Darling in the FranXX is probably the most-anticipated series for the Winter 2018 season. When I heard about it, I will admit that a small squeaky sound may have escaped my lips. I loved Kill La Kill, which was studio TRIGGER’s prior creation. It was extremely strange and obnoxiously over-the-top, utterly unafraid to make fun of itself. Hell, I enjoyed it so much that I am planning my first cosplay of a character from the show. In a way, my anticipation was centred around Darling in the FranXX being just as weird and action-packed. The first episode may not have been a masterpiece, nonetheless it was good enough to convince me that I will be wholeheartedly addicted to the series this season.
Darling in the FranXX is an original creation from studios TRIGGER and A-1 Pictures (Anohana, Sword Art Online) and is a science-fiction, mecha series.
The basic storyline takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humanity has been driven to endangerment by giant beasts. The remainder of humanity have established a city called Plantation, where kids are bred to pilot giant mecha known as Franxx, in a partnership between boys and girls. Our male protagonist is Hiro, otherwise known as Code:016. After failing a test to determine if he has the emotional aptitudes to pilot a Franxx, he finds himself in despair. While roaming an artificial forest, he comes in contact with a girl that has long, pink hair and pair of red horns. Plot things happen and Zero Two (said girl) asks Hiro to be her new partner.
I must confess right off that bat that Hiro is a fucking rip-off of Kirito from Sword Art Online. They could be twins and it was extremely off-putting to have a protagonist who resembled a character that I am not too fond of in such a similar means. Yet, that moment of recognition was brief and eventually passed. I do get reminded of it often, but not to the point where it makes the show unwatchable. This was my biggest gripe with the pilot episode, and in reality, it is not a big issue by far.
Aside from that, it was your standard first episode. We get a basic introduction to the world, some of the characters, and an ordinary look at how things work. The world being dystopian is easily inferred from the setting and minor things that are spoken between characters. I have a feeling we will learn more about the events that led up to such a fate as the series develops.
The characters are adolescents who are taught to pilot mecha if they meet the bare requirements, and witnessing the mental and psychological effects of failure on these kids was intense. To see their entire lives dependent on a single skill can be depressing, but informative to the social structure of the world they’re living in. It also creates an emotionally evocative layer I was not expecting.
I find the fact that girls and boy pairing up to pilot the machines to be intriguing, and I hope that the reason behind this gender-specific regulation will be given more focus later in the series. If the sole purpose is to simply to create an air of romantic tension between partners, then I find that to be a weak and unimaginative reasoning, that will severely take away from the narrative’s quality. It is a trope that is wholly overdone. With so many other unique factors to the series, relying on something like this to make things more “interesting” is rather pitiful.
I adored the animation! We get a beautiful combination of TRIGGER’s unique artistic style with A-1 Pictures attention to details and precision, producing a wonderfully clean and aesthetically pleasant viewing experience. The quality also did not decrease during action sequences, which seems to be the custom in modern animation. It kept up and even worked to highlight plenty of the movements and bravura of the Franxx’s transformative capabilities.
For a mecha anime, the design of the mecha are a great blend of typical mecha shape with TRIGGER’s flair for the flamboyant and outrageous, giving it just enough an imaginative twist to keeps things refreshing and different.
Plot-wise not much occurred. Boy meets girl. Girl is a freak amid her colleagues. Something giant and scary attacks, forcing girl to do what she must so save everyone. Boy is inspired by girl’s ruthless dedication to the cause, and impulsively joins girl for action-packed theatrics. That is basically it. Nevertheless, it is perfectly sufficient for an introduction, especially since we get other titbits of information along the way.
The only questionable aspect that moved about in my brain during our main characters’ interactions was the déjà vu feeling that I got. It was extremely reminiscent to the series Eureka Seven, which is another sci-fi mecha anime that I really adored. Yet, I am confident in TRIGGER’s storytelling capacities and expect crazy ass things to occur within the next few weeks that will set it apart from the genre’s norm.
You can catch Darling in the FranXX on CrunchyRoll on Saturday mornings.