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Manga / EX-ARM

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In 2014, Akira Natsume seems to almost have a phobia of electrical devices while also being very good at diagnosing them. He resolves to change himself for the better and get a girlfriend like his older brother did. He is then accidentally run over by a truck, and dies.

16 years later, special policewoman Minami Uezono and her android partner Alma retrieve and activate a highly advanced AI and superweapon called EX-ARM and put it into full control of their ship as a last resort.

Turns out... the AI is actually just Akira's brain.

Now reduced to a small machine, Akira works with the police to fight crime in Tokyo. This puts him in the conflict of several other EX-ARM users. Luckily, his new body grants him many new abilities, such as hacking into cameras and watching the entire city, or take over Alma's body to fight directly.

EX-ARM is a sci-fi seinen manga series written by HiRock and illustrated by Shinya Komi, which ran from 2015 to 2019, starting in Grand Jump before moving to Shonen Jump+ in 2017; it is a remake of Komi's previous series, Ex-Vita, which ran in Miracle Jump from 2011 to 2013. A Sequel Series, EX-ARM EXA, began running in 2019 in Grand Jump Mucha. The series also received an anime adaptation thanks to Crunchyroll, who produced it as a Crunchyroll original. It's an All-CGI Cartoon (for the most part) and was released on January 11, 2021.

The manga was rather abruptly declared cancelled by its publisher, Shueisha, in March 2021, only 10 chapters into EX-ARM EXA.

EX-ARM provides examples of:

