Much like Evangelion took a brief break in the middle of it’s season before all hell broke loose, Darling in the FRANXX launches a similar approach with episodes seven and eight. However, looking at these relaxing trope-filled installments as just is a big mistake. There’s not only more clues to the world around these kids, but plenty of good character development that will prove important around the corner when the season comes to a close.
Episode eight moves away from the beach and back into the parasite’s home. However, the trope pulling rearing it’s head this time is boys vs girls, aptly named in the title of the show. Of course, just as in episode seven, don’t turn off your brain because this seems like the kids are playing around- in the background through much of the episode are some very important themes before a groundbreaking realization for the team just as we fade out for the next episode.
It all begins during the opening scene where the squad is working on taking down a certain Klax that rains a liquid down onto the team. The liquid doesn’t hurt, but it does seep into the cockpit where it begins to melt away the girl’s suits. The boys are barely able to control themselves long enough to defeat the enemy, and the girls don’t notice the liquids effects until Hiro says something to Zero Two.
The girls are terribly upset with the boys ogling them, and decide to do something about it. It’s here that we trigger the goofy puberty episode.
Our girls paste white tape to half the parasite living quarters.
We actually cut to Nana and Hachi for a brief moment where we learn that APE actually has protocol for teams undergoing puberty, though it’s unprecedented for the entire team to hit puberty at the same time. The adults decide to let the kids hash things out, though, and are told to not interfere to inform the leaders (like Papa) about the issues by Dr. Franxx.
This episode has some great animation between Zorome and Miku where, these kids in particular, have their big personalities emphasized to the max. Zero Two, not to be outdone, has her own over-the-top persona examined with mischievous smiles and big laughs. It’s a great episode for exploring how loose we can get with the animation while maintaining the look and feel that has already been established. Trigger is always there to impress.
Back into the story for the episode, Zero Two finds the situation between the boys and girls lackluster. She suggests spicing it up, and approaches the girls stating she will join them. In the meantime, Zero Two sets the boys up for failure as she tells them they are allowed to use the bath again.
Before we get the delicious bathtub riot we all knew was coming, there’s a great interaction between Kokoro and Mitsuru in the greenhouse. We’ve seen these two in this area before, when Mitsuru was suffering from post-Zero Two piloting. This time, Kokoro and Mitsuru talk about the language of flowers and the baby book that Kokoro brought back from the dead city. There’s a budding romance growing between these two, and I can’t be the only one who sees this.
Back inside the living quarters, the girls are wandering around the first floor and discover a set of caution-taped rooms. This mystery is solved later, but first, Zero Two appears behind Ikuno like Satan to begin her master plan.
After the boys walk into the bath at the same time the girls are bathing, Zero Two steals all the clothes in the baskets and runs away. Hiro gives chase to a laughing Zero Two who climbs to the roof and throws the clothes into the wind. Like in the ocean, Zero Two looks truly happy to be taking part in this craziness. She says she played along to feel and act more human, and I personally believed she succeeded. As the fighting between the boys and girls reaches a zenith, Nana and Hachi run in and admonish the kids for the continued battling. The squad breaks and goes to complain in their sectioned off rooms, and the girls berate Zero Two for her actions in the fray. However, Zero Two tells the girls they need to get their act together and say what they want now- they will all die one day, of course.
I laughed because this is seriously something I say to people.
Anyway, in the other room, Hiro admits to the other boys that he had a lot of fun playing around like this with the girls. He had never thought about the girl’s feelings until this point. The boys as a whole realize that their ogling was rude and leave to apologize to the girls.
Across the building, the girls reach a similar conclusion after Kokoro finally stands up and says her peace. However, Miku doesn’t want to apologize, since she’s adorably stubborn to a fault, and run away from the situation.
She breaks into only of the sealed off rooms, and we get quite the treat. The room itself looks like the dorm rooms we are already familiar with, but it looks as if it’s been recently lived in. There are stuffed animals, a photo, a set of journals, and even a withered plant in the window. Miku approaches the desk and looks at the photo, and her mind starts to break and vision goes fuzzy. The photo itself features a set of kids with the same Squad 13 insignia, but they all look normal, like the outsourced team we saw a few episodes ago, compared to our special snowflake team now.
Miku seems to be possibly remembering something, but regardless, she is crouched and holding her head when her classmates finally find her. Hiro doesn’t react the photo, but Zero Two explains that the pictured kids were likely the old Squad 13 that died. Then, realizing that if they don’t work together in some harmony they will die, the kids finally come to apologize. It’s sweet, but you can tell this difficult for Zorome and Miku considering their headstrong natures.
I do wonder if something a little more sinister is going on here, however. While I may be overreacting to the reveal of the prior squad, I’m thinking that maybe this current squad is an amalgam of sorts. We do know our current kids as a test group, so what if a few of them (or all) were survivors of the previous squad? That would maybe explain Miku’s reaction to the photo. Or, it’s possible that they simply are that prior squad, re-incarnated in some way? Of course, maybe none of that is the case, and it’s simply as Zero Two says it- that’s the old Squad 13 and they all died.
We follow up in one of the final scenes with the kids replacing the lilacs in the old parasite room, and we are also told that lilacs represent friendship, memories, and youth. With this, we are officially ending childhood for the new Squad 13.
Episode eight ends our goofy days with the kids in a bang, and I really can’t wait for the other shoe to drop as we race toward the climax of the season. It’s time for us to hit the momentum of the last act, and I have a feeling that some good, juicy story is right around the corner.