Thoughts & Feelings Column: Darling in the FRANXX – Episode Eighteen

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Episode eighteen soldiers on with the children continuing their homely charade as Papa and his APE’s make their move behind their backs, ready for the home stretch of their plans and the coming battle. There’s a great bit of action animation toward the middle of the episode that more than makes up for the last bit of non-action we’ve been subject to.

bKokoro and Mitsuru wake up after their night of illegal activity, only to see the goodness in life outside their window. The cherry blossoms representing Kokoro’s feelings and hope in the possible new growth inside her (that would be hoping too much, though).

In another room, Hachi debriefs Ichigo on the next move: Squad 13 will finally be joining the rest of the parasites at the specialized camp; abandoning their dying home to reach. Ichigo is rightly upset about being moved after so long of being ignored by Papa and APE, but since they don’t have much of a choice- she has to relent and agree to go.

Of course, none of the other kids want to leave either, but the orders are oddly convenient because everything in the plantation is shutting down in the exposed atmosphere. Soon they will have no food. Furthermore, almost all of the of the kids are experiencing symptoms of the Child Flu, even Goro, a double digit.

dIn the wake of the dying habit, Hiro wishes to hold a wedding for Kokoro and Mitsuru not realizing the irony in the situation. Futoshi seems to be the biggest supporter of Kokoro, and though Zorome says thigwhole idea is trouble, no one seems to bat an eye at the impending danger that comes from disobeying APE.

It’s pretty cute to see the squad work together to make the dream work: using curtains to make the wedding dress, Mitsuru making rings to exchange, and Ichigo eventually taking a group photo before the event using an old camera she found in the old rooms. Even Zorome chooses to bond with the group trough soccer, then eventually helping and finally growing up just a little more from his normally selfish-childlike self. I feel like Zorome is the Squad’s last true vestige of youth and seeing him grow here only proves that the entire Squad’s puberty finality is just around the corner.

Ikuno is the only person unable to help with prepping the house for the wedding due to her illness. All of the higher number parasites are far more sick than the double digits and up. The Child Flu must have something to do with FRANXX sync rates or the injections they put in the children or all of the above. Ichigo, worried about Ikuno’s health, steps in to check on her and learns that Ikuno actually agrees with Alpha in regards to gender being a nuisance because she has fallen in love with Ichigo and is wholly unable to act on her feelings freely like the boys are. 

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After some tears and hugs, Ichigo assures Ikuno that it’s okay to feel like she does, and though it all sucks, it’s completely to fine to be how you are. If Ikuno survives the final battle, she will have a long road to get over Ichigo, but I’m sure there a ton more parasites with similar feelings all around that she will be able to confide in and even find a stronger love than the admiration she feels toward Ichigo.

gWe then move through a few more scenes before settling on Zero Two, in the middle of drawing her book, trying to remember what happens after the wedding. She hears a terrible dry that fuzzes her mind and her room turns red as a black puddle rises across from her. All of the people she has killed over the years through her life-sucking begin to crawl out of the puddles and drag her into the nothingness. The vision’s background breaks and she sees the giant hand from the desert appear just before Hiro wakes her from her dream. Zero Two manages to regain her composure enough to tell Hiro she is okay which satisfies him for now, but these seem to be something she has dealt with before in some way and are something she doesn’t want to tell Hiro about in any way.

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When the wedding happens there is their terrible sense of foreboding through all the scenes, even before we see APE SWAT running in at Papas behest, lead by Alpha and the rest of the Nines. This bittersweet happiness is juxtaposed as we learn about the re-indoctrination that Squad 13 was previously exempt from until Kokoro and Mitsuru decided to get married. Only these two will be taken for this re-indoctrination, the rest of the squad will go un-harmed into the parasite camp.

As the ceremony proceeds, the tension reaches level 11, and it’s so cute and sad to see these kids happy for just a millisecond of their lives. Here’s a fun, but trite thing, when Mitsuru puts the ring on Kokoro’s finger, she flinches and says that’s okay to keep going- like a girl does in first-time hentai. Not sure why that was in there, but I want to think it was some comic relief before seeing these children’s lives ripped apart. The whole thing honestly breaks the scene apart so much that it has to be on purpose.

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Just before Kokoro and Mitsuru have their kiss, the APE assault commences and the children are taken away. There’s some great hand to hand animation here with Zero Two and the Nines, but they easily handle her. I didn’t realize how much I missed some of that good hand to hand combat, but this scene really scratched that itch.

The house is destroyed, and the remaining members of Squad 13 are left I the wake of the destruction. Hiro realizes that nothing has truly changed since their time in the Garden as the squad packs for the new posting.

lFor a brief moment we see Nana who is being held in a cell where Hachi asks what would happen if he were to have emotion now, too. There’s a flashback to Nana as a pilot and her losing her partner in battle. It seems likely that she was retired after this event and re-indoctrinated much like what Kokoro, Mitsuru and other parasites are going through now.

After Nana, we adjust to Papa and his loyal Ape-people as they talk about having an additional key even if their plan with the Klax princess failed. He talks about freeing some of the members form their bodies, which makes you remember how the people in Klax princess cave were bodiless. Papa may be an alien presence without a body and promises such release and immortality to these humans now. It’s possible that Papa and his group have been able to achieve some sort of hazy existence past the “bodily prison” as he would call it.

We now see this Camp for Children where the remaining Squad 13 members, as well as many other squads, are being held for the next battle. We are still missing Kokoro and Ichigo, but just as the kids begin to worry too much, there’s word that the two are arriving downstairs. The kids all clamor to the entrance to see their friends finally arrive at the facility. Unfortunately, both Kokoro and Mitsuru have completely forgotten each other, their memories altered to remove each member from their mind’s while remaining as a part of the squad.

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The last scenes feature Kokoro and Mitsuru wearing their rings, not knowing what they are for, and Kokoro staring at a blooming cherry tree, unsure of why she feels it to be significant in her life.

Even though we are taking a lot of time out to build and shatter these children, I do have full confidence that this show can be finished without any real rushing toward the end. I am very curious how the piloting is going to work at this point, too, what with Kokoro and Mitsuru believing each other to be new members of the team. Everything is finally coming to a convergence, and the next few episodes will be determining the pacing of the final arc: it’s time for the crunch.

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Read about episode nineteen! 

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