The Winter 2021 anime season is packed to the gills with fantastic programming: Attack on Titan Final Season, Wonder Egg Priority, SK8 the Infinity, Beastars Season 2... but one anime in particular, seems jarringly out of place among these juggernauts. Ex-Arm, a mostly CGI show based on writer HiRock and artist Shinya Komi’s 2015 manga of the same name, is so unabashedly terrible that it’s already plummeted to one of the lowest spots on MyAnimeList - yes, even below Summer 2020’s infamous Gibiate. But what exactly makes it such an utter waste of our precious human lives, and how did it wind up this way in the first place? Let’s figure out why Ex-Arm makes Gibiate look like a masterpiece.
The “Anime” Itself
You may have assumed from Ex-Arm’s poster that it’s a fun, if slightly derivative sci-fi adventure with some cute cyborg girls to round out the experience. And you’d be right... if you were referring to the manga. Unfortunately, the poster is the only good thing about this anime, since the actual episodes are presented in a horrid amalgamation of basement-tier 2D animation with constant visible frame-skipping and CGI that would look rough on the PlayStation 2. Any interesting plot hooks or emotional character moments from the original work are completely destroyed by the practically nonexistent facial expressions and confused pacing, leaving us with an end product that looks like it was thrown together by people who’ve never made an anime before.
Who Made This Monstrosity, Anyway?
Well, as it turns out, Ex-Arm was actually thrown together by people who’d never made an anime before. Director Yoshikatsu Kimura is better known for his work in live-action TV, the studio Visual Flight has done nothing but a few 3D modeling jobs, the writer is most likely using a fake name to avoid being associated with the project, and the rest of the production team is made up of seemingly random people the director could hire on the cheap. It’s also billed as a Crunchyroll Original, meaning that the streaming site was involved to some degree in the production and/or marketing, although they’ve wisely chosen not to advertise it much. The only respectable names among the staff are the voice actors – Souma Saitou (Yuno from Black Clover) as Akira, Akari Kitou (Nezuko from Demon Slayer) as Alma, Mikako Komatsu (Cinnabar from Land of the Lustrous) as Minami, etc. – and they’re clearly phoning it in with their performances.
The director has stated that he wanted to create realistic action scenes with fancy camera work, and he accomplishes that by having actors in motion capture suits perform the fight sequences so they can be copied directly into the 3D software without any thought for how the visuals would translate to animation. And since the characters’ faces aren’t included in the motion capture, they’re stiff as a board in every shot. But surely the choreography is at least fun to watch, right? Well, apparently the director’s idea of “realistic action” is cribbing ideas from The Matrix, so unless you love subpar recreations of fight scenes from over 20 years ago, you’re out of luck.
Ex-Arm is what happens when someone thinks that making an anime can’t possibly be that hard, and the universe punishes them for their hubris. Gibiate had the same problem, but since there was a bit more money and influence behind it, some of the individual elements (like music and character design) were okay. No such luck for this disaster, though – the only salvageable part of its existence is the hilarity that comes from hate-watching it.
What do you think of Ex-Arm so far? What’s your favorite bad moment from the anime? Let us know in the comments, and thanks so much for reading!