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Darling in the FrankXX
Darling in the Franxx is a mecha anime set in a post-apocalyptic world where humanity is fighting against a mysterious alien threat called the klaxosaurs using mecha called the Franxx that are piloted by a pair of boy-girl teenage pilots. The main focus of this conflict is on Hiro, a former mech pilot who finds himself struggling with being incapable of piloting any of the Franxx until he partners up with the aggressive Zero-Two to pilot the Franxx called Strelizia, which has acquired a bad rep for killing any male pilot who partners with Zero-Two in fighting with it.|
There are quite a number of issues that Darling in the Franxx suffers from throughout the span of its run that make it a fun mess to watch through. Suppose the first major issue I should focus on is the show's attempts at trying to seem more deep than it really is. Being set in a post-apocalyptic future, Darling's society is seemingly dystopian with its children pilots given life through genetic engineering and sexual reproduction being seemingly forgotten by humanity in spite of both genders still having reproduction organs. The series is rather blatant in attempting to try conveying sexual themes such as the value of human relationships and the creation of life through intercourse, this being especially notable with the names of the male and female pilots of the Franxx being the plant reproductive parts of stamen and pistil respectively. Rather than come across as an insightful look on valuing human relationships, Darling in the Franxx's efforts of portraying these themes come off feeling more pretentious, especially with the other issues surrounding the series.
Another major issue with Darling is originality. Granted, this may seem a bit unfair as many anime have story elements and character types they have pulled from past titles. But for quality ones that do such, they are capable of creating their own unique spin on these tropes that can make them memorable and engaging to watch. But in the case of Darling, it doesn't really add anything new to the storytelling tropes it pulls from other anime titles as it merely copies the concepts and plot twists of specific titles without doing anything new to break the mold with them. While I won't spoil too much of what specifically it blatantly copies, all I will say that two popular and well-known Gainax mecha titles are the major titles of note that Darling rips off its story twists and elements from.
The other major issue of note comes in how rather shallow much of its storytelling and characters are. Outside of the mentioned lack of originality, Darling is mostly a typical affair in the mecha genre with "monster of the day/ arc" threats that the Franxx pilots have to deal with and attempts at trying to come off as deep with exploring the issues of the teen pilots. But other than Hiro and Zero-Two, the majority of Darling's cast are mostly two-dimensional archetypes who get little in the way of fleshing out and development. The one silver lining I give to Darling's storytelling is that it does do okay to a point in handling developments on Hiro and Zero-Two's characters as the both of them do get a solid amount of focus and gradually change throughout the span of the series, with the middle episodes making for the show's best material to explore the connection the two have with one another. This solid focus on the two does gradually tank in later episodes due to the ridiculous revelations told in Darling's final five episodes, but it's as good as you can get out of it.
Presentation-wise, Darling in the Franxx sports Trigger's typical stylish visual flair with a rich amount of color, beautiful scenic shots, slick-looking Franxx and klaxosaur designs, and some engaging Franxx/ klaxosaur fights. The show's soundtrack is probably it's best feature, filled with a mix of somber, melancholic, and energetic tracks that are mostly engaging to listen to in spite of the questionable attempts by Trigger to utilized them in trying to make Darling seem better than it really is.
Overall as I said, Darling in the Franxx felt mostly like a hot mess to me. Its attempts to come off as deep are mostly pretentious, it borrows a little too heavily from past anime titles for its story elements, and its story and characters felt mostly lazy and shallow. It's not the worst anime I've seen from Trigger, but it's certainly an underwhelming entry from the studio.
Last updated Saturday, July 07 2018. Created Saturday, July 07 2018.
Darling in the FrankXX
(One episode watched):|
At one point around halfway through this show, the thought occurred to me 'Let me guess: some sort of crisis will lead to Hiro and this 002 girl teaming up, and they will save the day'. And, sure enough, that's exactly what happened. It wasn't difficult to 'read' the general direction this show was going, since there have been so many anime with similar plotlines before, and nothing about the episode really surprised me. The basic problem is the all too common one of not endowing the main characters with enough personality for us viewers to care all that much what becomes of them. What do I care if the two will fall in love when they still seem like strangers to me? The show was more about the bizarre technology than the characters; stuff like 'Klaxosaurs' (whatever the hell those are), whose design and operation reminded me of stuff you'd see in FLCL. Indeed, the climactic action scene made about as much sense as an action scene from that show. There are fancy uniforms and fancy terminology, which attempt to create a sort of mystique, but I was more confused than enthralled. Why are candidates for what seems a prestigious and sought after position known as 'parasites'? Ultimately I was not impressed since the fundamental error with the characters made it all seem so amateurish. I just felt that I had pretty much seen it all before.
Last updated Thursday, January 18 2018. Created Wednesday, January 17 2018.