Review: Arcane, gorgeous animated adventure

the character Vi in Arcane

Arcane, an outgrowth of the League of Legends video game, is a beautifully drawn animated adventure. It’s set in a steampunk world at an unknown time and on an unknown planet. The series is on Netflix.

Arcane tells the story of two sisters and the dangerous world that both joins and separates them. Vi (voiced by Hailee Steinfeld) is the older sister. She and her sister live in the Undercity where conditions are hard and dangerous. As a little girl Powder is voiced by Mia Sinclair Jenness. When Powder grows up, she calls herself Jinx and is voiced by Ella Purnell.

The voice talent in the series is excellent and an important part of why it works.

The Jinx character in Arcane
Call me Jinx

The sisters are separated when Vi is put in prison. Little Powder is adopted and trained in crime by the evil Silco (Jason Spisak). By the time she becomes Jinx she is dangerous and has mental problems.

A good part of the 9 episodes is Vi’s quest to be reunited with her younger sister.

Above the ground is the rich world of Piltover. An inventor named Jayce (Kevin Alejandro) works on tech that he thinks will improve everyone’s lives. The city is ruled by a group of counselors, and Jayce eventually joins this group. There is constant discussion about how to “control” the rebellious people living in the undercity.

The character Jayce in Arcane

Jayce and another counselor, Mel (Toks Olagundoye) become a couple. Both are somewhat sympathetic to the plight of the people in the undercity. The police force, or enforcers, often attack and kill those in the undercity.

Vi and Caitlyn work together.

One of the enforcers, Caitlyn (Katie Leung), is different. She wants to help the oppressed people living underground. And she develops an attraction to Vi. It isn’t clear which side she’s on when a fierce battle breaks out between the undercity and the topsiders.

This series isn’t meant for young kids. It’s very violent. There’s one sex scene between Jayce and Mel. I kept expecting one between Vi and Caitlyn but it didn’t happen. The cliffhanger at the end of season 1 suggests it might be coming, but I’m not familiar enough with the world of video games to know if something like that is even a possibility.

I like the look of steampunk – the gears and sprockets and ships that sail in midair and powered body armor are so well done and detailed. I liked the interesting variety of female characters. I thought the art work was beautiful. I probably wouldn’t have even heard of this series except for a tip from my Twitter friend @Sylvía Drekisdóttir, Álfadrottning ACAB. I’m not a gamer and I don’t always catch all the details in such a visual story as this, but I’m glad I saw this series. If it’s a favorite of yours, let me know why in the comments.

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