Alyson J. 2023 | BASIS Independent Silicon Valley
- Project Title: Arcane: League of Legends: Animating Women from Video Games Without Catering to the "Male Lens"
- Basis Independent Advisor: Jon Noble
Arcane: League of Legends (Arcane) is an animated show produced by Riot Games as an extension of their popular video game, League of Legends. Since its release in 2021, Arcane has received 4 Emmys in addition to widespread recognition for its animation, story, worldbuilding, and characters. However, while the remarkable blend of 3D and 2D animation in Arcane has already been praised for its revolutionary effect on the animation genre, I intend to analyze specifically how the art contributes not only to the show’s reputation, but the actual content and themes within. Specifically, through an in-depth examination of the main plotline and a study of the production, animation and writing process behind the show, I intend to study how Arcane’s development of female characters and lesbian relationships is enhanced by the specialized combination of realism and cartoon-animation in the show’s art style, which has enabled the show to portray nuanced, complex women without catering to male fantasies or one-off stereotypes. In addition to the show’s contents, I will consider its unique status as an adaptation from a well-known video game almost entirely dominated by a male audience. The deliberate changes made between the videogame character designs and the show’s marks a change in the intentions of both the creators and Arcane’s target audience. This, in combination with its remarkably positive reception across all audiences and critics, has resulted in a significant cultural effect wherein the very notion of adult animation has been shifted from the standard 2D animated, cartoonish media that has been popularized in the early 90s and 2000s.