  • 2D Visuals, 3D Effects: Inverted. The show is CGI, but some characters are 2D, and some effects seem to be 2D gifs played over the 3D visuals.
  • Air-Vent Passageway: The first episode has a quite spacious one, with a convenient access to ship's controls.
  • Ambiguously Evil: The Auctioneer does a lot of shady stuff in the background, somehow got his hands on the infamous EX-ARM 11 and turned multiple criminal groups to fight the police. No wonder Akira assumes he is Beta. In reality he did this to gather the rest of EX-ARM users in one place and make them dispose of each other, Beta included, he never intended to give the 11 away.
  • An Arm and a Leg: Alma has a tendency to lose limbs in combat.
  • Animated Armor: Akira can control Ogre, a powerful battle suit.
  • Anything You Can Do, I Can Do Better: Said word for word by Beta regarding cyberspace.
  • Artifact of Doom: The titular EX-ARM are cybernetic weapons that are too advanced even for 2030. The police has a dedicated squad to collect and dispose of them before they are used for terrorism. EX-ARM 11 is especially recognizable among criminal circles as the one that threw Japan into chaos.
  • Big Bad: Beta used EX-ARM 11 in 2020 to level large parts of Tokyo, ruining country's economy. Many terrorists have later used Japan's decaying state and other EX-ARM for their own needs, as he watches the chaos ensue.
  • Bowdlerization: Compared to the manga (which had several moments of nudity (particularly of breasts), and many more sexual moments), the anime is much less sexual, either not featuring the moments at all (such as EX-ARM 08's owner stripping down and fondling Minami when he captured her), or censoring them drastically (Alma and Akira being nude in the latter's subconscious has the smoke cloud going up to their shoulders in the anime)
  • Brain in a Jar: Akira has been reduced to a brain in a titanium suitcase and can control electronics like he would his own body.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Akira mentions how in 2014 his brother used to research the androids. He became one of Iriya's top researchers and created Beta, then made a clone of himself to be EX-ARM auction's conductor and undo his mistakes.
  • Cooldown Hug: Soma, who would rather die than be pitied, finally gives up when Alma shows him compassion.
  • Crucified Hero Shot: Ogre is connected to cyberspace in the finale in such manner.
  • Cycle of Revenge: Al Jarde wants to destroy Hayama Gaho and his family after losing his in a bombing he supposedly ordered, eventually dragging more people into it. Akira points out that the entire thing was orchestrated by Beta, but it falls on deaf ears.
  • Dark Lord on Life Support: Jason Mraw has been in vegetative state inside his Bipod since last time anyone has seen him. It's actually how Elmira can use EX-ARM 13 despite not being human.
  • Diplomatic Impunity: Jason Mraw is known for a mass massacre of his citizens, but as long as he's inside a district near Japan's border and UN's base, nobody can do anything against him.
  • Evil Twin: Beta looks exactly like Akira. Everyone thought Akira was behind the attack and somehow lost his memories, but they are different people. As EX-ARM 00-b he may be count as Enemy Without.
  • Eye Catch: Featuring the characters drawn in the manga's original style, by the original artist.
  • Fanservice: Alma's Leotard of Power (with variants) and her being naked with Akira can raise a few eyebrows. Some illustrated eyecatchers are definitely erotic.
  • For the Evulz: Beta comes up with a few excuses why did he attack Tokyo, but watching humans struggle for his amusement was the main reason.
  • Genre Shift: One episode, set in a VR world, is a parody of slice-of-life high school anime. The cliches are lampshaded by the police that have been using it as "Truman Show" Plot to awaken Akira's memories.
  • Hand Wave: Even Professor Iriya doesn't know where EX-ARM came from and how do they grant supernatural abilities, and wonders if they are of cosmic origin.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: In order to stop Beta's last plan from spreading beyond control outside of Japan, Akira detonates EMPs above the country... which means sacrificing his robotic brain, along with Alma and Ygg, and all technology in Japan, potentially including all robotic life in Japan as well.
  • Humans Are the Real Monsters: A commonly brought up theme, humans have been fighting each other so much that AI have learned from them.
  • I Just Want to Be Normal: Akira indirectly hints that he's rather be human than a brain in a computer. Later this becomes more of an issue.
  • "It" Is Dehumanizing: Akira has to remind several times that he has a name, as everyone calls him 00. Only Minami and a couple of others care.
  • Intangibility: EX-ARM 08 can let its user to pass through objects and attacks at will.
  • Karma Houdini: The Japanese Restoration Bloc and Professor Iriya hold some responsibility for escalating the conflict, but the anime ends before we know what happened to them.
  • Kissing Discretion Shot: Kisses between Minami and Alma are censored with a random ray of light. This is most likely done because there's no animation of their models kissing, and pressing them together would just show them clipping through each other.
  • Lens Flare Censor: In the anime Akira and Alma's mental images are naked but heavily censored.
  • Lighter and Softer: As mentioned above in Bowdlerization, in comparison to the manga which has several perverted and violent moments, the anime is much more tame as it either excludes or heavily censors these moments.
  • Living MacGuffin: Akira requires Alma and Minami to kiss to perform networking. When Alma got hacked herself, Akira got stuck in a walking eyeball.
  • Locked Out of the Loop: Akira has been turned into an EX-ARM 00-a while in a coma. Minami and Alma were expecting some crazy weapon, but besides being able to hack electronics Akira has no clue what's going on. Also counts as Audience Surrogate.
  • Logical Weakness: EX-ARM 08 can't go backwards while phasing walls, so the user has to go through and turn back. Difficult to do so when the other side is underwater.
  • Long-Lost Relative: Minami's brother, Soma, lost his body in a terrorist bombing and is now set on revenge.
  • Look Both Ways: Akira ends up falling victim to this trope in the worst way, turning around to help a girl being harassed... only to IMMEDIATELY get clobbered by a truck just as he started running back.
  • MegaCorp: Iriya Heavy Industries has produced almost all technology seen in 2030.
  • Mistaken for Terrorist: The police keeps a close eye on Akira because of the attack that happened in 2020. Him looking exactly like the perpetrator and being an amnesiac makes the concerns reasonable.
  • My Greatest Failure: Akira regrets not protecting a woman from thugs right before being hit by a track. He decides to take his second chance at life protecting others.
  • One-Winged Angel: After Beta merges with an Amaterasu robot, he starts growing organic-looking masses until he gets the size of the entire Megafloat district.
  • Painted CGI: A very strange example: The main characters and backgrounds are in Cel Shaded CGI with outlines drawn on, while minor characters are traditionally 2D animated. Many special effects are flat GIFs or drawn on after the fact, though the animation is so disjointed that it's hard to tell if this is a style or a Special Effects Failure.
  • Post-Final Boss: After Beta has been dealt with, all the AI he's taken over go rogue and spread across the world and Professor Iriya turned out to be Not Quite Dead inside Alisa's body.
  • Power Degeneration: Akira may be as good as a supercomputer, but analyzing too much data literally overheats his brain.
  • Power of the Void: EX-ARM 11 can summon black holes.
  • President Evil: Jason Mraw has declared that Mwange Republic is for androids only and executed every protester, then collected their heads in his mansion.
  • Redemption Equals Death: Al Jarde does a Taking the Bullet right after Minami talks him out of revenge. Later Soma joins him on that.
  • Required Secondary Powers: The EX-ARM 12 seen in the flashback is revealed to be the power generator for EX-ARM 11, as it can't do as much damage on its own.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: Alma. Akira discovers she can even eat just fine and can share senses with him, much to his joy.
  • Robot Maid: Elmira is Jason Mraw's personal bodyguard that can use EX-ARM's Portal Cut to make holes in whatever she's looking at.
  • Sharing a Body: Akira can sync with Alma when needed.
  • Stock Footage: The scene from the first episode, where the colors are inverted and people fly into the sky, appears quite a few times throughout the series, often at least once an episode.
  • Superpowered Evil Side: Akira can remove the restrictions with Ogre to increase processing speed, but it turns him into a berserker.
  • Technophobia: Akira in 2014 is really uncomfortable about new technology, though in 2030 he gets over this quickly.
  • Time Stands Still: EX-ARM 16 can make an isolated bubble for 10 minutes.
  • Yakuza: Jinkoku-Sha, who took over a lot of connections in Japan after 2020.
  • Yandere: Ygg is an AI made by Iriya that have been assisting in extracting Akira's memories, but fell in love with him and turned the VR into Lotus-Eater Machine, trapping the rest of the investigators inside. She gets better, but still treats Akira as her husband.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Beta is really not amused when Akira gets into Ogre before him and gets even more deranged over time.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Most villains use making the world a better place as an excuse, disregarding collateral damage.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Sometimes the animation of the anime will get so incomprehensible, it forgets characters outright. Notably in the last minute of the first episode when the police pin the Akira-possessed Alma down, Minami just flat out disappears without any explanation or even visual confirmation as to whether or not she also got apprehended. See the Karma Houdini entry above for another example.
  • What Measure Is a Non-Human?: Cyborgs and androids are generally viewed in low regard. Soma, while being turned into cyborg, uses his hatred as the proof of his humanity, aggressively calling Alma a tool.

Alternative Title(s): Ex Arm