Netflix’s Arcane: An Honest Review

Netflix’s Arcane: An Honest Review

Let me preface this by saying I hardly watch television. By the third or fourth episode of most series I attempt I will typically find a reason to stop.  I don’t start watching these series with that intention and genuinely look forward to them until I am ultimately disappointed by any number of things. I feel like most shows nowadays have little to no substance. No essence. Most are all about the “Wow!” factor. Wow!  Watch this because explosions, boobs, drugs, explosions. It’s as if character development and age old ,tried and tested archetypal formats have been forgotten or discarded, replaced by eye-candy with little to no soul. 

Let me also say the that too many video game to TV show/movie adaptations have fallen short of their intended entertainment value. Something is always lost in the translation from video game to screen.  I think in most circumstances you are meant have a base knowledge of the video game’s lore for the TV show or movie adaptation to resonate or make sense and people attempting to watch the adaptation with no prior knowledge feel like they’re missing something. 

These aforementioned discrepancies are why I normally quit watching TV shows.  They simply become unbearable in their lack of depth and heart. The more incongruences I find the less I care about the characters and once that happens what’s the point of watching?

Which brings me to the Netflix original series Arcane. I watched all nine episodes in a single day.  Something I haven’t done with a series since I was a bachelor with no kids or any real responsibilities. The show is not perfect but damn if it didn’t have what I always look for. Character development in abundance throughout the myriad of unique characters whose stories are masterfully interwoven. Layered and nuanced storytelling that feels true to life where the consequences of a character’s actions often haunt them into future episodes.  Top tier, crisp action sequences that had me rewinding entire scenes just to watch them again.  Subtle, bold, character-driven stories of attraction and love that never felt forced or inauthentic.  The juxtaposition of the two tiered class system that portray both sides’ ruthlessness and greed.  The ambiguity of the characters and how none of them were imprisoned by a trope.  Quite often the “bad guy” would say or do something that had me nodding in agreement and adversely a “good guy” would often have me pulling my hair out after a tyrannical display of governance.

The list goes on.  It was really just an enjoyable show to watch and if you haven’t done so, I highly recommend you do.  It’s a fucking tragedy but one that leaves you craving resolution.  

If you’re like me and chose not to watch it because you never played League of Legends then you can put that thought to rest.  It requires no pre-existing knowledge of the video game or it’s characters to understand the series.  It stands on its own and it towers over its competitors in the animated realm. 

It is the story of human nature filled with profound lessons, unbelievable tragedy and cautionary tales told in a world that feels genuine and lived-in.  

Ok, I’ll say it.  It’s a fucking masterpiece and I was genuinely upset when I finished the series.  I might’ve been late to the party on season one, but when season two is released I intend to binge it as  voraciously as Netflix will allow.

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Evan McCleskey

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