It’s episode three, and though it’s know it’s unfounded- I’m very impatient to see Zero Two and Hiro pilot together. My dream doesn’t come true this round, but we do see get to see the effects of a typical first pilot with Zero Two as one of Hiro’s squamates decides he can take the hit. This episode focuses more on the relationship building between the parasites and Zero Two, and the annoying self-loathing of Hiro and his puppy-dog-self as he follows Zero Two around begging to pair with her.
The episode begins with Hiro and Ichigo discussing names with children around them whose faces are all blacked out. I’m assuming these are some of the kids who have disappeared through the years as they were shuffled around as parasite candidates. There is another defined child who asks Hiro to give him a name (it’s Goro) before we bust back into the current timeline. From this aside we get an idea that Hiro was revered a long time ago by his classmates, but we can assume after his FRANXX compatibility failure- that all changed.
There’s an another look at the underground city. It’s a hive-type setup with no artificial plants or animals that we can see- just metal, concrete, and humans.
I can see why Zero Two would want to find an ocean.
There’s some character interaction between Hiro and Ichigo, though it’s stilted and Ichigo feels lukewarm to Hiro since the incident. In another corridor, Nana and Hachi wonder if Hiro’s inability to pilot with Ichigo is because he is only compatible with Zero Two- which seems obvious, but the pair will constantly refuse to try the Hiro/Zero Two pairing for the next episode and a half. While I understand that this is largely a military operation, it seems asinine to not scientifically test an option that will save the lives of stamens in the future. But, hey. What do I know.
Almost annoyingly, Hiro still hasn’t given on wanting to pilot with Zero Two, and he asks her to pilot with him again. He doesn’t seem to understand that this arrangement isn’t his call, and you can begin to see that while Zero Two wants him as a partner, she knows it likely won’t happen because of the political constraints in the organization. Goro actually follows up and attempts to reiterate what Ichigo has been saying this whole time about Zero Two’s piloting record, and Hiro still doesn’t listen or really care. He is willing to die to pilot and be useful to society, and that’s some social commentary about the Japanese public if I’ve ever seen it.
While Hiro trains by himself, the rest of his squad talk about his piloting. Mitsuru mentions that Hiro used to be top of his class and in the running for the leadership position the Ichigo holds until they found Hiro unable to pilot. I believe a lot of the affection Ichigo holds for Hiro is more than just romantic love, it’s the remains of childhood adoration which makes all the frustration in seeing Hiro fail all the worse. No one wants to see their hero bleed.
We cut back to Hiro following Zero Two around like a puppy, and she ends up sneaking him into classified areas he is not allowed to access. Hiro sees the underground city for the first time, and the show cuts to a widescreen as Zero Two asks him to run away with her. Though Zero Two admits to joking, knowing fully well how impossible running would be, Hiro is moved by her feelings. I think the brief widescreen was supposed to give us a feeling of romance, and though Zero Two and Hiro are not romantic, the sentiment of closeness holds and these two kids are coming to an understanding beyond piloting a FRANXX.
Back with our newly graduated parasites, sortie orders to defeat small Klaxosaurs are being sent. These little Klax are sucking up fuel in the caverns below. Unfortunately, as the kids are beginning their FRANXX syncs, Ikuno is unable to connect with Mitsuru. They are forced to stay behind, and Mitsuru speaks openly with Nana about possible compatibility issues with Ikuno. I get the distinct feeling that Mitsuru doesn’t care much for his partner. There’s a lot of rude pride in him.
The rest of the party makes it down to the Klaxosaur, and they make relatively short work of the tick-like monster and get cocky. The other shoe drops when the Klax attacks Miku and Zorome and sucks the energy from their FRANXX causing Miku to faint. Their FRANXX becomes deadweight as more of the Klaxosaur rain from the ceiling.
Zero Two comments that they should have sent her in the first place, and tries to piggyback on the conversation as a way to get into the cockpit. However, because Hiro isn’t a fully designated pilot he is denied, but Mitsuru offers to go in his stead to prove to Hiro that he is trash. In the same way Zorome wanted to prove he was better than Hiro, Mitsuru is obviously about to make a terrible mistake, but he hopefully learns the value of true partnership like Zorome did.
When the Strelizia arrives, Ichigo loses her concentration thinking that Hiro is the stamen. This causes the previously barricaded Klax to break through and attack. Mitsuru and Zero Two take over and he loses his mind. He blathers on about he can pilot with Zero Two without issue and retain consciousness (unlike Hiro), and goes as far to say that he can pilot exclusively with Zero Two. Hearing this slight, Zero Two says she will go all out in that case. She ignores Nana’s protests and unleashes her full power.
Mitsuru survives, but he is unconscious and covered in his own blood from the sync. It was a hard lesson, but so far Hiro is the only pilot to retain his health after a battle.
The beginning of the episode was a little slow, not to say it wasn’t well done. Maybe I’m just done with Hiro complaining and begging, and maybe I’m just impatient and want more answers about the world itself. However, I do think the show is suffering each time Hiro asks Zero Two if he can ride with her as it only serves to make him look desperate and sad. This is obviously the point of his action, and I see that. I just don’t like that type of character. I’m not a Shinji girl, I’m an Asuka girl. Likewise, I’m not a Hiro girl, I’m a Zero Two girl.
I enjoyed the second half of the episode, especially seeing the adorable Klax-ticks and Mitsuru learning a hard lesson. I was worried he may die from his encounter with Zero Two, but he looks simply passed out from the pain of it all- not dead. Since Mitsuru failed to pilot, and Nana has an idea that Hiro can partner without issue with Zero Two, I am hoping to see our boy in the pilot seat next episode.