Hai, everyone! Welcome back to #moe404! And hei look, we’re going to be reviewing one of the recently finished anime, one that is particular quite popular especially among the new anime fans; Darling in the FranXX. Personally, I never had talked about any recent finished anime series since I rarely watch the seasonal anime releases, but maybe starting from now I will review them occasionally.
Warning! This review is going to be a long read since I dig deep to points out my takes towards the show, so don’t forget to bookmark/save this page and visit it again later if you’re currently don’t have time to read it. But when you ready … please prepare a glass of coffee or a bowl of popcorn, put your inspection googles on, and let us start our investigation! 😎
In the distant future —the year is 2042, to be exact— Humanity is under a constant threat from giant creatures known as the klaxosaurs; living things which are sub-divided into at least four categories based on their sizes. Pushed to the brink of annihilation, the mysterious organization is known as APE has led the remnants of humanity to abandon the Earth’s surface, human beings had to build moving fortress; cities they have called as a plantation to save its civilization. To defend the remaining humans on Earth, children are raised to pilot giant robots known as the Franxx —which whoever able to pilot the Franxx as a pair are later be called as parasites.
On the 13th plantation known as Cerasus, a kid with the code-016 named Hiro has failed in advance tests and was in disappointment. No longer being a parasite candidate, he came into the forest and neglected his obligation of attending the briefing session of the class enlistment/graduation ceremony. Little does he know, coming into the forest leads him to meet with a strange girl who’d introduced herself as Zero Two; an infamous pilot with a pair of red horns on her head. Little does Hiro know, Zero Two is known among the children as the Partner Killer for the reason that everyone who partnered with her will always die.
Right after they split up and minding their own business, a klaxosaur attacks the 13th plantation, and Zero Two deploys with her Franxx named Strelizia to fight it but ends up getting injured while her partner is mortally wounded. Catching up to the frontline, Hiro who doesn’t have any intention to leave Cerasus, volunteers to become Zero Two’s partner and try to pilot Strelizia. In response, Zero Two kisses Hiro and activates the true form of Strelizia; she brings Hiro inside the cockpit and calls him as her darling. Still don’t know that Zero Two is actually a human-klaxosaur hybrid who kills every partner she rides with, Hiro will continue to live on with a new hope to become a parasite and ride the Franxx again.
Honestly, I didn’t watch Darling in the FranXX when the show was still airing, but I watched the series last week just so I can write this review. And since the first episode, I recognized the show as a plagiarism of the Evangelion series. I can’t help it and I can’t reject that idea from my head. So I just wonder how come this show got a lot of hype while it’s not even a really new show, the fact that the show got too much appreciation just made me think the anime community has lost oneself. Anyhow, the idea of this show for being a rip-off of Evangelion throughout the time I watched it made me compared both of the shows frequently, and the results were never leaned towards Darling in the FranXX.
Episodes by episodes I watched, I oftentimes questions from which studio the show is made, and who is the creator behind the making. And one time, I might have found the answer of how come Darling in the FranXX has became known by a lot of people- way more popular when compared to the other anime series with the same airing season. Turns out, the show was made by a collaboration of three huge anime studios; A-1 Pictures, Trigger, and CloverWorks —well, huge except CloverWorks which I could say it’s still a growing anime studio.
Then I turned around to another section, I came to understand why the show is pretty much similar to Evangelion.
Turns out, the producer of Darling in the FranXX —Kobayashi Hiroyasu— was actually one of the directors of the three Evangelion remake movies. I turned over and I found both the director and the main writer for Darling in the FranXX —Nishigori Atsushi— was actually one of the directors and hold the assistant animation for the Evangelion remake movies as well. But then I highlighted also the storyboard of Darling in the FranXX known by the name Imaishi Hiroyuki, who’s actually worked as the key animation for the three Evangelion remake movies … but not also that, he holds also the key animation of the original Neon Genesis Evangelion and even hold the same position for one of the two original movies of NGE.
