EX-ARM First Impressions: ….What did I just watch?

    Okay, okay. I know I said previously that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a talented artist or not, it’s the story that matters. However, there comes a point where you can tell whether a mangaka or animation studio actually put in the effort into making their work appealable.

    Personally, I’ve never read EX-ARM but I heard that the anime was highly anticipated by its manga fans…well, perhaps for all the wrong reasons. As foretold ever since the initial teaser in 2019, the anime crashed and exploded as badly as the meteor that killed all the dinosaurs.

    The only cool scene in this episode, Photo by Visual Flight

    The big winner here is the animation. Yes, I’ve seen CGI animation before. I honestly don’t care whether an anime is made with hand-drawings or CGI, as long as I can enjoy it. One of my favorite anime with CGI is Ajin. But, at least I could tell what emotions the characters had in Ajin.

    Why does her mouth look like an endless pit?, Photo by Visual Flight

    The characters in EX-ARM look lifeless. The more I looked at them the more I feel like they’re staring into my soul. They resemble those creepy dress-up dolls that can blink, except the EX-ARM characters don’t seem to ever blink. Their mouths move like dolls too. Originally, I was going to compare the mouth movement to The Muppets, but upon watching a quick clip of The Muppets I take it back. The Muppets have more mouth movement than the EX-ARM characters. Using a more appropriate comparison, the EX-ARM characters’ mouths move like nutcrackers. They just open and close….it’s kind of creepy.

    He’s not even talking in this scene yet his mouth is wide open, Photo by Visual Flight

    I was really disappointed by the quality. Surprisingly, the background isn’t the same high quality as the main characters. An example of this is at the beginning of Episode 1 where the camera zooms in on Akira’s school. From far away, the quality looks fine, maybe the 720p we’re used to when it comes to anime. But, when it zooms in? Goodbye quality (below)! It’s like the studio forgot that zooming in on non-vector images reduces the quality!

    two pixels, Photo by Visual Flight

    Speaking of cutting corners, I found it odd that some characters were drawn whereas others were done through CGI. It’s painfully obvious, especially during the first couple scenes where Akira stands next to his classmates and his older brother. For me, this just seemed like the studio was being lazy and decided to only put in effort into the main cast. The main characters exist in the same world as the background characters AND the background itself. So, it’s painfully obvious when the effort wasn’t equally distributed onto all fields.

    Photo by Visual Flight
    Photo by Visual Flight

    I’m going to be honest, I couldn’t finish the episode. I got very dizzy during the action scenes. The studio doesn’t use motion blur so it was hard for me to keep up with what was going on. The camera kept on spinning too and after the fight scenes ended, I felt nauseous. From what I could make out, the fight scenes weren’t hard-hitting. It looked like the characters were just lightly tapping each other and somehow doing damage. Maybe the characters just have a really low pain tolerance? Who knows?

    Why’s she smiling while on the brink of death? That’s kind of weird…, Photo by Visual Flight

    Despite the shit show that’s EX-ARM, the premise seems interesting enough for me to be willing to check out the manga. However, I can say at least this: I WON’T be watching this anime this season. I couldn’t get through the first episode, so how could I get through the entire series?

    Have you seen EX-ARM? Are you planning on watching the anime? If so, please tell us why in the comments below.


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