Arcane Act One is the first arc of this 3-arc animated series from Netflix. The series itself takes place within the universe of the League of Legends game. This first arc consists of 3 episodes, each ranging from 40-43 minutes long. So yeah, you’re in for a surprisingly long ride for this science fantasy series. Better grab some popcorn while you’re at it.
Arcane as a whole is the creation of Christian Linke and Alex Yee. They also wrote the story alongside Connor Sheehy and Ash Brannon. Riot Games and Fortiche Production are the production companies for this series. Oh, and of course, Netflix is the streaming platform for this series. At least, here in the US. Apparently, Tencent Video is streaming this series in China.
All this means that you can watch Arcane only on Netflix here in the US. It even made its debut on November 6, 2021; so you can watch this first act now. Netflix isn’t a free streaming service either. You’ll need to cough up some cash to pay for that subscription. If you already have one though, you’re good to go.
Arcane Act One: Plot Summary
Warning: spoilers for Arcane Act One below. If you want to watch the bloody action and tears galore for yourself, stop here, and come back once the explosions have dissipated.
The first episode of Arcane Act One begins with a bloody fight scene on a bridge between random people and armored police officers. We see main characters Vi and Powder as little girls, apparently trying to find their parents in the midst of the chaos. A big guy named Vander helps the girls find them. Unfortunately, they’re dead. Vander decides at that moment to call it quits and get the girls to safety.
The scene in the first episode then cuts to some years later, when Vi and Powder are going on a heist with 2 of their friends: Mylo and Claggor. They break into a rich guy’s apartment in the upscale Piltover section of their city, and begin tossing everything they can find into a sack. This includes some glowing blue gems. Well, someone catches them in the act and they flee, but not before a dropped gem blows the whole apartment up in blue lightning. The gang escape from the police, but lose the loot (save for the gems) in a struggle with a rival gang. They then get caught by their father, Vander, who lets them go with a slap on the wrist. Unfortunately, the police aren’t willing to do that, and they go searching the undercity for the gang. Then we see that a weird glowing-eyed guy named Silco was responsible for that rival gang accosting Vi and co., and he’s been doing weird chemical research to make a strength-boosting drug. Said drug works perfectly fine, as we see with a rat and the leader of that rival gang.
The second episode of Arcane Act One starts us off with magitech researcher Jayce, who the gang robbed in the previous episode. He got knocked out by the explosion, but he’s ultimately unharmed. He wasn’t actually supposed to have those boom gems though, so he gets arrested too. The local Council confiscates all his magitech research, and expels him from the local Academy. The Academy headmaster’s assistant though, decides to step in and help him out with his research problem. Meanwhile, the police are still hunting Vi and co., and are creating a huge bigger problem for Vander, partially by not handing over the boom gems. Vander has a talk with the local police captain, which leads Vander to make a difficult choice.
Which lead us to the third and final episode of Arcane Act One. Vander decides to hand himself over to the police to be their scapegoat. Unfortunately, Silco shows up with a purple Hulk in tow, massacring the police unit save for the one guy who sold them all out. Silco then gets purple Hulk to kidnap Vander. Vi and co. set off to save Vander, except for Powder, who Vi decides not to take along. They reach Vander, but it’s a trap, and they’re stuck in with Silco and his goons. Powder, who’d naturally disobeyed Vi, had followed them, saw what was happening, and decided the best thing she could do was toss in some boom gems as a makeshift grenade. It doesn’t work out well. It kills most of Silco’s goon, but also kills Mylo, Claggor, and Vander in the process. Vi is understandably furious, and abandons Powder in a fit of fury. Silco then finds a distraught Powder to take her in as his evil apprentice/daughter. Vi sees what’s happening, changes her mind, and tries to intervene; but the Judas police officer stops her, thinking that she’ll die if she steps in at that moment. And so Powder thinks Vi abandoned her for good, and accepts Silco as her new parental figure. And that concludes Arcane Act One.
Arcane Act One: The Good
I can’t decide if I like the story, setting, characters, or the art of Arcane the most. I guess I’ll just put them all on the number one spot then. Especially the artwork. The series features this cel shaded art style that looks gorgeous, like something out of an artsy video game. Which is rather ironic with the League of Legends thing going on there.
The setting of Arcane is another big plus for it. It has this interesting magitech vibe going for it. Or more precisely, the society seems to start off with pure tech, but is in the process of developing magitech. This will probably go horribly wrong, but eh, that’s the way of science.
Vi and Powder are also likable main characters (even in spite of all the mistakes they make), but Arcane is also introducing a bunch of other main characters alongside them. Jayce is an interesting case of a mad scientist delving into things humans were possibly not meant to know, but genuinely wants to do good things with his mad magitech. Vander was also a nice complex father figure, well, before he died.
Arcane Act One: The Bad
Maybe it’s just me, but I would say the worst thing about Arcane Act One is how depressing it is. They introduce some nice complex characters, and then they kill a bunch of them off. It’s, well, it’s dramatic, I guess. I just kinda wished they’d gotten a bit more screentime before they died though. Make their deaths a part of the climax rather than killing them off in the prologue. But eh, what happened happened, and now we’ll just see the consequences in Act Two.