Inspired by old familiar mecha, Darling in the FranXX tries to incorporate over-the-top elements of Gurren Laggan and symbolic yet dramatic elements of Evangelion.
Where it doesn't fail to deliver in generic combat, it not only fails to deliver in consistent plot, which it tries to build upon, but adds unnecessary elements of melodrama from characters, which just makes them look unrealistic and unlikable, it adds on extra awkward elements that makes sympathizing with the cast a pain and following the plot a chore.
Perhaps the cartoony mecha style emphasizes on that, but in the end it's a shallow show that foreshadows heavily on plot twists,
but doesn't follow through to them in the end.
If you enjoy "nu"-mecha anime with unnecessary fanservice, no respect to its own world building and plot, and no respect to the viewer - go ahead and give this a go. What might seem to be a popcorn flick at first, simply something fun to watch, ends up being something that simply spits on the viewer in multiple ways and calls it a day.
***Caution:*** This review contains spoilers for this predictable show. I have specifically and very clearly marked the spoiler sections (there aren't as many as you think, only 3 paragraphs’ worth) so you can still easily read my review and do not need to worry. As for the fans of the show, enter at your own volition since you will not find this review to exalt it in any manner, so to those who consider FranXX a 10/10, keep your temper in and let's begin. If you're a regular reader, please carry on :)
FranXX was hyped a lot. And that's just the short of it, it
had a huge marketing campaign and had a huge amount of anticipation with people calling it the “Next Evangelion” or a “Spiritual successor to Eva” and so on and so forth. The legendary Yabuki Kentarou was signed on doing the art for the manga adaptation for this unoriginal original and as a matter of fact, that's how I found out about the show in the first place and went in expecting the amazing show the marketing had me believe. Result? Well I can't surprise you since you might have seen the score I gave it. Yes. A mess. A terrible mess.
To begin with, the main part that is the reason fans gloss over this show, the characters. They are given little to no backstories and their roles to play are very less. Squad 13 mainly served as a bumbling group of teenagers (hmm… why teenagers in particular?) who don't know jackshit except for the so called “fact” that they must pilot the mechs known as FranXX and defeat these blue magma lover monsters called Klaxosaurs. Let that seep in. Why children? Most likely because they wanna appeal to the target audience of the show, teenagers. Unfortunately, that doesn't seem to be as fruitful as A-1 and Trigger thought it would because when you've got an idiotic group of teenagers who contribute nothing to character development, I don't think you end up with teenage viewers going crazy over a show. I mean, yes, teens in real life aren't always smart, but if given the chance, I'm sure they'd do something sensible when they need to, but we don't see such a thing at all. Why? All we see is random blushes and such stuff. I mean, these teens are acting like everyday teens, yes, that's fine but is this the premise to do so? A place where people are bombarded by the constant threat of Klaxosaurs? Kids are supposed to have fun yes, but not when you're literally guarding human lives from danger.
To move away from the characters for a moment, we move to another problem with the show, its connection. And don't you dare justify it by telling me it's an episodic anime, because it sure as hell is not. In reality, it's just mixed up completely and had too many ideas to implement together and instead of choosing one idea to go with, they probably chose all and excellently failed at all of them. Why? Poor connection. To hold up a plot you need connection, FranXX didn't offer any of that at all. It just dragged on and didn't leave any mention of what happened before and most importantly WHY the situation happened before. What could possibly be the reason behind this? Simple. Bad direction. All it takes to destroy the whole hard work of a show is bad direction. In fact, about 90% of the issues with the anime can be traced back to bad direction. If the show had a good director I suppose the show would have a direction to follow, but this being FranXX, it had to follow all the directions it could and then ended up nowhere. In the first episode I had the show at a shocking 9 and if you look at it now it's fallen pretty spectacularly. This is because of the show's bad direction; events were unconnected and an irritated yours truly almost smashed his screen onto the floor . Random stuff happening here with no explanation, and then random stuff happening there without explanation, was this anime devoid of sense or something? Because I did not find any of it anywhere. And then we've got the problem that follows that the story was unexplained. Why did this happen? Why did that happen? How did this occur? Where did this issue first occur? There were many questions asked by fans, and the answer is that it was clear both studios didn't want quality, they wanted the $$$ And that's me trying to be positive, we got zilch as in reality but eh, gotta act positive.
Needless to say, apart from a cliched mess of a story, it's disappointing in almost every other regard (read on for further explanation), serving as a reminder that it only takes one big mistake to spoil the whole effort put into an anime, or anything for that matter. Speaking of mistakes, we come to another part that had the cosplayers, fan artists and others crazy, the romance— particularly the romance between Zero Two and Hiro. First off, our two MCs. Zero Two was introduced as a waifu like character which immediately took the undeserving “deconstruction” tag which was ripped off from Eva (surprise surprise, FranXX ripped off a show) while giving us another useless MC who went by the self appointed name Hiro. Their romance was unexplained until way later into the series, an episode which even I liked, episode 13. They were largely unexplained for most of the anime’s run and it was only in the first episode of the second cour (episode 13) that tried to remedy this. Result? Thankfully good. Episode 13 was regarded as an excellent episode by even the harshest of critics since it explained a lot of the stuff between Hiro and Zero Two and obviously it was a flashback episode, yet despite being a flashback episode it was done well— surprising since this is FranXX. But the problem came afterwards; after that episode was done, we saw a lot of crap follow it in the form of the team getting “mad” at Zero Two for “hurting” Hiro for over dramatic effect and to make me sympathise with the characters. Why would you drag through 12 episodes just to see the one episode that seemed half decent and it goes back to its shitty formula? I loathed it even more.The episodes were cliched, unconnected messes with absolutely no relevance to the plot, just serving to pass time either to focus on Hiro or to make the fanboys go crazy over the fight scenes, which were nothing more than one hit kills and random dashes.
Moving on from there all we got were cheesy half hearted lines like “I wanna be with you forever” and all that teenage fantasy (severely paraphrased for ease of comprehensive analysis) and pointless romantic moments that don't have much to do with the plot. Why am I crushing the romance here even though I'm a romance fan? It's because FranXX deployed this romance at the wrong times, I can't even say I'm surprised anymore at this kind of problem. Then we go to the other cast, Ichigo is a character that served as a reminder about the stupidity of fanboys since her voice actor Kana Ichinose received death threats just because of her work as Ichigo. Anno would be proud. Ichigo’s character though wasn't fleshed out (to say nothing of the rest of the cast, especially Ikuno, Zorome and Miku) and her actions were basically “I'm jealous because I love him but can't reveal it to him because I'm shy” and that time when she DID do it, it was enough to even send non romance fans into a fit because it was done in a (dare I say it?) slutty way cause teenagers? I do not know. Then we come to the signature part which had many people divided as well, Kokoro. To delve into this horrible character we must enter minor spoiler territory so if you can't handle looking at a good character being turned into a whore please skip the marked spoiler section.
***Skip this paragraph if you don't want spoilers about this side character and want the relationship as a surprise. Spoilers begin: Kokoro was paired up with Futoshi who liked Kokoro a lot but suffered from the same problem as Ichigo. However, since he's male the fanboys didn't take or notice much issue, perhaps also because Futoshi wasn't made as a cockblocker character and instead was of the “I'll protect her” than a “I want him to love me instead”, only thing is that Kokoro turned out to “betray” Futoshi and instead go for an unlikely character who was largely ignored throughout the show, Mitsuru. She suddenly developed feelings for him and even kissed him for no concrete reason apart from taking the show into an extremely shitty direction because guess what? She wanted a baby. Why? Freakin’ teenagers… this is the worst way to relate to them. Then Kokoro went from a “I am not in love with Futoshi but he's a kind person” to an “I want Mitsuru’s @#$_ inside me". I'm not even joking. This LITERALLY happened. Why am I rambling on about this? Because that's definitely not how you make a show about teenagers because that's not at all representative of the majority. Anyway, then they suddenly want to get married (!?) and we see other crap follow as well without explanation or reason, they just wanna fill time at this rate. With what? Throwing in the notion that Kokoro is pregnant later on. Teenage pregnancy, a very common thing in teens nowadays amiright? Wrong. And you know what worse? The fact that the folks at FranXX.inc pulled the WORST cliche to go with this. Both of them are caught and are “brainwashed” and their memories are “stored” somewhere. If VIRM didn't want to let them regain their memories then why store them in the first place? Why not “delete” them into oblivion? Plot armour I say. Convenience too… this makes many viewers realise that the episode was just existing to pass time and fool the viewers into thinking their time into the episode was worth it? Spoiler end***
This brings us on to the next point, underused characters. Namely Miku, Zorome and Ikuno. Not to mention Goro but he got a little bit of a focus so I'll give him a brief look later. Miku and Zorome were shown as characters who had a rivalry-love which seemed fresh and interesting but that was pulled down along with the anime because they didn't focus on these two at all. What made them attracted to each other? Why are they paired up together? These questions were never answered and I was left hanging, which was disappointing since Miku apart from sharing the same hairstyle as the superstar with the same name (my profile picture character to those of you non-Vocaloid fans) she was one of the few characters who was believable as a teenager. Many people wouldn't notice that these two weren't given enough focus and that was sad because this fresh idea could be explored a lot more and I wouldn't be surprised if I found their rivalry-love better than the two main characters, and don't forget, I liked Miku as a character as well.
Leaving us with the last two, Ikuno and Goro. Ikuno was mainly used as fodder for Mitsuru to frown upon so that he could get hooked to the resident slut Kokoro (I don't think I should call her that because she didn't like Futoshi but considered him kind but then I'm disappointed because like Miku, I liked Kokoro, only that love turned to hate since FranXX ruined her) and Ikuno was ignored for the rest of the anime, she wasn't given lines and that one “I want a baby” episode scene where she DID say something, it wasn't explained WHY she stepped forward and did her act. My guess is because since she didn't have any lines, the show didn't want to make her look like a dumbass so they forcefully gave her lines and that was all. Then we enter spoiler territory yet again because Ikuno was given that small 5 minute focus in a later episode.
***Minor Spoiler Begin: Since Ikuno wasn't given a love interest the folks at FranXX.inc thought it's a good idea to introduce some Yuri at the worst possible time and in the worst possible way, as such, the result was never spoken of again, which pretty much explains how the “affair” went. Needless to say, this was a last ditch effort to save her character and it served as the final nail in the coffin for Ikuno. Minor Spoiler End***
We then come to the last character, Goro. Apart from being mildly explored, he served as the third wheel-ish character who was later shown as being in love with Ichigo unsurprisingly, unfortunately he as mentioned wasn't explored much and so was thrown into the sidelines to focus on our main characters, yet another character thrown aside who had a lot of potential to do great things in this mess of an anime. I haven't spoken of any “villains” yet, as this important role was destroyed by the Iotas, who were, like every other thing in the anime, unexplained, unwanted and irrelevant. They served as somewhat of a “backstory” to Zero Two despite not going into detail at all.
As mentioned above there was no proper backstory to Squad 13. Some people said it's because sci-fi shows “don't need backstories”. This is plain wrong because if you don't have backstories of your character, there won't be any depth to them (see the word depth again and imagine, if there's no backstory, there's no depth, which means the characters are shallow) and when the characters simply don't develop at all during the course of the anime, you end up with flat characters who fall on their face to the plot. Why am I saying this? Hiro and the others didn't change at all mentally from the first episode to the last. Some might say Hiro’s infatuation with 02 makes him a “developed character” but his rejection of his other members in Squad 13 proves that wrong. Others say that “characterisation is excused in a sci-fi anime”. At first it seemed as a joke to me but when people seriously started talking about this as a defense I got concerned and felt I needed to clarify this. Take arguably the best sci-fi show as an example to that statement: Steins;Gate. It definitely has development throughout the series. How? Okabe starts to realise he can't do anything, and tries even harder, Makise realises she can't do things alone, Mayuri does more tuturus because people around her are sad, or to move from the joke, Mayuri realises that she needs Okabe and he needs her, this is what development in a sci-fi is. FranXX, on the other hand, didn't have any development to the show, its characters, or anything. It felt more like characters felt less real each time they appeared, and I'm not talking about them being realistic and human-like since that's not what an anime’s main target is everytime, I'm talking about them being acceptable as a character which wasn't at all seen. No characterisation is only excused in slice of life anime since we're understandably looking at the lives of the characters and so there's no plot and therefore no development. FranXX isn't a slice of life, it's (terribly weak) progression proved that.
Moving back to the MC of our wonderful series, Hiro. I hadn't given him enough attention and will do so now. From the start he was unexplained. Why was he a prodigy? What was he doing before meeting Zero Two? What made him so special? To stand out from the rest of the cast, you need distinctive qualities that set you apart from other characters, Hiro had none of that. He was plain and boring. Many may point out that him being in love with 02 would mean that it makes him different from other MCs but that's wrong because apart from his “love” for 02, nothing else was brought into his character. Although towards the end it was shown that he had become selfish and cared about 02 more than his squad who cared about him, it still isn't the kind of development that makes you go “Oh, that changed my view of him positively” and if you read that line again you'll probably understand why too. Then we come to the point that he named everyone else, which was revealed early on. This surprisingly is a good thing I saw. He named Ichigo and named other parasites as well which gave it a child-like feeling (perhaps the only successful child-like/teenage feeling that was executed properly throughout the anime, bear in mind this flashback was 2 minutes long) although it wasn't explained at all I still felt an iota of warmth. And nothing else I suppose.
Going back to the other “villains”, the Iotas. Since they came in at random times and with random half baked reasons, unsurprisingly they served as yet another thing that was meant to be loathed in the anime. Another irritating thing is how they suddenly became buddy-buddy with Hiro and team in the final arc. I suppose now that FranXX has exhausted whatever little “creativity” they had, they wanted to end with a shounen-esque “everyone bands together to fight the enemy”? I mean, not complaining about the trope but was there any sensible stuff going on beforehand? Speaking of insane stuff going on beforehand, FranXX was said to have been in a post apocalyptic world all of a sudden which we were given hints of in the beach episode for about 20 seconds and then later shown in “detail” (I don't even know why I'm so generously awarding that word when it's meaning wasn't followed at all) in episode 19, which to FranXX’s favour, was a decent episode. But until then for the first 18 episodes, it remained largely unexplained and I don't think I can award a show a point for revealing something so important when it's finished about 80% of it's run. Not a good practice and it returns more harm than good which by now is definitely not what I need to calm myself down. Oh youth. But then wait! Youth reminds me that I should yet again cover another important part about the “juvenile” aspect of this show.
Spoiler Paragraph (or Spoiler-graph) for the final arc below. Skip this paragraph if you don't want spoilers for the final arc. If you're okay with them, then please continue :)
***Spoiler for last arc begin: The most frustrating part of FranXX is by far the last arc. After pointless teenage melodrama, the FranXX team thought of what “ideas” can be added to “save” the anime and they did what every laughable show tries to do as a last ditch effort. To take the battle into (wait for it) SPAAAAAACEEEEEE. Yes. FranXX pulled THAT trope. What an insult to Star Wars and Star Trek. Anyway back to this show, the sudden shift in tones (first a teenage melodrama, then a clone war, then a space war? Is this a tutorial on how NOT to make Star Wars ripoffs?) and extremely convenient and unexplained reveals (more on that in a bit) coming out of nowhere? I don't think that makes for a coherent plot at all. Add to that another desperate added shounen trope where the enemy suddenly becomes your friend??? And he sacrifices his life for you just a while after you rescue him??? The Klaxosaur Princess was set as the antagonist at around the third quarter of the show and she suddenly joined Hiro’s side and sacrificed her life for him? What happened to her people, the Klaxosaurs? What happened to saving the world? And then suddenly VIRM puts themselves as the villains despite the show trying to establish the Klaxosaurs as the villains and then the aforementioned Klaxosaur Princess as an antagonist? And then their boss is a Power Rangers ripoff??? What even was that last arc?! The industry can do without more Dadolf Scmitlers you know! We've seen enough of this trope! Like when they're losing Papa and the others suddenly give the order to destroy Earth? Nanja sorya??? And then if you thought all this stupidity wasn't enough, we suddenly see YET ANOTHER problem with the show surface, Plot armour. If I hadn't explained this before, FranXX suffered from yet another plot hole in the form of plot armour. The Iotas lost a few of their members but Hiro and team were left unscathed, the only “injury” being Ikuno’s hair being turned white… Throughout the course of the show Squad 13 was met with life or death situations but I was confused since no one died. It can't be a life or death situation if everyone survives, or at least when you have so many life or death situations and no one dies even once I think that's authentically bullshit. Why fill it to the brim with Deus Ex Machina crap then? In the last 3 episodes we saw Hiro and team suddenly band together and go to space, but then the pathetic dialogue in the previous episodes of the anime became even worse, when they're in space they're going “We're really in space huh?” And Mitsuru’s reason for staying being “I wanna stay because I want to”? Even the dialogues took a huge hit and fell even further… Add to that the pointless Mobile Suit Gundam I ripoff battle except FranXX’s was much worse because everyone survived??? Not to mention Zero Two eating Hiro through her teleport to Hiro fro Earth directly in front of Hiro and she eats him and takes him to the dream world only to play hard to get? If you're not understanding at all then you have common sense, because no sensible person could understand WHAT happened and WHY. Let's not add to that horrible reasons to horrible dialogues such as bringing up love when your Squadmate is suffering? And then Hiro and Zero Two immediately go leave the Solar System and the others can't tag along because “it's not possible”? This is the limit of cliches but the studios broke it long long ago. And I want to skip over that last episode since that was the only (remotely) decent (?) part of this arc, but the means done to achieve it wasn't and I spoke enough on that... Spoiler end***
FranXX tries to show us that adults are somewhat tyrants and displays the children’s “struggle” to gaining “independence” even though they're perfectly fine with their lives with no issues. But you know what they say, if you've got no issues, you make them, and that's EXACTLY what FranXX stayed true to. Trying to show us that our teenage cast is “growing” by acting “mature” with examples as “ wanting to have babies” and “doing the kitty” (don't search up on that last one) both of which are related and were attempted by Kokoro and Mitsuru. Yet again you ask. Why? I do not know why the show did it. You can't even tell anymore who they're trying to make the show relatable for. Then we have to look at the teenage drama as well that follows (that I covered above).
