Is League Of Legends Arcane an Anime?

    I’m kind of amazed at the evolution of anime in pop culture. Anime has grown from a niche hobby to a worldwide phenomenon. With studios not relegated to being just in Japan, we have seen an outpour of animated shows from all over the world. But here in lies the question: Are all animated shows, like League Of Legends: Arcane, anime?

    Anime isn’t for kids anymore. It can be as serious and impactful as any media made for adults. From premises that explore death and how it impacts us, to dystopia and war, to murder mysteries, anime has something for everyone. So, what happens when animation studios all across the globe start emulating the diversity of anime in Japan?

    League Of Legends: Arcane is a computer-animated series produced by Netflix, which was rated as one of the most critically acclaimed releases of 2021. Praised for its extensive world-building and emotional depth of characters, this was a breakout series. But it left people wondering where it stands in the animation stratosphere. Personally, it’s not an anime, though I can understand the confusion.

    We’ve seen a variety of top-tier animations come out on various platforms over the years. One of the earliest examples of this was Nickelodeon’s Avatar: The Last Airbender, which ended up being so successful it landed a series of light novels and a sequel series, Avatar: The Legend Of Korra. And the success continued, with recent shows like Castlevania and Voltron: Legendary Defenders. But their art style alone doesn’t make them anime, does it?

    So, what’s the deal with these non-Japanese animations and anime? Let’s dissect this conundrum, using League Of Legends: Arcane as our subject.

    What’s The Source Material Scoop?

    Jinx Wallpaper Arcane League of Legends Piltover

    Now, traditionally anime is almost exclusively adapted from some manga. But there are instances of some taking their stories from light novels or even popular games. There is also the rare anime that don’t have any source material, being completely original works like Cowboy Bebop or Code Geass: Lelouch Of The Rebellion.

    So where does Arcane stand here? Well, Arcane is situated in the universe of League Of Legends, a MOBA (Multiplayer Online Battle Arena) game created by American-based Riot Games. The story chronicles Vi and Jinx, two sisters caught on opposite sides of a war that is bubbling under the surface. It’s the rich utopians of Piltover VS the impoverished and dubious Zaun underground.  

    It Takes A (Global) Village for Arcane

    Jinx vs Vi Wallpaper Arcane League of Legends Piltover

    League Of Legends: Arcane isn’t a single country endeavor. This behemoth of a show was given its unique and gritty art style by Fortiche, a French animation studio. The amazing voice acting was courtesy of a variety of voice actors from America, the UK, and other countries, speaking in English. And some of the characters in League are part of a pop band, that sings in Korean and Chinese. (K/DA stans, I remember you!)

    So again, there is no distinction here that implies any Japanese-centric influence. But we do have a ton of other countries influencing the world of League. You can catch a bunch of pop culture tropes here, from the dystopian segregation ala Hunger Games to the steampunk elements that get their retro-futuristic style from the 19th-century industrial revolution.

    What Makes An Anime ‘Anime’ (And Why Arcane Isn’t One)

    Jinx Wallpaper Arcane League of Legends Piltover Madness not a good subheading but it’s the best one you’re getting so bear with me here. Anime has taken a life of its own. We’ve already discussed its impact but what are its origins?

    Anime is a term for any animated work in Japan. Be it local or outsourced, all animations are considered anime in Japan. Hence, Arcane is also called an anime over there. But of course, it isn’t! Its 3D style, the language, the source material, none of it involve Japanese influence.

    But that’s the beauty of language, it doesn’t make any sense. For example, the world recognizes Champagne as sparkling wine made in a specific region in France. Any sparkling wine outside of it is just sparkling wine. But the locals call all sparkling wine Champagne, homegrown or not.

    Similarly, anime has transcended its humble beginning. Yes, animations made in Japan based on Japanese source material are obviously anime. But so are Japanese animations based on Korean manhwa such as Tower Of God. But not shows like Castlevania, which is based on a Japanese game series, but is produced by a Western studio. And certainly not animated adult shows like the Simpsons. (Though, that one show intro where Lisa was dressed as Sailor Moon was a choice.)

    So, lines are getting crossed here. Not every mature animated show is an anime, but all animation from Japan is. And in Japan alone, all animated works (local or international) are deemed as anime. Sorry Jinx fans, this one might be a doozy. While Arcane is an amazing, animated show, it still isn’t an anime!

    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi
    Anza Qureshi is a writer, licensed dentist and certified Uchiha fangirl. When she isn't doing root canals or listing down anime waifus, you can find her screeching about her favorite JRPGs across social media.

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