How “Arcane” Became a “Love Letter” for the IP and the Player of “League Of Legends” – Deadline
The red carpet has arrived at Runeterra as Riot Games takes its first big plunge into entertainment with Esoteric, an animated series based on the very popular video game League of Legends.
Launched in 2009, League of Legends is a MOBA (Online Multiplayer Battle Arena) game that sees two teams of five players fight for power and land through different types of playable characters, called Champions. League has since grown into a staple in the esports world and an intellectual property that spawned music videos, cutscenes, comics, and lore – much of it. For his television debut, Riot starts at the top – exploring the origin stories of several of LeagueNotable champions. Located in the utopian region of Piltover and the basement of Zaun, Esoteric follows sisters Jinx and Vi, voiced by Ella Purnell and Hailee Steinfeld respectively, and the dramatic chain of events that have made them some of Runeterra’s most powerful champions. As the sisters seek to reunite, an obscure power causes violence and chaos, threatening to pull them apart.
“I think we’ve always had this dream of creating a bigger experience where it’s not just a show and you let it go, but it’s really something where we can create a topic of conversation for people who liked this IP and the characters for such a long time, ” Esoteric co-creator and showrunner Christian Linke told Deadline.
Linke, also a creative director at Riot, said he and co-creator Alex Yee entered into Esoteric without any prior knowledge of creating a television series. The “extremely difficult task” of adapting the beloved IP for television began, as most projects do, with a central focus. Linke and Yee, who have both been with Riot for over a decade, saw their connection to the flagship game and sister champions as a starting point. Esoteric turned out to be a chance to deepen the complicated dynamics of the sister-turned-rival, Linke said.
In addition to channeling his own relationship and understanding of the character’s backstory, he said the siblings’ origin stories seemed like a strong enough entry point for those who didn’t know. League to connect with the series. The elder Vi cares deeply for her sister, but struggles to balance obligation with her own values when a fatal incident tests their bond.
“I don’t think it matters that you’ve seen the backdrop or the MacGuffin they’re fighting against before,” he added. “I think he just needs to have the substance, and that’s what we’ve been trying so hard to find.”
Beyond a dramatic sibling-focused narrative thorn, the nine-episode series boasts a vibrant, painting-like animation style from Fortiche Productions that both feels ‘authentic’ to gamers. dedicated and helps the series reach its bolder tone. For Linke and the rest of the Rioters behind the series, “it was very important that the story took the audience seriously.” Animation has a reputation for doing just that while inviting audiences into full-fledged fantasy worlds, Linke said, citing Studio Ghibli and anime titles. Your name, Akira and Cowboy Bebop.
Through the style of Fortiche, Esoteric conveys the seriousness of living in Zaun’s delinquency, the limitless ambitions and pristine order that defines Piltover, aka the City of Progress, and the tension that arises when the two collide.
While Esoteric Certainly looking to entertain, the Netflix series also gives Riot the opportunity to “combine all the muscles we’ve built over the years,” Linke said. With TV-sized animation, dialogues interpreted by a voice and a defined gaze on the ground, Esoteric relieves the burden of the imagination League players, giving them a tangible and more decisive presentation of Runeterra and the Champions.
“It struck me that we never saw any of our characters speak, because with our game you don’t get that angle,” he said. “[Arcane] allows us to explore things and sides of our characters that we have never been able to access. There are these questions where do they sleep? What are they eating? It’s all these little things that I think make a human, a human.
Esoteric may be an example of another Hollywood take on a beloved gaming IP, but Linke said it’s crucial that the animated series is more than just a gameplay adaptation, but also a celebration of the characters and of the kingdom who responded to over 600 million players over the past decade, by Riot.
From the outset, the League Community has always been a priority, Shauna Spenley, global president of Riot entertainment, told Deadline.
“The whole strategy of Esoteric is specifically [to] celebrate, [to] give our players more to love, ”Spenley said. “But when I look at the 10 year strategy, the holistic strategy is how to keep doing things that feel like creating a more immersive Runeterra and a League of Legends.“
Esoteric, which will be released in three chapters with three episodes, may be Riot’s first major milestone in entertainment, but the games company is only testing the waters of TV and film content for now, Spenley added. Not intending to create a full business unit dedicated to launching a roster of film and television projects from the get-go, Riot only focuses on the “constant sense of reinvention” that is at the heart of his concerns and engages actors for years. Of course, Riot will eventually get into live action, movies, and interactive content, Spenley added.
As the series launches on Netflix, Linke and the Rioters revel in the idea that Esoteric is “that love letter to IP … to animation and all the trades involved”, from music to sound design, dubbing and more.
“I’m really confident in the statement that everyone who works on these things feels like they’re working on the most important thing they’ve ever done in their profession,” Linke said.