Spoiler Paragraph (or Spoiler-graph) about a range of questions on things that were unanswered throughout the course of the anime below. Skip this paragraph if you don't want spoilers on these questions. If you're okay with them, then as expected, read on.
***Spoiler questions begin: FranXX as mentioned tried very very hard to be edgy by leaving out some so-called “mystery” feel by not answering the most crucial questions many had throughout the course of the anime. Although episode 13 answered the questions many people had in the first half, there was no such plausible explanation for the second half’s stupidity. What makes me say that? We got weak explanations or no explanations. For example why was the enemy VIRM all along? What was their purpose? Why does Hiro not care about the rest of Squad 13 who he's lived with all his life and why is he so attached to Zero Two despite the above problem? Why are the problems for the characters happening? Who is to blame and why? Despite this being answered (VIRM) there was no proper explanation as to WHY the villains did it? What was their purpose? Why is Ichigo the leader of the group? Why is 02 not explained properly? How does she looks human and how did it happen (also why does she have pink hair when she was a clone of one with white or blue hair)? How are the rejected people treated? What happens to them? What about their memories? Although their memories as mentioned were stored in some place there's no explanation as to why they're stored. Why am I asking that question? When VIRM doesn't want their puppets to regain their memory, why store their memory? And how is the memory stored anyway? Why are teens chosen to pilot the FranXX? Don't tell me it's because their sex organs are most prominent because the teenage years is not the age when this is so. Why are pregnant girls not able to pilot the FranXX? How did the Iotas suddenly be able to join Hiro in the last arc? Weren't they broken or something? Why do Hiro’s group care and still chase Hiro despite him having rejected them for his “one true love” Zero Two? What was the bullcrap about them going to space and space being the important stuff? Like, what was that cop out explanation about VIRM and the enemies being the aliens? Who and what was the Klaxosaur Princess? Who were the Klaxosaurs? No detailed explanations were given. To cover the villains one last time, VIRM. We look again at the Dadolf Scmitler trope that FranXX.inc deployed. To viewers of Grancrest Senki who aren't familiar with the Dadolf Scmitler trope, VIRM is basically the Mage Academy, for the first 20 Episodes we were focused on only one villain but suddenly that villain changes in around the 20th episode and they tell us the real villains were someone else all along? (Surprising how both shows deploy the same cliche in the same episode number. Coincidence? I think not), Why is this bad? This is bad because it makes the viewer question if the time they spent on the first 20 episodes even worth it. I mean, if you really HAD to do this, why do it so late? And instead, why not just make an OVA of the last 6-8 episodes and treat it as the same thing? I'm sure it would get a higher score from me and other disgruntled people if they did this instead because our time was wasted… Spoiler questions end***
With all that's said, eagle eyed readers might have noticed that I haven't trashed the art or the music. That's because it isn't shit. And continue to find out. Since it was a collaboration project with A-1 and Trigger (and later Cloverworks because budget issues?) many expected the art to look amazing and it did actually. They tried to make a world that looked beautiful and mostly succeeded in doing that but you can't award points to a show for “looking good” as with what the “mainstream” gaming critics like IGN often do (“CoD a 9/10 because it looks good?” Have you even seen what they're doing now ripping off Fortnite?) so though the art looked good thanks to the colourful backgrounds and eye-catching scenery from time to time, it was in vain as the show couldn't manage to utilise it well into its plot. Another thing that the show did good was the sound. Even though I've been (rightfully) trashing the show left and right, I have to give credit where it's due, FranXX’s usage of synth tracks are rarely seen in anime and obviously serve for something really good in terms of listening especially when you're using headphones (and not streaming the show). Then we move onto the OP/EDs selection, I felt that the show went lazy and just changed the OP a bit and passed it off as an OP 2, but the EDs were great. If only FranXX used those EDs more in the second half and don't abruptly end the episode I'd have a positive opinion of the show. But I'm guilty of singing “Torikago” from the show so gotta give a point to that I guess? But oh wait, they underused all the EDs anyway.
Overall, FranXX is a mess which was over hyped and tried it's best to stay relevant by throwing in useless storylines all of which were riddled by plot holes and Deus ex machinas which were unconnected and not to mention completely unrelated events and random crap here and there (from teenage drama to Star Wars to Power Rangers? MASAKA???), to remain positive, towards the end, I only ever found the two caretakers Hachi and Nana (especially Nana) interesting and likeable since they had an aura of mystery and the 30 seconds they appeared in their few episodes were all great. Miku and Goro too were characters I pretty much liked but weren't explored well since they were thrown aside for Hiro and Zero Two unfortunately. If the show had good direction, I'm sure it would have turned out to be one of my favourite anime of all time and for many other disillusioned fans-turned-critics as well. FranXX sadly will always serve as a reminder to how one big mistake in the form of bad directing can jeopardize the whole premise of a show.
Special thanks to TheCobraSlayer for proof-reading the review.
For decades, glorious Nippon has been growing closer to extinction. To cure Nippon through the limitless power of anime, our lord and savior Trigger has blessed us with Darling in the FranXX! But to our surprise, this anime was touched by Satan himself, A-1 Pictures, and its true purpose was to accelerate the extinction!!
(Long spoiler filled review ahead. Spoiler-free TL;DR at the end.)
With the declining birthrate in Japan, people are living longer, but fewer babies are being born; there aren’t enough young people to take care of the elderly. The Japanese government is spending more money on health care, the workforce is shrinking with less
young people to fill jobs, people are often being overworked due to a lack of employees, the economy isn’t flowing properly. The country’s issues become abundantly clear when looking at how pharmacies stock their shelves with more diapers for adults than for kids.
Then there’s Darling in the Franxx, a shoddily written clusterfuck of a mecha series that attempts to inform it's audience about Japan’s declining birthrate. Yet when it does address the issue of birthrate, it only manages to conjure the most asinine, idiotic, and offensive answers possible. While it’s animation, storyboarding, and fight choreography are exceptional for at least half of the show, it’s writing fails on every conceivable level. Beginning as a subpar and predictable character-driven drama with a vague sci-fi setting, it gradually fell into incoherence and the lack of information was a trick used to mask the nonsensical lore.
Part 1: [Hiro & Zero Two]
The first indication that something horribly wrong with A-1 Pictures/Trigger’s dystopian mecha series Darling in the Franxx appears in the first scene of episode one; a monologue by the monotonous protagonist Hiro and his soon to be wild waifu Zero Two.
“The Jian, also known as the bird that shares wings, only possesses one wing. Unless a male and female pair lean on each other and act as one, they’re incapable of flight.”
This metaphor is symbolized throughout the series, it can be found on the characters’ uniforms and on the futuristic infrastructure, yet there is no such thing as a ‘Jian’ bird in real nature. There is no species of bird that only has one wing, even implying a bird like that wouldn’t die out through natural selection is ridiculous. This metaphor has two meanings; the literal: the mechas the kids pilot known as Franxx cannot fly without a male-female pair, as the series demonstrated in Partner Shuffle when two girls were explicitly unable to pilot together (ep. 11). The theme applicable to the audience: that every human has a physical for need another person of the opposite sex, throughout the show we see the characters experience this. Franxx mistakes relying on another human for survival as love, it’s not. That’s just codependency.
Never does the show attempt to refute the message that codependency is necessary for survival, it only romanticizes toxicity by building Hiro and Zero Two’s relationship on nothing but things they need from each other, never actual love. He needs her because he has no one else he can pilot with, she needs him because he’s the first partner she hasn’t killed. Any struggles they face are caused by plot contrivances pulling them apart then putting them back together with fanfare to trick you into thinking they actually overcame something. Yet, they’re framed as the happiest and most exemplary couple in the series. This isn’t love, it’s codependency! They both NEED something from one another and that’s what is tying them together, not a bond! They’re like two snakes wrapping around each other until one of them suffocates first.
At the beginning of the series, Hiro is wallowing in self-pity because he was just too good for his last piloting partner, she was a lame normal girl and the show decides he needs a wilder girl. He’s just a potato self-insert protagonist, everyone loves him for reasons that aren’t nearly compelling enough to the viewer. Seeing all of the characters in love with or admire Hiro feels so unnatural, it’s so obvious that they’re deliberately written to like him regardless of how little charisma he has. All of Hiro’s struggles are rooted in him being better than everyone else. He just perceives himself as being worse because of his frustratingly low self-confidence. The show reminds us of this at every chance it gets with self-pitying inner monologues, but no matter how much he annoys us he never gets anywhere near believability.
Once his wild waifu Zero Two shows up and they start piloting with one another, he finally feels fulfilled. She’s a half monster half human hybrid and she has horns. That's the single flimsy explanation we get for her craziness, not nearly enough to find her personality believable, but at least she didn't have the same generic design as all of the other characters. She’s known as the ‘partner killer’ because anyone who pilots with her dies after three times, keep in mind this was back when she was allowed to have interesting character traits. This conflict gave the show chance to discuss how Hiro felt physical pain when he piloted with her, but as we would come to see, the show had no interest in delving into its characters in any meaningful way. Zero Two spends the first half of the show wallowing in angst because she’s not a human or whatever, which is moderately intriguing because she develops PTSD and in hallucinations sees the past partners she killed. It gave the show a chance to actually develop her in a meaningful way, but this was dropped entirely for the sake of making her relationship with Hiro seem as saccharine as possible.
The Beast and the Prince (ep.13), their backstory episode more or less existed solely to contribute to the cloying tone. Zero Two began as a test subject for the creator of the partner piloting system Dr. Franxx himself, and he’s a really evil guy so the episode spends a fair bit of time on her being tortured. Genericness and predictability aside, the episode itself is decent enough upon first inspection; Hiro became friends with Zero two as a kid while in training, he taught her what it’s like to be a normal kid, they tried to escape Dr. Franxx together but were eventually caught, and then their memories of each other were erased. I personally didn’t care for the episode considering it was more or less a copy of a climactic scene from Yuri Kuma Arashi; it directly ripped storyboards, narrative beats, but it had none of the thematic implications. Franxx copies so many great anime like this to craft a hackneyed story that’s less interesting than even one of its parts. The only reason anyone will have to remember this anime is for the climactic moments, and I can’t give it any credit for those knowing how much worse it is than the material it plagiarized.
The travesty that was Punishment and Confessions (ep.14) was the turning point in the series when it lost any chance to develop the two leads beyond their one-dimensional starting point. In this episode, Hiro’s squad separate him and Zero Two because their last time piloting together left him in critical condition with her simply remarking something like ‘if he can’t handle it then he’s not worth it.’ Hiro’s squad, in spite of being mostly cardboard-cutout non-characters, are always in the right when they call out Hiro for his bullshit. The major cause of conflict between them is when Zero Two goes to visit Hiro but when she arrives at the infirmary, by some coincidence Hiro happened to have snuck out of the room and went looking for her. When she noticed he was missing, she went into psycho girlfriend mode and tried to murder his friends to find him. Then through another coincidence Hiro returned and see this brawl, convincing him to break off their relationship.
This isn’t a conflict that arises due to their difference in personalities, it’s a lazy ass plot contrivance. It only existed for them to be able to have a reunion a single episode later and act like they actually overcame something, they did not learn ANYTHING from this. Hiro and his friends all forgive Zero Two with no discussion whatsoever in the next goddamn episode, no apologies for her beating the crap out of all of them. The show treats this like the grandest climax so far; for the last time in Trigger's fantastic sakuga is on display, then it’s pure mediocrity for the following nine episodes. Their reunion had virtually no impact narratively because it contradicted what we just saw in the previous episode and it nullified all of Zero Two’s emotional baggage. After episode 15 the whole partner killer thing is forgotten, her PTSD is not discussed again, her being half monster is barely an afterthought, all because somehow being in a codependent relationship helped her. After episode 15 they were still very much relying on one another to survive, they didn’t develop in an organic way. Eventually, their parasitic relationship led to Zero Two sacrificing herself, becoming a rock and also turning into a giant space robot lady.
In the beginning, Zero Two was the most interesting character in the series; she was defined by her unpredictability, she had intriguing emotional hang-ups, she had potential to be a good character. Then by the end, she became a rock, both in physically and metaphorically. She lost any edge she had because her wildness was tamed by Hiro. As we see throughout the series this is the case with all of the pairings, their relationships stunt character growth. For the rest of the show, Zero Two had no agency over the story other than sacrificing herself for her darling's sake.
Part 2: [Story & Setting]
In the early episodes of Franxx, little emphasis is put on the setting, it’s purposefully left vague for the majority of the show. Post-apocalyptic Earth is mostly deserts, a council of powerful adults issue orders to the various squads of kids to protect the plantations containing adults unfit for battle. Kids pilot mechas to destroy oncoming attacks from giant alien creatures known as Klaxosaurs.
What began as a standard, but functional premise, rapidly descended into nonsense. With each big reveal and twist the show gradually lost what the main story was even about. At the start of the series the creatures the kids fight are aliens, then it’s revealed to be an older form of humans, then it’s revealed the council of adults were the real aliens all along, because why the hell not. Then it’s revealed that all of the adults are immortal because they injected molten lava into themselves. There are so many conflicting pieces in the lore of Franxx, it's total illogical nonsense. The best way to look at the writing in Franxx is from a thematic perspective because that’s all the show seems to care about.
Rather than competently crafting a story Franxx puts more emphasis on is its characters, themes, emotions. Similar to the mecha classics that it copies incessantly, like Evangelion and Gunbuster, this is an emotional narrative. Except, they don’t know how to make characters feel like believable humans and the themes attempt social commentary without actually commenting on person/group of people that exist in the real world.
The story progresses in a semi-episodic structure similar to Evangelion, episodes typically do not pick up right where the previous ones leave off plot-wise. Instead, they follow the squad of the ten main characters as they experience becoming pilots and overcoming drama amongst one another, all while delivering small details on the setting to keep you intrigued to where it may go. If Franxx were actually good, this plot structure could work just as well as the shows it’s imitating, but it’s so much worse. Despite being relatively well animated, its story beats are mind-numbingly generic and it almost never surprises. It feels like the script was generated by a soulless corporation, ticking off a checklist with each generic story beat, cliched character archetype, and seemingly important themes used cheaply as window dressing.
While watching Franxx, you are always ten steps ahead of the characters. They’re shocked by the most mundane tropes found in any sci-fi dystopian stories. Like when the main cast discovers they aren’t the first squad of kids who lived in their dormitory, it was information hinted at us many times over with the kids constantly saying “oh I can’t wait to be an adult someday…” Wow, what a shocker, the menacing council of enigmatic hooded figures leading an army of child soldiers are actually evil. Who could have guessed?? Apparently none of the characters. This is an issue all throughout the series, the story beats are so standard yet the show feels the need to present it with arbitrary foreshadowing as if it’s not obvious enough already. Franxx is the kind of series that doesn’t believe it’s audience is capable of thinking beyond the level of a toddler, so at every chance it gets it spoon-feeds us information, making it even more unbearable to watch. Expecting us to be brain dead idiots or very young children is also what lead Franxx to create some of the most hilariously stupid metaphors in anime.
