Arcane

Two sisters in Arcane tv show

Credits

Cast

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Reviewer

Emily Clark

TV Series Review

Twin cities Piltover and Zaun couldn’t be more different.

In Piltover, the people have plenty. They are governed by the Council and protected by the Enforcers. People come from all around to study at their illustrious science academy. And nobody ever goes hungry.

But in Zaun, or the “Undercity,” people are starving. Crooks double-cross each other. Children are raised to steal what they need to live and fight to the death. And everyone lives in fear of the Enforcers.

Several years back, two men named Vander and Silco led a revolt against Piltover. They crossed the bridge between the two cities … and lost.

Many people died that night, but Vander found a way to protect those who lived. He betrayed Silco and made a deal with the Enforcers: He keeps his people off the streets of Piltover from now on, and the Enforcers will stay out of the Undercity’s business.

This arrangement has run smoothly for a while now. But tensions in Zaun are rising.

Sister Cities

Vi and Powder, Vander’s adoptive daughters, aren’t satisfied with their meager lives in Zaun—a sentiment shared by many of the city’s youth.

They beg Vander to let them fight for a better life, not knowing about his agreement with the Enforcers. So, when he says “no” without further explanation, they take matters into their own hands.

The girls go topside to steal from a wealthy resident, unwittingly setting off a domino effect leading to war between the two cities.

The man they steal from has been working on combining magic and technology. “Hextech,” he calls it. It’s not been that successful, but after the girls accidentally set off a bomb in his lab, he figures out how to better harness the magic’s power—referred to here as the arcane.

Additionally, Vander learns that Silco is still alive. And he’s been experimenting with his own version of Hextech ever since Vander’s betrayal. He uses a potion to mutate one of his goons and sets the beast on several Enforcers and Vander.

Vi and Powder rush to Vander’s rescue, but Powder’s actions lead to the deaths of several people, including Vander.

Harsh words and hot emotions rip the sisters apart. And now, they’re fighting on opposite sides of the war between Zaun and Piltover.

Arcane Ideals

Based on the online battle arena game, League of Legends, Netflix’s animated Arcane contains similar elements—war, lots of blood, and magic.

We learn that Piltover’s Council has banned the use of magic because of the destruction it causes. And we see this at work. Powder uses a magical gem to create a bomb that inadvertently kills several of her friends. Silco’s magical mutant rips a man apart before his adoptive child’s eyes. But despite this, once the Council learns technology might be able to control the arcane, they reconsider using it in the upcoming battle against Zaun.

But even when magic’s not involved, the body count in this show is high. People beat the tar out of each other. Blood spurts out of orifices. Bodies pile up. And even children aren’t immune from danger.

Language is harsh. We hear everything up to and including the s-word. In the Undercity, we see several scantily-clad prostitutes outside a brothel (one of whom is trans). People are forced to lie, cheat and steal in order to get by.

Arcane is about the war between sister cities Zaun and Piltover. It’s also about the battle between sisters Vi and Powder. But even if Netflix provides a touching story about sisterhood, the muck of content families will have to wade through probably isn’t worth it.

Episode Reviews

Nov. 6, 2021: “Welcome to the Playground”

Sisters Vi and Powder go on a mission to steal valuable items from a rich Topsider.

We see people fighting in a battle filled with blood, explosions and dead bodies. Two young girls see the corpses of their parents in the aftermath. A man is tortured and beaten. Someone feeds a rat a magical potion—which mutates it into a monster—and the rat eats a cat (we see the cat’s blood splatter on a window).

Several teenagers break into a man’s home and steal his possessions. They accidentally set off a magical bomb (which injures many people) and are chased by law enforcement, whom they give the slip in the sewers. Later, they get into a fight with several thugs who try to take what they stole.

Vi is chastised by Vander for leading Powder and their friends into danger. He talks to her about leadership and using it wisely. And he explains that if Zaun uses violence, Piltover will respond with more violence. Two boys blame Powder for a failed mission, calling her an assortment of mean names. (Vi defends her sister, though.)

We see several scantily-clad prostitutes outside a brothel (including a trans person) flirting with patrons. A man exits the brothel with a long shirt covering his nether-region.

Many people drink and smoke. There is lying, cheating, stealing and double-crossing. We hear several uses of the s-word, as well as “a–,” “d–n,” “h—” and “p-ss.” A billboard shows a painting of a crude hand gesture.

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Emily Clark
Emily Clark

Emily studied film and writing when she was in college. And when she isn’t being way too competitive while playing board games, she enjoys food, sleep, and indulging in her “nerdom,” which is the collective fan cultures of everything she loves, such as Star Wars and Lord of the Rings.

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