Arcane Season 1 Evolves Adult Animation With Stylistic Storytelling


I can’t say enough good things about the Netflix original series in this Arcane season 1 review. The series from Riot Games is an adaptation of their highly successful video game franchise, League Of Legends. The show takes characters already in the game and creates a beautiful tapestry of stories that are awe-inspiring. Not to mention the gorgeous animation style, but more importantly, an insane story that makes use of dramatic storytelling in the best possible way. With Arcane season 2 now confirmed for a 2024 release, it’s time to take a look back at one of the greatest animated series of all time! 

Please note: this Arcane season 1 review will be completely spoiler-free. 

Arcane Act One Establishes The World And Its Characters

Arcane season 1 review sisters.
Image via Netflix.

The series begins with the dynamic between two orphaned sisters, Vi and Powder and their adoptive father, Vander. They reside in Zaun, an underground city removed from the rich and elite, where all manner of people and creatures live together, in poverty. Their lives are in direct contrast to those above, living in Piltover, where the more affluent members of society reside. 

The sisters, along with their friends, pull ‘jobs’, steal and find any way to survive in their situation. But when they rob a scientist’s lab, an explosion in Piltover puts them on the radar of those who live above. That’s when we realize just how fragile this balance is between Zaun and Piltover. Someone has to pay for the damage to property and lives. This one incident, arguably one created by Powder and her lack of care when it came to some explosive gems, kickstarts this story. 

The Politics Of The Under City And The Elite Above

Arcane season 1 review council.
Image via Netflix.

A story is only as good as its characters and the world they inhabit. In that sense, Arcane does a wonderful job of creating and developing this world into something intriguing. Audiences can absolutely engage with the story in a way that’s familiar, but also new and fresh. The downtrodden live below, the affluent, above, a sci-fi trope we’ve seen often in things like Alita: Battle Angel or Altered Carbon.

The characters are also engaging and interesting enough for audiences to fully invest in their stories, right away. Throughout this first act, Powder (Mia Sinclair Jenness) is the little sister; small, inept, clumsy and unable to keep up with the big kids. Good thing that her older sister Vi (Hailee Steinfeld) is always there to protect, encourage and empower her. It’s a sweet dynamic between the sisters. However, when all the chips fall, and the safety and security of everyone in Zaun are threatened, things go very badly. 

The Themes Of Arcane Season 1 Go Beyond Being A Fantasy Story

Arcane season 1 review Powder.
Image via Netflix.

At first blush, Arcane seems like an adaptation of a game franchise, for the sake of it. However, a deeper look reveals an immensely gorgeous animated series with a layered story and characters that rival almost the greatest stories ever told on screen. On top of the relationship story between the sisters, the themes are so strong. The story has elements of a commentary on the nature of society. The divide between the rich and poor, the desperation of the downtrodden, willing to rise against those that keep them down. 

The politics of the world take a more prominent significance as the world is fleshed out more. The show is a great exploration of two opposing ideas, concepts and natures. As great as the blockbuster elements of the show are, with the insane action sequences, of which there are many. And boy does the action blow minds. Vi has a lot of cool sequences of fighting here, and they’re awesome. I honestly wish there was more, but that’s not a complaint just more a wish of wanting more. Always, more. 

Criticisms Abound In Arcane Season 1 Review

Arcane season 1 review Vi.
Image via Netflix.

While the larger series is absolutely stunning in its visuals as well as its execution, I do have some complaints to address in this Arcane season 1 review. There are a lot of build-ups that resolve very unsatisfyingly. It feels like a story leading up to an epic showdown that seemingly never comes. There’s a lot of development of supporting characters into main leads, that also seemingly go nowhere. Here’s Hoping that Arcane Season Two will resolve or address those story arcs, to give audiences a sense of closure, or continuing those stories into more than what we’ve gotten so far. 

Arcane Season 1 Review Is About An Impressive Series

Season 2.
Image via Netflix.

I’m constantly blown away by how impressive Arcane is. While the character story of Vi and Powder is the backbone the world itself is a sprawling cityscape of possibilities. Arcane keeps stunning with its amazing details to the visuals, its layered world and its story. Not to mention the characters and their relationships which just continues to be some of the best writing I’ve seen in a long time. Add to this some amazing world-building where magic, technology and deeper mythology play a larger role, and Arcane is something quite special. A must-watch for cinephiles and lovers of good storytelling everywhere. 

What To Expect From Arcane Season 2

Netflix recently confirmed the release window of Arcane season 2 as November 2024. The Arcane season 2 first looks show off an ominous new character. The last shot reveals a monster that is probably going to be a massive new threat to our beloved heroes. With the cliffhanger ending of Arcane season 1, there is a lot to look forward to. While the clash between our heroes needs its own resolution, it looks like the larger war that was building up all season is here, with possibly some formidable new soldiers. 

Arcane Season 2 releases on Netflix in November 2024. 

What did you think about this amazing Netflix series? Let me know in the comments below or reach out to me on X (Twitter) at @theshahshahid for more Arcane talk until season 2 releases. 

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Arcane Season 1 Evolves Adult Animation With Stylistic Storytelling
  • Acting - 8/10
  • Cinematography/Visual Effects - 10/10
  • Plot/Screenplay - 10/10
  • Setting/Theme - 8/10
  • Watchability - 9/10
  • Rewatchability - 8/10
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About Shah

Entertainment Writer | Film & TV Critic | Bollywood Blogger | Host of Split Screen Podcast | Proud Geek Girl Dad