(Warning: This post contains spoilers up to Episode 2 / Chapter 12 of the Ex-Arm anime and manga.)
Normally when it comes to a manga or anime, I’d have pictures from that series to accompany the post. However, anyone who has at least heard of Ex-Arm would hopefully understand why I’m avoiding using any screencaps or manga pages.
If you’re out of the loop, that’s fine. This season there is a “Crunchyroll Original” anime (meaning that Crunchyroll, an anime streaming service, has some role in the production of these anime). This anime is Ex-Arm, an adaptation of a sci-fi manga of the same name. You’re free to search it up for yourself, but if you want an idea of its reception, the anime is currently the lowest-rated, full-length show on MyAnimeList.
Now you might be wondering — “if this show is so badly received, why are you even watching it?”
So you see, I was held at gunpoint and was ordered to watch–
Okay, no, my friend wanted to see it for herself so we’ve been watching it together. She thinks it’s hilarious so we’re still watching this two (soon three) episodes in. Sometimes it’s nice to spend quality time with friends online, even if the activity itself may not be exactly “high-quality.”
As for why I’m avoiding using any images from the show or manga, the anime visuals are not appealing and the manga has a lot of blatant fanservice. I’m not putting anything “ecchi” onto my blog, and the ugliest images I’ll ever use are my attempts at photo edits.
When only the anime trailer was out, I decided to take the time to read the manga so that I have a reference for comparison. I only read the first 15 chapters, but as I was reading, I was thinking to myself, How is the anime going to adapt this?
Well, the anime found a way around it so far.
You wouldn’t be able to tell if you’ve only seen the anime (or maybe only five minutes of it, depending on your pain tolerance), but the source material is… unabashed when it comes to sexual content.
For the events that Episode 1 covers, there is a scene where Minami, the cop who always teams up with an android, is tied up by the evil Ex-Arm holder in the ship. In the manga, the evil guy cuts open her clothes with a knife. (The plot and the evil guy’s intentions imply this is bad, but the focus on fanservice in that scene says otherwise.)
Of course, this would be a no-no to include in the anime, so that scene is done differently. In the anime, Minami is tied up, but her clothes aren’t cut up. Instead, the villain just uses his permeability powers to… stick his finger through her stomach…?
For an “ecchi” source material, its adaptation seems to avoid that aspect altogether (perhaps it’s because the 3D models aren’t geared for that). Either the scene is rewritten to avoid any fanservice content or the white light of censorship comes through to shield our eyes. The censorship does seem to go a bit overboard, as seen when the anime censors a kiss between Minami and Alma in Episode 2. I’m wondering if they thought a shared kiss between two girls needs censoring or if it’s the attempt of a kiss between two stiff CG models.
All right, so the anime adaptation is censored. Is the story still faithful to the original?
The anime has been hitting the major points of the plot, but there are many scenes in the manga that didn’t get adapted.
The scenes with Akira before he got hit by a truck and became a sentient Ex-Arm technology are shortened or cut in the anime, but they cover the main gist — he greatly dislikes technology and has a brother who is researching on AIs. One detail the anime missed is that despite not liking technology, Akira is pretty good at working with it, which might explain how he could use his Ex-Arm abilities well. Or provide a case of situational irony where he has become the very thing he despises.
Who knows? Neither the anime nor the manga played that up.
Aside from that and the bits of censorship, Episode 1 was pretty faithful. Episode 2, which covers the next arc, rewrites scenes to make the events more streamlined. This also resulted in several changes:
- Akira is interrogated by the head chief(?) even though no one believes him anyway and subjects him to torture. The anime just has the head chief provide exposition to him.
- The manga spends more time with the girl from the streets and has her as the first victim they “save.” (They froze her in liquid nitrogen. I have no idea if that’s even considered “saving,” but I guess they avoided an explosion?)
- The anime has that girl serve as the lead to the church and the father being behind the weird cult. In the manga, that role goes to another street orphan. When two members of the police force arrived at the church, there are several children with the markings.
- In the manga, only those two police officers arrived at the church. Additionally, one of the officers turns against the other for some odd reason I don’t remember. The anime removed that scene completely.
- Minami received the markings in the manga. She gets knocked out from behind by the arc’s villain and gets the marking etched on her chest. The anime got rid of this bit.
Is this a problem? Since I didn’t read that much of the manga (and don’t plan on continuing), I can’t say if the anime omitted any crucial information for the plot. There are some scenes that I’m glad the anime omitted since they would only give the anime a worse rep than it already has. Just keep it as a “so bad, it’s laughable” kind of anime.
(In all seriousness though, are the people who are still watching this anime even watching it for the plot?)
By the time this post is published, Episode 3 of Ex-Arm will be out in a few hours. Let’s see how the anime goes about adapting all the later arcs, as the next big arc will require a load of censorship and rewriting.
Maybe “let’s” is too cruel and unrealistic. I don’t recommend anyone watching the anime or reading the manga, so I’ll take on the burden alone. Even though the anime has rough animation and an awkwardly-executed plot, the manga was the first to leave me scarred, so what do I have left to lose?