Riot Games has just dropped a full-length trailer for their League of Legends animated TV series Arcane, releasing November 6th. Arcane calls upon tried and tested talent to provide League of Legends fans and non-players alike with what may be the next big Netflix animation hit. With animation veterans in Paris-based Fortiche Productions and big-name actresses like Hailee Steinfeld and Ella Purnell playing the leads, it’s clear Riot Games wants to make a splash at the end of their League of Legends World Championship coverage. But can they achieve a game-to-animation adaptation on the level of Dota: Dragon’s Blood or Castlevania, or will the studio’s sometimes inconsistent writing ruin this opportunity?

Arcane centres around two of League of Legends‘ older champions. The first is Vi, an amnesiac pink-haired bruiser-style champion that fights with giant mechanical gloves, taking her name from a small VI tattoo on her left cheek. Lore-wise she plays the hot-headed police officer partner to Caitlyn, with the two fighting crime together against various criminals and other League champions—something you can see play out in spectacular fashion in the 2020 Blur Studios animated promotional video ‘Warriors.’ In-game Vi is voiced by Cia Court while her Arcane voice actress is Hailee Steinfeld.

The second lead character is Jinx, a Harley-Quinn-slash-Tiny-Tina maniacal gun-slinger who has an obsession with explosions (her production name was Psycho Arsenal if that helps). Jinx has featured in a few of Riot’s videos but most notably is the star of their (name related) ‘Get Jinxed’ music video, with vocals by Agnete Kjolsrund, though her video game voice actress is Sarah Williams and her Arcane voice actress is Ella Purnell. 

While the two were theorised to be estranged sisters in game, there was initially no certainty, with Vi written as having lost her childhood memories and Jinx, well, presumably crazy. There has been confirmation given and retracted by developers in the past, but while it’s unclear which parts of the lore the series will cement or ignore (champion lore has undergone numerous retcons over the years) the new series provides confirmation that the two are siblings.

Arcane’s story seems to span the pair’s childhood years and looks to give us an origin story for the both of them, and potentially a host of other characters. Setting-wise, we’re placed in the steampunk city of Piltover and its undercity Zaun. The divided city is one of the strongest settings in Riot’s arsenal given the wealth of diverse characters with a variety of moral leanings, as well as the inherent conflict in a place with overtly segregated classes—an aspect that the trailer leans into strongly with key narration by Jason Spisak. 

The latest trailer gives us a glimpse of a variety of characters, which alongside some promotional posters released by Riot provides us with what seems a relatively deep cast. League players will quickly recognise the faces (though sometimes younger) of characters like Jayce, Caitlyn, Viktor, and Heimerdinger, alongside series-specific characters like Mel, Silco, and Vander—though there is speculation that the last two will evolve into more known characters over the course of the series.

Other likely, though unconfirmed, appearances include: Ekko, who has already made appearances in two Riot videos—“True Genius” and “Seconds”; Singed, a deranged scientist who was deeply affected by the discovery of hextech—which seems to occur during the show’s timeline; Warwick, a man turned monster with the aid of Singed and implied to have taught Vi how to punch; and Camille, cold-hearted agent of Clan Ferros, one of the leading clans in control of both Piltover and Zaun. 

It’s hard not to be sceptical of a Riot Games story, with fans reacting poorly to their multi-game story event Ruination earlier in the year, and ex-writers stating the company sees narrative as disposable. But the glimpses we get of Arcane are promising. Fortiche has brought its A-game and at very least their style seems polished and distinct. The colourful, painted look of the characters seems like a perfect fit for the steampunk elements of entwined technology and magic, and the fluid animation gives us hope for a story as dynamic and engaging as its visuals.