (44 minutes runtime, 9.6 IMDB rating)
- S01.E4. – Happy Progress Day! (41 minutes runtime, 8.7 IMDB rating)
- S01.E5. – Everybody Wants to Be My Enemy (41 minutes runtime, 8.9 IMDB rating)
- S01.E6. – When These Walls Come Tumbling Down (42 minutes runtime, 9.2 IMDB rating)
- S01.E7. – The Boy Savior (40 minutes runtime, 9.2 IMDB rating)
- S01.E8. – Oil and Water (40 minutes runtime, 9.2 IMDB rating)
- S01.E9. – The Monster You Created (39 minutes runtime, 9.6 IMDB rating)
Key Characters (Roles and Motivations)
Vi (Victoria) – Voice Acting: Hailee Steinfeld
Vi is the story’s main protagonist and a natural-born leader. When she was younger, she would often get in trouble with the law. After serving time in prison, he became a Piltover enforcer, working alongside Sheriff Caitlyn. Throughout the story, she tries her best to be a protective older sister.
Powder (Jinx) – Voice Acting: Mia Sinclair Jenness/Ella Purnell
Powder is portrayed as a clumsy girl who likes to make pranks and is often shunned by her friends. This would get her in a lot of trouble, eventually causing a rift with her older sister Vi. Later on, she is recruited by Silco. As time went on, her pranks became more vicious, turning to full-out violence.
Vander – Voice Acting: JB Blanc
Vander is the de-facto leader of Zaun. At one point, he led an unsuccessful rebellion against Piltover, causing many deaths along the way. The same uprising caused the death of Powder’s and Vi’s parents. Having a strong sense of guilt, Vander adopted the girls and tried his best to be a good adoptive father.
Silco – Voice Acting: Jason Spisak
Silco is Zaun’s crime lord, who would eventually become the leader of the underground resistance. Unlike Vander, who ultimately turned to pacifism, Silco never stopped plotting against Piltover. He is ruthless, maniacal, and willing to sacrifice just about anyone to meet his goals.
Jayce – Voice Acting: Kevin Alejandro
Jayce is an ambitious young innovator who spearheaded the scientific progress of modern-day Piltover. As a young boy, he was saved by a mysterious stranger using arcane crystals. Since that moment, he has been hell-bent on discovering their secret and harnessing magic via technology.
Heimerdinger – Voice Acting: Mick Wingert
Heimerdinger is one of the most renowned citizens of Piltover. During his time at the academy, he had an enormous impact on developing the city’s young minds.
As the years went by, he became more reluctant to innovate and take risks. He is imprisoned by his own fears and is portrayed as someone who is stifling the city’s technological progress.
Ekko – Voice Acting: Reed Lorenzo Shannon
Ekko is first seen working as an assistant at Benzo’s shop. Having a curious and innovative spirit, he created incredible gadgets with minimal resources. After seeing his friends perish at the hands of Silco, he has sworn vengeance. Ekko leads Firelights, a group dedicated to stopping Zaun’s crime boss and Shimmer shipments.
Caitlyn – Voice Acting: Katie Leung
Caitlyn is the daughter of one of the Piltovers’ most influential families. She does a job of enforcing with unmitigated fervor. Despite being a real bloodhound, Caitlyn almost always works within the limits of the law. She also has a soft side, which we can see through her interaction with Vi.
Victor – Voice Acting: Harry Lloyd
Victor is Jayce’s partner helping him uncover the mysteries behind arcane crystals. He is an altruist by nature and does his best to improve the lives of Zaun’s and Pilvoter’s citizens. During the series, Victor becomes affected by a debilitating disease, but this doesn’t stop his work.
Death of the Parents
The series’ opening scene does a great job of explaining the dynamic between Piltover and Zaun. Vi and Jinx are holding hands as they’re crossing a bridge between the cities. They suddenly notice Vander in the fog, pummeling one of the Piltover’s enforcers. He turns back and sees these two unprotected children.
There’s a brief cut where it looks as if Vi is looking for her parents. Vander makes a gloomy expression and points to a pile of corpses. As the smoke subsides, we can see the bodies of their parents. Jinx starts shedding tears while Vi subsequently falls to her knees. Vander takes both of them in his arms and goes back to Zaun.
