Animators Take Note: Netflix’s Arcane Is The Standard We Expect Now

Animators Take Note: Netflix’s Arcane Is The Standard We Expect Now
Image: Netflix

Arcane’s animation style is incredibly good. Over the weekend, the first three episodes of the ‘Arcane’ Netflix animated series dropped, a show set in the world of League of Legends.

In a way it was a long time coming. League of Legends boasts one of the world’s largest gaming communities brought together by their love for a deeply interesting game, be it for the characters, gameplay or the lore.

This animated series really is special, though. Not only is it for the gaming crowd, but it’s also just an incredible animated show. Let me just soapbox about it for a few hundred words. Arcane kind of means a lot, to games and animated shows alike.

Truly League of Legends’ huge library of animated cinematics was always leading to this moment where a feature-length animated show was to be released.

But boy, is Arcane’s animation just incredible.

Arcane’s animation sure is some of the best that has ever been on TV and is absolutely the best-looking TV show based on a video game. That’s a fairly easy win for it, considering the team that made many of the game’s cinematics worked on the show.

Every character movement, every eye-widening, every time a character flicks their wrist, opens their mouth or sucker-punches someone, it’s animated with an intense amount of soul that really you can only get out of a top of the mill animation studio. The backgrounds are also made with an intense amount of detail.

But while Arcane is sure enough a spectacle to behold as far as gaming TV shows go, it’s also one of the best-looking animated TV shows in years. I don’t think I’ve seen animation quite like Arcane since Spider-Man: Into The Spiderverse. I know it’s not a TV show but it has to be the closest comparison.

Arcane animation
Image: Netflix

Comparing it to other big animated shows out there right now is a sorry situation. Shows like Big Mouth, Star Trek: Lower Decks and Rick and Morty just don’t come close to this kind of look. Even a show like Archer which looked completely unique when it first came out now kind of looks done and tired, especially after 12 seasons. 

The situation’s a bit dire too. Upcoming animated shows like Chicago Party Aunt and The Prince use Family Guy’s DNA using easily replicable assets that don’t require the same of detail as… well, a show using highly detailed 3D models and backgrounds.

It’d be great to see other shows lean into what Arcane is doing. All of the shows I’ve mentioned in comparison are comedies, which is the genre western animation usually tackles. Don’t get me wrong, that’s fine, but we know that a show with this quality of animation is possible. To me, this is an obvious throughline as to why anime has seen a surge in popularity in western audiences – it’s actually interesting to look at… and a lot of the time it’s just more interesting.

Arcane animated
Image: Netflix

The DNA of Arcane’s animation is the cinematics that went into its creation – the very things that made many fans aware of the game’s existence in the first place. Such things were treats to fans as they weren’t very long and were always amazing – they were always something that there wasn’t much of, but gosh was it special when one came out. Now a full show? We’re really spoilt.

Let’s hope Arcane is the first of many shows like this.

The first three episodes of Arcane are out on Netflix now.