When I saw the title of this anime I thought it was about being a hot dog or sausage because of the word Franxx, in which I thought maybe Frank's sausage. Good thing I was wrong because we have an anime filled with hopes and dreams and a battle of friendship ahead.
Disclaimer: The review has spoilers!
About The Anime:
Darling in The Franxx is the hot new buzzword in the anime community if you haven't noticed. This anime show is the hit of this season sweeping the fans by foot, even cosplayers have already dressed up as the popular character of the show. This anime is not based off a novel or manga, but it is an original animation directed by Studio Trigger, who created Kill La Kill. From my own perspective, I didn't find any of the story progression to be brand new if I didn't read a lot, but it more likely appeals to the younger audience. Darling in The Franxx is about a young boy, named Hiro who has seen the worse of his life due to his lack of some ability to pilot a Gundam, I mean Franxx. We are then shown that he belongs to a group of friends and they all are main characters. This may be an anime where no one will actually die, because of the nature of the studio and how this story is going so far, it seems not likely. We will explore each episode from one to eight as those are what I have watched so far.
Apart From Other Shows:
This season the anime shows have better production. I wish the color grading and visual effects were better in this anime. Violet Evergarden has set the bar extremely high compared to all anime this season if you are wondering what good should look like.
For Studio Trigger there is no exception as to why the art style and detail isn't there. When we look at all the details of what could have been improved in the art, there is a ton. One thing that bothers me in their animation style is that the backgrounds have so much detail, but the characters, who are more important, have actually less detail in a lot of scenes. The shading is also very basic and there are no intermediate colors to transition or blend well. I appreciate the details of the buildings with drawn lines and such, but have they ever heard of texture layering with gradients? Essentially they can blend a texture with there backgrounds like buildings and walls to make it look realistic. I feel that Studio Trigger is using ancient technology to create anime sometimes because the colors look like some cheap paint-like software.
Story-wise I find that we still do not know the purpose of the entire group of friends yet, even the foreshadowing is not clear at all. Literally, none of the episodes link well together. Watch episode 1 and skip a few episodes and you will still know the overall premise of the story. The anime has progressed, but story-wise it's mostly fillers, especially after around episode 4. At least they are taking the time to build the character's personalities so that we know who is what. One character, Zorome, is annoying but that's his role so that's great. The other characters seem plain. It feels that all characters are like set to one personality type and are not dynamic at all, which makes it easier how they will actually develop later on, such as Mitsuru. In the beginning we didn't know what Mitsuru is like, we saw him as like a smart-type and wants to be the best and he doesn't seem to open up to the others all the time, yet at the beginning, where we see Hiro's backstory, Mitsuru talked more and wanted a name too. That doesn't make sense at all. He should of went with his code name instead of the name Hiro gave him right if he were to have that personality? It's just those lack of attention to detail and proper story writing that bother me.
At the end of the day, we see some cheesy and cheap scenes, that definitely define the episode, but when you put it all together, it's like a big slap in the face. I can definitely also see the inspiration that Studio Trigger incorporates from past work like Evangelion. Anyways, let's move onto the review of the episodes now.
A Wish To Fly:
Oh man... The beginning of the anime, the first episode, was immense. The studio did a great job of putting the weight and harshness of life on the viewer. I felt that anyone or maybe just me could almost relate to the struggle of wanting to fly, in this case, to succeed.
You better remember the birds and the butterflies because it shows up a lot in this anime about the strong killing the weak. Further, into the first episode, we already have some sort of disaster going on, and that just broke the importance of the first episode. I believe the first episode should have been more about Hiro's life so that we have a clear vision of where and what he is actually doing and possibly thinking. If you are going to have these type of characters that are lost, it would be freaking amazing to have scenes where they at least reflect or talk to themselves.
The first episode goes by quick and you maybe forgot about the bird as an actual story element of symbolism anyways... Now our main character, Hiro is holding onto the rails as he flies due to an unexpected monster.
One other scene though is the parting of Hiro's previous partner, who wasn't able to pilot with him. It was a sad moment but easily forgotten.
Now, maybe Studio Trigger could have waited, but they used this part as their hook to keep you interested in this anime. I mean, if we left off the anime on the wondering of Hiro and his friend's existence probably no one would bother to watch the second episode. So they decided to show and add the mega transformation of The Strelizia, which works.
Literally, I thought it looked like Medabots.
Be That Darling:
For the next episodes, Hiro is thinking about being Zero Two's partner. We hit some critical story direction here, as we could have gone to protecting just this unknown plantation, but now we know there is many. We also now know that there are better pilots than Zero Two. So who is actually the enemy then? We learned about the kalaxosauruses, but we still haven't got a clue why they appear initially and how Zero Two is related to those monsters.
One thing for certain though, from episode two, the stats of Hiro's character is like the generic male you would see everywhere. No wonder he will be a popular main character because I'm positive many guys have the same because I actually have the same height and weight, sadly (but not age). This makes Hiro a more relatable character, I guess, but it shouldn't have much impact if he was buff or had a different hair color, than the generic black hair, like every Japanese or Asian guy out there.
The results of the battle in the above image were quite devastating to our poor Ichigo. They shared something very special, but our main character was honest as heck and literally said he didn't feel anything. Why did he say it so bluntly? I'm sure he was smart enough because his character in the beginning gave the notion that he cares for others, but I guess at this moment, his frustration getting the Franxx to move overpowered his chosen words. With the words he said, Ichigo is left with a big hole in her heart, as we can guess that she obviously had the hots for Hiro since they were young.