The best thing about this scene is that there aren’t any voices. There’s loud violin music in the background, increasing the emotional tension. All the acting is done through body movements, but you can easily understand what’s going on.
I think this is a perfect introduction to any show and definitely, one that will stick in my memory. It shows all the devastation of armed conflict and the faith of victims that are left behind. Besides introducing Jinx and Vi in a cerebral manner, it also helps us understand Vander’s motivations and the feeling of guilt.
Jayce and Victor Team Up
This show does a fantastic job portraying the impact and burden of science. As a city that has built its reputation on trade and innovation, it’s highly dependent on continuous progress. However, enormous wealth and power have made people reluctant to experiment. This is best noticed when Jayce steps in front of the Council. They condemn his work, deeming it dangerous.
Later on, as Jayce goes back to his ruined apartment, he is devastated by the realization he can no longer innovate. At one point, Jayce is standing on a ledge, preparing to end his life. Luckily, he is interrupted by Victor.
Victor talks about Jayce’s notes on hextech. He is very intrigued by his research, which he categorized as theoretical. Jayce takes exception to this, saying that hextech has practical usage. After a short discussion, Victor shows an arcane crystal that he found. The two agree to start working together.
There are so many things that are interesting in this scene.
It goes to show that nothing can stop progress despite all the social and political barriers. It also demonstrates the youthful exuberance of two scientists who are willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish their dreams.
Silco Turns Decard
From his appearance, you can instantly tell that Silco is the series’ main antagonist. He walks and moves slowly yet captivates the audience with his every word.
We realize the full extent of his depravity in a scene where he turns Deckard into a monster. Deckard, a henchman that has failed him on numerous occasions, is given a choice: get injected with Shimmer or suffer the consequences. In this scene, Silco delivers his best lines in the show:
“Power, real power, doesn’t come to those who are born the strongest or fastest or smartest. No. It comes to those who will do anything to achieve it.”
Despite fearing the effects of Shimmer, Decard is persuaded by Silco’s words. He uses the potion, which instantly turns him into a mutated fiend.
The thing I liked about this scene is its slow pace. Silco doesn’t show any physical hostility toward Decard, yet you can feel the looming threat. In many ways, it feels as if the unlucky henchman is cornered, and the only way out is by taking the drug. An excellent way to build an antagonist, if you ask me.
Although the series has numerous motifs, it still revolves around Jinx and Vi. During the initial few episodes, you can see Jinx experimenting with monkey bombs. These are childish gadgets that are meant to provide distractions during their heists. Unfortunately, they never work, which is why the other team members call her a jinx.
Prior to Vander’s rescue mission, Vi tells Powder that she needs to stay behind as she’s a liability. As you can presume, she doesn’t listen and follows the group. Just as it seems that the mission is a success, Powder’s bomb goes off for the first time.
She is blown away by the blast, and you can see the happiness on her face as she finally proves her usefulness. Unfortunately, the blast is so strong that it annihilates everything in the vicinity, killing her teammates, Claggar and Mylo.
The scene was beautifully done. It’s in slow motion allowing us to see what exactly happened and how everyone was affected by the blast. This situation would serve as a catalyst for Jinx’s and Vi’s falling out.
There were numerous hints that Vander was going to die throughout the show. Although he was a good father to the girls, he looked like a beaten man who had lost all hope.
Throughout the show, Vander is depicted as a person who avoids physical confrontation. There were numerous situations where he could resort to violence, but he somehow managed to avoid them through unspoken threats and diplomacy. After Jinx’s bomb goes off, we can finally see him in action.
As the mutated Decard threatens his girls, Vander has every right to take up arms. He goes toe-to-toe with this monster, showing enormous fighting prowess. Alas, he is eventually stabbed by Silco and thrown off the bridge, landing on a pile of Shimmer vials.
He decides to take one of them and helps Vi, who is now attacked by Decard. He kills the opponent and subsequently falls to the ground. As he’s dying, Vi lays down on top of him and says her final goodbyes. In a way, this felt like a redemption arc for the venerable fighter.