Oh well, now I know the answer to everything..,.. From where I’ve seen it, Darling in the FranXX was an eruption of these people’s dedication, people who clearly have worked together before, to create something similar to- but also different from- Neon Genesis Evangelion. The fact that one of the co-founders of Gainax and the original creator of Evangelion —Anno Hideaki— was not contributed in the making of Darling in the FranXX, had pushed the people behind this show to create something that is different enough from Evangelion -because of course you can’t just adopt a franchise without getting any copyright claim or even worse, the show gets considered as a parody joke. But from my perspective as someone who’s still adoring the earlier burst of this mecha genre, I could see crystal clear through all the hype and conclude Darling in the FranXX as just another rip-off of Evangelion.
But wait! What is wrong with a new show that is similar to the earlier ones? Well, there’s nothing wrong with that, except if the new show had to take the earlier idea too far and made it like a parody joke … and that’s not the case with Darling in the FranXX. But the problem lies when the show itself is actually not worth watching. What? Yes, you read that right. To be honest, this show is one of a few which I won’t survive going through if I ran out of foods while watching it, I only able finished the show because I decided to do something about it after —in this case, to write a review of the show. So watching Darling in the FranXX was definitely not a pleasant time for me, and oftentimes I really think about to drop the show when I was in the middle of it.
Fun short storytelling; fast forward to one day after I finished the show, I came across to a funny and creative rant of Darling in the FranXX which posted by Gigguk on YouTube (watch here) … I agreed almost completely to every impression and assessment he gave and watching his rant had given me more reason to regret my time watching the show. So yeah, I don’t really like Darling in the FranXX, and maybe I can give you one or two reasons to not watch the show —or if you have already watched the show, maybe you’ll find one or two reasons why you shouldn’t recommend the show to everyone.
“The act of bringing two pairs of lips together, which we’d never heard of, was called a kiss,”
— she said.
script and its casts.
Okay, starting from the ground up; let’s talk about its literary work.
The background history of everything is actually pretty decent and at first, it succeeded in drawing my interest to pay attention to the show. Just read the synopsis and watch the first episode, any anime enthusiast would at least excited to know where the story will take off. Because our main character has a lot of potentials to grow and the world surrounding him is actually interesting to explore, even at least a dozen support characters are enjoyable to watch. But turns out this is a solid no-don’t-watch-the-show; Darling in the FranXX has been a pain in my ass since the very beginning!
The thing is, Darling in the FranXX was (not) trying very hard to build-up the fable of tragedy and combine it with the element of mystery, pretty much similar to Evangelion. But the sad thing is, this show only gave a little fcks about the aspect of mystery as almost none of the questions I had in mind were actually answered after I finished all the 24 episodes, but instead, the questions were kept piling up and the show insist me to just accept the way it is; don’t question about anything. How did they tell me this, you may ask? Well, they told me this through the dialogues, and almost none of the mystery was explored through actions or any dramatic plot turn … everything was explained by the act of one or two characters who suddenly became the narrator of the show and take me to their past, tells me one or two chapters of their life, until it takes me back again to the present time and the show suddenly assume that now I understand about everything. In a nutshell, the whole plots are just lazy writings.
There are too many plot points, and all of these are always features —not the main character, but— one or two support characters … until I visited the anime page on MAL and I shocked, all of these characters are main characters? Turns out, there are at least 10 main characters- or should I say, the show tried really hard to introduce all these people as main characters. Now I don’t know what the people behind the making of Darling in the FranXX were thinking, but even me knows that to features 10 main characters in this kind of story is such a bad idea, moreover when the show also wants to deliver a development to each of these characters as well. Honestly, what were they thinking?
This has made the show consists of too many plot points because everyone must have their own story to tell as a main character. And because of the limited screen time, the show never change its narrator; so even though the story doesn’t feature Hiro as the centre of everything, the show still forced me to keep watching everything pretty much from Hiro’s perspective. And because there are so many plot points, the show doesn’t provide us with enough build-up, everything happens and changes without enough overshadowing; there are marks when something starts to build-up in one episode, but then the trouble is solved in the next one … or worse, the complication comes to the surface in one episode and the character in the story overcomes the dilemma still in the same one episode. Everything seems forced and so rushed.
