On a ruined, Mars-like planetoid sits Plantation, a mobile fort city where the pilot headquarters, Mistilteinn, is located. It’s here that a group of children are raised and trained to fight as pilots of the FRANXX to challenge giant monsters bent on humanity’s destruction. Hiro, code 016, is a failure, but one fated day he meets a horned woman named Zero Two and together both become an overwhelming FRANXX force.
I had a ton of fun with this first episode. Both A1 and Trigger have a great way of introducing us to a world by giving us just enough details to understand that exists, but not enough to be bored with the story’s execution. The animation side of things didn’t disappoint either with solid effort all around from the basics to the fighting. I’m really looking forward to this standout series, and I would love to add this to my very short list of liked mecha anime.
Episode two delves more into the specifics of piloting and sets up Hiro’s need for Zero Two as he remains unable to pilot without her.
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.
This episode is a ton of fun. All the sexiness and frustration converge in the most satisfying use of the Strelizia to date. I still feel lukewarm on Hiro, himself, but I’ve grown to really like the characters around him, and this episode only solidifies what a great team these kids can be- with the help of the super-powered Strelizia, of course.
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.
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.
Goro’s release is great, and since Ichigo wholly cares for Goro back- I’m sure it’s going to make for some great neural links in the future. Stronger bonds make stronger fighters, but at the end of the day, it feels good to finally see Goro happy.
This is a Zorome-centric episode, and as such, we begin with him narrating a reoccurring dream he has. It’s a very good dream because the dream itself is emblematic of a birth memory which is the quite possibly the most “Evangelion” thing I’ve seen so far, more so than even the water droplets from Hiro’s revelation episode. It’s fascinating to know that Zorome dreams of his own birth, in an almost horror-like manner while he longs for the adult world, and at the end of the episode we learn he no longer has this dream after seeing how the adults live.
Moving from the character-centric episodes, and back into the main story, Darling in the FRANXX is showing us this is as good as the team is going to get before the apocalypse.
Episodes thirteen and fourteen are accompanying episodes with all the heart and soul of something a little deeper than what the internet is calling a cheaper Evangelion. While there is quite a bit of homage packed in each episode of Darling in the FRANXX, the whole of the show stands on its own. I believe that these two episodes are great examples of how Darling is more than.
At the top of episode fifteen, we learn that the Gran Crevasse is a habitat that was destroyed by the Klax who now inhabit and swarm the area. Considering APE has been planning on coming back to this place for sometime, I am wondering if this is where the Klax infestation on this world began. It could make sense that as a result of experiments of some sort, these creatures went rogue and began to destroy the habitat.
With the end of last episode showing us the utter destruction of Squad 13’s home paired the victory Hero and Zero Two shared, episode sixteen picks up featuring a happy Zero Two who is filing her horns back down to a manageable size. She has no cares in the world as she ignores the sonic pang that hit her mind before the giant underground struck the surface world.
I would first like to say that I do enjoy these episodes with the kids enjoying their slow life as the world literally dies around them, but I am very concerned about the amount of time we are spending on this section. It feels like we should be moving more quickly since the ending should be ramping up soon. All of the content does feel needed so that we fully care for the all the characters, but I wonder if we couldn’t have sped any of this up in any way before now.
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.
Darling in the Franxx is wrapping up quite nicely, and all of our questions are getting answered. There’s a fair bit of mystery left, and even if we don’t find out what the Klax truly are, I’ll be happy just knowing that humanity declined so terribly over the course of about forty years.