Why we're all still talking about Arcane
It's Netflix's highest rated series to date, with beautiful animation and unforgettable characters. So what makes Riot Games' debut TV series just so incredible to watch?
Let's look at what it's all about and appreciate some epic Arcane-inspired cosplays. Warning: Spoilers ahead!
Team Jinx or Team Vi?
One of the reasons Arcane is loved by so many League of Legends fans is how it brings two long-standing characters to a wider audience and breathes life into their backstories.
Vi and Powder (now Jinx) are sisters, both suffering the tragic loss of their parents in early childhood. Taken under the wing of Vander they are somewhat protected in the undercity, but live a life of crime to retaliate against Piltover for the loss of their family and the state of their home.
After the death of Vander, and Silco taking over the city, the sisters take separate paths. Vi is strong, impulsive and protective of those she cares about. She wants equality for the people of the undercity and safety for her loved ones. Seeing the spiraling change in Jinx and the corruption of the undercity (now Zaun), Vi reaches out to Jayce and offers her help to bring Silco's empire to it's knees.
I'm #TeamVi so I may be a little biased...
Vi Cosplay by Shappi Workshop (@shappiworkshop)
Photo by Dobrochna Nowacka (@made_by_dobrochna)
Volatile explosives are a girl’s best friend!
Powder is a quiet child, who's eagerness to help but unfortunate clumsiness leads to her being left out of many of the gangs missions. After Powder's home-made explosive are accidentally responsible for the death of Vander (as well as her friends Mylo and Clagger), Vi calls her a 'jinx' and appears to abandon her at the scene of the explosion.
Now under Silco's care and with a bit of personal re-branding, Jinx is chaos and havoc personified. We watch her sanity spiral into paranoia and madness - partly due to her internal conflict of choosing to stay with Silco or leave with Vi - but also because of chemical experimentation done by Singed after a wounding battle with Ekko. The season ends with Jinx firing a rocket into Piltover - we can't wait to see what happens next.
Jinx cosplay by LittleJem (@littlejem)
Any Worthwhile Venture Involves Risk
As well as bringing to life fan favourites from League of Legends, the series also introduced some new characters. At the centre of the politics of Piltover sits Mel. Intelligent, persuasive, beautiful - it's no wonder Jayce is so drawn to her.
You're Hot, Cupcake!
Just like with Vi, I may have a bit of a soft spot for Caitlyn. Despite her privileged background Caitlyn always seeks to uncover the truth, no matter the risk or where it leads her.
She's an incredible marksman and her skills are often overlooked and underappreciated by those in her field. Whilst she's driven to prove herself, she also has a very gentle side, which shines in her friendship with Jayce and her ever-growing relationship with Vi.
Caitlyn cosplay by Alina Groznaya (@alinagroznaya)
The Firelight Vigilante
From childhood friend of Powder and Vi, to revolutionary leader of the Firelights. We see Ekko grow to fight for his people in the corrupt undercity that is Silco's Zaun. The new unlikely friendship between Heimerdinger and Ekko is heartwarming and gives us some hope for the future of both Zaun and Piltover.
Ekko cosplay by Luxsteez (@luxsteezcosplay)
Don't Ask for Permission
Fans of the game probably didn't expect Viktor to be the one many people were routing for... but here were are! Every good antagonist needs an origin story and this is no exception.
In Arcane we see a passionate scientist who's health is greatly deteriorating. With Jayce taking the limelight for much of their work, Viktor is still a supportive friend. He works behind the scenes, not asking for much of the glory in return. In his childhood flashbacks we see a gentle boy who rejects and recoils from the inhuman studies carried out by Singed. But as his own experiments with the Hexcore affect his body and mind, he returns to Singed to follow what we can only guess will be a dark path.
Viktor cosplay and photo by Geheichou (@geheichou)
The Boy Saviour
Bright and Charismatic - Jayce is Pilitover's golden boy. His research into harnessing magic with science, alongside his friend and partner Viktor, leads to the creation of Hextech. With Mel's support and influence over the council, Hextech becomes a revolutionary part of Piltovers trade network, and Jayce's status continues to climb.
Though Jayce is sometimes blinded by the politics of Piltover, his friendship with Viktor and concern for his health is genuine and endearing. Jayce even goes against the wishes of his mentor, Heimerdinger, in order to help find a cure for Viktor.
Jayce cosplay by Behind Infinity (@behindinfinity)
There's a Monster in All of Us
Another new character we're introduced to is Silco, a ruthless crime lord out for revenge and hoping to divide Zaun and Piltover once and for all.
After seeking vengeance on his former friend Vander, Silco builds his underground empire, with the distribution of shimmer (a volatile strength-inducing drug created by Singed) sitting at the heart of his organisation.
When Powder is seemingly abandoned by Vi, Silco decides to take her under his wing, leading to her transformation into Jinx. Whilst this is no ordinary adoptive father/daughter relationship, there is a tenderness behind all the fighting and weapon engineering.His love and protection of Jinx causes unrest in the rest of his crew and ultimately leads to his own undoing.
Both Silco and Mel are so well written by the team behind Arcane that they slot effortlessly into the existing lore. They both show undeniable strength and vulnerability, making them an instant staple in the world of Runeterra.
Silco Cosplay and photo by Egor Rivnir (@rivnir_)
Oil and Water
One thing the show captured so well was the growing romantic relationship between Caitlyn and Vi. Their chemistry felt truly authentic which is something a lot of live action shows fail to capture, making it even more impressive to capture in animation. This ship has sailed.
Ah, The Sweet Smell of Science!
I couldn't write this article without some yordle love could I? Maybe I'm a tad biased...
Heimerdinger is a legendary inventor and whilst his warnings are often seen as overly cautious... they come from a place of experience and a want to keep magic and Hextech from getting into the wrong hands.
Heimerdinger cosplay by Maleja17 (@ggmaleja17)
How About a Drink?
Does Singed have a redeeming feature at all or is he just pure evil? His methods of experimentation are unethical and are the reason Viktor originally turned away from him as a child. He's the inventor of Shimmer, the highly-addictive strength-enhancing drug that lies at the centre of Silco's reign over Zaun.
Singed cosplay by Amedusk (@amedusk)