Are you afraid of the title “based on a computer game”, which has provided us with so many disappointments in the past? Good, because Netflix’s new fantasy / action series, “Arkain”, which is based on the ultra-popular network game League of Legends, turns out to be a wonderful thing in its own right – and you do not even need to know the game to enjoy it
First, the most important thing about Arcane, Netflix’s new animated series that came out last week: Scouting, and hope you all will, certainly do not need to be familiar with the multiplayer online game on which it is based, League of Legends. Some of these viewers will no doubt come to it with an early acquaintance, since the game has been the most popular in the world for some time, but it is certainly not necessary to enjoy it and appreciate its obvious qualities. She’s so good.
The story takes place in the great city of Pilotover, which is divided into two – on the one hand the rich and fertile “upper city”, with its aristocratic status and the patrolling police force in the streets, and on the other the lower city, a zone named after its dubious inhabitants, .
V and Powder (Hailey Steinfeld and Ella Fornell, respectively) are two Zoon residents – sisters, street girls gathered under the benevolent wings of Vander (J.B. Blanc), a former one of the city’s crime bosses. V leads a gang of young thieves, and Powder – the youngest in the gang, and who has toiled on a variety of technological inventions that tend to spoil as soon as they are needed – is chased after them but usually does more harm than good.
At the same time, the story follows what is happening in the upper city – and specifically the experiences of Jayce (Kevin Alejandro), a young academic who finds a way to combine magic and science but finds himself struggling in the ruling council of Pilotover, which sees taboos as tragedies in the distant past. When Jayce arrives at a breakthrough in his research with his colleague Victor (Harry Lloyd), his techno-magical refinements change Filter’s face – and also the lives of V and Powder, who find themselves separated from each other, alone.
And this is just the beginning, as at some point the plot of “Arkain” jumps a few years ahead to accompany its protagonists as they face the consequences of their actions – and we have not yet begun to talk about the extensive gallery of fascinating sub-characters that the series presents. This is not a trivial matter in action-oriented animated series like this: to give a clear character and convincing motives to so many characters, often in a nuanced way. But the result is not over-compression, as is sometimes the case in works that try to push together so many heroes and characters, but inexhaustible plot richness, one that rests on the stable dramatic skeleton embodied in the relationship between V and Powder – and the more general, ever-relevant class confrontation The bottom.
And now let’s turn to the other reason that should bring you to “Arkain”, apart from its successful story and fascinating characters: the animation and the style. The person responsible for them is the French studio Fortiche, and if the name is unfamiliar to you, that’s fine because it’s not a very well-known animation studio – to this day it has specialized mainly in clips and trailers for computer games. But in light of their work here, these French guys are still going to make big and besieged, because visually “Arkain” is simply stunning.
It’s not just the distinctly steampunk vibe that gives Pilotover, for its two distinct territories, a distinct identity that corresponds with previous works in the steampunk subgenre, and with famous MDA works in general (from “Blade Runner” to “Akira”); The wonderful animation that combines computer effects with classic two-dimensional animation, and these are not only the impressive action sequences, both in the level of movement and in the level of directing and editing – no, it is mainly the facial expressions, and specifically the eyes, that the talented animators bothered.
Much of the dramatic effect of “Arkain” can be attributed to these eyes, whose expression requests are often reminiscent of works of the Japanese anime genre (an effect that permeates a variety of aspects of animation in “Arkain”; have we already mentioned “Akira”?). Powder’s character, for example, undergoes a significant upheaval in the series – and often she does not have to say anything, does not have to convey her grief and the violent psychosis that blooms in her, since her eyes do the work for her. Or rather, it is the animators who do the work.
All of these – the devastating animation, the compelling characters and the successful story, full of dramatic conflicts – crystallize together into a series that completely, but completely, is going to surprise those who watch it. Traditionally, works based on computer games are not received with much sympathy – often because they have already established a fan base on one platform, and while these fans come in advance with a set of expectations, the random viewer has no idea what they want from him and why they decided to make a movie / series. “Arkain” eludes both bumps because fans of the game can not help but be impressed by the investment, art and imagination that are evident in it – and because the other viewers can not help but be impressed by the exact same reasons. What a beauty.