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I haven’t written many reviews on anime because I have traditionally felt that animation as a film / art form hadn’t realized it’s full potential. Studios like Studio Gibley have made some really well known and respected animations.

I couldn’t get into it.

It may have to do with the traditional oversexualization of women in animation, or maybe it has to do with way to many animations relying on art style instead of story to sell. But I have yet to find an anime that I would recommend to anybody else to watch. Because the important part about filmmaking is that it’s a multifaceted multi-complex factored equation that leads to a success. You need to have well flushed out characters and intriguing story lines all while having talented artists that can create an open world with their fingertips.

In my personal opinion, arcane is the best anime I have seen in a long time.

That’s not to say that there aren’t flaws though.

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Arcane suffers from some of the traditional television lows. The beginning of the show is extremely high-intensity and sucks you in with a lot of gravitas. Once you make it about 4 or 5 episodes in… Some of the plot points are very loosely tied together. In fact so much so that the motivation of the characters becomes a little bit frustrating and even more confusing for the average viewer.

If the overall point of creating a film is to tell a story, I couldn’t tell you how we got from the beginning of the story to the end of the story. There’s a transition bbout halfway through the show where we go through a time lapse between the character’s youth and the character’s adulthood. In this time spent a lot of things happen that aren’t adequately explained or justified throughout the rest of the course of the show.

One of the ways that they answer a couple of these key questions is by giving one of the main characters pretty severe PTSD. The explanation ends up working out but it’s not very clean.

Overall though, the rest of the show does hold up on its own. There are various subplots that tend to weave and bound episode to episode without needing to force on us a new plot line every time that we enter a new episode. The show does generally flow from episode to episode despite the little hiccup in the middle. More often than not character motivations make sense, there’s a classic class struggle between top percenters and those in poverty, and there are also themes of abuse, neglect, class-built expectations, and even the dangerousness of political posturing.

I have to give Riot some really big bonus points for what they have done with this animation. Even as a lay-back anime viewer, I can recognize the talent and expertise that went into building such an easily viewable experience. There were actually a couple of times the animation was so good it started to enter the uncanny valley for me.

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If you’re unfamiliar, The uncanny valley is a concept where humans recognize things that aren’t human but look extremely human like. One of the most common occurrences of The uncanny valley was when the movie cats came out a few years ago. The blend between animalistic and humanistic characteristics was so close and so tightly integrated that it ended up throwing so many people off of that film franchise. I haven’t personally seen cats but I have an idea that I wouldn’t like it either.

Arcane takes this to the next level, with animation styles that are sometimes so good it’s uncomfortable. It never made the viewing experience bad, but it was something I thought was interesting that they did really well.

Anyway, when it comes to the first anime show I’ve seen since before the pandemic, I give this one a solid 7.5 out of 10. Solid cinema.

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