The mechas and how the kids pilot them are very obnoxiously a metaphor for sex; the boy mounting the girl in a doggy style position, complete with sex terminology to describe the mechas and seating positions. As if it the sex analogy wasn’t clear enough, the characters’ piloting banter always sounds like they’re talking about sex rather than I don’t know, fighting aliens. The mechas themselves are for some unexplained reason female, with over-sexualized features so there is always fanservice right in the middle of fight scenes to distract you from the action. They're a mishmash of ugly colors and random accessories that make no sense, the designs are hideous desperately trying to look attractive. And the thing is, the kids have been raised in a sterile environment devoid of any information about sexuality, so they don’t even know how perverted the act of piloting is. First of all, that’s kind of creepy and only adds to the layer of sleazy fanservice covering this whole mess, secondly, it presents the themes of procreation in such a painstakingly literal way that there is no room for analysis. If Franxx had even a little self-awareness, this tonal whiplash could have been at least partially avoided if it were framed as humorous, instead, it’s unknowingly parodying itself by being as stupid as possible.
That leads us to the fact that the world of Darling in the Franxx makes no goddamn sense. It’s full of contradictions. We’re constantly told that the kids don’t know anything about sexuality, they don’t even know what a kiss is, yet they for some reason they view nudity as inherently sexual. Clearly, the writers did not consider what a culture would look like if boys and girls are raised alongside each other without any real contact with adults or exposure to sex. The boys ‘ogle’ the girls pervertedly which makes no sense whatsoever because they should not know to view them as sexual, and the fact that the girls feel shame, in turn, makes no sense either. If the show hadn’t forced that pointless beach episode in, these issues wouldn’t have been as noticeable. In a better written dystopian story, the characters' puberty would be free of expectations that would typically be passed onto them by society. However rather than carefully considering the dynamics of the sci-fi setting they were attempting to create, the writers simply gave us cliched romantic comedy hijinks seen in any generic anime.
Part 3 [WHAT THE FUCK IS FRANXX EVEN ABOUT?]
The world building in Darling in the Franxx is flat out awful, which is what makes the vast majority of the story feel incredibly shapeless. It takes seventeen episodes for Franxx to actually clarify what the hell it is actually commenting on in the real world. If Franxx wanted to be a good reflection the birthrate decline in Japan it would have had to actually make use of its sci-fi setting beyond just stupid sex-powered mechas. For starters, a lack of kids being born would be an explicit conflict in the story to reflect the birth rate decline in modern day Japan. However, there are a TON of children in Franxx! So many that they are able to throw them into cryosleep as we see in episode 22. There is a surplus of kids in Franxx if discussing birth-rate was the real goal of the show then they failed from the start. The issues the heroes in Darling in the Franxx face is not that there aren’t enough children. They want to have children the normal way with the boy-girl pairs they were assigned to, but the aliens in control of their system do not allow that.
Episode 17 is the moment that the series lays down its themes clearer than it ever had before. Kokoro voices that she wants to have a baby in order to feel fulfilled, then the evil Squad Nine comes and takes her book on pregnancy and they tell her humans have cast away their reproductive organs because they cause too much unnecessary drama. He further clarifies by stating the firm belief of APE, the council of aliens leading the anti-reproduction regime.
This is simply connecting a person's fertility directly to their emotional depth. The world of Franxx says you don’t need to reproduce OR have emotion, and that’s what the main characters are trying to break away from. Of course, why wouldn’t they want to break out of a system like that? But why? What does it represent? What person or group in the real world is preventing people from having kids because they want to be shallow, genderless, and without children? No one! It's social commentary written by someone who is out of touch with reality.
In the awful backstory of “Inhumanity” (ep.19), Dr. Franxx voices that he believes humans are only truly beautiful if they can procreate, which is why he puts faith in Hiro’s squad to become “real humans” and create children in his designated forced piloting system. The piloting is just pseudo-science that very obviously has no reason for existing outside of serving the show’s message and trashy fan service. The show takes this message even further by portraying any person or group who doesn’t procreate the Franxx way as a threat to humanity.
Franxx is very much able to say a traditional family is good; mother, father, procreating, that is a good message for tackling birthrate. But for some reason, it chooses to frame anyone who chooses not to adhere to the traditionalist family setup as a threat to mankind. Franxx just ignores the fact that there are many other ways people can have a family, and still live fulfilled lives. There can be same-sex relationships, people can adopt kids, or even to not have children at all, but Franxx says these are all signs of inhumanity. That hilariously stupid wedding episode served only to convey this message but in the most hamfisted way possible. In episode 18, the alien SWAT team led by APE literally raids the makeshift wedding between Kokoro and Mitsuru. They tear the bride and groom apart, then erasing their memories of one another.
The entire wedding arc was unnecessary to the story and boring as hell, it was just crammed in there for the sake of pushing these themes even more. APE is just the idea of diversity but overblown to ridiculous proportions. It antagonizes anyone who opposes traditionalism to an absurd degree, but it also portrays traditionalists as insanely hysterical in their beliefs in an offensively stereotypical way. Both sides of the political spectrum are written in a way that is so overblown to an alienating degree that very few people will want to agree with it. When the purpose of a piece of art is to change the audience's political views, it is fitting to label it as propaganda. However, assuming that level of thought and consideration was put into the story would be giving the moron who wrote it way too much credit. Regardless of your stance on the themes in Franxx, this is all it has to offer in terms of in-depth analysis, other than that it's boring teenage drama between underdeveloped characters.
Part 4: [The Squad]
How could this have happened?! The voice actors were good enough to mask a lack of depth, the animators were talented enough to make them look like lively pieces of cardboard (at least in the first half), but nope instead they are unavoidably awful and no icing will make this pile of shit resemble a cake. At best they’re forgettable, but at worst they’re horribly portrayed archetypes that will make you feel sorry for how badly the show treats them. There was so much potential in most of these characters, but without writers capable of crafting cohesive or satisfying arcs, all of them remain flat cardboard cutouts only existing to support Hiro and Zero Two’s efforts to be the most obnoxious couple in the show.
All this poor girl did was have a crush on the potato protagonist, and that caused people to send her voice actress death threats. They’re children, who gives a shit about who likes who? Her reason for actually liking him is so vague and petty, they were friends as children. And per Franxx’s idiot logic, your first affectionate interaction with a person will decide who you’re attracted to when you're older. Ichigo had a few interesting moments of standing up to Zero Two for the sake of protecting Hiro, it of course went how you expect, with the two parasites wallowing in codependency and nothing developing. She does very little throughout the show aside from looking pouty whenever she sees the two leads acting lovey-dovey around her. It was impossible for me to sympathize with her because I can’t comprehend why she would feel so strongly towards a potato. Regardless of her love, by the end, she does not change at all despite being the most prominent supporting character.
Occasionally Goro calls Hiro out on his bullshit in some of the most satisfying scenes of the series, then in the most disappointing moments of the series, he immediately apologizes and acknowledges Hiro’s superiority. Goro is allowed to be a character for a few seconds once every few episodes, but for the remainder of the show, he has no stakes in the story.
Goro’s main attribute is that he’s a nice guy who feels unrequited love for Ichigo. He respects her and acknowledges that she has feelings for Hiro and doesn’t overstep his boundaries. He’s the most likable member of the whole cast, but sadly there is literally nothing to him than his unrequited love for Ichigo. His whole character arc culminates very early on in “Triangle Bomb” (ep. 9) when he confesses his love to Ichigo in the best way he could, explicitly stating he doesn’t want to pressure her but wanted to clear the tension between them because he is a nice and respectful guy.
Then Ichigo shrugs off his confession with “I don’t know how to respond to that,”
...and then she literally doesn’t...
FOR THE ENTIRE SHOW.
Ok, I was bracing myself by talking about Goro first because Kokoro is by far the worst member of the squad. Not only is she the source of many plot holes, she is more or less a vehicle for the show’s creator to preach the themes. In the totally 100% necessary beach episode (ep.7), she finds her bible, a book on pregnancy, and for the remainder of the series, she preaches it like scripture. She uses it to learn about sexuality, weddings, and childbirth. In “Boys x Girls” (ep.8) she references the book to explain why the boys were ogling the girls, she says ‘we have to put up with their perviness in order to pilot together and to eventually have a family with them.’ Kokoro believes that girls are supposed to ignore any problems they have with the boys because they have to make a baby regardless of how they feel. Not only is this a harmful message for viewers, it also causes even more stagnant character writing because the pilot pairings never have discussions about their troubles. Nothing is ever overcome because Kokoro perpetuates this outdated rhetoric.
Kokoro does very little throughout the show, mostly sitting passively until she gets the baby craziness and demands to be allowed to have a child. After promising she would stay with her piloting partner Futoshi, she immediately kicks him to the curb for a new guy in episode 11 for no other reason than he’s fat and she doesn’t want her kid to have the fat genes. So needless to say she’s kind of a monster and I felt no sympathy whatsoever.
That leads us to the makeshift wedding they come up with which was one of the stupidest moments in the show; for some reason, right before she is wed to Mitsuru they’re raided by APE with their SWAT team. It’s totally ridiculous to think that a futuristic advanced society of aliens could kick down the door at any moment, but they chose to wait just as the two are about to kiss. And seeing them waving around guns at a wedding full of kids is so unbelievably over-the-top. That whole marriage episode was a trudge to get through, and I was honestly relieved when the alien SWAT reproduction-abolitionists ended it early.
But wait, there’s more. APE erases Kokoro and Mitsuru’s memories one another, but this opens even more plot holes:
1. APE forgot to remove their wedding rings after the memory removal procedure, genius.
2. All of the other kids knew about the memories getting erased so they just told her and that’s how she remembered.
3. She was still pregnant after being captured by the anti-marriage alien SWAT team. They’re pretty bad at being an anti-reproduction regime if they can’t even figure out this basic shit.
4. Kokoro and Mitsuru regain their memories a few episodes later on their own, they overcome literally nothing because they return to how they were just before getting married.
They’re the most forgettable members of the squad, simple one-note personalities with no impact on the story. They do have a brief bit of ‘development’ if you can even call it that abhorrent in “Boys x Girls” (ep. 8). They clash briefly when Zorome ogles Miku (we’ve discussed how this doesn’t make sense) and she reacts by dividing the dormitory with tape in the most sitcom-y episode in the show. For a mecha series that tries to take itself seriously, throwing a proverbial wrench in the tone does not make the characters seem more human and relatable, it was such an unnatural tonal shift that it made them feel like aliens. Other than this one fanservice episode, they just hang around the squad and offer a few inconsequential reactions and quips that add absolutely nothing to the show but background noise.
This poor chubby kid is just bullied by the show whenever he is onscreen, his whole character arc is one big fat joke. At first, it was just a few offbeat jokes along the lines of “Hey, don’t take any of my food while I’m gone.” His humor was just as unnatural and stereotypical as the rest of the cast, but then the show takes it a step further from a poorly written annoyance into offensively awful. His piloting partner Kokoro ditches him during “Partner Shuffle” because he has the fat genes and she wants a good baby to further the species. Understandably, this causes him to become insecure about his weight and form an eating disorder. This is a very sensitive topic with plenty of potential for good discussion, but this is Franxx so they flushed any potential down the toilet. Franxx approaches this real-world issue that affects plenty of people with the sensitivity of a sledgehammer.
The writers were too incompetent to deftly handle a serious topic like an eating disorder, so instead they literally just ignore it. Most of episode 16 is dedicated to his struggling with not wanting to eat any food, with Zorome confirming that Futoshi is throwing up his food. Yet even though they confront him about his insecurity, the episode ends with Hiro giving one of his bullshit speeches about friendship with sad piano music playing, cue the whole cast crying. Futoshi’s turmoil was glossed over and never resolved, likely because none of the corporate drones that manufactured this knew how to sensitively handle real-world issues. The director goes out of his way to show us how unhappy he is with himself in minor ways throughout the rest of the show. Whether he be playing with his food or sadly staring down at his full plate, even by the end it’s obvious he’s still struggling with his disorder yet Franxx couldn’t give less of a shit about his turmoil. Rather than addressing his issue, they choose to force him to be the de facto-priest at Kokoro’s wedding, it’s so cruel and horrible that I might actually have felt bad for him if he had actual character traits beyond “he’s fat lol.”
Throughout the show, she is very blatantly hinted at being in love with Ichigo, which gave the show a huge chance to backtrack on the message that anyone who isn’t in a heterosexual relationship is actively part of the birthrate problem. But because Franxx is the anime of disappointments, her character arc was handled appallingly. One of the most egregious moments in the series was in "When the Sakura Blooms" (ep. 18) when Ikuno confesses her love to Ichigo and she wrote it off by saying “oh I was the same when I felt unrequited love for Hiro, but now I am doing what's necessary for the greater good and hooking up with someone else.” It’s the passive-aggressive type of homophobia I've seen plenty of in real life from people who are only accepting of gay people as long as they become straight eventually. What Ichigo says to Ikuno sounds more like ‘oh how sad that you’re defective, someday you’ll grow out of that phase.’
And it doesn’t end there, Ikuno is perpetually shown as the least able member of the squad. Like I mentioned previously, this show dives into some dark dehumanizing themes of eugenics. It is explicitly stated that in the world of Franxx, your life force is directly connected to your fertility, if you’re not having a kid your hair will become gray and you will die faster than those who chose to further the species. Whether or not it was the creator’s intention to dehumanize LGBT people, he threw these pieces on the board and they landed unnervingly close to hate-speech.
At the start of the series, Mitsuru is the ‘rival’ archetype who has an inferiority complex to Hiro, but through subtle coding is indicated to actually be in love with him. Mitsuru received his name from Hiro when he was a child, therefore per Franxx idiot logic, he is gay. With this character, Franxx approaches the topic of homosexuality as a developmental mistake, something you are born with then eventually grow out of. Which is just not true on any level. Sexuality is biodiversity, you’re born that way or you’re not. A person does not need ‘a reason for being gay,’ they just are. The fact that Franxx framed it as a discrepancy in Mitsuru and Ikuno’s upbringing and that they have to grow out of it regardless of their how they feel is appalling.
His turmoil over being in love with Hiro is swiftly brought to a close with him being forced into a relationship with Kokoro. She projects her desire to have a kid on him until he tepidly reciprocates because they are both convinced that unless they have a child they won’t be fulfilled in life or ensure the future. Of course with no resolution for his unrequited love. The show goes out of its way to frame his marriage to Kokoro as an obligation rather than a choice. Similar to Futoshi, through subtle character direction you can tell Mitsuru’s still pining for Hiro even in the episode he starts his relationship Kokoro. And there’s never the same coding for Mitsuru being in love with Kokoro. Hiro flat out tells Mitsuru “you ARE in love with Kokoro” and he accepts that hesitantly. It’s as if the writers were trying to indicate that Mitsuru actually wanted to be with Hiro, but needed to suppress his feeling in order to prevent the metaphorical birth rate from declining.
Even if these messages were unintentional, the creators of Franxx are playing with serious issues just for the sake of window dressing to make the sex-robot alien stuff seem less stupid, which is in my opinion just as offensive.
Part 5: [Dr. Franxx, APE, “Inhumanity,” and the scienceless sci-fi]
“I’m an atheist, you see ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)”
-Dr. Franxx while licking his lips at the sight of the loli-monster-girl-princess.
Our first introduction to the eponymous Dr. Franxx is him delivering his half-breed experiment kid Zero Two to Hiro’s squad. One of his first lines is literally him sexually assaulting Nana, the squad's parental-type overseer, and telling her to loosen up. The show frames it as a joke because of course Franxx (the show) finds workplace assault to be fluffy humor. That’s how he’s characterized for most of the series, as a guy who does explicitly bad things like torturing Zero Two during “The Prince and the Beast,” yet the show frames him as sympathetic. They really expected us to think, “he’s done bad things, but he really had some good ideas!” He had no value for human life, but somehow designing the awful sex-powered mechas absolves him? It’s like a crazy person trying to defend Hitler. I Don’t Care. He tortured and experimented on a kid, the show expected us to feel bad for him when he ‘sacrificed himself’ so everyone could survive at the end of episode 21. I literally applauded when a plot contrivance caused him to get violently crushed by rocks.
