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Old 2021-11-26, 05:46   Link #1
TinyRedLeaf
Moving in circles
 
 
Join Date: Apr 2006
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Arcane League of Legends

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I did a search and I was surprised that no one had created a thread for this, and even more surprised to find that the last post on the League of Legends thread is already three years old.

I've never played the game, but I'm aware of it by reputation. I picked up the animated series on a whim, having decided to make better use of my dormant Netflix account (especially since the company has hiked its subscription fees).

...and I am absolutely floored by Arcane.

If you consider yourself a fan of animation, and of what the medium can achieve, you absolutely must watch this title. I'm told that the series had taken six years to produce, with a rumoured budget of $10 million per episode (astounding, if true).

It's not just the art, the action, or even the music — which are all of stunning quality. It's also the sheer quality of the writing which astounds. It completely destroys all the negative expectations one would usually have about game-to-screen adaptations, and it redefines what's possible, when enough care is taken.

You don't need to know anything about the game nor its characters to enjoy Arcane. It stands well enough on its own and, indeed, it's very likely to serve as the ultimate advertisement for League of Legends.

I'm currently an avid player of Arknights, a mobile tower-defence game produced by Shanghai-based Hypergryph. The company recently announced that its in-house animation studio, Yostar Pictures, will be adapting Arknights for a TV anime series. It'll be amazing if that upcoming project could get to even a fraction of what Riot Games achieved with Fortiche, the French animation studio that produced Arcane.

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2021-11-26 at 23:50.
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Old 2021-11-26, 07:13   Link #2
EroKing
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It's an easy 10/10 and sets the bar for animation. I'm having a difficult time trying to enjoy Japanese anime after finishing season 1 of this
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Old 2021-11-26, 18:26   Link #3
blakstealth
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EroKing View Post
It's an easy 10/10 and sets the bar for animation. I'm having a difficult time trying to enjoy Japanese anime after finishing season 1 of this
agreed.

This is just another prime example of what can be achieved with animation and animation alone. And this sets a precedent in what you can do creatively without shopping around for studios in Hollywood.
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Old 2021-11-27, 02:58   Link #4
Obelisk ze Tormentor
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Seen it. It's simply great. A must-watch for fans of animation & good storytelling in particular. I don't promise that everybody who watch this will love it, but it's definitely worth watching at least once regardless of your opinion afterwards. But don't get swept up by the (over)hype. Go into it with moderate expectation and no-contrarian mindset and you'll have more chances to be entertained.

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I'm having a difficult time trying to enjoy Japanese anime after finishing season 1 of this
I mean, I can still enjoy SoL/comedy anime just fine . But yeah, many modern anime that has premise close to Arcane need to catch up or they'll get left behind.
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Old 2021-11-27, 15:14   Link #5
Endscape
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Just finished this. Truly amazing. One of the best, if not the best animated work this year.

Not only did it look good, but you can tell they took their time with it as the choreography was just sublime. The soundtrack was also incredible. The writing was pretty good too. Very few series can handle multiple viewpoints well, but this series did. Simply everything about it was awesome.

I'm looking forward to Season 2 quite a bit.
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Old 2021-11-29, 18:17   Link #6
Kanon
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Just finished watching it. This is definitely the best animated series of the year, and at least in the top 3 if you count live action series. I was talking about how hard to understand Demon Slayer's success was, but this? I was blown away by all of its outstanding quality after just three episodes.

Such a shame we won't see a second season until 2023 at the very least.
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Old 2021-11-30, 04:37   Link #7
TinyRedLeaf
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Originally Posted by Kanon View Post
I was blown away by all of its outstanding quality after just three episodes.
Wait till you get to the final arc. Not going to lie: It left me completely heartbroken and blubbering in manly tears.

A number of reviewers have already compared "Arcane" to "Game of Thrones". Normally, I'd brush such comments away as mere hype.

But this time around, it well and truly isn't an understatement. "Arcane" will be to animation what "Game of Thrones" has been to TV drama in the past 10 years. It's literally taken a story you'd normally have told in gritty, sombre live-action, and transposed it to animation, just to show how much further you could go with it.

This — this is where I dearly hope all future animation projects would strive to go.

There's nothing actually "original" in Arcane. It's the same story of "us vs them" that's been retold countless times, featuring characters that fit into easily identifiable archetypes. But what makes Arcane so gripping is the way the story is told this time around, with so much sincerity and honesty, and with such incredible attention to detail, that it hits you with as much weight as any of the heavy punches thrown about in the show.

I know I'm gushing, but I have to say that Arcane is, without doubt, the yardstick against which all future big-budget animation projects will be measured.

