High school student Akira Natsume’s life is cut short when he is involved in a traffic accident. Yet he soon finds himself awake, only this time, he is a brain without a body. His brain has been preserved as one of the weapons called EX-ARM for reasons lost to himself. Unable to remember what happened to him, Akira must work together with the police’s EX-ARM countermeasure division to find out what happened to him.


Caesar E.S. (The Indonesian Anime Times)

I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is, “how did it come to this”?

Right from the time the trailer for the show aired, people on the internet noticed something… off about EX-ARM. The 3DCG animation on the show looked stiff, bizarre, and some would say amateurish. Personally, it reminded me of something made on MikuMikuDance, but I’ve seen animations made with the program that look more polished. (And it’s not like you *can’t* make great anime with MikuMikuDance- look at gdgd Fairies!) Anime today has thankfully progressed far from the awkward usage of 3DCG seen in shows from the early 2000’s and 2010’s, proven by 3DCG anime darlings such as  Land of the Lustrous. So why does a show made in the year 2020 evoke that same awkwardness where the characters look so puppet-like and lifeless? Why even use 3DCG in the first place? One could attribute the usage of 3DCG as an attempt to cut costs, but that’s not always the case.

By this point, the unusual the circumstances of it’s production seems to have been discussed exhaustively, so how does the final product fare?

At the very least despite all of its shortcomings, it’s still a somewhat watchable show, even if it’s painful to look at most of the time. This feels all the more true whenever a 3D character stands side-by-side with a 2D character, which looks absolutely jarring. The action scenes, while actually having some decent action choreography, fails to leave any sort of impact due to the weird, weightless motion the character’s actions have as if they’re effortlessly floating through the air without any sense of speed or gravity. And what’s most distracting is the compositing of the show, with every scene given this foggy filter effect as if to hide how plain the 3D character models look. Thankfully, the voice acting and sound still manage to do a fine job, but it and the writing aren’t enough to carry the show by themselves.

So what’s the takeaway? 3DCG in anime used to be a sort of taboo for some viewers, with some finding it unbearable to watch. But we’ve now reached a point where even in the same season, one can watch shows such as BEASTARS Season 2 or Back Arrow with excellent usage of 3DCG that should be enough to sway even the most ardent of detractors. Making an excellent 3DCG anime is hard and not without its challenges, but not impossible. It’s possible because of the many trials and errors the anime industry itself has undertaken. Making anime is hard. Making animation is hard, period. And they’re made by experts who understand, respect, and give their all to making anime. Unfortunately in EX-ARM‘s case, someone somewhere along the line decided that listening to the experts wasn’t worth it.

EX-ARM is currently streaming on MUSE Asia

Facts and Figures

Alternative Title(s) エクスアーム
Source Material Manga by HiRock & Shinya Komi
Casts Akari Kitō as Arma
Azumi Waki as Elmira
Daisuke Namikawa as Soushi Shiga
Koji Yusa as Shūichi Natsume
Mikako Komatsu as Minami Uezono
Miyu Tomita as Yggdrasil
Satomi Arai as Kaori Munakata
Sōma Saitō as Akira Natsume
Sumire Uesaka as Chikage Rokuoin
Takaya Kuroda as Throughhand
Taku Yashiro as Kimura
Yu Kobayashi as Sōma
Yui Ishikawa as Alisa Himegami
Director ​Yoshikatsu Kimura
Series Composition Tommy Morton
Music Sō Kimura
Opening Theme “Rise Again” by Airflip
Animation Production Visual Flight
Official Site
Twitter @exarm_official
Broadcast Date 10 January 2021, (1605 GMT/2305 WIB/2505 JST)​

Screenshots and Trailer

© Shinya Komi・HiRock/Shueisha・「EX-ARM」Production Commitee
© Shinya Komi・HiRock/Shueisha・「EX-ARM」Production Commitee
© Shinya Komi・HiRock/Shueisha・「EX-ARM」Production Commitee

The Indonesian Anime Times

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