Episodes 1-2

by Nicholas Dupree,

How would you rate episode 1 of

How would you rate episode 2 of

In my relatively short tenure on the Daily Streaming Reviews beat, I've had the privilege to cover some really interesting, unique, or just plain fun series – some of them being part of my all-time favorite anime franchises. But today is where I pay all that back. Today, I am both blessed and burdened with the responsibility of talking about the most hotly anticipated work of fiction ever produced by human hands. Today, I am here to discuss EX-ARM.

Judging from the disparity of reactions in the preview guide to this new, blockbuster sci-fi anime, I expect I'll have my work cut out for me to convince all you lovely readers that EX-ARM is the game-changing, landmark work of art it truly is. But I am motivated and encouraged by the fact that this show nonetheless made it into the DSR schedule. It's not like the wonderful readers of ANN would purposefully vote for a show they thought was universally horrendous just to make somebody suffer through it for comedy, right? Only sad, weird losers would do that. No, the only explanation is that some of you indeed sense the grand potential lying beneath this show's surface, and understood that I was the only mind sharp and observant enough to catch on to what EX-ARM is so EX-pertly delivering.

For proof of how ahead of its time this show is, one needs to look no further than the opening theme. Each of our cast is brought to life through a thrilling, spinning image giving us a full glimpse of each character model, frozen for but a moment in time. This may at first glance seem comical, as if the characters are poorly molded action figures being spun around on a lazy susan by a bored animator. But this is here to remind us, each episode, that our cast of cyberpunk cops are real, flesh-and-blood people. After all, what better way to tell the audience these characters are three-dimensional than by LITERALLY making them 3D? That's the kind of brilliance that only EX-ARM could deliver to the stagnant world of science fiction.

That ambition is another clue that EX-ARM isn't the clumsy, hackneyed, poorly-animated soup of sci-fi cliches it at first appears to be. Would a production willing to “declare war” on an entire genre of fiction really be so incompetent as to instantly become an internet laughingstock so powerful it could tank its creators' careers for years to come? I think not. The world at large just isn't ready for the thrilling speculative fiction of our hero Akira, a young man who is established to hate technology, yet somehow finds his brain imprisoned inside a high-tech suitcase. With such a deeply, poetically ironic fate for our hero EX-ARM captures the ever-encroaching fear of automation that has defined the last 20 years in ways no other anime could ever hope to.

Yoshiyuki Tomino and Shoji Kawamori may as well retire in shame right now, because nothing either of them has or ever will produce could possibly compare to the innovation of the random cult of hooded suicide bombers our heroes must defeat in episode two. What Terror in Resonance took 12 laborious episodes to try to say about the nature of terrorism is expertly expressed by a nameless street urchin saying she wants to go to heaven because the crazy priest gave her a high-tech bomb tattoo. When we're putting legendary directors like Shinichiro Watanabe to shame in just the second episode, you know you've got something amazing. To cap it all off with a stunningly artistic deconstruction of action animation like this is nothing short of genius, and it provides the clearest evidence yet that EX-ARM is going to change the world:

And that potential, that sheer unadulterated ambition is what has me sure that by the end of this season, every anime viewer out there will have to admit they were wrong about this show. Soon enough, with my guidance, we'll all recognize the staggering majesty of EX-ARM.


EX-ARM is currently streaming on Crunchyroll.

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