Into the ‘Arcane’

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League of Legends is a game that some people are not particularly fond of. This dislike has led some to post on social media telling players of the game to ‘touch grass’ or other similar sentiments. 

However, now that “Arcane,” one of the most popular shows of the year, has released its first season on Netflix, people still think that the players get no sunlight since the show and the game are not very related. 

What is “Arcane,” then, and why has it reached such a high level of critical acclaim? The answer lies in weight. Not the weight of pounds and ounces, rather, Arcane has the weight of action that is missing from so many modern shows.

What, then, is weight? Weight, in terms of film, is a fairly basic concept; the strength or speed at which something is performed is directly proportional to the amount of effort the person puts in. 

For example, if a character lifts a 100-pound weight, it ought to be more visibly difficult than lifting a 20-pound weight. Such a concept should be relatively easy to understand. Sadly, the issue with many live-action as well as modern animated movies and shows is that one gets many instances where the effort put into the choreography does not match the outcome, creating cognitive dissonance.

For example, picture the common example of a small character using a massive sword yet swinging it around like a paperweight. Then, when the sword hits someone, it somehow regains all its weight, and the believability is lost. 

There are times when this can make sense in a story, for example, if the seemingly regular person is some eldritch god or hidden superhero, but most of the time, characters are as strong or as weak as the story wishes them to be in that scene. As a result, the contrivance and hand of the writers appear in the worst way possible, making an otherwise exciting show boring and dull.

Another issue that has plagued cinema even longer is the need for fair fights. Specifically, when a far stronger character has a hard time against someone weaker than them because it supposedly makes the battle more interesting.

A recent example that comes to mind is in the Mandalorian when Ahsoka, an experienced and mighty Jedi, has difficulty disarming a random character, The Magistrate, who was only just introduced. Unfortunately, the show does not explain why the fight seems close, and it feels fake that two characters with such different power levels would have a battle lasting longer than a few seconds. 

One could say that with an excessive amount of recent movies and shows, animated or otherwise, many characters don’t appear to be seriously trying to win in their fight scenes. Instead, the focus has shifted from victory to spectacle. Not to say that characters must always do everything in their power to destroy the other party, but the effort does not match the outcome. 

Finally, to address “Arcane,” which this article is supposed to be about. Concerning weight in character development, fights, etc., every single action holds itself based on itself. When there is spectacle, the spectacle has a purpose that reveals something new about a character. When there is a fight, the character who is better at fighting and strategy defeats the inferior opponent.

When a fight is close, it’s because both sides deserved it due to understandable strength, mental or otherwise, on both sides. Contrivance is avoided like the plague in this show; and the character’s various actions, or lack thereof, could merit entire essays in themselves. 

The weight contained in every corner of this show makes its nine Annie awards, which recognizes the best shows and movies in the field of animation, unsurprising. A show with quality in every corner is hard to find; the level of art alone makes it worth a watch. 

The first three episodes especially are a masterwork in storytelling; the voice acting is spectacular, the soundtrack is an absolute bop, and the atmosphere and investment that the world of Arcane gives the audience is especially unique. 

With these ingredients, and when every action holds relevance to the story, the result is a show that draws its audience in, not releasing them until they have finished every episode.

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