Ex-Arm: A New Era of Comedy in Anime?

7 Min Read

R E V I E W – A N I M E

Adrita Zaima

The Winter 2021 anime season is jam-packed with banger shows, to say the least. With titles such as Attack on Titan, Promised Neverland, and Re: Zero airing, it is no wonder that a number of debut series have been forced to take a backseat and are receiving little, if any, attention. However, late one night, while I was mindlessly sifting through the trailers of these unfortunate newcomers hoping to find anything worthwhile, I came across something that not only caught my eye, but positively injected me with an overwhelming need to watch it right then and there. And I am proud to say that my instincts did not betray me because the anime in question is, without a trace of doubt, the most hilarious thing I have ever watched. The anime I am talking about is none other than Ex-Arm. 

Based on HiRock’s moderately received manga of the same name, Ex-Arm happens to be a Crunchyroll original animation. And from what I understand of the plot (which is not much honestly), it chronicles the story of a guy named Akira who suffers from tech phobia, his brother gives him advice on how to overcome it and become a better man, he sees some girl getting harassed, and after contemplating some, he rushes to help her but gets hits by a truck. Then we do a speed-run to 16 years later where he is a dangerous machine called Ex-Arm, has somehow deeply endangered humankind, and is being saved by two chicks, one of whom is an android. I mean, it’s a vastly intriguing and not at all baffling storyline, nope. But that’s inconsequential since I could hardly pay attention to much of the story as there were far more interesting things happening in Ex-Arm.

To start off, the animation is just a pure mockery. It is cluttered with CGI action scenes that seem to have been borne from the depths of anime hell. Incredibly uncomfortable and jerky walking and fight sequences with the limbs of characters bent at painful angles might have been the last straw for any other anime. But Ex-Arm has an even more glaring fault — it is a purgatory in the name of a blend of 3D and 2D. The 3D characters are bad enough to look at due to the tragic character designs but the director decided that it would not just be a brilliant idea to put two characters — one 2D and the other 3D — in the same scene, but also to make them have different shadings so that the audience is painfully aware of the contrast between them. And oh, the eyes of the characters fall on the edge of being outright terrifying. The soulless depths of their unblinking eyes had me cowering for cover more than once, true story. 

Nevertheless, after a fair few minutes of utter confusion as to how this abomination got passed for airing, I finally began to unravel the mystery. As it turns out, the answer to this was hidden in plain sight all along. The whole show was meant to be a very, very extensive (and not to say, expensive) meme on behalf of Crunchyroll to service the anime community. Once this idea struck me, I began to understand the nuances of the show. The failed Isekai plotline, the horrendous sound composition, and the nameless villains that look like Cyberpunk characters after being hit by a bulldozer — they all fit into place.

Of course, the whole show is just a joke, a satire even, in the name of badly done Sci-Fi shonen because nothing can unironically be this bad. Ex-Arm just took the concept of so-bad-it’s-good to a whole other level and perfected it. As soon as I grasped this, something broke loose inside me, and since then, I have enjoyed every episode rolling around in uncontrollable laughter with my stomach clutched in my arms. The splendidly bad animation dragged out peals of laughter from me and I felt happier than I had done in months.  

However, after I did some digging, I was surprised to find that Crunchyroll has done absolutely nothing to promote their piece de resistance. I cannot fathom why they would not just hold out this show with a broad chest and an even broader smile in front of the entire planet and display it for what it truly is — a goddamned masterpiece. They have single-handedly managed to create what would surely go down in history as the anime that toppled almost god-tier comedies like Nichijou, Daily Live of Highschool Boys, and Saiki K to claim the position of the funniest piece of animation to have ever seen the light of day. While these shows are missing in little in terms of being traditionally good anime, they are wanting in something much more important — a complete lack of self-awareness. And that is the part where Ex-Arm excels. 

Thus, I entreat all anime fans out there to stop hating on Ex-Arm and come together to revel in the glory of its true beauty and to just accept it as the brilliant piece of humour that it is in essence. 


Zaima is an anaerobically-respiring, bibliophilic bacterium who spends her free time weeping over bad author decisions in YA. Tell her shitty plots are okay at [email protected]


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