“Arcane,” the new, animated Netflix series from Riot Games, has been such a big hit that it seems like everyone is talking about it.
Act 1 showed the earliest days of Vi, Powder (Jinx), Jayce, Viktor and plenty of other familiar faces, leaving fans excited to find out what’s coming next week when Act 2 drops. In the spirit of that, Upcomer asked some staff what they thought of the hit show and what their expectations are going forward.
What did you think of Act 1 for League of Legends’ ‘Arcane?’
Tyler “Fionn” Erzberger: I was honestly blown away. I thought this project would be good in the sense that Riot Games obviously put a lot of money, promotion and care into it, but my expectations were aimed at something I’d watch once and then instantly move on. What I got instead was one of the best animated shows I’ve ever seen, and something that I would recommend to anyone as a form of media, whether they were a League of Legends fan beforehand or not.
I’m not being hyperbolic when I say this could be the best thing Riot Games as a company has ever created. From the superb voice acting to the political drama-focused story, they could have packaged Act 1 as a movie, and I think it would have transcended the niche gaming background it stems from. It was an incredible joyride, and while I went into it lukewarm, I am now going to spend all my time re-watching and theory crafting on social media until Act 2 hits next weekend.
Warren Younger: As someone who is a complete anime snob/elitist, who usually only watches top rated anime, I had high standards going in. But, for some other reason, I had high expectations. So far, “Arcane” has met both of those benchmarks.
The art and animation is stunning. It looks very well done, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise seeing as Riot puts a ton of effort into all of their cinematics. However, the story has been executed well so far, particularly in episode three.
Since I’ve been playing League of Legends for the past 10 years, I am aware of most of the lore, so I knew that Vi and Powder had frayed ties and obviously that was going to be a big part of this series. All I was hoping was that the inciting incident wasn’t a simple “Vi and Jinx had a disagreement” moment. It was one of those moments to an extent, but it was executed well beyond my wildest dreams. Amazing stuff so far. Can’t wait for more.
Nick Ray: I walked into “Arcane” with huge expectations and, as always, Riot absolutely crushed them. I mean, we got to see freaking RYZE Realm Warp on Netflix. Like, that’s a sentence that anybody who saw the show can say and nobody would bat an eye because it happened and we’ve just accepted that. It’s reality.
Aside from the phenomenal world-building, dialogue and animation, “Arcane” is just a lot of fun. And Act 1 was a hodgepodge of all the little intricacies that make us love League and dream of its world. It’s approachable and intriguing, yet it doesn’t hold your hand throughout. It’s abundantly clear that the team behind this show cares a lot about the IP and its fans.
Jason Krell: Riot Games knows it has a lot of potential on their hands with “Arcane,” especially if this first reason succeeds. There is enough lore with unrealized story applications than there are champions in League of Legends, which could make this series equivalent to something like the Marvel Cinematic Universe — complete with the same sort of fervent fans. Except, instead of just buying tickets, they’ll be buying all manner of in-game items.
That’s all to say that the first three episodes really needed to be good, and they absolutely were. The main characters’ arcs were set up well, giving us a sense of who they are and who they will become. Side characters filled out the flavor without overstaying their welcome and the story is weaving together a complex web that will trap Piltover and Zaun in utter chaos. Hell, I’m even convinced Ryze’s presence is teasing a future story. Riot made some big moves already, and I don’t expect that to change next week.
After seeing the dueling worlds of Piltover and Zaun in Act 1, who is your favorite character?
Fionn: While I think it would be easy to pick between the Vi, Powder or Vander trio that anchored the Zaun storyline, I’m actually going with Jayce on this one. I expected a lot of heart from the sister storyline and got that paid in full by the end of episode three (I may or may not have cried), but was surprised by how much I connected with the Piltover side of things with Jayce and his new best friend, Viktor.
If you told me I’d be more invested in Jayce and Viktor heading into Act 2 than Vi and Jinx, I would have called you a liar. Now all I want is a spinoff series with Jayce, Viktor, Caitlyn and Heimerdinger in a comedy spinoff about their wacky antics in the Academy.
Younger: Such a hard question. Jinx is among my favorite characters in League of Legends and she will probably end up being my favorite in the long run. But for now, she isn’t.
I’m actually going to reach here and say Marcus, because he’s the most interesting. I feel like it’s easy to attach to Vi, Vander or any of the super main characters. That, or like, your favorite champion from League of Legends if they showed up on screen so far.
But, for Marcus, I feel like I can already start to see character development, and I’m excited to see how fleshed out he will become in the next few episodes.
Ray: I’ve played League since Season 1. I don’t know how Riot did it, but they somehow managed to take one of my all-time least-favorite champions, from his design to his kit, and turned him into the most interesting character on the show to me. Also he’s handsome??? And his accent? And the way he walks? His mind?
But, yeah. I love the relationship between him (Viktor) and Jayce and am interested to see how Riot decides to flesh it out throughout the show. They added a lot of color to a character many would have easily written off as boring or generic.
Krell: No one is going to say Silco? Fine, I’ll do it myself….