But of course, the true main characters here are Hiro and Zero Two. So even though *honestly? these two characters also suffered from the same problem, they got a lot more screen time than any other characters to the point where I would ship them together. How come, you may ask? Well, because they are the main characters and since I follow the story from their perspective, of course, I shipped them. So at least when the plot twist start to happen in episode 13, when there’s a huge chance that Hiro and Zero Two will go separate ways … I still don’t want that to happen. But trust me on this; I never satisfied with the result, and believe me when I say that the build-up for this moment to come is very bad too!
And wait, these are just ‘plot points’ with a little twist, the plot turn actually will happen in episode 20 and let me tell you; it was an unenjoyable plot turn! If you still confused, a plot turn is a point when an outcome of a story turns out different from the audience’s expectation, it is not the surprise ending but it’s an event that will change our perception towards everything that has happened before. In this particular plot turn, turns out the klaxosaurs are not the main enemy of the Earth and they’re even already on Earth way before humanity start to exists. And so, we’re introduced to an all-new enemy from space that intends to destroy or take over *i don’t really know– the Earth, and they call themselves VIRM.
As I told you before, this plot turn is unenjoyable. The foreshadowing of this to happen is literally started from only one episode before it and a very bit scene on episode 17, and then boom; suddenly a new enemy comes out of nowhere, introduce us to an all-new character only to kill the character literally in the next episode —but not before she build a conversation with Hiro, and explain everything about this plot turn. Remember my point about lazy writing? Yeah, lazy writing is exactly what happens here. When the next episode starts, the show suddenly continues its pace while force me to understand about anything that happens as if everything makes sense. This is like the worst plot turn I ever watched!
Let me introduce you to Kill la Kill, an anime show that also features so many sexual metaphors, has also 24 episodes, and a similar plot turn near the end; where the main character has to build a relationship with the initial enemy to defeat a mutual and greater new one —similar to Zero Two who’s comforted to join forces by the klaxosaurs, same thing happens also in Kill la Kill. But in Kill la Kill, the foreshadowing of this plot turn is started from 17 episodes before it really happens … so when it happens, I personally felt so much weight as if everything was at stake.
Kill la Kill is an anime that you can feel its development really strong throughout the show; the state of every character —even the support characters— are changed throughout the end, and all of these are always motivated by the main character breaking through their conflict. Now back again to Darling in the FranXX, there are only certain characters who changed, and none of them is influenced by our main characters; neither Hiro nor Zero Two were having anything to do with the change that happens to them. Anyhow, there are freaking 10 —not support, but— main characters, so it’s almost like every man for himself situation here.
arts – sexual analogy.
Another thing that Darling in the FranXX did halfway is presenting us the sexual theme throughout the show; while they have failed again and again. But seriously, how far is this show had to drown under? And honestly, I still wondering how come Darling in the FranXX even reached the overall rating above 7/10? This is still a huge mystery for me.
Anyhow, let us discuss this thing.
I still remember about a day when one of my blogging friends, famous by the name Arthifis —shout-out to him!— asked me about what’s the fun of watching fanservice on anime, since he prefers to just watch the real deal about what the show tries to deliver without any sub-plotting with the ideas of fanservice, and so he didn’t completely understand about the thing back then. In short, I answered his curiosity by explaining the genre and the thing about anime aesthetic. I never had a chance to questions him about how come he didn’t understand such a thing because I know he’s not a dumb, but now after I watched Darling in the FranXX, I kinda understand where the question came.