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2021-11-30 at 11:10.
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Old 2021-11-30, 06:27   Link #8
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My reaction after the ending may not be as strong or as visceral as what RedLeaf experienced even though it's still a strong reaction coming from me. But that's not a knock against the show (that certain scene with Jinx is a masterstroke) but more like I've become a jaded man when it comes to emotional scenes that happens in entertainment in general. They need to be executed well or bust, and this one is a homerun. Not a "best-ever" homerun but still a homerun.

On that note, I guess nowadays the saying of "It's like Game of Thrones but/with/in..." has become a comfortable & easy blanket term to describe a show with juicy political maneuverings & balls to kill off characters even though there are many shows with such quality that predated GoT and some of them were anime for family-consumption like the original Gundam from the 70s & Code Geass in mid 00s (boy, they really got away with a lot back then).

I don't know about others but at this point, the so-called "video game adaptation curse" is no more. I'd say Castlevania walked so that Arcane could run. I hope Netflix continue this positive trend of giving money to competent people who know how to adapt IPs properly instead of greenlighting projects like live-action Cowboy Bebop that missed almost every point of the original show. It's already proven that most IPs can be done well as movies or shows if the showrunner is actually competent & knowledgable/care about the source material. Heck, The Lego Movie back in 2014 already taught that lesson loud & clear to everyone.

Meanwhile, Sony was left in the dust with their newest (yet again) bad adaptation of Resident Evil and their seemingly lame adaptation of Uncharted (judging from the trailers).
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Old 2021-11-30, 06:58   Link #9
TinyRedLeaf
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obelisk ze Tormentor View Post
On that note, I guess nowadays the saying of "It's like Game of Thrones but/with/in..." has become a comfortable & easy blanket term to describe a show with juicy political maneuverings & balls to kill off characters even though there are many shows with such quality that predated GoT and some of them were anime for family-consumption like the original Gundam from the 70s & Code Geass in mid 00s
I take your point, and I did qualify that I don't usually take comparisons to "Game of Thrones" very seriously.

"Arcane", however, does deserve the comparison and, with all due respect to fans of many more titles than I'd personally watched, I do think that very few anime projects have ever come close to the authenticity that's been achieved in "Arcane".

And I think it's really because of how carefully the world and its conflicts had been built up. It's almost always the case in most shows — and not just anime — that the intended plot direction forces characters to behave in certain ways that seem, in hindsight, out of character. But remarkably, that's very rarely the case in "Arcane". Here, I feel that it's more often the case that it's the characters' decisions, both good and bad, that drive the plot.

Choices have consequences, and it's the unintended consequences that hurt the most. I think that's a key reason why the tragedy in this show hurts so deeply — the characters may be larger-than-life, inhabiting a fictional world, but the choices they make are very similar to the hard choices that people are often forced to make in real life. They are very, very identifiable.

Anyway, I'm sure there will be things to criticise, even in a show like this, which is as near to perfect as I can imagine. All opinions are welcome!
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Old 2021-11-30, 09:14   Link #10
Kanon
Kana Hanazawa ♥
 
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obelisk ze Tormentor View Post
I don't know about others but at this point, the so-called "video game adaptation curse" is no more. I'd say Castlevania walked so that Arcane could run. I hope Netflix continue this positive trend of giving money to competent people who know how to adapt IPs properly instead of greenlighting projects like live-action Cowboy Bebop that missed almost every point of the original show. It's already proven that most IPs can be done well as movies or shows if the showrunner is actually competent & knowledgable/care about the source material. Heck, The Lego Movie back in 2014 already taught that lesson loud & clear to everyone.
Netflix should maybe stick to video games adaptations instead of trying to make original anime. I have some gripes with Castlevania (particularly season 3) but it was also a marvelously animated show which did justice to the video games. I'm really looking forward to this studio's adaptation of Devil May Cry by the way. If Arcane is at the top of 3D animation, Castlevania is at the top of 2D (speaking only from a technical standpoint).

Anyway, to get back to Arcane, the story indeed doesn't do anything new, and it's probably the one criticism I've heard. But honestly, who does anything new nowadays? Everything's already been done, but there are shows that improve or even perfect what came before, and Arcane is one of them.

Perhaps more than the visuals, it's the characters that impress the most. Take the villain for example.

Spoiler for Ending spoilers:
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Old 2021-11-30, 10:55   Link #11
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Originally Posted by Kanon View Post
Perhaps more than the visuals, it's the characters that impress the most. Take the villain for example.

Spoiler for Ending spoilers:
Indeed. That "statue confession" was the moment where I no longer worried about how the show will end (for this season). That moment gave me everything I needed to conclude that the show is in good hands, and I can just relax myelf and enjoy it all the way to the end. It's like being in a car with a top-class driver. You can trust him, relax and enjoy the ride.

