Arcane Dethrones Squid Game to Become Top Rated Original

Thomas Ou ’24
EE Entertainment Editor

Arcane’s Protagonists, Powder and Vi, overlooking the City of Progress from the slums.

Had I said that an animated TV show would even come close to the world-wide recognition and popularity of Squid Game, let alone surpass it for being the most watched and becoming the highest rated show, no one in their right mind would believe it. Yet even more outrageous, would be the fact that it is a show based on a video game with a deep lore; one that pop culture harbors an undeniably controversial viewpoint of.

Historically, almost all video game adaptations have failed or ended up universally disliked. It is far too easy for producers to derive their show from their the vast lore of their videogames, creating a show that only attracts hardcore fans. As apparent with the box-office failure of the World of Warcraft movie, it is difficult to downright impossible to simultaneously stay true to the story while still appealing to new watchers who might have never heard about the original source material. Being said, there are videogame shows, though few and far between, that have seen a similar critical acclaim to some of the top shows within today’s media; among these are the revered Witcher and the underrated Castlevania. However, the new top rated original, Arcane, completely sets a new standard on how to properly balance its viewership and create a heartfelt, action-packed tragedy. 

Being one of the most played and oldest computer games, League of Legends has seen some drama throughout its time. Many players find it hard to deny the draw and addictiveness of the game, that all too often leaves one unfulfilled as 40 minutes and 20 lp of a person’s life gets wasted due to the mistake of one teammate. 

“It is within the lore where the game is able to shine the most,” said League of Legends Streamer Ashkan Homayouni. “Riot’s balancing and game design team might be a bunch of monkeys, but damn can they make a more compelling story”.

Over its 11 years, League was able to build a compelling and diverse world that can even rival those seen in famous pop culture today. Yet more surprisingly, only bare remnants of the lore can be found within the main game through character voice lines, interactions, and easter eggs. The story is gated behind an intimidating block of text found on their website that only the most avid and dedicated readers can decipher. In recent years, however, the company behind the League of Legends universe, Riot Games, has made efforts to put the story in other forms of media. Among these are their partnerships with Marvel to produce gorgeous comics set within the lore and animated shorts and cinematics of the world. 

Arcane was able to accomplish something that shows and movies like Warcraft and Dota could not; appeal to the wider demographic, many of whom will watch the show without any prior knowledge of the game’s lore. The lively animation of the show brings out its action scenes and paints visually pleasing scenes that are easy on the eyes. Their music consists of dramatic and eloquent pieces composed by well-known artists such as Bones and Imagine Dragons. Most importantly, the world is built in a meaningful and believable way, with even its ambitious cast of main and side characters each being fully fleshed out. Arcane is able to concurrently reward League veterans with bits of easter eggs and reveals while enrapturing new viewers interested in the show. 

Here is where I would normally give a quick, spoiler-free summary of the show, but Arcane is far too brilliant and criminally underappreciated that I would be doing it injustice to give a quick run-down. All I am willing to say is to trust the 100% rotten tomato rating and how it is, to this day, the highest rated Netflix original within IMDB. Watch the trailers and then give the show a shot. This is one of the few shows that I can guarantee will bring joy to even the most enclosed of hearts.

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