Let us just take one of the aesthetic elements on Monogatari Series; an anime franchise which almost every female character on it will show a part of their body, tilt their head to make it sexier, lay on bed and pose like a model, or just bath in sweat so we have a reason to close-up shots their seductive body shape … now this, my friend; this is what we used to call aesthetic. Now back again to Darling in the FranXX; a series where we couldn’t find the genre of ecchi listed under its data mining, a series that clearly age-rated as PG-13, yet also strongly delivers the idea of making babies and there’s always some misleading sexual-themed dialogues in every episode of it … what’s the point of this? Because there’s only a little number of reasons for a non-ecchi anime to features also nudity on their show; that is to give a development to a certain character or to provide a plot twist that will change the way we see the world surrounding its character … but this is not the case with Darling in the FranXX.
Like, they clearly could have written a romantic story without any of this sexual thoughts, or *now it comes to me— did they really depressed to make the show as close as possible to Evangelion? Because if that was their intention, then I’m sorry because they have failed still. As that sexual metaphors on Evangelion clearly had a reason to exist, which is to boost the psychological experience of its main character —Ikari Shinji. Remember the time when Shinji masturbates while watching the sick Asuka laying on a hospital bed? This was one of many moments when the show depicts our main character as someone who’s so lost to the point where he would be driven by any form of lust and affection, or vice versa, he would just let the Earth be destroyed.
Now back again to this aesthetic of Darling in the FranXX *can i even call it aesthetic? The question is what does it had contributed to the show’s whole narrative? Yeah exactly; almost nothing, except in defining the future teenager as children who are not only growing faster but actually dumber and also don’t know how to make babies. Well of course, since at least there are 10 main characters in this show and they are presented in pairs, Darling in the FranXX was pretty much taken the idea of sex and gender to the forefront- but what’s more? Does it affect the show plot twist? Nope. Does it change the personality of our main character throughout the story? Nope. Even the idea of making babies doesn’t have anything to do with the main story, yet the show still continued to work on the idea until the last episode.
So what for? I don’t really know, honestly. Even from Hiro’s perspective —which mostly will be your perspective when you watch the show— Zero Two is first time introduced within a scene where you run into her while she’s swimming naked, and therefore you know that she’s the main girl in this romantic story. So why naked? Zero Two can easily be introduced as a kind girl who has a similar situation to Hiro, and we could still easily see her as the main girl in the story. So why naked? She’s already pink haired for fck sake, it’s more than enough to distinguish her as the main girl. Why must everything have to do with this adult metaphor so bad? I really don’t know —I don’t even understand why the right way to pilot a FranXX is either to kiss each other or wear gloves and get into a sex position where the alpha struck the omega from behind … literally the cow position. 😒
I really don’t know, and confused at the same time. Maybe the reason lies in the writing or the production, or marketing reason, or even aesthetic —which I don’t even really care either way. The only sad thing is that the theme actually tried really hard to become a critical point in either the narrative or a character development, but still failed in bringing anything substantive to the table. So again, why didn’t they just quite the idea?
visual and arts.
Now let’s get to the real deal, and this is probably the only thing that I would accept from Darling in the FranXX; its consistency in delivering the visual quality, which is not the greatest, but it’s quite good and the quality isn’t decreased throughout the end. So let me point out the good thing first from this point. Even though I couldn’t find any deeper meaning in the animation of its opening and ending theme, but the visual is straight up awesome. And when it comes to the giant mecha, it was mostly CGI and the design is very elegant and lovable. When it comes to the human interactions, everything seems fluid and there are even gorgeous slow motions here and there. When it comes to fighting scenes between the giant robots and monsters, the visual managed to keep my eyes on the screen as there’s always a lot going on. Together with the vibrant colours applied to every background and object —from the characters’ outfit to mecha’s colour choices— everything seems all right.
But now, let me point out my concern from this point, which actually is still the same; the poor planning. The worst thing Darling in the FranXX has to have is its poor planning, and who says planning only related to the story? Nah … planning not only exists just on the story.
Let us take Boku no Hero Academia, one action show that actually isn’t weighted on its action. But since every punch and every scream has its meaning, the weight of character development overwrites everything that the show represents, including its action elements. And that’s why so many people could enjoy the show even though the superpower of its main character —Deku— is not even an awesome superpower, BNHA could easily become a lame shounen show if it only tells about the action. But still, the visual and the way they fight still holds the steering wheel of the show.