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I'm really looking forward to this studio's adaptation of Devil May Cry by the way.
Oh really? They doing DMC next? Can't wait.

I vaguely remember the DMC anime. It was meh, but I do like the ED. The song struck the right cord of melancholy for me:

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Old 2021-11-30, 11:27   Link #12
TinyRedLeaf
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Perhaps more than the visuals, it's the characters that impress the most. Take the villain for example.

Spoiler for Ending spoilers:
I think it's both the visuals and the character development that make the show so compelling. And by visuals, I mean the astonishing level of attention paid to animating facial expressions, for example, and not just the body language.

It's something that we so often take for granted, even though it's the vital difference between a good screen/stage actor and an average one: The ability to convey a made-up personality not just through the voice and the script, but also through one's facial expressions and movement.

It's the reason that live-action will almost always be superior to animation, when it comes to portraying character drama. Animation is, after all, a reduction of real-life into impressionistic pictures that try, on the one hand, to mimic reality, but on the other hand, maximises its freedom from real-life gravity to portray fantastic imagination. It's great for giving us flights of fancy divorced from physical restrictions, but not so great at conveying emotional heft the way real on-screen actors can.

When I look back and think of why I became emotionally invested in Arcane's characters — almost right away, and on a subconscious level — I think it's because of how real and raw the facial expressions were. This scene (Ep 3 spoilers) is a superb example. The emotions felt so real that I literally forgot I was watching hand-drawn animation. It's a prime example of show, don't tell.

So, yes, once again, Arcane didn't give us particularly original characters, nor a particularly original story. What it delivered, however, was a combination of animation, art, story, character development, music, sound design and voice acting that was so amazingly put together — and with so much attention on nuanced visual storytelling — that the viewer forgets that he's watching a cartoon.

It didn't matter any more than we'd seen something like this told before a million times. In the moment of watching, you become a bystander to the violence and tragedy, and it feels heartbreakingly real.

I think that was what captured me, and it didn't let me go all the way to the inevitable conclusion.
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Old 2021-11-30, 12:14   Link #13
Endscape
The Mage of Four Hearts
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I think it's both the visuals and the character development that make the show so compelling. And by visuals, I mean the astonishing level of attention paid to animating facial expressions, for example, and not just the body language.

It's something that we so often take for granted, even though it's the vital difference between a good screen/stage actor and an average one: The ability to convey a made-up personality not just through the voice and the script, but also through one's facial expressions and movement.

It's the reason that live-action will almost always be superior to animation, when it comes to portraying character drama. Animation is, after all, a reduction of real-life into impressionistic pictures that try, on the one hand, to mimic reality, but on the other hand, maximises its freedom from real-life gravity to portray fantastic imagination. It's great for giving us flights of fancy divorced from physical restrictions, but not so great at conveying emotional heft the way real on-screen actors can.

When I look back and think of why I became emotionally invested in Arcane's characters almost right away, and on a subconscious level I think it's because of how real and raw the facial expressions were. This scene (Ep 3 spoilers) is a superb example. The emotions felt so real that I literally forgot I was watching hand-drawn animation. It's a prime example of show, don't tell.

So, yes, once again, Arcane didn't give us particularly original characters, nor a particularly original story. What it delivered, however, was a combination of animation, art, story, character development, music, sound design and voice acting that was so amazingly put together and with so much attention on nuanced visual storytelling that the viewer forgets that he's watching a cartoon.

It didn't matter any more than we'd seen something like this told before a million times. In the moment of watching, you become a bystander to the violence and tragedy, and it feels heartbreakingly real.

I think that was what captured me, and it didn't let me go all the way to the inevitable conclusion.
Well said.

It wasn't just the facial expressions for me, but the way characters did certain tiny actions that gave a lot of emotional heft. Like the way Jinx would give Silco his injections, you could really use that as a barometer to tell how she was felt about him.
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Old 2021-11-30, 12:29   Link #14
Obelisk ze Tormentor
Black Steel Knight
 
 
Join Date: Jul 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
I think it's both the visuals and the character development that make the show so compelling. And by visuals, I mean the astonishing level of attention paid to animating facial expressions, for example, and not just the body language.
One thing that didn't make me caught too off guard with how well Arcane's animation is, is the fact I have watched their League of Legends cinematic before:

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And as you can see, with bigger budget & time, Arcane is the logical step forward that I anticipated from the animator team (with more detailed facial expressions, gestures and all). So yeah, I'm impressed but it's an expected one.
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Old 2021-12-01, 11:06   Link #15
EroKing
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Old 2021-12-20, 09:13   Link #16
Last Sinner
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Watched it all the moment episodes became available. 10/10 easily, the new standard for animation by far. Hope they take their time to make S2 and that Netflix does not pressure them.