That was probably the main scene, in which we can already tell why Zero Two needs Hiro as her wings.
So, still in this section, we will go up to around episode six because that's where we finally settle in with the characters and fillers start to happen more frequently.
In episode three, we witness a crazy side of Mitsuru and the understanding of Zero Two's views on the world they live in. I also found the switch from normal frame resolution to cinematic frame resolution quite appealing such as the part where Zero Two shows Hiro the city they are protecting inside.
This scene will probably be another important one of the series. The notion Zero Two is giving her about running away means she actually wants to leave the grasp of the humans. She is basically controlled and used to fight the monsters even though she is probably a monster herself.
Something unrelated to the overall story, we have an extermination gone wrong, and Mitsuru operates with Zero Two and had fun until Zero Two went after his mind and soul after provoking her darling.
We all knew that was going to happen, it was easy to predict since Mitsuru wanted to fail deployment at the beginning by not concentrating enough to link with Ikuno, the girl with glasses. Probably you didn't feel sorry for him and was like, he deserved that, but you can see that in real life, and sometimes it actually cost their life. By letting their ego get ahead of them and doing something they know could be dangerous for them even though someone else did it and somehow lived (of course this is anime and magic breaks real life).
Which brings us to episode four, five, and six about the life of Hiro more in-depth. Then we find out that Zero Two has to leave and finally Hiro accepts that he either likes her or just wants to really pilot a Franxx, and she is the only one that works with him in harmony. We later see some backstory for when he was a child and we learn about another squad who has teamed up with Zero Two.
I liked how in the above scene, despite the context of the location, Zero Two just waltz right in, it's like is no one even in the mansion (or house or so)? Then just as Zero Two was about to leave... We knew Hiro had to do something about it! If Hiro didn't, probably the anime would just end right here, haha.
I'm guessing Studio Trigger supports the art of confessing and possibly courtship. I almost cringed, but it works here because that's probably the only most manly option our main character can do, and no one wants to watch the main character that's a wimp (especially after the first few episodes already).
Above, I found it subtly funny that Zero Two smirked at Ichigo at this part of the battle, but then after the battle, we just forget about it. This is one huge damn problem about this anime. The actions they make, are easily forgotten and are never recollected to build depth to the character development or even the story. Studio Trigger should fix that, and you know what I'm talking about. It's like the characters do things, but the smallest details that could make an impact, that aren't emphasized, still make a difference regardless. Which brings us to episode five, that reminds us about the purpose of this anime and the forthcoming of Zero Two's quote about weakling that die, and it's not a big deal.
Our boy, Hiro, is suffering because of side effects of love. It doesn't look like love, but it should be. The main characters are hitting puberty, but they are already kissing and doing the naughty, jeez (innocent love is okay). Hiro is obviously the butterfly and Zero Two is the spider. Remember the first episode when Hiro first saw Zero Two and thought she was drowning? That is probably a symbolism here. Maybe the butterfly was flying towards the mirror because it saw another butterfly, and got caught in the web. Whereas, Zero Two the spider went to the prey and just made Hiro the butterfly hers. However, Hiro will be the wings, as a spider is powerful like Zero Two, but cannot fly, as Zero Two the spider wishes to fly, and the two work together. Besides that, it was also a meaning of Zero Two's belief in which we can predict will change, as we will see in episode eight.
Now in the above scene, as we are aware that Hiro's close friends are also aware of his suffering they all look sad and we are able to show empathy with them.
Later in episode five, Zero Two already knows that Hiro is suffering and we are reminded yet again, trying to make this scene significant, about the suffering and truth behind the people who pilot with Zero Two. Of course, we can also predict from earlier on episode two, that Hiro, our main character, will be the special one to break the rumor of Zero Two's infamous partner killer title. This little problem of Hiro's suffering soon ends in episode six after a breathtaking battle where Hiro almost died and saw the agony of Zero Two, fighting alone, even though she is powerful, without wings or her stamen, she can't win.
Hiro comes back better than ever and saves the day.
The wings yet again, it's all about wings man. Studio Trigger probably drinks tons of Red Bull, hahaha... Zero Two is the body and Hiro are the wings that will set her free.
Filler To Be Human:
Now, we are almost at the current airing episode now, but I have a prediction on why the fillers were actually kind of important. It only works here, because Zero Two does not think to be human and she doesn't have feelings for humans at all. And what better way than to show what humans are like, than going to the beach and hitting puberty?
Man, I really thought it was a filler, it probably was, but then adding how Zero Two wanted to taste the ocean and the overall squad bonding with each other showed us something we can relate to (unless you haven't gone to the beach). On a side note, it's like a known standard in the anime industry that either episode seven, eight, or nine are like beach episodes (or maybe it's just me). We are then again remembered about the old human civilization outside the plantations and this foreshadows episode eight where we have a filler of fun to bring us to the most important moment of that episode, which was highly emphasized in a cinematic feel.
Zero Two does, in fact, care about Hiro, and her first step is to understand humans... In which she later asks: Am I more human now?
Darling in The Franxx is overall a great watch for this season and you definitely see elements from Evangelion in here. I feel there could be a connection or play of words here in the characters names and binary, but all I know is that Zero Two and Zero Sixteen are complements in a based two system in computers. Some math such as 2 to the power of 4 is sixteen, and we know that Zero Two's partner only lasts until the third time. I don't know, just some observation I made. So Hiro was the perfect fit. It takes four to do the trick. So, first try was wild, second is okay, third try your either dead or see it, and that fourth try is when you come back to life in the third try, because you are a new person, in this case, Hiro.
Thank you for reading this long article and have a fantastic day!