APE is just a bunch of aliens that came down to Earth and pretended to be an organization of scientists, they gave the government a new form of energy, magma and took over the world more or less. It’s a very silly twist, but this is Franxx and it’s a stupid show, magma could technically be used as a form of energy and greed could lead the government to trust mysterious scientists. But the magma is somehow also the key to unlocking immortality? How? Magma is molten rock, hot rocks! How the hell do you make the logical leap between a form of energy and DNA mutation? It makes no goddamn sense! APE was just a bunch of random aliens that had so little to do with the main characters, it added nothing to what had been built up in the prior episodes. The magma energy constantly shown in background details supposedly caused the Earth to become deserts? Taking molten lava from the Earth (below the crust) would in no way affect the soil, it might lower the temperature of the surface but that would cause it to become cold, not hot. I'm not sure who thought coming up with scientific-sounding words and a vaguely futuristic aesthetic would make good sci-fi, but it doesn't. Even I, someone who knows very little about science can tell this show is brain dead stupid and no effort went into researching its concepts.
Then after Franxx spends twenty-two episodes building up this illogical science, it throws in a giant twist in episode 20 that nullifies everything that came before it. Oh no! APE was actually aliens and now Zero Two’s brain is trapped in space fighting them!! Who gives a shit? At this far into the series, the themes and pseudo-science were all the show cared about. Regardless of how badly they were written, at least it was something to engage with. All of the petty melodrama the characters face, all of the hackneyed lore, even the art quality goes down the toilet by episode 22. Franxx does these twists so often with its story, whenever it wants to achieve a climactic moment it just skips over the build-up and goes straight to the catharsis.
By the end of Darling in the Franxx, it doubles down on the ridiculous plot twists, desperate to make you take it seriously when you're more likely to laugh at it. In its final attempt to make you cry, it kills off it's two main characters, but even this lends no catharsis. The only catharsis you'll get from the ending of this train wreck is knowing you’ll never have to watch it ever again.
[Story: 0/10] Clichefest, contrived filler drama, terrible world building, nonsensical twists that nullify the whole story.
[Character: 0/10] I've seen planks of wood more interesting and relatable than this entire cast.
[Art: 3/10] No visual identity, good battle sakuga in the first half with hideous mecha designs, very rushed towards the end.
[Sound: 3/10] Mediocre soundtrack, a waste of talented voice actors.
[Enjoyment: 0/10] Both intellectually and personally insulting.
[Overall Score: 1/10]
There’s enough potential here to leave you curious as to what the writer/director Atsushi Nishigori might have created if he weren’t so satisfied with repurposing classic anime into a clusterfuck that’s less interesting than even one of its parts. He never understood what made their themes so impactful in the first place, and didn’t bother to create an anime capable of standing on its own merits. Without a coherent story, remotely believable characters, or even themes rooted in reality, this show offers no redeeming value.
The best praise I can give to Darling in the Franxx is UNWATCHABLE.
Seeing this number of positive reviews on this show made me decide to write an honest review on it. This review is written by a person who was on the Darling in The FranXX hype train before it arrived at the r/anime station, and also by a person who absolutely loves Trigger and their work, from the Gainax beginnings to their "independency".
Darling in the FranXX started out pretty solid, if you ask me. It already introduced a very interesting metaphor in the first 2 minutes, and I was very excited at that point. Then came the naked girl cliche. Ignoring it as an "A1 shenanigan",
I continued the episode and was able to find it a tad bit enjoyable, mostly because of the cool world concept and the interesting-looking characters.
That didn't last long. In the first 6 episodes, those seemingly interesting characters have either done nothing or have been super annoying. I was not expecting side character development in 6 episodes, but this was just unbearable. 02 also got old real fast, making Hiro the only one able to save the show. Turns out Hiro is just budget Kirito therefore shattering all my hopes for the characters part.
But wait! There's more to a show than characters. "Great Art" is indeed true, and I won't even deny that the art is consistent and good, but it's normal. It brings nothing to the table, it's just the standard "good" animation. The music is also unnoticeable. I was expecting better music from Trigger. Have they even worked on this anime?
While I can't say much about the story, since right now many questions remain unanswered, I can say that it doesn't seem to be going anywhere in these 6 episodes. It seems more like they're experimenting with the mechs and the "kyoryuu" battles right now, and sometimes adding a little bit of info.
I am not enjoying this show. I'm having trouble finishing these last episodes and that's a no-no for me.
4 Cups of Evangelion
2 tablespoons of granulated Gurren Lagann
1/4 teaspoon of Star Driver
1 dash of Beauty and the Beast
And last, but not least.
69 metric tons of CRAP! (freshly steamed)
In case it wasn’t obvious, these are the instructions for one serving of Darling in the FranXX.
There is a tacit understanding in the anime industry, as well as the filming industry, that you are allowed to draw inspiration from other works, but not plagiarize said works. There are, of course, exceptions to this rule — particularly, in regards to satirical natured shows (Gintama and Inferno Cop, being the perfect examples) — however, solemn show’s dance on
a very thin line, and must introduce innovative ideas to alter the perception on existing paradigms; otherwise, they come off as being cliched, and redundant. From a monetary perspective, it makes sense to draw influence from other works, for example: Disney’s Lion King took inspiration from Shakespeare’s Hamlet and Kimba, the White Lion (an anime from Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Astro Boy). Yet it doesn’t absolve those involved from imbuing their own ideas and nuances to create something worthwhile. Darling in the FranXX doesn’t seem to comprehend this point, as it overtly uses critical elements from several other anime as a faux attempt of appearing sophisticated.
For ease of reading, I have created a short list of instances that were copied, slightly altered, or outright stolen from other anime (this is not all-inclusive, as there are countless examples):
-The underground city bears resemblance to Tokyo-3 and the Geofront from Evangelion.
-The mysterious men/women in the white uniforms that have significant influence are rip-offs of SEELE from Evangelion.
-The launch sequences are essentially mirror images of Evangelion’s launch sequences (see a theme here).
-There was some kind of testing that was being performed in the early episodes that paralleled the synchronization tests in Evangelion.
-Episode 6 of Darling in the FranXX has been compared to episode 8 of Gurren Lagann. Which makes perfect sense, since Atsushi Nishigori (the director of Darling in the FranXX) was the director for episode 8 of Gurren Lagann, but this brings up a more serious issue: why is Nishigori reusing old ideas from over ten years ago? Not only that, but why is episode 6 of Darling in the FranXX a worse rendition of his earlier work (he couldn’t come up with improvements in all these years)?
-Episode 13 is a reverse retelling of Beauty and the Beast — in fact, the title of the episode is The Beast and the Prince (they’re not even attempting to disguise their intentions at this point).
-Episode 20 we find out that VIRM wants to annihilate the klaxosaurs who retreated underground, similar to the spirals (who lived underground) fighting the anti-spirals in Gurren Lagann.
-Mecha’s transforming to absurd levels of scale and power like Gurren Lagann.
Then comes the real “butt” of my issue with this series, and this concerns the “doggy-styled” positions the girls must assume to pilot their Evangelions — I mean, their FranXX’s. It’s one thing to engage the viewer through needless fan-service, but there are limits one can go before coming off as ridiculous. Kill la Kill, another studio Trigger production, already ingratiated the anime community to the concept of excessive lasciviousness, the difference being: they did so with a self-deprecating tone. This show, on the other hand, is treating the matter with solemnity; and sure, they attempt to shoehorn in a half-assed explanation, but the whole immortality subtlety doesn’t fit well with the predetermined conclusion. Immortality, as a concept, lends itself to numerous paths of intrigue about the overall worth of life, the monotony of existence, and the deterioration of cognitive faculties. Alas, Darling in the FranXX (i.e. Studio Trigger) does not choose to expand on any of these philosophical conundrums, and instead, elects to go for sex and procreation — no surprise.
Hold your frustration back, because it gets worse. In episode 8, when the girl’s clothing gets disintegrated by the Klaxosaur “goo,” revealing portions of their bodies to the boys, they decide to pull-out (Mitsuru should have done the same thing, hehe) the ultimate TV trope: dividing the house in half, with tape. They straight up took this out of the I Love Lucy playbook. Considering that sitcom television is the lowest form of televised entertainment known to man, it speaks volumes about an anime that takes inspiration from said “art form.” It’s like the anime staff couldn’t be bothered to think of one original concept, so they just mashed a conglomerate of ideas into a CGI mess of an anime.
The suggestive positioning of the girls, along with the incognizant sexual innuendo’s surpasses the realm of idiocy, resembling the writing complexity of a soft-core porno. We get it, the stamen (the boys) and the pistil (the girls) are references to the sexual organs of a flower; and the lack of trust (i.e. love) leads to incompatibility and a flaccid conclusion. In other words: sex is not as meaningful without the love; especially when partners are switched amongst each other, implying unsympathetic cucking. Then, in the final episodes, Nine Alpha rides with Hiro (bisexuality?), harkening back to Gurren Lagann when Simon put aside his differences with Viral in their final battle.
And let’s not forget the first episode when Zero Two is catching fish with her mouth, in the nude. It was a senseless scene that provided nothing more than reference material for future waxing sessions (you know what I’m talking about). Seriously, though. Why must Studio Trigger continue their quest of inducing the most boners in the anime community? It use to be an art to inject promiscuousness into anime, now its so ubiquitous that if feels burdensome to the viewer.
If you thought this review was scathing up until this point, then you would be correct. Nevertheless, stay tuned, because I’m about to discuss the worst aspect of the show: the characters.
……They all suck!
Okay. That’s not much of an analysis, but what can we really say about these characters? Zero Two acts like a temperamental five year-old, who condescends to her superiors and comrades because that’s what passes for cool nowadays. She also likes to slather her food in honey and shove it down her “darling’s” mouth. Speaking of which, I’m not sure what’s worse: Yuno, from Mirai Nikki, saying “Yuki”, or Zero Two saying “darling.” They are both excruciating to the eardrums. Her “darling,” Hiro, is your typical mundane protagonist, lacking identifying characteristics that would engage the viewer and become interested in his plight towards becoming a FranXX pilot. He is, however, infatuated with Zero Two to the point of feeling dead inside without her presence (get over it dude, your like, 14?)
The rest of the cast, unfortunately, is a compilation of tired tropes that have been utilized time and time again. In fact, I can’t remember any of their names, so I won’t waste your time, and mine, looking them up just to explain how trivial their roles really are. Suffice it to say, the cast is a representation of the anime staff’s laziness, but considering this show has a higher rating than the reboot of Ginga Eiyuu Densetsu (which has an excellent cast of characters), it should come as no surprise why anime writers continue to shove monotonous characters down our throats ad infinitum.
I don’t want to sound too presumptuous, but this may be the worst anime I have ever seen in my life — or, at the very least, it’s in the running. As it stands, the current list of the worst anime goes as follows (in no particular order):
1) Mirai Nikki
2) Sword Art Online
3) Bio Broly
4) Boku no Pico
5) Darling in the FranXX
Considering they copied everything else from Evangelion, it is only fitting to compliment Darling in the FranXX for their crappy achievement.
Well, folks, it’s finally time to talk about the most notorious anime of 2018. Darling in the Franxx.
After the success of Little Witch Academia and Kill la Kill, as well as the unfortunate failure of Kiznaver Studio Trigger, decided to make Darling In The Franxx but with the help of A1 Pictures/Cloverworks. Like many others on the internet, I was really excited for Darling in the Franxx. Maybe that was my biggest mistake and like with Beatless, Black Clover and Re:Zero I was expecting too much. However, even if the anime had failed to live up to
expectations the anime would be still be entertaining so bad it’s good to watch. Unfortunately Darling in the Franxx is not so bad it’s a good type of shows. In fact, Darling in the Franxx is by far one of the worst written and directed anime I have ever seen from this medium. Say what you want about Black Clover, The Asterisk Wars, Big Order and Eromanga Sensei for being for worst shows than this but least those shows had the so bad its good effect where despite these shows being horrendous least they were actually funny. This show from start to finish was not funny at all as it only got more insulting and stupid as it progressed and because of that am going to end my intro here because since this show doesn't give a damn about its viewer so why should I?
God help me.
Act I: The broken written and directed mess of a story that has no idea of it it's doing.
In the distant future. The world is ruined, and humanity establishes mobile fort cities called “plantations”. Pilots produced inside Plantation live in Mistilteinn, also known as the “birdcage.” Children living there know nothing of the outside world or the freedom of the sky. Their lives consist of battling to carry out missions. Their enemies are mysterious giant life forms known as Klaxosaur, and the children pilot machines called Franxx to face off against them. For the children, riding the Franxx proves their existence. The story follows a boy named Hiro who goes by the code 016 has lost motivation and self-confidence after failing an aptitude test. Skipping out class graduation Hiro goes to the lack where he encounters a girl with two horns and she quickly introduces by her code name Zero Two. She has been infamously known as a partner killer where none of her partners survive after the third ride. Before they properly interact they the Plantation is rocked by a sudden Klaxosaur attack. After Zero Two failed attempt to engage the Klaxosaur as well her partner dying Zero Two invites Hiro to pilot the mecha with her and from there Zero Two, Hiro, and the crew must fight against the Klaxosaur’s in order to save humanity.
There are so many problems with this show I seriously don’t know where to begin.
For starters, the story is very dull and boring as hell. I didn’t care about many events in the story because I was bored by them and I thought they were poorly executed. It’s also rips off a lot of better mecha anime without understanding of what made them good for example Hiro and Zero are just poor-mans versions of Demonic and Anemone where they relationships are similar but it was done better in Eureka Seven as there was a lot of build up for Demonic and Anemone to grow as characters before they formed a relationship with each other. Also, did I forget that Demonic and Anemone are far better-written characters than Zero Two and Hiro will ever be.
Darling in the Franxx also has some of the worst pacing I have ever seen in any anime as the show consistently waste its time on pointless bullshit instead of focusing on relevant things that are important to the overall narrative.
The world-building for Darling in the Franxx is god awful. Besides from the episodes 7, 10 and 19 where the show briefly did world-building in a bad way the show never even bothers at establishing its own setting and because of this, the world in Darling in the Franxx is incredibly empty. Where do the Klaxosaurs come from? What´s this organization that's fighting against them? In which time is this series set? What kind of government there is there this world? How old are each parasite in the series are? This show never explains any of these things because screw worldbuilding lets just have characters go out with the pathetic and cringe-worthy character drama that is contrived as hell. These issues along with the pacing would eventually bite the show in the ass later on which I will talk about in a bit.
Darling In The Franxx is also the dumbest show ever to take itself too seriously where the show tries to be all serious, smart and edgy with its monologues, symbolism, and themes but because of the horrendous tone shifts and flashy fan-service it completely makes the show very pretentious as a result of its themes and speaking of themes.
This show also does a horrendous job at presenting its themes and topics to a point certain characters in the show just preach about sex, love, and family all over the fucking place without any context and real reasoning. It doesn't the fact this show has the maturity level of a horney 12-year-old.
Another issue of Darling in the Franxx is how it really doesn’t know what show it wants to be as it keeps changing its damm genre in almost every freaking episode?
Does it want to be balls off the wall dumb mecha show?
Does it want to be a sitcom?
Does it want to be a mystery anime?
Does it want to be a slice of life show?
Does it want to be a coming of age story?
Does it want to be a serious mecha show that deals with a lot of sensitive topics and themes?
Who the hell knows because this anime clearly doesn’t and top it all out because this show tries to squeeze in many genres as possible the pacing and the tone of the series becomes screwed.
Act II: The boring and infuriating cliched empty characters.
Characterisation and character development in Darling in the Franxx are practically non-existent thanks to the show having a nasty habit of using certain elements that completely prevent any form of character growth and because of that am currently struggling to find a series with more empty characters.
Our male protagonist Hiro is a boring empty husk who barely even capable of producing the energy required being a mecha protagonist. He has no personality on his own and there’s nothing that stands about him as the way his written and designs is awful. Plus all the character development that he gets feels forced and unnatural. Not to mention he becomes a much worser character as the series goes on but we will get to that in a bit.
Zero Two is an awfully written waifu pandering character with no substance.
Despite being the character that has the most personality from this bland cast she is still a pathetic written character that has no substance that doesn’t develop for shit. She also has a stupid and annoying sexy horney personality where she constantly preaches about being with Hiro.
The final nail of the coffin for this piece of shit character is that she is just a god damm wish fulfillment/waifu pandering character where outside of the awfully predictable romance with Hiro she just there to pander to the lowest common denominator. Screw this character and her wish-fulfillment bullcrap
The rest of the characters from the Thirteenth Plantation are absolutely awful.
Zorome and Miku are both loud mouthed tsundere’s who like to yell a lot. They don't have a purpose to the narrative at all other to be background noise.
Goro is a boring bro type character that we all have seen before who is very friendly and protective to people.
Futoshi is your typical fat friendly guy who likes to stuff his mouth with food all the time.
