ARCANE is a Masterpiece. (The Walrus Review)


Netflix has dropped the first 3 of 9 episodes of the series called Arcane. (With the next 3 dropping next week and the week after.) Arcane is based on a video game, which I am unaware of, but don’t let that shy you away from this groundbreaking animated series. With a mixture of 2D style and 3D rendering, Arcane is truly breathtaking to behold, and a master work of pure artistry. That would be enough to recommend this series, but to my surprise, this series has amazing depth, character development, and heart.

The series is about Vi and her sister Powder, orphaned in a civil war between the underworld oppressed and poor people and the above world, filled with the rich, powerful and privileged. They are raised by Vander, defacto ruler of the underworld, and bar owner. He helps keep the peace. Vi and Powder have two other rag-tag friends, and the four of them survive by thieving and pillaging. One day, they stumble across a score that they didn’t expect, and end up pilfering something more powerful than they could ever have imagined.

Episode one is your standard fare, establishing our main characters and their back stories. Episode two delves deeper into the overall mythos of the series, as we are introduced to magic. But it is episode 3 that will really reel you in.

Operating at breakneck speed, and throwing our characters in directions that you will not see coming, all while bringing amazing action sequences, and heart breaking consequences.

The world building in this series is superlative. Each scene drawn in painstaking details, from rooftops to railings, to great halls and dive bars. The costume design is articulate and beautiful, with each character having their own style and grace. From their mannerisms to the way they walk and emote, it is all so beautiful, I never wanted to blink, as to lose one second of what was on screen. This is the type of series that you could watch 10 times over and pick up something new.

The relationships between the main characters is beautiful and touching, and episode 3 almost brought me to tears.

And this is just the beginning. Don’t be fooled by the ages of the characters in the first 3 episodes, this is not going to be just about kids. Episode four takes a big time jump as we now join our characters as they are much older.

I haven’t been blown away by animation like this since AEON FLUX. This series is a MUST and I give it the HIGHEST of recommendations. A true work of art. ARCANE IS BREATHTAKING.