Episodes five and six of Darling in the FRANXX work best together, and if you are watching weekly (like me) it’s a little rough of a break between the two. Sometimes I wish I had the self control to watch shows after all the episodes have aired. Regardless! Both of these episodes offer a ton of great content, whether you are looking for story or animation. I still can’t intimate how wonderfully produced this show is, but I can tell you that it’s worth every minute. As for story, there’s a ton to delve into and I know I don’t cover everything, but unpacking this show is treat for everyone- including those of us who know our Evangelion.
Episode five begins with us learning about the kissing, possibly the thing I’ve been most excited about this season. That’s not to discredit the show, it’s just that I really have to know how this thing is done.
Kissing is the transfer of the magma fuel reserves between plantations, and like we already know from the previous episodes, the magma fuel is a Klax attractant. The transfer of the fuel itself isn’t as exciting as I thought it would be, but I also don’t know what I expected the transfer to be. It’s still pretty cool that we are seeing the transfer happen, and I appreciate the Evangelion-ness of the show more and more as we go.
There’s an interesting bit where we see the kids pray to Papa, the figurehead of the plantations from what we understand. It seems a little cult-y to pray to a living person, but maybe this Papa fellow is worth it and not at all the big bad he likely is.
We see our first outside team of FRANXX pilots here, and they seem like rounded, great kids. It must be standard practice to send teams out during Kissing operations due to the high likihood of a mass Klaxosaur barrage. What’s great about having this other team is that we can finally see just how strange our main cast are. Namely, not all the FRANXX are so unique-looking; most FRANXX models are standardly built and operated. The team that is centered as our main cast is special.
Zorome then approaches one of the members of the other team and asks if anyone they know have become adults- after catching themselves mentioning that the other team “doesn’t know,” the visitors just simply say no one they know have become adults. Now we have questions.
So, for those of you who haven’t seen the new Evangelion movies, the second movie uses this idea of the “Eva’s curse” to explain why a popular character, Asuka, hasn’t aged in years. This curse causes the robot pilots to stay young forever, and though this is a fanservice idea made to sell merchandise- maybe Darling in the FRANXX is taking this concept of a robotic curse and running a different (less fanservice-y direction).
We know that the pilots are interfacing with each other on some level and becoming a part of the FRANXX, so is it possible that the FRANXX suck vitality and slowly kill the children? Or, is it as simple as these kids are doomed to die in combat before they mature? I’m sure we will find out the answer to this before long, in a very Trigger-like, sad way. We do have a whole half a season left.
Remember how I was thinking that maybe Hiro is the perfect partner for Zero Two? Well, he’s a little not. Hiro is actually suffering the after-effects of Zero Two’s poisoning like the other pilots did, though he is attempting to hide his pain from his teammates and Zero Two. Though Hiro and Zero Two have great compatibility in the robot, she is still slowing poisoning him with whatever she has that poisons people, possibly that Klaxosaur blood.
Though, according to our handy science adults, Hiro is having the opposite effect of Zero Two’s poisoning, including a giant blue mass on his heart and doubling of his blood cells, he is still very sick and likely going to die on his next ride.
Speaking of the next ride, the other squad has worked with Zero Two before. They are terrified that she is going to be a part of the mission to protect the plantations and refuse to allow her to join. They only relent when Hiro says he will keep her under control, though the squad seems to only quiet due to their inability to disobey orders not Hiro’s promise.
After the assignment to protect the cities is fully dulled out, Goro and Ichigo both attempt to change Hiro and Zero Two’s minds on piloting. Hiro, of course, repeats his broken record.
Zero Two, however, shows the side of her we’ve all tried to ignore.
She states that if Hiro dies- he just wasn’t strong enough. It’s seemingly heartless because of how we see Hiro at this point, but think about it from another angle- Hiro is just as terrible.
Hiro is piloting out of societal obligation, as I’ve mentioned time and time again, not out of love of piloting or for Zero Two, herself. Hiro is piloting out of selfish obligation, willing to die just to pilot. He, in this way, doesn’t care who he pilots with. It just happens that he is compatible with Zero Two.
Zero Two’s perceived heartlessness toward Hiro is only a reciprocation of what she feels from him.
Zero Two is able to feel she and Hiro’s compatibility as partners, but think of how empty it would feel to know you work so well together, but the other party just uses you for your ability. It’s unknowing, abusive love.
That’s just sad.