Kokoro is a shy girl who has a good heart.
Ikuno is a very calm and collected girl who loves to read books.
Mitsuru is the prideful guy who has a superiority complex.
Ichigo or as I like to call her Bitchigo for being an insufferable contrived bitch is your cookie cutter childhood character that we all seen before.
Do you guys see a problem here? Not only the characters in Darling in the Franxx are tropey as fuck but they can't even stand up on they own as characters.
The rest of the characters are all equally awful and not even worth mentioning at all as they all feel like Gurren Lagann and Evangelion character rejects.
What makes this worse is how this show plays with its audience with its half fast character development that didn’t matter thanks to character resets.
One of the examples of this was in episode 10 where the show tried to develop Zorome as a character you know that brat who behaves like Boruto. He got great character development in that episode and by the end of the episode they decided to kill off all the characters development that he had and went back to the same loudmouth tsundere character from episode 1.
Don’t me started with Episode 14 with the whole Ichigo bullshit. Okay while she didn’t lose her memory or anything she devolved to a whiny and unsympathetic bitch of a captain who constantly gets too emotional about Hiro and that completely who against all of her previous character development in episode 9 with Goro. The final coffin for Bitchigo is that as soon as Zero Two leaves she literally takes advantage of Hiro by kissing him.
Bitch, we get it you don’t like Zero Two but did you really have go out of your fucking way to tell everyone in the room that members from the Thirteenth Plantation won’t take apart in the battle unless they tell kick Zero Two off and on top of that you go confess to him even though you got Goro as a love interest. I understand you want to project your childhood friend from danger but this was the dumbest way to do it and because of that you just became one of the dumbest characters to ever exist in an anime
There’s also that stupid love subplot with Kokoro and Mitsuru but I will get to that in a bit because that subplot alone killed the show it an idiotic fashion.
Honestly, what is a point of being a coming of age story if you only to going to reset character development and motivations? I swear the staff was god damm clueless knowing the basic elements of a coming of age story.
Act III: The cringe homage festival aka episodes 20-24
Now if you thought the first 19 episodes were awful you ain't seen nothing yet.
The final 5 episodes of Darling in the Franxx are some of the worst final episodes I have ever seen in any anime.
Not only it was horrendously build up but the way that the show that disgustingly changed its tone was infuriating because it took one of the shows biggest problems and took it to a next level where the show tries to squeeze all the story elements from NGE, Kill la Kill, Gunbuster and Gurren Lagann without understanding of what made those story elements great and because of those reasons the pacing, narrative, direction, production values and especially worldbuilding becomes broken.
It’s like the creators in the show had no freaking idea of what the hell they were doing plus you could clearly tell they were on a tight deadline.
I can even predict how the staff of the show was handing the final 5 episodes.
Creator 1: Hey what episode are we on now?
Creator 2: Ummmm episode 20 I think
Creator 1: OH SHIT
Creator 1: What the hell. We need to get going as we only have 4 episodes left now. How do we fix this?
Creator 2: (Looks for Gundam 00 Movie and Chicken Little Blu Rays and shows them to Creator 1) Have you tried aliens that usually end things.
Creator 1: But isn’t that cheap.
Creator 2: Do you have a better idea.
Creator 1: I told you we shouldn’t have spent so much time on individual characters only for them to not develop at all,
Creator 2: Too late now.
Creator 1: Screw it. Just add aliens in the series and call it a day.
What makes this worst is that if your someone like me who likes goes back to watch earlier episodes of the show to catch certain story/character elements that you missed the first time around. However, in the process of revisiting certain episodes in Darling in the Franxx you will start to see poorly made and directed this show is and it got to a point where you could have removed or shortened certain episodes like for example episode 8 Boy x Girls.
That episode alone was the beginning of the shows horrible writing and direction because only they did a horrendous job at exploring the theme of puberty but the reasoning for the girls to set the line for the dorms was horrendous and contrived.
This conflict alone would have been solved in 5 minutes but thanks to this show stupidity it decided to drag it out to point where it becomes contrived with its stupid character drama that had no reason to exist other to preach the theme of puberty to the audience.
Girls in this show I understand you want to protect your bodies but in a war-zone, especially on a scale battle, no one will give a shit about your sex life because in a battle you either kill or be killed.
Don’t get me started with the whole romance subplot between Kokoro and Mitsuru where instead of the show foreshadowing and building up story events. The show decides wastes its time on two episodes on a terribly contrived romance subplot that characters who have no character chemistry with each other whatsoever. Plus that subplot didn’t even matter because as Hiro decided to pull off a wedding for these two the show decided to take that subplot and flushes it down the toilet by having these characters lose they memories after being captured by the Nines. What made this subplot even worse thanks to a dialogue asspull by Mitsuru in episode 23 where he states that ''even without our memories we can start all over again'' even though the show had made it clear at the end of episode 18 that Kokoro and Mitsuru cannot regain or make new memories with each other whatsoever.
Words cannot describe of how contrived and poorly executed this subplot was because the only reason why this subplot even exist at all is to showcased the shows fanfic writing. The show already had a lot of fanatic writing, to begin with, but this one takes the cake for being the most insufferable subplot I have ever seen in a long while.
This doesn't just end there Episode 19 is a complete waste of time. While the show for the last time tried to do its world-building it failed miserably becauae everything else on that episode ended up being pointless. Not to mention that episode quickly devolved to a typical sob backstory for Dr Franxx of how he became the person that he is today thanks to his motivations in the past. However two episodes later he get's killed off Akame Ga Kill style where chararters get they backstories or sob stories before they are killed off one to two episodes later. What's a point of having a backstory of a chararter if your only going to kill them off one to two episodes later? This is atrocious writing and direction.
The last thing I want to talk about is Hiro as a character. Do you remember when where I previously called Hiro an empty husk? Well after episode 15 this sack of shit literally devolved into a freaking Gary Sue who preaches about Hiro. I don’t know about you guys but I have never seen a protagonist in a fictional work that literally started off being horrible empty husk to being an insufferable preachy Gary Sue where every single piece of dialogue is about Zero Two and nothing else. It also gotten to a point where in episode 22 where Hiro would rather choose to save his sex object aka Zero Two in space instead of helping his friends and follow parasyte survive. Some say that his change of personality from being an empty shell is a good thing but for actually writing it's not because at the of the day he went from an empty husk to a preachy Gary Sue who only cares about Zero Two.
I could go on and on talking about the shows plotholes such as Hiro being able to ride with 9α who is also a male character as well not a nine's member, characters not reconsidering that Ikuno hair colour has changed to white, Ichigo being able to plot her mecha even though there is no male pilot, members of APE only wiping out only Kokoro and Misturu memories instead of all the Thirteenth Plantation members to Zero Two being able to transform into a mecha at the end of episode 23 but since this show doesn't give a damm about writing and directing why I should I even bother.
(End Of Spoilers)
Am finally done talking about the show's plot and chararters.
Overall the story was hot garbage, really hot garbage. This felt like an awful Gainax fanfic that was done by a horney 12 year old on fanfic.net. The pacing was awful the character drama was insufferable. I didn’t give a shit about any of the characters and writing/directing especially in the final 5 episodes were god awful. This is one of the worst told stories I had ever had the displeasure of watching.
Act IV: The almighty cheap and uninspired production values that have no soul and charm.
Saying that Darling in the Franxx look like shit is a fast understatement because this is by far one of the worst looking and animated shows I have ever seen from this decade.
It may look decent at first but the more of watch this show you will start to see how lazy animated the show is as it starts to use animation shortcuts to cover up the show ugliness and lazy directing.
The character designs are all horrendously bad and uninspired.
Hiro is basically Dominic from Eureka Seven but downgraded.
Zero Two who despite being the best-looking character in the show is a downgraded Anemone from Eureka Seven with added horns on her face and a bit of makeup.
Ichigo looks like a more deformed version of Rem from Re:Zero.
Zorome looks like a blander Boruto with that brown hair.
Miku looks more like an Asuka reject that Hideaki Anno decided to throw in the bin. decided to and the rest of the ranged from being uninspired knockoff to being downright awful especially Futoshi who is by far one of the worst characters designs I have ever seen any anime.
The mecha designs are even worse as they all look like they were done by a horney 12-year-old. Am sure that the same horney 12-year-old designed all the Klaxosaur's in this show because they all look terrible.
Another thing that I didn’t like the art is how cheap it looks in terms of color. It’s like someone from secondary school in art class who is not good at art decided to paint over the background, character to even mecha designs forgetting to add detail in the progress. It just makes the anime look cheap and lazy.
Don’t get me started how inconstant the art was as at various times character to even the mechas go off model to a point where the show can look incredibly ugly.
The animation in this show is just flat out horrendous. Still frames up the ass, characters constantly going off-model, horrible fight choreography, stiff and awkward movement, to even the frame rate at one moment of episode 23 where the show had the frame-rate of 8.
Overall visuals were just awful is uninspired and have no charm and soul.
ACT V: The somewhat enjoyable soundtrack and great opening and ending themes.
The music is the best thing about this show. The soundtrack is pretty alright what it was as it does a good job at presenting its setting and tone of the series then again having a good soundtrack doesn't automatically make an anime any good.
The opening Kiss to Death is a great opening theme that is very catchy that I really enjoyed especially the version 2 of the same opening from episode 16 onwards with the different lyrics.
All the ending themes are pretty good and catchy in they own ways.
In short, both the opening and ending themes are good and it’s easily the best thing to ever come out from this anime.
ACT VI Finale: The borderline hentai dub acting and audio quality.
The sub is pretty good overall that is filled with talented Seiyuus that did a good job with the roles that they were given.
The dub, on the other hand, is absolutely horrendous. There was not a single good performance in the dub as all the voice actors sound like they were doing a hentai production. Not only that but it makes an already horrendous series almost unwatchable thanks to its shitty audio quality.
As a person who loves English Dub as a whole watching this show dubbed episode 1-20 was pure misery. One of the worst dubs I have ever heard.
If you had to pick a choice stick with the sub for this one than again why would you even watch this broken mess of a show, to begin with?
“♫♫♫♫ It all returns to nothing, it all comes tumbling down, tumbling down, tumbling down...♫♫♫♫"
So that’s was Darling in the Franxx.
A broken, pathetically written and directed train-wreck mess of a show that disgustingly plays with it's audience emotions. It has pathetic characters, horrendously written character drama, contrived subplots that have no reason to exists other to pad out time, laughable production values, pathetic world-building, horrendous pacing, poorly executed themes and most importantly this show has no respect of what it trying to homage/rip-off as it keeps on poorly homaging a lot of Evangelion, Gurren Lagann, Gunbuster and Eureka 7 elements without having any understanding of what made those shows great in the first place.
Other than the music there is nothing and I mean NOTHING redeemable or good about this series whatsoever.
This is one of the worst animes I ever had the displeasure of watching.
Also, I have to say this. When even the worst mecha shows like Gundam Seed Destiny, Brain Powered and Aldnoah Zero where despite them being more flawed they have more things going for them and manages to outclass you in certain aspects you know you have screwed up on a scale that is immeasurable.
If you want to a good mecha show that features great character drama and great story elements go watch Eureka Seven, Gurren Lagann or Neon Genesis Evangelion.
If you want to watch a good anime from Studio Trigger? Watch Little Witch Academia Space Patrol Luluco and Kill la Kill.
If you want to watch a good anime from A1 Pictures? Watch Shinsekai Yori, Space Brothers, and Magi.
Avoid this show like the plague.
It's easy to not like Darling in the FranXX. It has a lot of things acting against. Yeah, butt-piloted mechs are silly. Yeah, the mech designs themselves are like Voltron had a bad hair day. Yes, much of the plot is composed of teen melodrama. And yes, the show clearly wears its heart on its sleeves, drawing inspiration from the last two decades of mecha anime.
It's easy to not like Darling in the FranXX. Why do I think it's worth the time?
Where Darling shines is in how all of the best parts of its disparate inspirations and intrigues blend together. Clearly drawing from
the names most anime fans are familiar with - Eureka Seven, Gurren Lagan, Evangelion, and the like - Darling draws on a dramatic flair while slowly drip-feeding the viewer with a slow-burn bit of world-building. What are Klaxosaurs exactly? Why do they want Plantation? Why are there rarely adults around? Why does the youth have to fight for the Plantation, and why do they have to be in pairs? Each episode explores each of these topics, little by little, further paving the world with information, both for the characters and the viewers themselves. What will this result in? That depends on the direction of the series. But very similar to Evangelion itself - with it's seemingly random, monster-of-the-week styled Angel battles - less is more, and the intrigue behind why things are happening leaves the viewer eager to learn more about the odd, dystopic world around the characters, so that the dots can slowly be connected over the larger arc of the series.
By deliberately obfuscating the reasons behind the larger plot at play, this allows the show to play out as a character drama. It is explained quite explicitly that the main cast is "different" from other mech pilots in this world. Thus, in a Breakfast Club mishmash of characters concepts thrown together, the show gleefully begins to layer out each individual's backstory.
Main characters like Hiro are probably the least interesting, acting as a surrogate for the viewer to this world. But even then, his leadership and charisma to the rest of the crew bonds them all together. He's not just some faceless Kirito, and also certainly doesn't have the depth of someone like Shinji; but he proves that he is a unique soul of his own, with goals and ambitions (even if they mostly are obsessively regarding one character). 02 is clearly an anti-hero, someone the viewer is meant to hate, and the caring attitude of Hiro is the only thing that binds her abrasive personality down. While I don't particularly like their relationship - 02 is quite toxic/abusive and definitely ain't best girl - having Hiro act as a foil to her combat abilities and personality which lacks control allows the two to operate in junction with each other.
The rest of the characters come into play with their own interrelationships. If you haven't seen the octahedron memes, those constant inter-dependencies between characters come into play in various ways to further develop both the characters themselves as well as for climactic moments of trial during the plot. Two people aren't getting along because of teen melodrama? Mech stops working, everyone might die. Two characters get into a petty argument? They can't pilot anymore, and it ripples through the morale of the rest of the group. Certain characters are infatuated with others rather than their own partner? The team dynamics suddenly switch, both affecting the combat portions, the relationships between characters, and heightening the drama itself. Darling is very good at showing how seemingly petty melodrama can resonate through a large cast of varied characters, who have shared goals, but different investments.
The art, animation, and sound barely need to be discussed. All are stellar, and nothing less than should be expected from a TRIGGER production. Having the talents of A-1 pictures to help boost the fluid action while also enhancing the quieter and more emotional scenes, which ring ever more gorgeous as time goes on. An epic fight with a giant monster has all the bombast you expect from a high-octane mecha anime, while a character trailing their crush's footsteps in the sand is able to draw out both happiness as well as a painful twang of melancholy. The music has a particular orchestral style that, although similar to many other series, has a certain pomp reminiscent of Kill La Kill, giving each scene their appropriate emotional flair. The first ED, "Torikago," is especially good, ending the early episodes with a strong refrain to deep you intrigued in the next episode.
The slowest episodes in the first half of the series begin to drag down the show, as it slogs through run-of-the-mill beach and bathhouse episodes. And although there are no compliments that can be given to these inductions into the series, it is nice that the show at least stays true to the characters still being developed over time. Even in these slight moments that can seem irrelevant and purposeless in the larger scheme, the deeper commitment to drip-feeding the audience with ever-expanding social connections and worldbuilding pay off as the series begins to shift gears into the end of the first cour.
It's easy to not like Darling in the FranXX. But pushing beyond some of the trappings of its genre, and letting the world and character development continue to expand, it is quick to see why this show is so rewarding not for its EPIC HYPE, but for its dense character evolution over time. This is a show mired in feelings and emotion, and the scenes within it are best appreciated through the lens of an emotional viewer: someone who tries to feel out a scene rather than logically analyzing it, and understanding that you aren't meant to know the details, but are instead asked to let the world around you shift your feelings, just like the shifting loyalties and persuasions of the characters within.
For the better half of my life, I have been looking for an anime series where bunch of kids --who don't know what sexual intercourse is-- fight against tensai super robot power rangers inside settings which has plot for 6 episodes, but still lasts for 24: Filling the remaining air time with b-grade melodramatic past stories, and current time with slice of life soap opera which looks like the anime version of Jersey Shore. For such a specific request to be filled, I had almost lost all hope. Then my boy Trigger arrived to town and not only did this exact thing, but filled the
series with epic symbolism. Basically, whenever anything happens, it is a sexual innuendo about relationships, hugging, kissing and dicks. Really, thanks.
