‘Arcane’ is a new generation of mature animation for Netflix gamers


Vi bounces her leg when she’s nervous. It’s something she does throughout the first four episodes of Esoteric, the Netflix series based on League of Legends lore, and it’s a tiny but lovely habit. Vi’s leg shakes up and down in anxious anger as she argues with her friend from a squashed chair in their makeshift lair; later her knee bounces as she sits alone in a dark room, facing some disaster. It’s something that makes Vi feel real, like she has a story that she carries with her, as natural as her pink hair.

Although Esoteric packed with amazing action and delicious animation, little details like these really bring the world to life – only for Jinx to smash it to pieces.

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Warning: slight spoilers for the first four episodes of Esoteric before.

Esoteric begins with a quintessential class war story, depicting violent clashes between the wealthy citizens of Piltover and the criminal and oppressed society of Zaun, home to Vi, Jinx, and their crew. In the first three episodes, Vi and Jinx are children: Vi is the leader of a small gang of outlaw teenagers, while Jinx – who is actually called Powder at the time – is his little sister. , a few years of heist experience and growth spurts. behind the others. By the fourth episode, Vi and Jinx are older and on an equal footing, even when they find themselves on opposite sides.

The sisters begin surrounded by their chosen family members, including their father figure, Vander, who acts as the unofficial mayor of Zaun. A former resistance leader, Vander runs a bar called The Last Drop and tries to keep the peace with the Enforcers, Piltover’s militarized security team. Meanwhile, scientists in Piltover are poised to harness synthetic magic, while Zaun’s vilest forces create monster soldiers by feeding people a shimmering purple liquid. All in all, it is a recipe for war.

EsotericThe disparate worlds of are vibrant, vast and alive, Piltover gleaming with gold among the clouds and Zaun buried beneath the earth, filled with poisonous green light. The show itself is less like an anime and more like an almost R-rated Disney movie, with smooth character movements and elaborate environments, courtesy of Riot Games’ animation studio, Fortiche Production. The set appears to be the product of motion capture technology, but it’s hand-animated in a mix of 2D and 3D.

The fights in Esoteric are particularly beautiful. Vi is a boxer, diving with her fists raised, while Jinx has a bunch of semi-functional homemade grenades covered in scribbles, allowing her to participate from afar – even if she wants to be with the big kids, in the center of the action. . Bigger battles tend to take place in slow motion, with emotional electronic music echoing through the scenes and close-ups of vicious punches, heavy kicks, and last-second dodging. In wider angles, every image of these fights has wallpaper potential.


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Esoteric takes its time establishing characters and revealing how they’re all intertwined, and by the end of episode three that work crashes into a massive fight scene and pays off in powerful ways. In League of Legends lore, Vi and Jinx are bitter rivals, but in Esoteric, they start off as sisters with a deep and true love for each other. They support each other, save their lives and fall apart together. They feel inseparable. It takes something catastrophic to tear them apart, and Esoteric shows us every horrible second. It is heartbreaking.

It’s not just about Vi and Jinx, and there are plenty more League of Legends characters with main roles in Esoteric, including Viktor, Jayce, Ekko, Caitlyn and Heimerdinger. As a fan of the game, I feel a happy spark whenever I recognize a face or name in Esoteric, but that won’t take away from the experience if you don’t already know who these people are. It’s an origin story, after all.


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