A New Alliance
Arcane had so many powerful scenes, a lot of which were shown one after the other. Soon after Powder’s Mistake and Vander’s Death, we can see a falling out between the sisters. Surrounded by all the destruction, Vi is at the end of her rope. At that moment, Powder comes into the scene showing such excitement that her bomb went off. Shocked by this discovery, Vi simply says:
“You did this?”
Immediately after, Powder notices Vander’s dead body on the ground. She starts weeping, saying that she only wanted to help. Vi slaps her across the face, grabs her head, and for the first time ever, calls her Jinx. Victoria leaves the scene while Powder stays on the ground close to Vander’s corpse.
Silco and his group approach distraught Jinx. The villain squats close to her, and surprisingly, Jinx jumps into her arms, saying: “She left me.” This has a profound impact on Silco, who felt something similar when Vander abandoned him.
This is the best scene in the series and its major turning point.
As you could presume, the reunion between the sisters was bound to happen sooner than later.
After Vander’s death, Vi was sent to prison, and Jinx became mad with hate and guilt. Silco raised her as his daughter and gave her free reign to terrorize the citizens of Piltover and Zaun. Over the years, she gained notoriety as one of the city’s most dangerous criminals.
The two finally met at the top of a city building. The reunion was as heartwarming as it was awkward. Jinx couldn’t believe her eyes and broke down in tears. Suddenly, Kaitlyn appeared on the scene. She was shocked to realize that the notorious Jinx was the sister of her most trusty partner.
Jinx went into panic mode, raising her gun. There was a short and beautiful cut where the camera rotated around her axis, and you could clearly see Mylo’s ghost attached to her back. The events of previous years had a major mental impact on the young protagonist, and you had to feel sorry.
Effect of a Daughter
Vander and Silco always had similar goals. Both were against Piltover’s supremacy and believed that Zaun should get more. However, the long conflict took its toll on Vander. After adopting Vi and Jinx, he changed his approach, which is something that Silco often criticized him for.
Silco often said that he grew soft and that the girls corrupted him. While he still respected Vander, he simply couldn’t see things from his point of view. Everything changed during the parley between Jayce and Silco. The two of them got together to negotiate peace between the two cities. One of Jayce’s requests was the Jinx’s extradition, something Silco couldn’t accept.
Later on, he went to Vander’s statue that now stood proud in Zaun. He could finally understand Vander’s predicament and why he was so reluctant to give up his daughters. It’s another incredibly powerful scene where viewers have to feel sorry for Silco.
Ekko and Jinx
Ekko was also affected by Silco’s wrongdoings. Over the years, he became the leader of Firefligts, a ragtag gang that wanted to overthrow the new leader of Zaun. Back in the day, Ekko and Powder would often scrap, battles which Jinx would usually win. However, as they grew older, the boy got much stronger.
At one point, the two of them would clash on a bridge connecting the two cities. The scene is beautifully done, with rhythmic music in the background fitting the combatants’ movement. As Ekko was playing with his watch, the time turned back to their childhoods. We were treated with a fight between two adults in the bodies of small children.
At the end of the fight, Ekko stood on top of Jinx, pummeling her face but couldn’t finish her off. Jinx used his moment of vulnerability to activate the bomb and flee the scene.
Vi and Jayce
When Jayce became the Piltover councilor, he was given the hard task of protecting all the citizens from the evil Silco. Upon learning about Zaun’s advanced weaponry, he was persuaded by another council member, Mel, to use hextech.
This was a hard pill to swallow for the young inventor who always believed that technology should be used to save lives, not ruin them. However, he was further emboldened by Vi’s report, which claimed that Silco was behind all the turmoil. As Council was still revising its decision about weaponizing hectech, Vi and Jayce decided to take action.
The two of them make a pact to destroy all Shimmer in Zaun. They engage the city’s criminal elements with incredible ferocity. Like other scenes in the show, the fight looks aesthetically beautiful as Vi and Jayce take a turn swinging their hammer/gauntlet against opponents.
However, things take a dark twist as Jayce penetrates one of the enemy’s armors. Beneath it, there was a child-soldier gasping for his last breath. This was a turning point for Jayce, who instantly realized that peace was the only solution.