The actual story centers around our ten kids who are trying to find their soulmate/significant other/person with whom they share the best body compatibility with. They do this by piloting mecha in the pairs of two and fighting against these things called Klaxowhatever. Klaxosaur, just like everything and anything else, is a reference. If you remove xo from the name, you get the combination of klasa and ur, klasa standing for "class" in polish - and xo obviously meaning hugs and kisses - giving us klaxosaur as: "U R hugs and kisses class." Same thing can be said about the actual title of this series. Darling in the FranXX basically standing for Darling in the Fran hugs hugs. The whole "two parties fight against each others until one collapses" is initially just a debate over should you remain loyal to your significant other and are hugs truly enough. The robots think it is not enough, and the whole series is basically our characters realizing the same little by little. This is, indeed, the plot of this series. Pretty cool, huh.
There are in total of ten main characters here (in case you forgot what you read 17 seconds ago). By 10 main characters, I mean we have 3 actual characters and the remaining 7 are filler people. The characters are just great. Oni girl is basically a whore who is looking for her prince charming. I musn't runway guy does the opposite his name suggests. And the third wheel dude and the most potential prince charming... exists. I call this trio The Cuck Squad, by the way. Rest of the "characters" are so much filler I believe the thought process behind creating them was something like: "Hmmm. we need more people here. Let's see........ One fat guy? Yes, one fat guy coming in.......... girl who wears glasses? ...... Oh yes, f**k yes."
The production is based Trigger. Not exactly as ADHD as Kill la Kill nor a masterpiece from every aspect like Inferno Cop, but at least doesn't ruin the series like they did with Uchuu Patrol Luluko and Ninja Slayer. The OST could use some Tomatodermewhatever they called the band in KlK, and some tedious German language vocals would be great addition to put in the mix, but otherwise I was pleased to get a confirmation that every Trigger anime from now on will be the exact same thing production wise as all the rest have been.
When it comes to enjoyment, my expectations were very mixed. I heard so much praise and flaming, and after watching it, I have to conclude that this series can be liked and disliked for infinite different reasons. In one way, the series is a clusterfuck, the seasonal shitstorm, the trainwreck and sum of all wagons. This obviously makes it an obligatory watch for every critic so they can hit it with 1/10 and call the worst thing ever because once again you can criticize FranXX for thousand and one things. On the other hand, Darling is often so ridiculous that it can offer enormous entertainment value with ironic viewing. All you need is a sense of humor and some chill. The drama, the cute and comfy stuff and the happy moments will serve those are ready to take them for what they are.
As a final verdict: Critics and the likes can write thousand pages long analysis of all the things that are wrong in this one, people with sense of humor laugh their asses off, and people who approach it with more "casual" and open mindset will enjoy this show for what it is. This series has something for each and everyone. If a series like that is not a masterpiece, then I do not know what is. 10/10.
I decided to write a review after episode 6 as this series keep getting better and better after each episode for me. If they keep this up until the very last episode I will definitely make this anime as one of my recommendation to people who want to watch some quality mechs anime.
The story itself about the pilots of the mech, their relationship with other pilot and I think about finding their purpose in life other than fighting with their mechs. The beginning of the story itself is quite typical. The usual boy meet mysterious girl (Eureka 7 did this, Evangelion did this, Comet
Lucifer did this, Code Geass did this, etc). However it is by no mean bad, I love Eureka 7 and if this executed well I might love this one too. A the series progress I think the story improve and keep getting better. It has enough mysteries to keep me wanting more and looked forward to the next episode.
One of the best part of this series is its actions scene, episode 6's fighting scene is so awesome. The duo animation studios work really well in here. There is no inconsistency in the animation. The animation is fluid, the character, the mech as expected of A1 Picture and Trigger working together.
The action simply the BEST in this season for me.
There is one OST that play in every epic moment (The climax in episode 6 for example) which I really love. Torikago and Kiss of Death is one of my favourite ED and OP song this season aside of Sora Yori Mo Tooi Basho's and Yuru Camp's. I am waiting for the second cour ED and OP song.
At first I hate how Hiro's act, but as the series progress up until episode 6, He developed and He begin to grow on me. On other hand I really like Zero Two since the beginning of the series. Zerome and Miku is also a pair that really memorable to me especially Zerome because of his arrogance. Some memorable character for me are enough for me to give this part a solid 8.
As a mechs fans mysel, I watched a lot of mechs series, some which I enjoy some other not so. This one is one of the mechs series I really enjoy.The battle scene, the character, the story.
I am looking forward for new episode every week.
Overall (9 + 10 + 9 + 8 + 10 = 9.2):
This anime keep getting better and better and I hope It will always be. Give this series a chance especially if you like mechs. Don't let the excessive amount of fans service put you off, this anime has a lot more to offer. For me, as of now this is on my top 3 for this season.
I've never watch an anime with mechs on them though I heard them and see some but never actually watch it. This will be the first one, and as I can say, its the best one. Though it might change as episodes progress but I hope not.
So for the story, well, its great though the way they control the mechs will be much better if they just rely on batteries xD. The story focus on their so called Parasites which are pilots of the mechs. They think that their whole life was depend on piloting a mech even though theres alot of things worth your
life, well thats what the anime tells me, it differ to person to person.
For the art, its actually good. The quality really suit the modern age. Even they still using keypads on their phones. The animation is smooth, the animation is great as the art style it self.
For the sound, well I can say its plain but its still good for my ears. There wasn't that much battle scene yet in the anime so I can't really say if it needs to change its music when action scene took place.
Characters in this anime was relatable. And the MC is the one I can relate to. Other characters are also memorable, as I meet different person with the same characteristic as this supporting characters.
For the enjoyment, well, its really fun to watch. Most of the scene I watch are very fun mostly because on how they control their mechs and how they talk about on riding them.
Overall, this anime score an all out of 10. It also has potential. I recommend watching it. I just don't get it why they don't put Romance aswell Action on the genre
- So After I watch Ep.7, I wasn't expecting anything like that but even though its a beach episode it turns out to be improtant (For my prespecrive) as character development for Ichigo somehow started here aswell a story on why Humanity become something like this.
Some can be accredited to its massive hype up until its release, but also to the objective analysis of the different parts that make up this anime. I will be delving into the different parts that I rated it on, and explaining why I chose that number. Hopefully you can come to your own conclusion about whether you'd want to watch this or not, or whether you agree with me or not, but regardless;
right into the parts:
Story: 3 (Pathetic)
There is simply no other way of putting it. The story follows utterly generic story cliches that have been done many times before. Whilst I understand this solely doesn't invalidate the anime, the sheer amount of plot holes and evidences of terrible writing does. You don't get fed a lot of information about the world, and not even in a purposeful way; whilst mystery is nice, it requires a balance of given information to keep you interested in the mysteriousness. Darling in the FranXX, however, lacks any mysteriousness as it also lacks information to begin with. You, the viewer, feel very lost watching it, as you try and piece together the characters to the story.
There is also a beach episode, which logically doesn't make much sense in the story and was extremely shoehorned into it even though prior statements showed that a "beach episode" is highly unlikely to be able to occur. These changes in the story (ie. inputting a sole fanservice episode, even when the story would dictate otherwise) show that the writer's intentions were not even towards forwarding or developing the story. Perhaps money, or a sickening desire to make fanservice, were the real reasons behind the completely-lacking-plot.
The world does look interesting, however, but this is more accredited to the art, since the world isn't explained at all, which is a shame to put such art to waste. It's like seeing something amazing that really sticks out in a painting, but never being able to find the true reason why that object was placed there, or what it is - this is the only kind of intrigue you get about the story; an annoying kind. In the first few episodes, the story progresses alarmingly quickly. This is given to the fact that the story skips over things that might seem important simply to move to the next big plot twist, however, the plot twists are extremely predictable. The next few episodes actually completely copy each other, with the exact same kinds of things happening in the story, repeated 3 episodes in a row. For example, A happens, then B happens by surprise, and C has to fix it. It became extraordinarily apparent that the next episode would follow suit, and I physically predicted the episode before it happened. Again, it copied the same template, which was so painfully obvious I had no enjoyment watching the episode (as with all of the episodes).
Although, there are definitely animes with worse stories. There are plotholes in many major publications, but regardless is still worth mentioning due to their glaring obviousness in Darling in the FranXX. If you don't think about the story, and just watched the fight scenes, I would admit that it would be an enjoyable watch. However, this does show the precedent example of how the context of the story actually somehow makes the intermittent (and rare) fight scenes worse.
Overall, the story is a weak point. In some later episodes, plot holes and problems become severely apparent. "The plot" is used to do practically impossible things, with little expectation. You actually feel quite dumb, as the anime is practically assuming you wouldn't notice the plot holes.
Art: 8 (Very Good)
The distinct 'Trigger style' is what initially drew a lot of people to this anime, as the name carries good connotations for most. Kill la Kill, Kiznaiver and Little Witch Academia all carried the Trigger name, and were massively successful, so it's without a doubt that there were already high expectations. Unfortunately, this is where its let down. Sometimes the Trigger style art is obviously 'switched out' or at least touched by A1 Pictures in some way, most notably on a lot of the fanservice moments. Really makes you think.
Regardless of that, the artwork is nice. The colours go well together, for example, Zero Two's mecha Strelezia, has a great contrasting colour scheme. The world vibrantly comes to life, especially during large-scale scenes. Unfortunately, the action scenes are a let down, a tiny bit, but still illustrate the battles quite well.
Additionally, made apparent by the beach episode, the characters are oddly disproportional. Younger, smaller characters have massive breasts which are completely impossible for their stature, yet are shoehorned into the episodes, whilst the "flat-chested" characters (basically anyone without C+ chests) feel bad about it. With no place in this anime, it becomes amazingly jarring when you see those parts of the character designs, and completely understand the artist's intentions behind the character.
Overall, there isn't much else to say for the art. The colours and art style are pleasant to look at, but are let down by the blatant use of disproportionate characters for more sex appeal, and some fight scenes not being as fluid as they could be. I also have to deduct a point for pointless cinematic black bars appearing randomly. I thought they helped make the fights more cinematic, for some reason, but I saw them appear even during random conversations. It confused me and detracted my attention away from the content itself. Still, a solid piece to look at.
Sound: 6 (Fair)
This one was harder to rate. At not one point did I consider the sound to feel 'off' except for, more often than not, the music. Sounds for everything else is practically pristine - its powerful, pristine, and matches whatever is going on, and at whatever scale, too (some objects in the world are large, for example, and sounds given off match that well). However, I noticed several times where the music used did not fit the situation or feel of the scene at all. Usually it was with the music during, and around, fight scenes. Some times it would play utterly unfitting music that actually distracted you from the scene itself, which is something that shouldn't happen in any anime, to say the least.
Since it doesn't stick out, and is let down several times by unfitting music, it isn't amazing, but nothing to complain horribly about.
Character: 1 (Pathetic)
Well, in addition to the parts of the review that talked about the story, the characters fit in next. They are bland, to say the least. The most relatable character for most viewers is probably Goro - he's down-to-earth and overall a nice guy. Unfortunately, he is not the protagonist. The protagonist, Hiro, is a carbon-copy of Kirito (from SAO), but objectively worse and actually lacking any form of personality. He makes dumb decisions, not even for the sake of 'its a mistake', but completely illogical. For example, there are multiple times where the conversation is turning towards a point where we might actually learn something about a character's viewpoint/feelings, but in both situations, Hiro, gets distracted by 'something' (aka an event that was shoehorned into the plot, completely coincidental, and would never happen between people talking, ever), and you completely lose the buildup. I would suppose, however, that I do like the side characters, as a positive. They are very relatable, and actually react to conversation in a much more realistic sense, unlike the protagonist. If you are okay and can deal with a complete self-insert basic protagonist, and can see past him to see the more interesting characters, it would be bearable to watch.
The characters are definitely the weakest point of the anime. It's such a shame for characters with strong visual representation to be so poorly-written. They fulfill tropes to a disgusting degree, although that can be argued to help the story by letting the reader's instinct about particular tropes (eg. the fat guy eats a lot) to extrapolate information to help construct a context. Apart from this, it's difficult to get any more information about the characters other than what's scarcely fed to you.
Overall, the characters are weak; some are strongly relatable, but you easily begin to realise that their small screen-time is jarring and disturbing. One character introduced in Episode 5 for about 5 seconds is seen again in 6, for about the best of 30 seconds. Even in this short space of time, they already give off an amazing air and vibe of mystery, with me desiring to want more. Why couldn't I feel this for all the other protagonists and side characters? It really shows the shortcomings in the character development, compared to other animes by the same studios, for example.
Enjoyment/Overall: 1 (Pathetic)
Well, it's hard to be objective about this part, so it will be subjective. Darling in the FranXX is mediocre at best, but terrible at worst. Its most marketable character, the pink-haired 002, is arguably the most well-known character due to her distinct look compared to the other main characters, but she is wound up in this odd plot. There is no point that you want more answers about her and her lore simply due to an air of mystery, you are fed information intermittently, and you piece together bits, but never get any real answers for her, or the other characters for that matter.
The plot is basic at best. It's a generic "us vs. them" story for starters, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but is orchestrated in such a horrific manner that it becomes a letdown. Things make no sense, plotholes become obvious, the plot itself makes drastic changes that are absurdly unrealistic, and ultimately results in a disturbed experience as you wonder 'Why? How?' to almost everything.
Not to mention the sex appeal appalling fanservice. Random scenes of close-up bodily parts, obvious insecurity from 'flat-chested' (as I mentioned before, who are practically not even flat-chested) characters to the rest, disproportionate body types, and such really detract from the rest of the art. Whilst the enemies, allies, and world itself look beautiful at times, seeing a character with massive breasts that are too big for her body swinging them about (which I may add, is whilst wearing a skintight suit, therefore them 'bouncing' is impossible) for no reason really shows the creator's intentions. It genuinely seems like, most of the time, the creator is gearing for the next posterior camera angle rather than the next reveal in the plot.
To which I will go on to say that each 'reveal' that you're geared up to be somewhat excited for is a massive letdown. Either it follows the same archetype of there being some sort of 'unseen problem' which is ultimately fixed by the power of ____ (insert feeling here). One part I remember, is where another team of characters we've never seen before had to fight some enemies, and I actually connected to them more than I had any other of the main characters. Their situation was realistic. They acted realistically. At no point were they saying cringey lines.
To mention 'cringey lines' is funny too, as a lot of the words are unnecessarily replaced with innuendo-esque words. "Kissing" is used a lot to refer to a certain event in the anime, as well as "Docking" etc. Again, it seems too intentional to really take the anime seriously at all.
Overall it's a shame. The anime looked good from the trailers and screenshots, reveals and character designs. Hearing 'Trigger' really set people into expecting a lot, but the end result is a massive letdown. You may wish to watch this if you can see past the problems above, but I doubt there are a lot of people who can actually be honest to themselves and actually admit that it is genuinely a mediocre-to-bad anime at most. Similar anime that do their job properly would be Evangelion, Aldnoah.Zero, and Sidonia no Kishi.
NOTICE: These reviews will each be episode by episode (updated on Mondays), but at the end of this shows airing, I will finally type up a full cumulative review on the show.
Now let's get into Episode 18's review.
Story: 7 (last week: 7)
Thus far we have had many ups and downs in the lives of these Parasite pilots. This past week we had what seemed to be an up but it came with the inevitable down we all knew would have to happen. We are slowly learning that everyone is just the APE's pets besides Squad 13 who start to have their
own ideas. These ideas are quickly shut down. We also know they can somehow destroy a large quantity of life from space and to be honest, it's probably some sort of laser (just because that is what it always is). We also learn of a goal of the APE's and higher up humans, to rid themselves of their bodies like some sort of god. This will be interesting from here on out and the squad probably won't be allowed to tell Kokoro or Mitsuru about each other and what really happened. I wonder if Hachi will ever get his emotions back. We see the struggle of him wanting to help the kids but he can't and the same with Nana. I don't see Ikuno's lesbianism affecting the story much if we are being honest.
ART: 9 (last week: 9)
I love the art in this show. This is done by A-1 and Trigger. What more could you ask for art wise? I love this style although they do nothing special. If you look at the FranXX, they each are done very well and with a solid color palettes that show their personalities. But also, if you look at this environments and background arts, no space is wasted. The fact that the FranXX's resemble the female pilots is also a pretty cool concept, while it may just be so the audience knows which is which without needing to memorize each pair and their FranXX. The OP's and ED's are very well done and I actually really like both.