Now back again to Darling in the FranXX, where everything sounds so huge and awesome, but still I can’t really enjoy watching it. I couldn’t find any awe-inspiring character moment, there is no beautiful choreography … there are so many fights takes place and none of them consists of a single plot point. Honestly, these are 24 episodes with a lot of screen time, and I still couldn’t find one fight scene that is committed to a good choreography and planning, not even one scene that is well edited —like, there are no cinematic scenes, none throughout the show, not even one scene that is special and well edited; none except for the opening and ending theme.
Need another take? Okay then … look Sword Art Online or One Punch Man, shows that (almost) never delivered any character development, shows where its main character never changes since the first episode until the very last episode; but now look closely, there’s at least a fighting scene throughout the show that consist a plot point, or at least has a weight. Like … beautiful swordplay on Sword Art Online and even though not the greatest fist fight on One Punch Man, but they clearly have put the effort on how a punch delivered; when it will happen, when the soundtrack will be played, when the narrative will start to remind us about their struggle in the past..,..
But now back again to Darling in the FranXX, the show even has failed to depict how big the giant robots are. Even though it’s only one point, but this is one of the critical standards every time there’s a scene that tells about giant creatures fighting; we should know how big they are and how their battle affects the huge surrounding area. Or just hear me this; physics matters! No matter how huge or how small a fighting scene takes place, or even how a Franxx does a lot of absurd things … but for me to enjoy an action scene, it must deliver an intuitive response so I can get the realism of its action and reaction. Sadly in this show, there are so many poor decision to when they show a close-up shot, or when they do a slow motion; Darling in the FranXX almost never gives a lot of attention to the pace that I was currently in when I watched the show.
There are so many different kinds of physics, and most of the time they are just don’t matter in this show —or more precisely, the show just couldn’t care less about this. Literally, there is almost no tactical situation on every action scene, every Franxx just doing the most obvious thing, and by that everything just became so weightless. In the end, practically almost nothing has been done right in this show. And like I said; these are just a few basic points, as you should know as well that Darling in the FranXX has failed in many points when it comes to fighting narrative.
You must have heard the saying goes by, “there’s always a story behind every punch.” Well, the contrariwise did happen to Darling in the FranXX.
arts – low budget production?
Anyhow, it reminds me to one reddit thread with the headline saying; Darling in the FranXX was produced with a low financial plan and that’s the reason why it’s created by three different studios, while they also couldn’t pay enough to a total nine companies that co-produced the show together. So now, the remain question left is whether this budget problem was the cause of everything or not. Take one example; does the missing good choreography was caused by the low financial problem since it requires to create more frames and more illustrators? Well … I don’t think so, but let’s find out!
Back again with Evangelion, a show with the same theme and concept; where humanity invented giant robots, only special children can pilot it, and they use it to fight giants monsters. Now in Evangelion, there are only 13 giant monsters and our giant robots only fight half of that number in the main show, while the rest remaining dead or not even appears yet —been left for the sequels. But the thing is, there’s always a plan when humanity fights back; so every punch counts, every second counts, every step counts, every decision counts, even every gunshot counts. Every … fight … counts.
Whereas here in Darling in the FranXX where giant monsters are uncountable, there’s almost no plan when the fight scenes happen; while of course the dialogues often says, “let’s kill it like we have planned it!” but we actually don’t know what the plan is because the narrative never explains it. It’s pretty much another lazy writing. We never know what’s the limit of these robots so-called Franxx, how high they can jump or how strong they can get. Just like any typical lazy writing, we can only understand a situation when the characters suddenly and bluntly say so, especially when they reached their limits; it’s always a sudden happening and I never knew it would happen.
The thing is, I watched Darling in the FranXX for the action too because- well, it’s an anime about action, right? Now I know that the budget was quite low, but why they don’t use the previous episodes to build-up for what’s to come? See Naruto or even Boruto series, shows where oftentimes the animation is low under the standard, but because it’s an action anime when it comes to fighting everything seems all right, and sometimes great.