Victor is one of the few League of Legends characters lucky enough to be featured in Arcane. Although he got little screen time, his story was powerful nonetheless.
His childhood was an incredibly hard one, being a disabled person in Zaun. Despite all the obstacles, he always managed to rise above due to his incredible intellect and ambition. He rose through the ranks due to his work on hextech technology and arcane crystals.
However, just as things seemed better, he was diagnosed with an incurable disease. It was a major blow for the young scientist who was always struggling with physical issues. Regardless, this didn’t break him, and he immediately started looking for a cure.
In a last-ditch attempt to cure himself, he combined hextech core with Shimmer. One night, at the city docks, he was shocked to realize he could finally walk with the new hextech leg. The scene is heartbreaking as Victor first walks and then runs with the help of prosthetics.
Unfortunately, the victory is a short-lived one. Ultimately, his experiment would lead to the death of Sky, his lab assistant.
Although Silco showed some redeeming qualities as the series went on, we all knew he would eventually pay the piper.
In the series finale, Jinx is clashing against Kaityln, with Silco and Vi tied to nearby chairs. By using quick movement, our antihero manages to disarm the law enforcer. While Kaityln is lying on the ground, Silco and Vi start a shouting match, with Silco persuading Jinx to kill her while Vi is pleading otherwise.
After suffering a short mental breakdown, Jinx starts spraying bullets as a way of silencing the inner voice. One of them hits Silco. Jinx rushes to her adoptive father and starts tearfully muttering that she’s sorry.
With his last breath, Silco says that he would never surrender her to Piltover. He implores her not to cry, followed by:
Although Silco was portrayed as this ruthless antagonist, this scene alone could force you to change your opinion.
League of Legends Arcane: My Take
If you’re looking for a perfect adaptation of a video game, it doesn’t get much better than Arcane. While the story is unique, it heavily relies on the champions’ lore. The world feels authentic, and it perfectly fits the game creators’ narrative.
I was especially captivated by all the mature themes. As previously mentioned, the story explores things such as poverty, inequality, and brutality of armed conflict. It’s extremely visceral and pulls no punches. Death is almost a given, and all choices have their consequences.
In theory, we received “a happy ending,” but it came with lots of trauma, death, and despair. It’s definitely something I wouldn’t recommend to a young audience, but mature fans will definitely appreciate Riot’s crown achievement.
Another thing I liked is that everyone can watch this series. You don’t have to know anything about League of Legends to enjoy it, as the show doesn’t rely on gimmicks to drive value. In fact, I’ll go as far as to say that you can enjoy this story even if you don’t like the animated format.
Lastly, I also have to praise all the micro-moments and peculiarities of certain scenes. The way the crew used camera movement and slow motions are simply fantastic. They managed to capture the essence of a certain moment, not only through writing and emotions but also through the “actors” delivery.
Question: What is LOL Arcane Based on?
Answer: League of Legends: Arcane revolves around the complex relationship between Vi and Jinx. It also features some other characters, such as Ekko, Victor, Heimerdinger, Singed, and Jayce. It’s a stand-alone story that heavily relies on the game’s lore to drive value.
Question: Is Jinx a Villain?
Answer: Although some people might see Jinx as the story’s villain, she is better defined as antihero. Like most characters in Arcane, she is a victim of circumstances that are out of her control.
Question: How Old is Jinx in Arcane?
Answer: According to the show’s producers, Jinx is 11 and 12 years old during the initial episodes. She is between 17 and 19 in Acts 2 and 3.
Luckily for the series’ fans, we will likely have the second season.
According to the Riot’s representatives, they started production in November 2021, but it probably won’t be finished any time soon. The first season took whopping 6 years, but the show’s creators claim that the second season will come much faster.
Everything indicates that we’ll have a similar cast of characters. Jinx and Vi will likely remain the two focal points. In other words, we won’t get a completely new storyline. Although I liked the first season, I’m not sure whether this is a good thing because I would love to see new stories and angles.
For example, I’d prefer a story that revolves around Noxus and Demacia. League of legends world is a rich one, so there’s no point in sticking with the same premise for too long.
Whatever the case, you will have to wait for a bit. Don’t be surprised if the second season is released in 2024 or later.