SOUND: 9 (last week: 9)
The sound in this show is nothing special by any means but it isn't bad. They are careful to not use the same sound twice for different types of characters, which is often done in A-1 productions. The sounds of ambience and chaos are balanced fairly well but can be a bit abrupt at times. I think the sound is the same but the sounds of fighting and dialogue are balanced well. The fighting noises aren't way down, and the dialogue isn't extremely loud during fight scenes and the same goes for it vice versa. Plus, the voice actors are paired with characters very skillfully. I prefer the sub VA’s and just based on how well they fit each role. I raised my score in this category by one because I really do love each VA and their roles. They each are paired incredibly well. The new OP and ED are freaking amazing and I love them both so much more then the first, hence the bumping up by 1 point.
Characters: 7 (last week: 7)
We see our Parasite's relationships go further than desired by the APE's and thus they had to be reindoctrinated (Kokoro and Mitsuru). They don't remember each other so I wonder what will happen between them from here on out. Also, how will the rest of the squad go on? Every one of them, knows what happened but most likely won't tell Kokoro or Mitsuru what happened for one reason or another. These characters struggle with individual thought because the consequences for independence are so great. I wonder if this will have an effect on partner pairings and if they will just go back to their original ones since they have no recollection of each other. Also, Ikuno is a lesbian so that'll be interesting although I just think that it got thrown into there (although who didn't see it coming) because each episode focuses on two or three characters and their problems.
Enjoyment: 10 (last week: 10)
I really freaking enjoy this show. I love everything about it. Over the course of these 7 weeks, the show has just gotten better and better. I just love watching it every single week which can be hard to do for me.
Overall: 8 (last week: 8)
I recommend this show because of the fun characters, interesting story, and especially Zero Two. You won't regret your decision unless you have a very specific taste and hate these types of shows in general.
First of all, all the negative reviews here have been done when only the 6th episode has released, so they are suffering from a SEVERE lack of information to even properly judge this anime.
If you consider up to the current episode, ep 15 right now, this anime is a MASTERPIECE. There simply is no other way to put it. It mixes elements of romance, action, suspense, and mystery perfectly to create the ultimate plot. The character development is INSANELY strong, and we get to know the preferences and backgrounds of almost all the main characters. This leads to a plot that makes sense and
is enjoyable to watch.
Character dynamics are amazing, the plot is terrific, the foreshadowed symbols and recurring themes are all top-notch.
This anime is a must watch and will probably be remembered as a classic.
First off, i have no clue how to write review, but here's what i think about this anime. I don't usually share my thoughts like this, but i've changed lately
In my opinion the anime definitelly deserves more than #500 ranking. To be honest, i'm giving it 10/10 overall just so it gets more ranking.
I love anime like this, when i started watching anime for first time, i wanted to see a anime like this, where couples fight. A true anime couple. When i first started watching anime, i watched the boo hoo bad anime SAO and in fact, i liked SAO's first few episodes, Just
because of Kirito and Asuna teamworking, to take down the first SAO boss. But then they split up and stuff, and SAO became bad.
Story: 9/10 There's still more to learn, but for sixth episode it's good enough. I like how the anime explained why Hiro's squad is the only ones who have colorful mechas and nicknames.
I was always picky about what anime to like, because i used to talk to a friend, that liked literally every bad anime, no matter what ranking MAL gave it, so i always just skipped through low ranked anime, thinking that they're bad, but i changed lately. I'm giving now 10/10 even to a show that's got #500 ranking at this moment. I think it deserves more than #500.
Art: 9/10 Well it's not some super art masterpiece like Violet evergarden, but again it's good enough. The animation's not that bad, i think we should leave 10/10 for anime like Violet evergarden.
It's propably hard not to see me as one of these triggered fanboys, after putting in 10/10 overall just like that. I'm self aware of that. I knew that's how i'd look like, but whatever.
Sound: 8/10 I like both ED and OP, there's sometimes violin playing in background too, that's nice. Violin's nice.
Character: 10/10 I love how Zero Two is so close to Hiro right from the beginning, it's kind of charming. I don't mind Hiro being unconfident, there's space for him earning the confidence, as anime progresses.
This couple kinda reminds me of Horo and Lawrence! Horo and Zero Two are so alike. Why haven't i seen someone mention this before.
Horo and Lawrence are propably best couple out there.
Enjoyment: 10/10 Don't see why not put 10/10, there were some cringy moments, and cringe is always not enjoyable, but whatever i enjoyed it.
I love how the monsters/enemies are all in difference shapes, always have different abilities, you never know what to expect of them. That's fun.
Overall: 10/10 I don't think it's masterpiece, we should leave 10/10 for the true masterpieces, but i think it deserves more than just #500. So i'm gonna give it 10/10. Hope it gets better rank.
I should've though propably waited a while longer before posting this, because of two reasons: I finished watching episode 6 just 30 minutes ago, so my review is easily affected by emotions, and second reason is because the anime is still not finished.
Wow, episode 7 sucked. Literally nothing happened. am i watching One Piece, or a Naruto filler, or what.
Damn, episode 8 sucked too, i dislike these "relaxation" episodes so far, i'd rather prefer if they kept advancing the story asap. If it continues like this, i'm gonna regret making this review tbh,
Kinda funny, people will propably hate this review, if i didn't change lately, i would've hated it too.
You could say that the purporse of me giving it 10/10 overall is literally just to increase it's rating. Don't know if this is legal or not.
Reviewing a unfinished anime is propably easier than reviewing a finished one, it has IMO potential to become either one of the bad anime, or a above average 8.30 anime, at this point it's propably just average one that i taken liking to. I have no clue what "hype train" is everyone talking about, i found this anime randomly just a day ago.
Anyway, i've written what i wanted to write.
Darling in the FranXX is a sad attempt at creating or rather, replicating a legacy act. It took inspiration from what popular shows like Evangelion and Gurren Lagann did, without understanding a thing about what made them work. It tries to expand on ideas without understanding how to sell them, let alone incorporate them meaningfully. It wants to craft a setting to draw us in and make us remember it but instead, FranXX falls flat on its hormone-driven face. It’s a brilliant showcase on why the insular nature of anime writers & directors is detrimental. It is the definition of an
anime that tries to pander to the entire anime community, and as a result, FranXX lost the chance to craft a work of art worthy of being remembered. What we have now is a vulgar yet ambitious mess whose only remarkable features are its volume of ineptitude and its interesting but horrendously executed aesthetic.
Speaking of which, what does FranXX’s sex aesthetic contribute to the narrative? Nothing good. Sure, every conflict deals with the idea of sex, gender, and couples in some way, but the visuals don't remotely contribute to this. Additionally, the world-building that stemmed from this is as questionably handled as it is derivative. Yes, Neon Genesis Evangelion did similar things, from the concept and world to having its mechs be drenched in symbolism. However, we get to what separates the two: humanity and focus.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most human anime ever made. It constantly delves into the psyches of each character in a way that feels both relatable and real, while exploring their hobbies and how these people bounce off each other and affect each other personally. They were in the face of a war against deadly creatures, and the focus was placed on how this, their upbringing, and their conflicts stemming from this affect each other. This happened because Eva was written and directed by a legendary man and nerd who went outside, talked with people a lot and had a social life with them, and suffered through personal, relatable problems. The director and writer also had a sense of focus, making sure each world-building element made sense and retained consistency in the logic of the show, and that each character was consistent, with gradual mental declines that felt natural.
Now, look at this show, made by someone who no doubt worked to get here but is as much an unknown figure as most other directors in this insular, borderline unsustainable industry. While he's capable of delving into his characters' upbringings, no one is written well enough for us to care. Part of why is because instead of relying on substantial interactions and meaningful introspections, FranXX takes the Re:Zero route of letting these autists shout their pathetically written and constructed feelings to each other Light Novel monologue style while letting flashy directing choices do the rest, often during contrived scenarios meant to incite drama with the most hideous of dialogue. To put this into perspective, episode 1 does this 5 or 6 times with its main character. Unlike say: Fate/Extra: Last Encore, this show isn't oozing with the kind of style to make it feel natural, instead only busting out the interesting presentation as a borderline disingenuous attempt at enhancing or explaining emotions. LE also delves into the introspection aspect far better and shows a superior portrayal of broken people raised by a horrible, controlling system that sends its inhabitants to fight for their lives. Additionally, it better demonstrates how that affects several of them once they’re out fighting and when they’re part of the system. FranXX can't even make a compelling character to save its life, let alone a character that truly feels real.
If you're familiar with awful post-Eva works such as Brain Powerd or De;Vadasy, you may have found these problems all too familiar. Another common post-Eva trait is the ability to have a general idea of what to explore without any idea on how to make it work. Brain Powerd focused on trying to do the concepts and relationships of Eva backward and did so incoherently with a script to reflect that as they had to make up new terms and ideas out of nowhere that don't fit or make any sense. It decides to copy the actions of Evangelion and the narrative structure of Gurren Lagann while failing to create a coherent world with believable characters to care about. The disastrous second half more than cements this fact in several ways.
I won't cover everything, but let's start at the top. The world-building in FranXX is among the worst I have ever seen, delving into its symbolism with little regard as to how it can make sense beyond vague setup, much like with the direction of the narrative as a whole. So much about the setting and lore counters itself, even outside of the parts that already make no sense. This anime’s inability to show us the necessary information for certain events to have possibly taken place have resulted in monumental plot holes to make matters even worse. The FranXX mechs make no sense in literally any aspect, and the implications in them manage to assassinate the already badly executed relationship between Hiro and Zero Two. Let’s not even mention how hideous the final 11 episodes were, especially in regards to FranXX's lore. Even then, the beginning was atrocious too, what with the awful love triangle, episodes 6 and 8, the aforementioned world-building, and the fact that most of the characters are obnoxious, worthless, needlessly hateful, and surprisingly inconsistent caricatures at best. The show has such little respect for them that its primary mascot character Zero Two, constantly switches on a dime simply for the sake of creating drama and steering the show in a planned direction.
Before we wrap up, we best look at the audiovisual side of things, as this show still manages to trip over itself in this regard, though it doesn’t do so as hard as it does with the writing. The fembot designs are all around the passable range with nothing being truly awesome or toy-worthy. The creatures and settings have nice colors but nothing is particularly well designed, from creature to character -with the possible exception of Zero Two-. Hiro’s design is especially awful for obvious reasons, and several of the supporting cast designs are eerily similar to certain Eva characters. The outfits are also mediocre to bad, often with awkward “X” and “Y” logos for no good reason, and whenever the show tries to do something with dynamic cameras -sometimes even when they don’t- the frames get cut in half, from a normal amount to what feels like half, if not less. The premiere episode alone is the perfect indicator. It thankfully doesn’t happen too often when it does, the viewing experience becomes a rough one. As mentioned, the directorial idea of messing with the aspect ratios haphazardly or for the sake of emotion and whatnot is borderline laughable as well. Additionally, there are several scenes where no one has any facial features, and the luckily infrequent CGI here is subpar at best. This collaboration between A-1 Pictures, Studio “saving anime” Trigger, and eventually, A-1’s new subsidiary, Cloverworks, was definitely shaky, even from a visual standpoint. It’s not like the show was badly animated or anything, and the environments were done rather nicely. There were just several variables that kept this work from functioning greatly on a visual level. One last one to mention is how the fight scenes manage to be completely unexciting, with little real flow or impact to anything, or many truly good bits of animation or spectacle.
In regards to the music, none of the background tracks stick out, even if none are necessarily bad or ill-fitting -outside of one rap song at the start of episode 8-. There are some triumphant tracks in the first quarter that are good, but that’s as far as that goes. The opening theme "KISS OF DEATH" by Mika Nakashima x Hyde, is certainly unique, even if not to my taste. The ending themes are all numerous, and none of them are particularly good or memorable. Sure, some are better songs than others, but none of them are really going to stick with you in the same vein that Gurren Lagann ED 2 or Neon Genesis Evangelion’s ending themes did. Somehow, all of this makes the music the most competent part of the entire show, which is mortifying.
The most embarrassing thing is that the show not only tried its best to become popular, but it did so whilst having its staff being treated like shit by its “loyal fans” like it was the second coming of Re:Zero. There was ambition here but little thought beyond popularity and mimicry with a spin. One could argue this is propaganda for the Japanese to have kids and fix their under-population problem, but that doesn’t exactly fix anything, or even help give the show any real identity. Such a shame since, again, the ideas present here, if given more thought, could have turned into a fun dystopian action show that explored its characters in interesting ways while being a meaningful allegory for sex and puberty. It isn’t like the show doesn’t have its moments of sincerity or even a visible narrative through-line either, so the potential was obviously there. It's just that so much of what it did would require a complete and utter reworking in order to even become salvageable. Alas, we get this broken, tiresome replica to forget about once the memes are over.
It was the 14th episode. I was wracking my brain trying to figure out what exactly was causing the fans to go livid. Given what happened in the last few episodes the actions of a certain character who is taking all the hate seem justified to me, albeit selfish. I tried reading the rants people wrote online and ended up not connecting with them, to the point where I decided to re-watch all 14 episodes fearing I’ve lost my sensibilities. Then it hit me - I was looking at this series all wrong. It was never about mecha, or relationship drama, nor was it about
children vs adults. No, the actual theme is more sophisticated, and way more profound, and that is Darling in the FranXX is first and foremost about waifuwars. Only when you make this realization will you be able to put things into perspective, and understand why the fan base react the way they do towards any episode.
Let’s get down to brass tacks. If you’re watching this for the mecha, you’ll be disappointed. While the struggle between human and Klaxosaur is the pivotal aspect of the setting, it falls apart too easily on scrutiny. The show is unbearably stingy on details to the point that it’s fair to doubt if the Klaxosaurs are even a threat to humanity, in contrast to Eva or TTGL, shows that DitF clearly take inspirations from. Everything about the fights is underwhelming. The effort put in mecha designs alone makes it clear who they have their spotlights on. The choreography is terrible and fights are agonizingly bland. Rather than a highlight, they feel like a chore to watch, it feels like I’m being forced to read a light novel because it contains a vital piece of information to understand something else I’m actually intrigued about. The music that accompanies them lacks punch, feels awkward and is sometimes mistimed. The monster designs on the whole are uninspired garbage; quite a few of them are honestly copypasted from Gunbuster. I want to be more verbose here but really, it’s not worth the effort.
The character drama aspect is the main draw from the creator standpoint. It’s also bad, but this deserves more explanation because unlike the mecha aspect, the issue is not low effort. In its attempt to copy Eva it they’ve misjudged what they needed to do. Despite having a way larger cast, they saw it fit to waste so much time in the second half of the first cour on episodes that can be arguable described as filler. Ep 7-8 are damn near needless and can be condensed into 5 minutes with the remaining time put to better use in fleshing out the world or characters more satisfyingly. The character-focused episodes were piled continuously one after another without proper, chronological justification, before jumping back into the main story, which makes it hard to appreciate the character development following these episodes. Because these lasted a total of 5 episodes, it’s impossible to ignore how badly they screw up the pacing. It feels like an afterthought, which is a shame because I really liked one of the episodes. What’s odder is perhaps the character they’ve decided not to focus on; 14 episodes in and Ichigo, the team leader and main rival for the glorious Nippon dangler have yet to receive any proper characterization from her POV beyond some snippets here and there, which is odd given her background as the childhood friend love interest (something that usually makes fans instantly hard). There’s this vagueness as to why she is attached to Hiro, and throughout the series so far (especially in context with episode 9) the creators are thoroughly unsympathetic, providing minimal reason to persuade us that she has a fighting chance. She’s created solely to lose and make 02 look good in the process (they might pull a Nia here, but that’s still a win by definition). It’s a crying shame because Ichigo’s the closest thing to a rational but still human character the show has. In the notorious episode 14, she attempted a Hail Mary pass to win her lover (reminds me somewhat of Setsuna from White Album 2); her action was selfish, bold and completely unexpected, yet it feels like a proper progression of her character. I applauded it, even if it wasn’t reciprocated, but apparently to most viewers she became “The Worst Anime Character Ever Created”, a rapist, and a manipulative bitch all at the same time while 02 gets all the sobby eyes despite her comparatively similar actions, thanks to her tragic past.
