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Arcane Takes the Lead
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Deadline have reported on data from Parrot Analytics which shows Netflix animated series Arcane now the leading digital original series with United States audiences.

But what does that really mean? We're going to dive in and find out.

While Netflix now publish viewer numbers for their top shows globally, they don't publish all of their data and most services publish none. Third party companies like Parrot attempt to fill in the blanks using a variety of measures to determine how "in demand" titles are.

Arcane trails Amazon's Wheel of Time and HBO's Game of Thrones, both based on acclaimed best selling series, but has now nosed ahead of the likes of Stranger Things and The Mandalorian.

With the exception of Star Trek: Discovery, most of the other shows in their list of competitors haven't just released new content. It's not a fair race.

Nevertheless this is an animated, adult drama. Western audiences traditionally haven't been very receptive to those.

Netflix v Netflix

How does Arcane compare to other Netflix titles?

In the United States Tiger King came first and Cowboy Bebop second, both also fresh content so perfect for comparison. Arcane is all the way down in 10th position.

In Australia, also Tiger King in first, but then Arcane in third and Cowboy Bebop in fifth.

In France where it was animated, Arcane came first with no sign of the other two.

Clearly US audiences still show a very strong preference for reality TV / documentary and live action over animation.

Arcane is doing much better in the US than many might expect for an animated title, but not as well as the Deadline piece and that single graph would suggest.

It will be interesting to watch that over time. US audiences might warm to it.

Should Anyone Care?

We've already expressed our view that the show is excellent but struck us as fantasy with a streak of steampunk. Not sci-fi. Though its creators disagree and we choose to respect that.

Whether or not you agree with them, there is potentially something very interesting happening with this title.

Arcane might open the door for western adult audiences to watch animated dramas in the same way that The Simpsons did for animated comedies.

This content is unabashedly adult from the outset. In an early scene we see a pantless man - genitals not on display though - stumbling out of a brothel. Not a kid's show.

And the art style is also unique for adult animation.

Character appearance looks fairly typical for an animated series. There's an anime influence but it has been built upon and married with their environments, which are gorgeous and quite distinctive.

You're watching art in motion accompanied by a very solid story.

It's slightly mesmerizing.

In this week's episode of Ion Sci-Fi, our guest comic artist Daniel Picciotto mentions America, Japan and France as where the comic art industries are big.

Arcane is animated by French studio Fortiche Production and the style and calibre we see in it might speak to that.

What Could It Mean For Sci-Fi?

While special effects are becoming both more impressive and less expensive, live-action series will always have budgets and many sci-fi books and games occupy wildly expensive territory for potential adaptation.

Animated titles still cost money to develop and produce but can, for example, accomodate non-humanoid aliens much more easily and cheaply than live-action. Also without requiring actors to spend several hours every day having make up and prosthetics applied and removed.

Live-action will probably continue to be more popular and profitable but Arcane might nudge open the door for a wider range of serious and great quality sci-fi to be made in the not too distant future.

[ Main Image: Arcane. Credit: Riot Games via YouTube. ]


Haring, Bruce (November 24, 2021). Netflix’s ‘Arcane’ Is No. 1 Digital Original Series With US Audiences, Claims Report. Deadline.

Netflix (November 1, 2021). Arcane | Final Trailer | Netflix. YouTube.

Netflix. Top 10 TV Series - November 15 - November 21 2021 (Australia).

Netflix. Top 10 TV Series - November 15 - November 21 2021 (France).

Netflix. Top 10 TV Series - November 15 - November 21 2021 (United States).

Wikipedia. Arcane (TV series). (viewed November 30, 2021)