This is a once in a generation occurrence, maybe even once in a century. And it really mystifies me as to why mainstream media in the West seems to be doing everything possible to pretend it doesn't exist. It sure covered Squid Game a lot. And my one thing with Squid Game is that while it covered very relevant aspects of Korea at present (its out of control household debt situation, youth unemployment, etc), it still felt like a more visceral version of Kaiji and Liar Game. Asia embraced Arcane big time in a relative sense. A lot of my friends - even DotA players as a nice surprise - have praised Arcane.

But a common thing I've heard that people give as a reason to why they won't watch Arcane is because it isn't anything like Disney. Which is sad - this notion that animation is only for kids. I still truly believe the West ignored Your Name, despite its blatant box office success in the West and beating the Spirited Away gross income in the West, because it did show animation could be for everyone. An opportunity was lost to show there was more to anime than Miyazaki. It was intentionally silenced. I'm not surprised that Western mainstream media refuses to discuss Arcane for the greater part.

Because it didn't force 'THE MESSAGE'. It told a good story, established characters worthy of empathy and viewing time regardless of their beliefs or choices and it didn't force a particular political view or way to live. It just showed things as they are. It is something so rare today and it's no surprise all the measuring stick places like IMDB and Rotten Tomatos have it at the top. But places like Hollywood and the like probably despise Arcane in the worst way because it succeeded to the extreme. But if they want to ignore it, it just further justifies why I turned my back on Hollywood and the like a decade ago and have never regretted it. Or from an animation perspective, when something like the modern version of He-Man gets puts forth, forcing 'THE MESSAGE' and its characters to be mere messengers of it.

Which is a pity because Western animation has had a couple of other brilliant titles in very recent years. The 2 seasons of Harley Quinn that was some of the most glorious over the top, visceral, zany fun I've ever seen while also showing Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy as anti-heroes worthy of empathy but still embraced their chaotic nature. Hell, when it made fun of Commissioner Gordon then gave him redemption and initially made The Joker the main villain but then gave him an unexpected redemption, it was believable and it was awesome. As well as Invincible, which dared to show a hero as being anything but and then go into a complex scenario of the hero who wasn't vs the son who idolised them. But again, they don't subscribe to 'THE MESSAGE' and aren't for kids, so of course Western mainstream media will do its best to ignore their existence.

Glad someone linked the Gigguk review. It was spot on. It's refreshing to see that many people who would normally only watch Japanese animation embrace an animation made in a Western country that deserved its praise.

Here's the review I was hoping would happen. The Critical Drinker - Recommends. He didn't just enjoy Arcane - he had to give it his rare recommendation. And he was spot on too.

Spoiler for Critical Drinker Recommends Arcane:


This was the title loaded with capable female characters of various types/personalities as well as males of masculine, intellectual and scheming types. It subscribed to good writing and built things up. It had adult characters that were relatable for people of a wide age spectrum. It had a top tier soundtrack, gorgeous visuals, a stellar voice cast.

And as a former League of Legends player (quit 12 months ago), it was an utter shock to see this work. But when it spent so long in production, took the angle of being a prequel to allow non-players to get into it and established its lore in proper FINALLY, it was such a pleasant surprise. Because when something like the Sentinels event occurred, or how utterly pathetic its current game balance is, you know Riot is capable of some really bewildering lows. They really set the bar high this time and have capitalised on Blizzard's demise, squandering years of having the chance to do something like this. To see Jinx becoming what she is done with such care and really hit you in the face when you're used to her pure chaos. To see Vi go through everything she has and remain intact despite having to go through the mental torture of what was vs how things are now. To see Caitlyn be a figure of justice but without being woke, willing to learn from her mistakes/misconceptions and rise above the labels people above and below her applied while find ways to relate to those that doubt her. To see Jayce go through some chilling despair then have to grapple with the pressures of success and those wanting to control him. To see Viktor be one of the most unexpected character developments. To see Heimerdinger simultaneously be an unheeded valid warning while also being too resistant to change. To see Singed be the subtle catalyst that will likely get some explosive character development in season 2. But to see non-game characters like Vander, Silco and Madara get introduced into the mix seamlessly and shine just as much is just brilliant.

The one sobering thing has been, as it has for a fair number of my friends, is that something of this level is going to take a long time to happen again at best and that no other title may ever reach its heights at worst. But hey, we lived to see it and were fortunate to do so. And in a time where its kind of content is almost extinct, I'll gladly take it.
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