“In the distant future the land is ruined and humanity establishes the mobile fort city Plantation. Pilots produced inside Plantation live in Mistilteinn, also know as the “birdcage.” Children live there knowing 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 lifeforms known as Kyōryū (Klaxosaur), and the children pilot robots called Franxx to face off against them. For the children, riding the Franxx proves their existence. A boy named Hiro is called Code:016, and he was once known as a prodigy. However, he has fallen behind, and his existence seems unnecessary. Not piloting a Franxx is the same as ceasing to exist. One day, a mysterious girl known as “Zero Two” appears before him. Two horns grow out of her head” -ANN
While I love mecha anime and I love Trigger as an animation studio, Darling in the FranXX was a hit and miss for me. The first half of the show was incredible, the immaculate world building, wonderful character development with a purpose, and an interesting antagonist position that slowly changed as the story progresses. Episode 15 was the cut, after that the story starts to get messy. Too many plot points thrown in and too late in the show making a rushed and absurd ending. Most of the story after episode 15 could’ve been condensed to an extra episode epilogue which would’ve made it much more satisfying.
Artwork & Animation:
Obvious as it may be, Darling in the FranXX’s art is its strongest feature. The character designs were great throughout, although if you threw Hiro in another show he’d blend right in regardless of the plotline. Although the mechs were cartoonish and not drawn realistically, like Gundams for example, the mech designs still worked well with the overall feel of the show. Giving the mechs the facial expressions of their female pilots brings a little more life to scenes that involve the mech. Fighting animation is impeccable, each explosion, movement, Franxx, and Klaxosaur were incredibly detailed. Each fight scene bigger than the last has you wanting more and more! The artwork also does a great job of creating the world of Darling in the Franxx from the barren wasteland of the outside to the serene landscape of the Mistilteinn, all the way to the city of the “adults”.
While the story did declined a bit after the first half, I still think the characters themselves should get an honorable mention. The beginning of the show all of them were young and ignorant with no filter whatsoever. As the story move forward there are decisions that each character makes that ultimately impacts their thought process in the upcoming episodes. This make every interaction special and significant and not baseless chatter. While our main cast (and some side characters) got great development our true antagonist, VIRM, lacks any importance and is a waste of a character. We do get an episode explaining this entity, yet it still feels superficial. The VIRM’s backstory felt too grand for how little time the show had left but it was inserted at the end anyway. With only 6 episodes left after the introduction of VIRM and too many other plot points in the story that needed to be shown,VIRM is swept under the rug. Not to mention the motive to, “Destroy all species, because we are superior” is dull and overused.
Sound (OST & Voice Acting):
The soundtrack is a wonderful fusion of electronic music and traditional strings. creating this contrast of sounds much like the differences between the futuristic city of APE and the nature of Mistilteinn. This evokes emotional pieces as well as heart racing rhythms to amplify the significance of all events.
While I fell in love with the first half of the show and of course with Zero Two as well but the second killed it for me. I would’ve much rather seen a 12 episode that was slightly rushed, than have it dragged out like it was.
Overall: Score 7/10
Darling in the FranXX is your favorite horse at the derby that tripped and fell right before the finish line. The amazing world building, character development, and artwork al crushed because the second half lacked the attention the first did. That being said it’s still a decent show and should be watched to at least episode 15 (after that it’s your funeral).
Best Girl: Zero Two
“Darling, darling, darling!” I can’t get enough! Zero Two is the most impactful character in the show often dictating the pace of parasite children’s growth. Her cute horns, eccentric actions, and persevering love for her “darling” make her one of my favorite characters to date.