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Shows To Watch If You Like Netflix's Arcane

To call "Arcane" a success would be an understatement of colossal proportions. It became clear that the "League of Legends" Netflix show was shaping up to be a hit when the first batch of reviews rolled in, but the plaudits just didn't stop coming. "Arcane" kept on breaking records and climbing charts, quickly earning (and, at the time of this writing, maintaining) a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and entering IMDb's all-time top 250 list at number 12, sitting just above "Game of Thrones." Critics and viewers alike were blown away by the stunning animation, the character development, and the world-building on offer, and calls for a second season began before the first one had wrapped.

"Arcane" Season 2 was officially confirmed the day after the final three episodes of Season 1 dropped, though there was no hint of a release date. Fans were left bracing themselves for what could be a pretty lengthy wait, but, in the meantime, Looper has your back. We've put together a list of shows that will help you scratch that "Arcane" itch: from live-action steampunk adventures and underrated CG fantasies to the anime that will transport you to Piltover, this is what you should be watching if you loved "Arcane."

Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion

His bright purple eyes make him look like a Shimmer user, but the only thing Lelouch vi Britannia is addicted to is revenge. This exiled prince is the lead character in "Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion," an anime adventure set in an alternate timeline. In this world, Henry VIII had a male heir, and it changed everything. Years later, the fictional Queen Elizabeth III was ousted by Napoleon and forced to flee to the British colonies in America. When we enter the story, the whole of the Americas is known as the Holy Britannian Empire, one of three world powers (the other two being the Chinese Federation and Europa United, an African-European superstate).

Lelouch left his homeland for Japan when his father failed to stop his mother's murder, and he has never forgiven him. When Britannia invades Japan and renames it Area 11, he vows to stand up for his adopted home and bring down his dad's oppressive, technologically advanced Empire. After gaining the power of Geass — which lets him command anyone to do whatever he wishes once, and once only — he dons a mask and becomes known as the vigilante, Zero. The stark difference between Britannia and the rundown Area 11 will strike a chord with "Arcane" fans (in place of "The Lanes," there's the "Shinjuku Ghetto"), and so will the character designs, done in the CLAMP style and more closely resembling video game characters than regular anime ones.

Carnival Row

If you're after something with "Arcane" vibes in a live-action format, then the highly underrated "Carnival Row" is a good place to start. One of the draws of the hit animated Netflix show was its commentary on class division, and discrimination is front and center in Amazon's "Carnival Row," a neo-noir fantasy series with steampunk overtones. It takes place in a world that's not unlike the "League of Legends" one, populated with a wide variety of mythical and imaginary races. The human city of The Burgue sees an influx of these foreign creatures as war ravages their homelands and tensions quickly boil over, with the desperate newcomers receiving a less-than-warm welcome. Many live in the Gloamingside neighborhood, which is mockingly dubbed Carnival Row by the angry locals.

Cara Delevingne leads the line as Vignette Stonemoss, a fae who comes to the big city and discovers that her former lover (a half-fae cop named Rycroft Philostrate, played by Orlando Bloom) has become an Inspector of the Burgue Constabulary. Like stifled rich girl-turned-Piltover Enforcer Caitlyn Kiramman ("Harry Potter" alum Katie Leung) in "Arcane," Philo sympathizes with those less fortunate and is often mocked for it. He's determined to bring harmony to The Burgue, though his investigations into a string of murders lead him to the realization that it isn't the shining beacon of humanity it purports to be.


Part of the appeal of "Arcane" is the imaginative designs of Piltover, the sleek and stylish "City of Progress," and The Lanes, the neon-lit undercity that formed in the canyons below it. The main setting of the Netflix anime series "Dorohedoro" is something of a mixture of the two, one that "Arcane" fans will feel right at home in. It's known as the Hole, a favela-like labyrinth that's heavily polluted thanks to the work of the Sorcerers. These magic users cross over from their realm looking for humans to experiment on, which is how the show's hot-tempered protagonist, Caiman, came to have a lizard's head.

"Dorohedoro" follows Caiman's attempts to locate the Sorcerer that cursed him, and he isn't afraid to use all those teeth to get the answers he needs (his exploits lead to him being dubbed the Magician Killer). At his side is Nikaido, a skilled fighter and the owner of the Hungry Bug, a gyoza restaurant in the Hole. Caiman goes crazy for Nikaido's gyozas, but what he doesn't know is that his new companion is a secret magic user. She was born a Sorcerer, but after one of her spells went terribly wrong as a young girl, she ran away to the Hole and learned how to fight with her fists, instead. If anyone here could go toe-to-toe with "Arcane" resident slugger Vi (Hailee Steinfeld), it's Nikaido.