The third major offender is how the show treats plot points. Foreshadowing is particularly weak aspect to the point of disbelief. The one which I take the greatest issue with, the one that jumped the shark is how for almost the entire first cour we were framed with the understanding that Hiro’s compatibility with 02 is almost completely unanticipated, only for a whole new story to emerge later. Vignette of 02’s backstory were given way early in episode 1 but there was no adequate indication that Hiro was ever a part of it. This is made harder to swallow given how the first arc concluded in episode 6, and the crutch they’ve chosen to rationalize this is memory loss; the oldest excuse in the book. The remaining 12 episode could be treated almost as a different story. There are other legitimate complaints I could leverage against this series with regards to its treatment of plot points, such as how important details are inserted only to be left unexplored until it was necessary to do so, sometimes for multiple episodes on end. In episode 1 Dr. Franxx, the creator of the robots and by definition the best person that can take us on tour of the world appears, but was never seen again until episode 7. He’s doesn’t do anything worthy of screen time for 12 episodes, and that’s something I take issue with. Multiple other examples of this kind of writing can be given, but most of them boil down to 2 things; the characters simply do not ask enough questions, and they do not communicate, and so the plot stagnates. Someone made a clearly ominous remark on our future? Let’s not ask him to clarify! Found a room used by your predecessors with a diary that you could open which may or may not provide you with a deeper understanding of your situation? Let’s just leave it be! I can go on and on.
Lastly, I’d like to talk about the actual reason you’d be compelled to watch this show, and that is 02. 02 is absolutely waifu. She essentially a monster girl, she has long pink hair, distinct eye cosmetic, horns with a cute connecting hairband, and fangs. Her breast and butt is shapely and supple, her mannerism is enticingly sensual. She dotes only on Hiro and calls him “Daaling” all the time. She gorges on honey almost fetishizingly but never gains weight. Unlike the rest of the team she is knowledgeable about sexuality, handing out a kiss lips to lips with Hiro by the first episode no less and licking various people onwards while still undoubtedly pure in both her body, heart and mind. Any criticism you could possibly subject her to are moot because she’s had a harsh life. Sure she might be uncooperative in team fights which diminish Ichigo’s leadership value, sure she has caused actual bodily harm to her teammates including her own pair, sure she has acted irrationally, sure she’s admitted herself that she too is selfish, sure her initial affection is fake and done just to manipulate the MC, but all of this is quickly forgiven once she says the word “Daaling”. If Sauron had called everyone “Daaling” the inhabitants of Middle-Earth would gladly hold out their neck for slaughter. I mean come on, compare her design to Ichigo’s, there’s just no competition. Even the title clearly establishes how flawless she is, 02 simply can do no wrong and by extension Hiro too since he’s her object of affection. Anyone who dares argue otherwise should be spammed with hate messages.
The bottom-line is this; DitF is an ambitious attempt even if derivative, but the writing as well as choreography leave a lot to be desired. The key to enjoyment is approaching it with the right mindset, and that is watching it for the sole purpose to ship characters. If this is sounding too much like tumblr don’t worry, we are above that, we are in fact, inexplicably the exception to it, I swear. More importantly, no matter how bad the rest of the show may be, no matter how much you take issue with it, the moment 02 comes on screen you will forgive everything, she is simply perfect. Thank you A-1 and Trigger for saving anime.
Please don’t mind my score; a bug is preventing me from rating any higher, the fact is this deserves a 10. For some reason this does not happen with other series, must be Ichigo hacking the code, that bitch.
So what if Evangelion had more robots, more characters, more ecchi, more romance, a little less overwhelming dread and christian imagery, and a whole lot more colour?
You'd get Darling in the Franxx. Is it a romance anime with a mecha aesthetic? Is is a mystery anime with mecha and romance mixed in? Or is it proper mecha, with some mystery and romance thrown in to build character? Or is it all three. Time will tell. And that's what makes Darling in the Franxx unique and extremely interesting, as far a I'm concerned.
Currently Darling is a joyous, fun, wacky ride with great potential for story,
romance, and could go very very dark and become one of the best series in recent years. Time will tell, but as it stands, it's oozing evangelion vibes... and that's only a good thing.
Perhaps it will go downhill, but as it stands, I would personally rate the first nine episodes very highly. They're not perfect, there's cliches left and right, but the execution is very well done, the ships are sailing strong, and it's candy to the eyes. Oh, and ZeroTsu is best girl for sure.
Looking forward to see is it lives up to its potential!
This is Fantastic. It feels like a combination or Neon Genesis, Guren Lagann and Kill la Kill. That is, beautifully playful and colorful animation and characters, mixed in with dark undertone and a slightly eerie post apocalyptic setting.
The story presents itself as a story of Giant robots fighting powerful monsters but it's really a story about a bunch of orphaned and disturbingly manipulated yet innocent and animated children discovering what love is (with a crazy and sporadic zero two teasing the MC), while at the same time discovering the world. It's also rather intelligently told, as there are quite
a bit of visual metaphors. but while being deep it keeps up its playful and innocent demeanor throughout, even throwing in rather blatant and unapologetic fan service. (guess that's why they call it the cockpit *wink wink*).
I really should give 10, but they can be a bit whiney at times. Remarkably diverse characters (diversity of personality, which is ALL that i care about)(and i'm black) though. And deeper than they first appear. All of them of course being pretty transparently innocent, and the character development seems to be aiming towards destroying said innocence (multiple connotations for innocence being used here). But it's that innocence that makes this anime wonderful. Because these are kids who have been growing up in a bubble, unaware, though slowly figuring out, that the world is darker place than they might have otherwise conceived.
And this is just the main cast of kids, before going into Zero two.
Kill la Kill X Guren Lagann, with 2018 visual standards. Not exactly original, but still unique and it fits the innocent and childish demeanor of the story. Also the fight scenes are built more around feeling than visual excitement, which is it's strength.
Before Darling in the Frankxx actually aired, I asked myself if Trigger could ever replicate the success of Kill la Kill. Remember that series back in 2013? Their debut show made a significant impact for anime fans all over the world. From then on, Trigger produced some questionable series like Kiznaiver but also reminded us that there are still golden eggs such as Little Witch Academia. Sometimes I still have to ask myself, what the hell is Darling in the Frankxx?
To be fair, Darling in the Frankxx is actually a co-production between Trigger and A-1 Pictures. It’s an original TV anime that adheres to more
of a humongous mecha show while mixing elements of drama, comedy, sci-fi, and absurdity. Oh wait, that’s not a genre, isn’t it? Well, you will probably understand the meaning of that later on. But first things to remember is that Darling in the Frankxx takes place in a distant future. There are imminent sci-fi themes that deals with pilots and Frankxx, giant robots that are capable of fighting the mysterious klaxosaur. Here, we meet the children that lives in mobile fort cities known as the Plantations. Out of these children, a young boy named Hiro (Code 016) meets a strange girl with horns on her head. So begins this journey….
On my first viewing, it felt like Trigger really wanted to play a bit with the viewers’ emotions while attempting the tricky feat of combining many different genres. I’m not going to lie, the first few episodes made me feel like the anime wanted to experiment with sex. Even the first moment when Hiro encounters Zero Two showed implies there may be an immense amount of fan service in the show. However, I wouldn’t say this anime thrives on sex as it’s mostly played out like a metaphor. In other words, this anime isn’t a trick pony but does rely on the emphasis of fan service to some extent. The gimmicks of the anime relies more on the characters’ actions to do the talking. Remember, the main cast is composed of young characters who hasn’t fully grown up yet. In fact, they rely on the Frankxx in order to exist in their world and doesn’t really know their true purpose. A driving factor of the show chronicles the lives of these children. They begin to learn more about their world, themselves, and what their true purpose really is. That is to say, the plot is suspenseful from the start as more and more storytelling is unraveled.
Because the series is mixes in a variety of themes, exposition is necessary and we get a lot of info dumping. It shouldn’t take long to learn the show’s terms as every episode made is easily understandable. However, it’s the characters that are deceptively complex as we learn more about them. At the heart of the show is the horned girl named Zero Two. There’s not much we know about her in the beginning but it’s discreetly shown that she has a connection with the klaxosaurs. From a viewer’s perspective, Zero Two draws the line between human and inhuman. A good portion of the characterization focuses on whether Zero Two accepts on being who she is. She seeks her own identity and place in the world. Thanks to Hiro and his friends, Zero Two does manage to realize who she is and makes her own choices like seeking freedom. And to be quite honest, freedom is a pretty important word considering that these children are trapped like birds in a cage. The animal motif is evident as the children from Squad 13 are called “parasites” by the adults. The mysterious Papa gives out orders to them and they obey them without question. Later on, Squad 13 begins to wonder their real purpose and seek to create freedom themselves.
Zero Two is a controversial character who seemingly caused the deaths of pilots who formerly were partnered with her. In a sense, she can be labeled as “black widow”. It is only when she took Hiro as her “darling” that reveals a more sensible side of her. Usually, Zero Two is playful despite being serious about her duties. It’s easy to see how childish she can be even on the battlefield like a cat playing with her food. (she actually does this in early episodes) The show also takes a deep dive into her past as we learn how the adults experimented on her and connection with Hiro. Speaking of which, Hiro is like a light in a dark tunnel for not just Zero Two but all his teammates. He is hopeful and is often a voice of reason. As a pilot, he isn’t afraid to take risks despite knowing potential consequences. This inevitably leads him to fall in love with Zero Two. At the apex of the story, he is able to express his feelings in honesty to her. From that point on, they are pretty much inseparable. However, this show’s relationship dynamics isn’t exactly well written if you read between the lines. From the two main leads, it’s very obvious that the anime wants to keep them as true loves. It’s a pretty generic way of storytelling that sends the message of “love will conquer all”. It's something you can find in almost any sci-fi flicks these days. From puppy love to an actual romantic relationship, it’s something any show could have done easily. It’s a shame since I wanted to see this anime think a bit outside of the box.
BUT, that’s not all. The biggest turn off of the relationship dynamics involves the other characters of Squad 13. Let’s face some facts here, the children in the show are very clueless about the concepts of love. Yes, love itself is a very complicated subject for discussion but the anime makes it clear that they have zero knowledge about it. There are multiple character love angles going on by the time you reach 1/3 of the show. For a short list, it involves the love triangle between Goro, Ikuno, and Ichigo. Then, there’s Ichigo, Zero Two, and Hiro. Outside of this circle, there’s also a love triangle between Mitsuru, Kokoro, and Futoshi. Zorome and Miku also seems to have some special feelings towards each other. At one point in the series, Ichigo became an Internet meme for the drama she bought in between herself, Hiro, and Zero Two. I also felt bad for Futoshi as well since the show made it clear that he didn’t stand a chance. Kokoro and Mitsuru’s relationship is perhaps one of the more tragic ones in the series. And Ikuno…, it almost feels like the show put the character in a love triangle with Goro and Ichigo to make her more relevant. That being said, you may get a headache or two after realizing how clueless these kids are about love. The show even has multiple episodes where they question the meaningful of a “kiss”.
To be honest, Darling in the Frankxx actually started off pretty strong with a lot of potential for developing some of the main characters. Indeed, there are definitely moments that are worth talking about considering how far the series takes care of them. Outside of Squad 13, we also take a deep dive into Dr. Franxx (the creator of the Frankx) and his past. There’s even exclusive storytelling on what motivated him to create these giant mechs in the first place. Unfortunately, that’s pretty much how far the characterization ends up for individuals who are not part of the main cast. An example is Nines, a special defense force who were once part of Zero Two’s former unit. The number 1 of the Nines is an antithesis of Hiro as he is intensely loyal to Papa while mocking Zero Two of becoming “human”. The series hardly explores him beyond his personality and even though he changes, it felt like a script of a play that anyone can predict would happen. I was more interested in seeing how the show would handle the roles of the adults. There’s no doubt that Papa plays the role of a distant surrogate figure to Squad 13. In early episodes, they all try to impress him that characters such as Zorome goes to absurd lengths to prove himself. Later on in the show, we find out their real motivations and almost feels like a slap to the face when you realize reality.
Actually, now that I think about it, this series can actually be a bit dark. Trigger’s anime projects consists of a diverse variety but Darling in the Frankxx took a lot of risks. I do commend them a bit for doing that. It’s what makes Trigger the studio they are known for nowadays. Did the risks pay off in the end? I’d say hardly because the final few episodes in the show really made me scratch my head wondering if the creators planned this out in the beginning. The incredibly rushed plot is stuffed with cheesy dialogues and subplots that felt irrelevant. The power of love trope is so overused in this show that the final arc felt mindless and it took me awhile to get it over with. There’s a feeling of the anime of cooking up drama for the sake of drama. The worst part ends up being whether we should care about all this or not. Because honestly, I think this show went way over itself in trying to be something special. Instead, it became a hollow shell of itself and degenerated its own legacy.
By animation quality standards, Darling in the Frankxx maintains a consistent flow throughout the show. The first few episodes made it clear that there would be over the top action and it didn’t betray expectations. The producers were able to capture the highlights of battle scenes, emotional segments, and comedic moments flawlessly. Actual fighting scenes in the show is fast paced that makes an emotional impact. This is accomplished through the character expressions as it made many scenes feel larger than life. The mecha designed by Shigeto Koyama (Captain Earth, Eureka Seven) looks well-polished with the biotech features. Character designs shows the children well-dressed despite being isolated from society. On the other hand, the adults in the series looks ambiguously alien-alike. In addition, the klaxosaurs looks like they were inspired by kaiju movies. And of course, there’s fan service. It’s one of the main selling factors of the show to attract an audience. The metaphoric suggestive positions of the pilots are like a visual innuendo. Zero Two also spends some episodes in full nude while being shameless of her appearance. You want fan service? You got it, you horny viewers.
Known for taking a lot of risks, the show does also jump into the music department with a mission. That mission is to bring out a sci-fi show to its most iconic form. Admitingly, the theme songs are moderate at best in terms of appeal but contains a lot of creativity. The amount of foreshadowing and references are evident in many scenes. However, the theme songs adheres to a more emotional side of the show once you get into it. Battle OST also works its magic during many important scenes. The character voice mannerism of the show also makes an interesting impression in the case of Zero Two. She does indeed draw a line between a human and inhuman by the tone of her voice. In some episodes, she behaves like a playful child while other times, she acts like an emotional doll. Unfortunately, the other main cast falls short. I mean, who wants to listen to Hiro talking all day or Ichigo complaining like a brat?
With a total of 24 episodes, Darling in the Franxx ended up being a show that made a big impact but couldn’t fully capitalize on its ideas. It has a creative world and an intriguing group of characters. But when it comes to the actual storytelling, that turned into a chunk of mess. In fact, it made me wonder if the creators had a clear plan in the first place or if they procrastinated it like a final school project. To me, it’s a show that hit the right spots in the beginning but doesn’t live up to the hype. It sure got people talking about it if that was one of its missions. However, it’s ultimately a series that talk the talk, but couldn’t walk the walk.
Inconsistencies: writers can't decide whether Hiro is new in the team or not. The children pilots are supposed to have no idea about what romance, sex and everything affiliated are, but they are quite self conscious about their bodies and sex.
Low value script. Quite a lot of pointing out the obvious, e.g. in a deserted village "it's like a small city or something" followed by more 0 value assertions of a similar fashion that take too long. Too much talk about kissing to prove that they don't get what that is and what romantic relationships are. Of course, actions prove the opposite. A lot of
repeated discussions, "I'm gonna do my best" blah blah kind of stuff, many of which could have been avoided because it is apparent based on the their characters, expressions, actions, simple logic etc.
Cringe fest. Male mecha pilots drive female mecha pilots using handles sticking out of the side of their asses. Being "piloted" gives the girls reactions as if they were having sex. Pointless sexualization and distasteful fanservice. If there is a point to it, it's still too blatant, in your face, unsubtle and overly repeated for me to appreciate it. Pointless beach episode. It's also filled with clichees whenever it comes to relationships and human interaction. It wouldn't be a problem if these clichees would add something to the story, but they don't. The gist of the over-sexualization is that the girls are put in a weak position, and boys need to start caring about them as people. The extra sexual tension is also meant to be a catalyst for the intrigue. This "metaphor" that forcefully facilitates something which would have otherwise come naturally is not a quality, despite the fact that many people get giddy about noticing said "metaphor".
Mech fights are not visually spectacular, most of the focus is on showing the method in which monsters are being defeated. You get to see how the mechs get in the correct position to fight the enemy after dodging a bit in some low value mech vs projectile scenes and then the main mech pummels through the monster. An actual fight of reaction time, beauty, skill, teamwork with proper choreography would be much more fun but is something we don't get.
Mech(Franxx) designs are meant to emulate the personalities/looks of the female characters they represent but are too overly detailed and similar in style with each other. You end up recognizing them based off of color scheme, take that away and it's hard to distinguish them. Of course this is aside from the one that is fat and has a gun, an almost moe-blob mech. Monster designs however are fairly interesting.
What does it do good after all? The main female character is a complete troll, tease and has no restraints whatsoever, so that's fun. She's also a half-monster with superhuman agility and power and she gets in a lot of really well animated, highly dynamic scenes. Character animations and expressions overall are really good and so are the backgrounds.