Now back again to Darling in the FranXX, from the first fight in the first episode to the last fight in the last episode, there’s only one way to defeat a klaxosaurs; which is spear. Yes, stab its core with a spear-like weapon; no matter how many times it’s exploded or how much effort you gave to kill it, it won’t die except you spear the core. This is just another lazy storyboard, makes everything seems boring and mainstream. Every klaxosaurs are literally different each time they attack, and in the last episode we literally are killing a planet, so why it always ends the same way? There’s always a weapon with a pointed shape on its end, and we kill the klaxosaur and even a planet with it. There’s almost no planning, no build-up because everything happens so fast, and we just know our hero will win because, in the end, they would scream “darling” to each other.
I don’t really know why the show is so messed up, though definitely was not because of the low budget problem.
closing – nesha’s final verdict.
All right, internet people, I gotta be honest here; like, I don’t hate Darling in the FranXX, I just hate that I spent at least 10 hours watching it. Darling in the FranXX was so highly anticipated and was one of the most ‘community-pleasing’ prior to last month, so I thought at first, what could possibly go wrong? huh?! Well, my mind is really numb at this point … like, how come Darling in the FranXX has a higher rating than Tokyo Ghoul:re? Currently, I’m on the third episode of TG:re and I couldn’t continue watching it because I know there’s gonna be a strong plot twist that’s going to make me sad —to put this in your perspective; I’m still on the third episode of this show and I have already connected with the characters and the world surrounding, to the point where I’m afraid that I’ll be sad if something happens to these characters … one feeling that sadly I never felt throughout all the 24 episodes of Darling in the FranXX.
So how come?! This is nuts, seriously!
Remember my review of Akira? It’s one of those anime which we cannot compare it to any other because it’s so different. And I’m not leading you to think that any anime that has similarities with another is bad, or either to assume one series that completely new and different are good; nope, nothing is necessarily good nor bad, everything will always depend on how they execute it —everything always depends on how far the people behind the making can take those old school ideas or that completely new idea, and expand it or extract it to become a new story. Anime production is always about being a part of the film industry as a whole, being a part of a progression to a certain degree, and we as an anime enthusiast are always being a part of the transition to watching something that is better —so it’s not to watch necessarily a new idea, but to watch something that is better.
But the thing is, everytime a new anime takes the same footing as the previous ones before it, we as an audience will watch this new story with a certain prospect and expectation, we will watch it with a different standard, a state-of-the-art you could say. And lemme tell you this, Darling in the FranXX has failed to overcome this standard —or should I say; my standard— and this matter has made me so sad because as I said in the very beginning; Darling in the FranXX was actually had a huge potential to grow, yet they have failed to grow it the right way.
additional pieces of information.
- Darling in the FranXX
- first time aired in winter, 13.01.2018 till 07.07.2018
- nesha’s review of an anime TV, 24 episodes
- from the studio of A-1 Pictures, Trigger, and CloverWorks
- tagged under the genre of #action, #drama, #mecha, #romance, and #sci-fi
tagged under the subgenre of #psychological, #science_fiction, #fanservice, #robot_girl, #super_robot, #love_polygon, #new, and #shounen
- the age-rated as PG-13
But I’m not your daddy to tell you what to watch and what not to, I simply told you my take towards this show. So the questions I’ll leave with you are, “What do you think about the characters on Darling in the FranXX? Have you fallen in love with them? Did you grow a connection with them? Or even better, can you see yourself related to any of them?” Comments down below with your thoughts, and follow us on Twitter @moenotfound to get notified for any new post of anime reviews and otaku rants.
I will keep writing about this kind of stuff, so if you like to read, you better stick with #moe404! 😉 Thank you for reading! Support us on Patreon if you would, keep watching anime, and I’ll see you again in the next post! Bai-bai now~
© written by nesha5971