WARNING: This article contains spoilers of Arcane and DOTA: Dragon’s Blood.
Dota 2 and League of Legends are games that both comprise a significant part of my life. Upon discovering these monolithic games would be adapted into Netflix series, I felt an unexplainable amount of joy. However, now that Arcane and DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Season 3 are over, that joy has fleeted; the party is gone, and I’m left feeling empty. The question is not “why do I feel empty,” but rather “what made me feel.”
In this article, I ask many questions and unbiasedly answer many more to pinpoint which of the two series impacted me the most. The objective is not to needlessly pick them apart but to allow these magnificent animations to shine and illuminate their cracks. Here, we dive into why one is better than the other, not to dissuade but to accentuate the craftsmanship within these masterpieces that made us all feel something.
The Existential Crisis That Is Living In Reality
In Arcane, the common theme is an entangled livelihood: being thrown in a constant tug-o-war between two antagonistic sides. Whether it be Piltover and Zaun, Vi and Jinx, or Caitlyn and Jayce, there are always two sides to the story. Naturally, some stories are more complicated than most, but none aren’t meaningful. In this constant attracting and repelling flow, Arcane produces suspense and drama, drawing out medleys of emotion.
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On the other hand, DOTA: Dragon’s Blood is an inflating balloon that never seems to pop. As a result, there are always more significant troubles to face above each problem. In this constant, the balance of power seems less powerful but more unending. If strength means embracing power, the characters within DOTA: Dragon’s Blood seem to have an unlimited pool of it, making them increasingly bloody strong.
Perhaps most striking is that the shows are completely different in scope, but share one thing: reality and the notion that death and life are uncontrollable forces. Every character faces it at some point. It is in these moments of existential crisis that the shows shine brightest.
It’s these short and familiar moments of humanity we’ve become akin to, do both series resonate with us the most. Although Arcane and DOTA: Dragon’s Blood feature a more chaotic and ruthless reality, that sense of connection slowly building up makes both series feel more alive.
‘A Hop, Skip, And A Jump’ In Storytelling
There’s no doubting the excellence in detail captured by both DOTA: Dragon’s Blood and Arcane’s story writers. Their craftsmanship in depicting the universes from League of Legends and Dota 2 into a more understandable form is impeccable.
But what differentiates perfection from near-perfect is evidently seen through the pacing of narrative and storytelling throughout each series. Although DOTA: Dragon’s Blood has three seasons under its belt, Arcane’s handful of episodes is always meaningful and void of needlessness.
Every minute has a purpose, whether it be giving the viewer a break to feed on information or conveying the story, Arcane was concise in its storytelling but not lacking impact within its narrative.
Contrary, DOTA: Dragon’s Blood wasn’t as streamlined with its narrative approach. The first two seasons felt fantastic to watch, albeit sometimes there were random scenes only understandable to Dota 2 enthusiasts. Still, there was an objective. An objective that didn’t feel filled with too much eye-turning nuisance.
DOTA: Dragon’s Blood turned for the worse in Season 3. The entire story twists from one antagonist to another quickly enough to make anyone feel dissatisfied. Initially focused on dragons and demons, the story sharply redirects toward the ancients, reality-warping, and catastrophic events.
It’s not the concepts that make it feel awkward, but the rushed and unfulfilling conclusion DOTA: Dragon’s Blood arrives at in the series.
The Distinction Between Greatness And Perfection
It’s almost impossible to find anything beyond both series’ storylines that could take away from the experience. DOTA: Dragon’s Blood has marvelous fight scenes, while Arcane enchants its viewers through melodic soundtracks. Each is unique to themselves but not too far off the tree.
However, the distinction between greatness and perfection is a thin line, only as thin as the competition we’re comparing from one thing to another. DOTA: Dragon’s Blood failed to pass that line, while Arcane had no trouble being the criterion.
If DOTA: Dragon’s Blood Season were different, so would this verdict. But it’s in this change of storytelling, and lack of clarity does it fall short behind Arcane.
There was an opportunity to end the series in such an ultimate way, but the extension and expansion of its narrative felt more filler than an actual story. If the grasp of reality and inevitability was the goal, DOTA: Dragon’s Blood achieved it, but at the cost of losing its viewers' satisfaction, including mine.
In conclusion, DOTA: Dragon’s Blood doesn’t meet the gold-standard Arcane has set, despite having more episodes. However, will it redeem itself if another season comes to be? That’s hard to say.
After all, the magic of storytelling always seems to be the most charming when first experienced. But, at the end of all this, I realize I’m not empty; but yearning to relive the magic of Arcane and DOTA: Dragon's Blood that made me feel alive, one more time.
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All featured images are courtesy of Valve Corporation or Riot Games.