A cheerful, elegant and moving conclusion to the animated show of Riot
Arcane has a long way to go in its latest trio of Hanime episodes, which are tasked with wrapping up an ambitious origin story while also charting a course for the future. Vi and Jinx’s heart-wrenching journey is filled with violence and bloodshed, with the previous episode seeing the kidnapped older sister alongside Caitlyn as they are drawn further into a plot that apparently cannot be determined. ‘escape. The stakes are high and Arcane does a commendable job executing them even if it feels rushed or inconsequential at times.
The show is clearly gearing up for a second season, so it’s a shame that there is more focus on preparing for its arrival instead of weaving a meaningful narrative that can stand on its own. Great moments end in a flash, while confrontations that should carry weight often fall flat. Still, the animation, dialogue, and chemistry between all of its characters remain excellent, dragging you into the world of League of Legends and refusing to let go in a way few adaptations have managed to achieve. It’s also very, very cheerful – and not in the queerbaity genre.
Arcane’s final act is a prologue to Jinx’s inevitably fractured mind, a possible surrender to the trauma that has hung her on since Vi abandonment. We get a deeper insight into his troubled relationship with Silco and how the corrupt gangster turned this young girl into a surrogate girl he can bend to his whims. But in tragic moments there is a real bond between them, that despite all his bad intentions, Silco considers Jinx a person to be taken care of and will do anything to save her.
He’s still the show’s big bad guy, but in a more nuanced way. Sometimes it’s even someone we can empathize with. The same can be said for Jinx, a fantasy heroine who falls victim to her own twisted circumstances. She doesn’t deserve any of this, but she absorbs events in a way where she always feels betrayed, like the world is playing with her at every turn and no one can be trusted. She comes so close to reunite with Vi, only to be stopped each time by her own broken mind, or an irrational jealousy of Caitlyn as she grows closer and closer to those she once called her family. Arcane understands that villains are complicated, and behind every evil plan is an emotionally distraught person, believing they are doing the right thing.
Vi and Caitlyn’s romantic experience didn’t fade after the flirtatious interactions in the last act – to my surprise, it’s even more cheerful. The two women come closer as the world threatens to engulf them whole, encountering a resistance movement as they seek to address the council and put a definitive end to Silco’s underground movement. With allies and support now on their side, Vi and Caitlyn hope to change Piltover for the better while conquering their own personal demons. This is where some of the shortcomings of the Final Act become clear. There’s so much going on – whether it’s Jace’s ambitions on the board or the arrival of Mel’s family on the shores of town – Arcane tackles so many more topics than his execution does. has the place to accommodate. I admire the ambition, but the execution isn’t quite there.
Some arcs are never resolved, leaving us with a cliffhanger where the fallout consequences will be explored in a potential second season. The final moments are breathtaking, inundated with a resonant musical swell and character revelations who keep so many of Arcane’s lofty promises. It’s a bold, beautiful, and unexpected twist that’s sadly watered down by all the questions that left me unanswered. Those will come, I just wish the show was confident enough to tell one standalone story before it embarked on another. This is especially true for Jinx’s transformation into his beloved character, who doesn’t have enough room to shine. It’s messy, violent, and trauma-defined as a big part of her arc, but her refusal to trust Vi doesn’t always make sense, nor does her sudden jealousy of Caitlyn. She lost her sister, not her partner, so it’s weird that the two can’t smooch without the younger’s consent. Alright, Jinx – please go to therapy.
Vi and Caitlyn’s queer relationship is also more cemented and wasn’t just a brief flirtatious moment to be ditched as a cheap piece of queerbaiting. While there is never a love confession, there are so many instances where it is clear that these two women are more than friends. Returning to the surface, they take refuge in Caitlyn’s house, the two of them lying together as Vi recounts memories of childhood and her failure to protect Jinx. She feels like a failure, and in a moment of comfort, Caitlyn leans forward and runs a delicate finger across her bloodied cheek, Vi stepping forward to grab her hand in hers as they kiss. It’s adorable and real, even though some of their most concrete romantic feelings lack the development they need to feel compelling. Jinx even refers to Caitlyn as Vi’s girlfriend at one point, so Arcane is very clear in his intentions.
We get a pointless sex scene between two straight characters, but it often feels like the same-sex relationship is beating around the bush in a way that falters on the verge of engaging in something more. I’m just saying you don’t chase a girl in the pouring rain and yell “What about us ?!” without any form of romantic intention, you are a fruity little lesbian and it is undeniable. Vi and Caitlyn’s relationship is at the heart of this show alongside Jinx’s transformation, and I think focusing only on them during the final act instead of randomly jumping between other characters would have made the show endless. more just. Instead, we walk away from fantasy scenes to learn more about the council members and Heindegger as he explores the directionless slums. These moments are necessary and will need to be developed in future episodes, but interrupting the grand finale to provide a few more nuggets of exposure is just poor pace, and something the first two acts never suffered from. Maybe I’m just bitter about the lack of lesbians.
Fortunately, this inconsistent rhythm does not detract from Arcane’s many triumphs. The action scenes remain some of the best I have ever seen in the medium. They’re bloody, kinetic, and filled with movement that perfectly matches each character’s personality. Vi finally acquiring her iconic gauntlets as she waltzes through an underground mine alongside Jace to wipe the floor with absolutely everyone is a delight, with a backing track adding a level of pumping tension to proceedings that I don’t. could help but smile. I’ve said before that I’d gladly let Vi beat me, and after watching her house clean up over and over again throughout these three episodes, that feeling is stronger than ever.
It’s a story about trauma, identity, loss and the messy world of magic politics. Everything is explored with a wonderful effect despite an approach to storytelling which often does not give the greatest moments enough time to breathe. As Netflix and Riot Games’ first foray into the League of Legends universe through the animation vein, this is a triumphant start with only a few shortcomings. It’s smart, gorgeous, sexy, and a perfect entry point for those who haven’t heard of the franchise before. Regardless of his reputation, what matters is how he crafted a compelling narrative that invites anyone to lose themselves in his brilliance. Season 2 is going to be so sapphic and I can’t wait.
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