Into the Badlands

Visual flair, imaginative fight scenes, and steampunk aesthetics are three key ingredients in the "Arcane" recipe, and one show that has all of these in abundance is AMC's "Into The Badlands," which aired for three seasons between 2015 and 2019. Like the hit Netflix show, it's a story of haves and have-nots set in a barely recognizable world. Years of war have ravaged the United States and the Badlands are under the control of Barons who have monopolized fuel and opium. They use "cogs" (slaves who keep their businesses running and their wallets fat) and "clippers" (private armies that do their every bidding) to maintain control.

Daniel Wu stars as Sunny, the head clipper of the baddest Baron in all of the Badlands. In a nod to the classic samurai film "Shogun Assassin" (the show was also inspired by the movies of Jet Li, Jackie Chan, and Bruce Lee, Wu has confirmed), Sunny wanders from place to place with a boy named M.K. (Aramis Knight), who claims to be from a mythical city located outside the Badlands. After rescuing him from kidnappers and putting him into clipper training, Sunny realizes that M.K. holds an extraordinary power and yearns to know more about Azra, the teen's birthplace. Wu is incredible in every action scene he's in, and he's not the only one, as Eleanor Matsuura (who looks very much like an "Arcane" Enforcer during her showdown with Emily Beecham's Widow) shines as Baron Chau.

The Dragon Prince

Before "Arcane" arrived to take the crown, "The Dragon Prince" was arguably the most popular animated show on Netflix, with the first three seasons all boasting a 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. A perfect Tomatometer score isn't the only thing that "The Dragon Prince" has in common with "Arcane," however. The "League of Legends" series was lauded for its unique animation style ("The backgrounds are digitally hand-painted and the texture on the characters is crafted to get that graphical look that fits with the environment," Barthelemy Maunoury, the show's director of animation, told Mashable), setting the bar high for CG shows. It might not be quite as eye-catching, but "The Dragon Prince" is visually similar, with vivid landscapes and character designs that aren't quite proportionate but look human enough to connect with.

It's the story of a thousand-year conflict between the mythical creatures of Xadia (who draw magic from six sources: the Earth, the Ocean, the Sun, the Moon, the Stars, and the Sky) and the kingdoms of humankind. As humans cannot access primal magic they turn to dark magic instead, using their otherworldly neighbors as a living magic source. Like "Arcane," there's been wrongdoing on both sides over the years, and it makes for a fascinating political fantasy. It's also worth noting that The Key of Aaravos (a dice-like cube with runes representing the six Primal Sources) is strikingly similar to the Hextech that features prominently in "Arcane."

Gurren Lagann

Gunslinging females and an undercity fighting oppressive topsiders? It's not "Arcane," but "Gurren Lagann," the beloved late-00s mecha series from Gainax (the animation house behind "Neon Genesis Evangelion" and "Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honnêamise", one of the best anime films ever made). It's a world with huge scope, one in which a tyrant named Lordgenome (a.k.a the Spiral King) rules the surface world. With the help of his ruthless Beastmen (creatures created by splicing the DNA of humans and animals), he embarks on a brutal scourge of the land. The remnants of humanity are forced to take refuge in subterranean villages.

One such village comes under attack after a digger named Simon hatches his latest plan to reach the surface. A giant Gunman mecha comes crashing through the ceiling followed by a girl named Yoko, who seems intent on destroying it. Yoko arrives in a blaze of bullets that would make Jinx (voiced by Ella Purnell, who spoke exclusively to Looper about bringing the popular "League of Legends" champion to life) proud, swinging in on a rope and firing her huge gun at the intruder. She saves Simon and his friend, Kamina, and then joins them on Team Gurren, a group dedicated to reaching the surface world. Like "Arcane," things get more serious as the show progresses — the opening act is pretty lighthearted, but the longer you stick with "Gurren Lagann," the darker and more nuanced it becomes.


The idea of a dark and dingy city existing beneath a glitzy metropolis is given the real-world treatment in "Neverwhere," a classic BBC series from the mind of Neil Gaiman. This urban fantasy series unfolds in a realm called London Below, a place that co-exists with the famous city we're familiar with. Up-and-coming businessman Richard Mayhew (Gary Bakewell) accidentally enters this hidden realm after helping a mysterious woman named Door, and he soon discovers that he cannot return to London Above. Door, it transpires, is the daughter of a noble family who has inherited the ability to open portals. She's hunted by hitmen as Richard tries desperately to keep her safe.

While the special effects haven't aged particularly well ("Neverwhere" debuted back in 1996, and it shows), the world that Gaiman created doesn't get old. The fantasy writer's set-up — an invisible society comprised of homeless people, runaways, and magical beings based on London landmarks existing in the sewers below the city — remains a fascinating one. The show has a few memorable cameos: "Doctor Who" star Peter Capaldi appears as The Angel Islington, an actual angel who got assigned to London Below after failing to prevent the destruction of Atlantis, while Trevor Peacock plays Old Bailey, named after the city's well-known criminal court. Like "Arcane," life is far more dangerous in the undercity, though (again, like "Arcane"), it's also a lot more interesting.

Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

"Arcane" is a tale of two siblings torn apart by a force they don't fully understand, and the same can be said of the classic steampunk fantasy series "Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood," which remains top of the MyAnimeList chart over a decade after its release. The second anime adaptation of Hiromu Arakawa's manga series is far superior to the first (2003's "Fullmetal Alchemist" was made when the manga was still ongoing and deviated from the story significantly), and it's ideal for "Arcane" fans.

It takes place in a world where the science of alchemy is widespread and users do extraordinary things using its power. Utilizing Transmutation Circles, alchemists can deconstruct matter and rearrange it at will, giving them the ability to create whatever they need and/or desire. However, just like Hextech (which, according to "League of Legends" lore, utilizes elemental and spirit magic), there are rules that must be followed. When brothers Edward and Alphonse Elric ignore the principles of alchemy in an attempt to bring back their dead mother, they almost pay the ultimate price.

Edward loses his left leg when the transmutation backfires, and Alphonse loses his entire body. Edward offers up his right arm in exchange for Alphonse's soul, which he binds to a nearby suit of armor. Edward grows up to become a State Alchemist and, with the help of his Sevika-style automail limbs, he and Alphonse go in search of the philosopher's stone, the only thing that can restore their bodies.

The Case Study of Vanitas

If Piltover reminded you of Paris, France, that's no accident. Fortiche Production, the animation house behind Netflix's "Arcane," is based in the famous French capital, and the city had a huge influence on the show. Piltover, the so-called "City of Progress," takes inspiration from Paris in numerous ways, some more subtle than others. There's a scene in which Vi and Caitlyn parkour past a funicular like the one seen in the trendy Montmartre neighborhood, and it's being held up by an iron structure akin to the Eiffel Tower.

Those familiar with the Paris cityscape will find the world of "Arcane" familiar, but Fortiche went further than mimicking monuments: there's an art deco theme used throughout Piltover, while The Lanes have more of an art nouveau vibe, the style associated with Paris' underground metro stations. If this aspect of "Arcane" was particularly pleasing to you, then it's worth trying "The Case Study of Vanitas," an anime set in 19th century Paris that mixes supernatural and steampunk elements.

It's the story of a man who uses a tome called The Book of Vanitas to cure vampires of "malnomen," the disease that makes them act like predators when their bloodlust takes hold. With the vampire Noé Archiviste as his companion, he sets out to heal as many vampires as possible and prove that cohabitation is possible. It ticks a lot of boxes for "Arcane" fans, both on a visual level and in terms of storytelling.


Released a few months before "Arcane" took Netflix by storm, the anime series "86" feels like it could live in the same universe. The setting is the Republic of San Magnolia, which keeps its citizens blind to the true nature of its decade-long war against the Empire of Giad. To combat Giad's mechanical, autonomous fighting units (known as Legions), the Republic came up with its own version, which it dubbed Juggernauts. What the general public is blissfully unaware of is that the Juggernauts are actually piloted by soldiers from a San Magnolia minority group that has been getting persecuted by the bigoted government for years.

The Colorata people are seen as subhuman by the majority Alba government, and that attitude has filtered into San Magnolia society. That doesn't sit well with Major Vladilena "Lena" Milizé, the Caitlyn Kiramman of the story. Like Caitlyn, Lena comes from a noble family and serves as an officer in the military. Both stand up against the treatment of those seen as less than they are, uncovering the dark side of their so-called advanced societies along the way. "86" is a story of discrimination, class divides, and the horrors of conflict, themes that will certainly resonate with "Arcane" fans. It's very easy on the eye (the animation from A-1 Pictures is varied but consistently stunning) and it's perfectly paced, hurtling along at a breakneck speed while never feeling rushed. Sound familiar?


"Texhnolyze" is one for the deep thinking "Arcane" viewers out there, a slow-burning anime that isn't afraid to leave you sitting in silence while the animation does the talking. A show that's been described as both experimental and surrealist, it takes place in the underground location of Lux, a rundown city that is seen as near-sentient by its inhabitants. Like Piltover and The Lanes, the location is almost a character in itself, playing a huge part in the lives of the people who live there. It's far closer to The Lanes (or Zaun, to give the cavernous area below the big city its independent name) than it is to Piltover, however, both in terms of appearance and power structure.

There are a number of factions in Lux, one of which (the Organo) has connections with the criminal gangs that control Texhnolyze, the prosthetic limbs that the show is named after. We follow a prizefighter named Ichise, who loses a leg and an arm after crossing the wrong promotor. He's left for dead, but a scientist discovers him before he passes away and fits him with Texhnolyze during an experimental procedure. Ichise begins working with the Organo and, with the help of psychic seer Ran (whose creepy mask looks like something from the Firelights' wardrobe) and Yoshii (a well-meaning visitor from the surface world), they attempt to save the beloved but broken city from civil war.