Episode six begins with a view of the large Klaxosaur group that is approaching the plantations. Included in the hoard is a giant cube-like Klax that no one has ever seen before. It’s going to be a strange battle.
We are at the halfway point of the season, and though the pre-battle jitters may be from the mysterious cube Klaxosaur that is quickly approaching the cities, we as viewers know this is a delicate portion of the show. After this episode, we will either know if Hiro will continue to be a useful character in a larger plot for the world, of if his emanate death will spiral us down a different story-telling path.
Before “go-time,” Ichigo and Hiro have a stilted conversation where Ichigo attempts to confess her love. However, before she can do so, Zero Two’s mere presence in the room distracts Hiro enough to where she decides to give up. I fell really bad for Ichigo at this point because Hiro does’t love or have any romantic feeling for Zero Two- he is just using her to pilot. He’s obsessed with her ability, and that makes him blind to Ichigo. I have never wanted to hug a downtrodden blue-haired girl more.
Since Ichigo was unable to convince, or even try to convince, Hiro out of the cockpit, she and Goro decided they will attempt to stave off the Klax attack as long as they can to protect Hiro. Look at it as a last ditch effort to give Hiro the chance to realize his own folly of dying just to fight.
When the battle finally begins, we get a look at the standard FRANXX models. Their build still retains the feminine look that we’ve come to expect, but they are all grey-scaled. Because this squad has been working together for so long, just as their same FRANXX would imply, they have amazing coordination and teamwork. Though, the efficiency and perfection in teamwork can do nothing against the sheer mass of the Klax group that is approaching, and our home team of special snowflakes are forced into action. In comparison, I’m embarrassed I ever thought our kids were good at their jobs.
It’s a mess.
During the terribleness that is the home team’s battle action, the foreign squad leader wonders why 016 AKA Hiro would be placed in such an experimental faction. Obviously, this squad doesn’t know about Hiro’s inability to pilot, only his test scores- so to say.
In the Strelizia, Hiro is struggling to stay conscious with Zero Two’s link-up. In his delirium he asks Zero Two why she fights the Klax with such vigor, and she claims it’s because she is a monster. She’s really driving that idea home.
Zero Two notices both squads are having trouble down on the field, and she and Hiro make their way into the fray. Hiro begins to lose control and the Strelizia starts to shut down until Zero Two encourages him in her own way to wake back up. He’s barely able to maintain, and we see Zero Two is a little sad about this. I’m sure she can also feel her poison as it spreads through him with every additional effort he makes.
The foreign squad loses to the giant cube Klax, and the monster transforms into an adorable demon-like figure. It’s up to our home team to pick up the pace, so they decide to give the Strelizia an opening so it can pierce the Klax’s core (another desperate attempt to lengthen Hiro’s life). However, just as the Strelizia stabs the Klax in an apparent opening- Hiro faints, believing he hit his target. The giant Klax transforms again and begins to relentlessly attack the Strelizia.
Hiro is completely passed out, dying from Zero Two’s poisoning. Zero Two is left to pilot alone, and the robot transforms into the bestial monster we know from the first episode. As the Klax batters again and again, the Strelizia struggles and claws, unable to free itself from where it is trapped. In a near-death experience, Hiro dreams of a black and white world where he listens to his previous partner asks him why he pilots. Hiro and she speak over the course of a few minutes, and you come to realize that it’s Hiro speaking to himself and him responding to himself. It’s a conversation of his Id and Ego, much in the same way Shinji Ikari speaks to various characters in episode 26 of Evangelion. Similarly, Hiro needed to reconcile his feelings and will. The tipping point not being a realization in his dream (like with Shinji), but when he awakes to see Zero Two alone, and in pain.
Hiro is upset that he left Zero Two, just like her other partners did. His resolve to save her from loneliness and abandon his selfish desire to fight for fighting’s sake allows Hiro to fight the poisoning and calm Zero Two from her rage. Together, they awake and pilot a more powerful Strelizia using a far deeper connection and understanding of each other than before, making this the closest sync, yet.
No longer piloting as an obligation, Hiro now pilots to give Zero Two wings.
The episode ends on an interesting note, as it should since we have to go down a new path now that Hiro’s death flag was burned. Zero Two first talks about killing more and more Klaxosaurs, then we see a Kaworu-type (see Evangelion… again) and a very unique-looking squad on a roof somewhere, overlooking the battlefield. This mysterious blonde boy says that Nine Iota is hitting it off, and I’m left wondering if this Nine Iota is Zero Two.