Why is Ex-Arm so Horrible?

…Aside from “because it just is”, that is.

The V-CRX panel I attended at 6 am one day was here to hype this anime up, but when even Saito’s little sample of when Akira “wakes up” was surprisingly sparse, it was the first sign of how bad it was going to be.

The question is…why is it this way?

The director (and his experience)

The director of Ex-Arm, Yoshikatsu Kimura, admitted in the panel he’s mostly experienced in live-action direction and you can see that in the drop-kicks and the combat rolls Alma does. However, it was decided to be 3D from the beginning, so that means he and the other staff were relying on such a crutch from day 1. Having new talent in such a prominent seat is a good idea (because anime staff are generally only a tiny bunch that trust each other immensely)…but only if said talent, and their resultant work, isn’t going to get laughed out of town first.

The OP, too, is just rotating character models and shots of footage from around the series…which is, again, something you’d expect from live-action, not anime. If Akira’s brother was rendered in perfectly serviceable 2D animation, why didn’t they bother with that for the OP and/or ED as well…?

The visual technology

The 3D CGI and motion capture used to…well, capture these motions…has no sense of force. You know when, in action anime, you see characters get punched into tomorrow and you can feel how hard the character got punched, due to little tweaks such as having the target’s face warp slightly to accomodate the puncher’s fist? That’s the main element that’s missing, to me.

Kimura said “freedom from gravity” was the biggest thing that differed between anime and live-action, but that doesn’t equate weightlessness. Just because one has the animation tools needed to portray bullet dodging straight out of the Matrix, that doesn’t mean it has to look like it operates in a space with limited gravity.

Sometimes animation means you have to make allowances for suspension of disbelief and sometimes reality doesn’t match what you think it should look like in anime, hence while it looks realistic, it doesn’t have the allowances. In fact, this is probably one component of what makes CGI so downright annoying to people who watch animation in the modern age – not only is CGI so cheap to use these days that beginner gamemakers use CGI graphics, CGI graphics have limited uniformity that generally doesn’t allow for such allowances.

Also, the characters’ mouths don’t quite open up right, so the 3D models look more like dolls than humans when they do the whole “gasping with the entire mouth” thing that anime does a lot.

Unintentional ecchi

One of the limitations of Ex-Arm is that Akira has no physical body, but that results in scenes where he’s buck-naked in a black abyss. This makes sense when Akira has just woken up, but once the action gets going, the black abyss seems like a waste.

When both Akira and Alma are naked inside this abyss, the White Bar of Censorship goes so hard, you can almost mistake it for an ecchi…which is not helped by the fact Akira has to “get inside” Alma and somehow that is not a metaphor for intercourse.

…However, looking at the tags on the AniList entry for the anime and its associated works reveals there will be actual ecchi later on. I took a look at the sample of the Kikaishin novel the Japanese Shonen Jump+ is currently offering (as of the time of writing) to celebrate the anime’s release – basically a 3rd of the entire thing – and the illustrations are all of Minami, Alma and some other gals in skimpy outfits and/or being partly undressed somehow. (I still have every page of that sample saved on a folder on a hard drive, so I can subject you to them. They…look better than the anime, at least.)

Basically, there is an audience for this, but if they get turned off by the visuals and the poor direction first…good for them.

It’s a bit of a shame, because this could have been decent, if a bit fanservice-laden, if it were treated right. Instead, it’s been the anime community’s punching bag for 2 months and that status probably won’t ever go away until they find a new one.

…welp, it can’t be helped. Any other comments on how Ex-Arm went so wrong?

6 thoughts on “Why is Ex-Arm so Horrible?

Add yours

  1. I totally agree with you that all these issues and more are what makes Ex-Arm as bad as it is. And I say that as someone who was actually excited for it, and went in with an open mind to the project. The only point is I think the ecchi of Akira being naked, always, having to ‘get inside Alma’ by Alma kissing Minami already IS their ecchi elements to the story. Because you know, girl on girl immediately means ecchi. *insert a huge eye roll* I mean, they also have Alma in a series of question outfits that look suspiciously similar to the Major in Ghost in the Shell but… I won’t go there. Not yet at least.

    What also does help this is the story is paper thin when and if you can look past all the other crap. Akira at 3 episodes in has developed 0%. He’s still a human in a computer case who all he can do is scream until he remembers he can ‘hack’ the system… which is never really explained. In episode one, there’s no indication that he had any computer related aptitude aside from a smartphone, and his brother being a scientist. Why he would suddenly develop this skillset because he’s a human AI I can kinda suspend disbelief for since he’s an Ex-Arm, but in general doesn’t make much sense. I re-read the description and apparently he was good at diagnosing them, but you wouldn’t know that from watching.

    Ugh, I know I should just drop this series since it’s just bad across the board. But I can’t give it up because I am oddly endeared to Alma, if only due to much she reminds me of a D list Major.


  2. I know this wasn’t your intention but I kind of want to watch this now! I watched the trailer and the OP and couldn’t stop laughing.

    But you gave a great diagnosis of some of the problems it has, shame because I’m sure there’s a good show in there somewhere but it did not come out of the oven looking right, and it’s probably a mess of a schedule, budget, and lack of experience that they kind of just got to release what they had or take the money loss. At least it seems noteworthy, some would consider infamy better than being forgotten or ignored.

    Liked by 1 person

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