By Andrew Webster, an entertainment editor covering streaming, virtual worlds, và every single Pokémon đoạn phim game. Andrew joined The Verge in 2012, writing over 4,000 stories.

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A pair of swords crosses on a rainswept battlefield. The fighters move gracefully, as if dancing. In between flashes of bloodshed, the pair argues about honor. It takes less than a minute for the viewer to lớn understand the fraught, difficult relationship between these two brothers. It sounds like a scene out of a samurai movie, but it’s from the latest animated short from League of Legends. Developer Riot has crafted a gorgeous anime đoạn phim to officially reveal the game’s latest champion: Yone, a sort of demonic samurai character.

These kinds of splashy, animated reveals aren’t new territory for Riot. But Yone’s cinematic — dubbed “Kin of the Stained Blade” — is longer & more ambitious than what the studio has attempted in the past. It clocks in at 10 minutes long và jumps back and forth between CG animation và hand-drawn anime art. “The scope was bigger, và the timeline was about the same,” jokes associate art director Mike Berry.

The animation is part of a current League event called “Spirit Blossom,” which brings an anime aesthetic lớn the venerable strategy game through character skins, a new dating sim-like narrative experience, and more. Yone serves as the showcase piece. A week ago, Riot released a brief anime đoạn clip called “The Path,” which explored a key moment in League of Legends lore. Yasuo is one of the game’s most popular characters, và he’s known as a tortured soul because he was forced khổng lồ kill his brother. You guessed it: his brother is Yone.

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According to Berry, there were various elements — the in-game event, a desire to lớn expand Yasuo’s backstory, and a fan base regularly asking for anime content — that inspired Yone’s elaborate reveal. “It seemed like an awesome time lớn dive in và tell Yasuo’s story, because he’s one of our most popular — or infamous, depending on how you play him — champions,” he explains. “The timing felt right. We started there, & then added the goal of launching Yone. There’s no way khổng lồ tell Yasuo’s story & not tell Yone’s, and vice versa.”

Riot has been working on the project for some time. Riot developed the story last fall, and it got the official green light in January when the storyboard process began. (Riot partnered with two animation studios, Haoliners Animation and Paper Plane, on the project.) This means that while the animation team was working on the short, the actual Yone character that would be implemented in the trò chơi was still in flux. Berry says this can complicate things, but the teams get around it by staying in constant contact; for instance, Berry spoke with Yone concept artist Justin Albers daily while working on the project.

The goal of these animated projects isn’t just to lớn introduce a character, but also to show a different side of the League universe. Yasuo and Yone are samurai, but because of the type of experience League is, they can’t exactly have a sword fight inside of the game. “We really want khổng lồ pump up the fantasy of what you’re going to lớn get in-game,” says Berry. “We don’t have the limitations that you vì in the game. There’s a lot more sword fighting in our piece than you’re going lớn get in-game, because we don’t have to lớn worry about cooldowns. A real samurai doesn’t worry about a cooldown. Và that’s where we went more into the anime space.”

One of the most striking things about “Kin of the Stained Blade” is the way it shifts back and forth between two art styles. The scenes featuring the brothers’ deadly battle are rendered like a classic anime, while Yasuo’s more current storyline is done in 3D. (The 3d art is reminiscent of Arcane, an upcoming League animated series.) Part of this was a creative decision; Berry says the team wanted to lớn respect anime conventions, including having inventive ways of showing flashbacks. But there were also practical concerns. “We didn’t have 30 minutes to elegantly drift between these two ,” Berry explains. “Part of the decision was to lớn make sure we had two very distinct styles so you never doubted where you were on the timeline.”

Over the years, League cinematics have spanned multiple genres & styles. They can be bright & fantastical or dark & dramatic. Sometimes they’re K-pop videos. Berry, who was also a lead on the K/DA music video, says that whatever genre they explore, one of the key elements is being authentic to lớn what came before.

“It’s research,” he says. “Everyone on this project has to lớn understand, if you don’t already going in, exactly what people love about anime. & we need lớn look at that và make sure we’re bringing that into our piece. Whether it’s the visual style, the storytelling, the pacing. We want khổng lồ be extremely respectful. When we think about how we want lớn be measured, we never say ‘I want this lớn be a great Riot cinematic.’ We’re going to lớn be judged against the best of modern anime.”

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