Anyway, while I do have a penchant for tragic villains, Silco is a very good example of one. He meant well, once upon a time, and is acting in what he thinks are Zaun’s best interests. At that same time, he’s intimidating without being overly physical about it and he’s set up to stick his hands all throughout every conflict in “Arcane.” Just imagine how amazing it will feel to watch Vi finally take him down after he completely shatters Powder in Act 2. That catharsis will sustain me for months.
I can only imagine this man is destined for great things throughout the rest of the series and, if he develops some interesting ways to fight, a special appearance in League of Legends itself.
What unintroduced Piltover or Zaun champion do you hope makes a surprise appearance in the upcoming Acts?
Fionn: I want Camille. After how well the show has proven they can do fight scenes, I want to see Vi and Camille have a fist-to-foot showdown somewhere in this series. I can’t believe this show is actually making me look up lore about Camille and how she acquired hextech to push herself beyond human-limits. “Arcane” has done the impossible and made me care about League of Legends lore.
Younger: I really want to see Orianna. I feel with the whole discovering Hextech magic thing being a major plot point, seeing one of the biggest things created it from it would make the most sense.
As for why I want to see Orianna, I feel that she is one of the most underappreciated champions in League of Legends and has a very unique backstory.
Ray: My joke answer is Skarner, because Hextech, but as the unofficial spokesperson for Seraphine stans everywhere, I’m writing this as my formal request to Riot to please include Seraphine in the show. I want to see a concert, merch or something. I personally think it would make for a great filler episode, but I think with the show’s limited runtime, we probably won’t get something like that.
Krell: Everyone is focusing on Piltover when Zaun is full of plenty of delightfully nasty characters. And for me, there’s only one face (with eight limbs) that I want to see show up: Urgot. With Vander no longer around to keep the criminal underworld of Zaun under his thumb, the next Act will be rife with opportunists rising up to fill the gap. Not only would Urgot fit that bill perfectly, his unique character and specific background would be a super interesting hook for everyone watching.
A giant, mecha-spider fueled by dangerous chemicals who was also a downfallen Noxian? That has a lot of potential.
Vander’s totally Warwick, right?
Fionn: Oh yeah. We’re definitely getting a heartbreaking Vi versus adoptive-father-turned-wolfman clash in the next two weeks.
Younger: It’s one of those things that seems to be obvious at this point, but I hope it’s just a red herring. But, Warwick is sick and I hope we get to see him show up eventually.
Ray: Yeah, he’s Warwick. He’s a big ol’ dog. A wolfman. A beast. An animal. Probably enjoys long walks and eating blades of grass. He’ll 1 v 5 against you and your teammates through Bramble Vest and leave you question mark pinging for days. It’s him. The real live actual Warwick.
Krell: I’m seeing a little too much purple juice for my liking when it should be green, but the breadcrumbs are all there. I feel like Riot wouldn’t have introduced Singed just to give him a cameo, blow him up and send him on his way — so that means someone will turn into that gnarly puppy-boi by the end of the series. Vander is the most narratively satisfying culprit, at the moment, but it’s a little early to be overtly resurrecting characters. I’d feel a lot more confident if he hadn’t clearly died at the end (even if Warwick’s lore involves death), but it could still easily be possible.
Give us your best (or wildest) prediction as we head into Act 2 next weekend
Fionn: Alright, this one is a bit out there, but I might as well go for it. I think Marcus, the enforcer that pulls Vi away at the end of episode three, will become the champion Jhin. I know Jhin is supposed to become a serial killer or something, but this Marcus character obviously has some sort of story in this thing, and we’ve seen what could be considered Jhin-esque masks scattered around the first few episodes. This theory almost certainly isn’t happening, but in the one-and-a-million shot it does, I’m never going to stop gloating.
Younger: I actually think Marcus is going to be the person who turns into Warwick. I can’t really put together why, but it seems obvious at this point that Warwick will show up. With Marcus being power hungry, I think he will eventually turn to Zaun for more power. And since he is aware of the serum and is already aware of Silco, he knows where to find it.
Outside of that, we are probably getting at least two new champions from this show, and I assume one will make an appearance in Act 2.
Ray: I really don’t have a huge prediction for Act 2 or anything, but I’ll say that I’m expecting us to see them explore what happened between Silco and Vander.
There’s a theme of siblinghood that I’ve noticed throughout the show that presents itself in different ways. Genetic bonds, like the one between Vi and Powder. Brotherhood is explored through Viktor and Jayce’s relationship. Then we have Vander and Silco, who refer to each other as brothers, yet it’s still uncertain whether or not they have a real or manufactured (there must be better word here?) familial bond. I think Riot is going to double down on these parallels at the beginning of Act 2.
Krell: This is a toughie. I want to predict something narratively, but I’m thinking too big picture to limit that to Act 2. Instead, I’m going to simply say that Act 2 will be the high point of the show. We’ll get to see all of the characters we fell in love with during Act 1 reach the cusp of their potential, which is the most interesting place to be. They’ll be strong and passionate but still developing as characters — meaning they’ll make plenty of interesting, tragic mistakes. And, since beginnings can be slow while endings are hard to land, we’re about to see the best that Season 1 of “Arcane” will be in just a few, short days.