It’s All About Love… & Robots – A 20 Question Review of Darling in the FranXX (Episode 16-20)

If you haven’t already please read my post: Puberty & Robots – A 20 Question Reassessment of Darling in the FranXX Episodes 1-15 for context to this post.


I can’t say I expected this review so soon after your other one, clearly you have a lot to say about this show, huh? I kind of hate that I was initially so combative towards this show because the more I think about this show (and I think about it a lot) the more I really respect its creative decisions!

I feel like you’re pretty alone with that opinion… at least in the ani-blogging community. ~Maybe~ but isn’t that the point of blogging to convince others to a different frame of thinking, shouting outside the echo chamber.

Yeah… good luck with that. Tch.

So what did you want to talk about now? Presumably this is about the subsequent lot of episodes after the self described “first part” of the anime? Yes, episodes 16 to 20. Or what I’m calling ‘It’s all about love’ arc.

That’s a terrible name… Shuddup!

It started with a kiss.

So what plot beats comprise this ark? (presume for a second that whoever is reading this at least passingly familiar with the events up to this episode.) It’s a big ol’ love fest up in Plantation 13. Zero Two loves Hiro, Ichigo loves Hiro, Goro loves Ichigo, Ikuno loves Ichigo, Kokoro loves Mitsuru, Futoshi loves Kokoro and Doctor Franks loves all of them! It’s just a big clustertruck of love and feelings and messiness and it’s like the best worst soap opera I’ve ever seen just put against the backdrop of a a generational spanning dystopian sci-fi extravaganza.

That’s a lot of love! Oh and did I mention that not only does Doctor Franks love his Plantation 13 labrats, he also loves the Princess of the Klaxosaurs, a.k.a the long running enemy of the entire series, but the Princess loves ‘Star Entity’ a weapon recently acquired by PAPA—the all-knowing, all seeing overseers in space!

Klaxosaur Princess is as terrifying as she is cute.

My head hurts… And so it should! Either Darling in the FranXX doubles down on the relationship drama or it doubles down on the sci-fi weirdness, these 5 episodes prove that it’s capable of both and neither simultaneously!

How do you mean? Well it all comes so hard and fast (no pun intended) that you just kind of have to let it wash over you, lest you drown in the madness of it all. With the exception of the partial flash-back episode that helps explain some of how the world ended up as a series of dome worlds in an apocalyptic wasteland, the new sci-fi beats such as klaxosaur princess and ‘star entity’ and secret space aliens who’ve been partially in control of the government this whole damn time!

She’s not piloting this thing bent over.

“Secret space aliens”? Huh?! Yeah, episode 20 closes out with probably one of the hastiest out-of-nowhere space battles in a show that’s up to that point never even mentioned aliens. And you know what? I’m a-okay with that!

You really seem to be bending over backwards to defend this show’s sloppy narrative decisions? You mean bending over backwards like the Pistil’s do in the FranXX cockpits?!

Klaxosaurception.

Sure, whatever, why not… So back to the ‘love’ aspect of this post as I’m sure that’s what you’re wanting to focus on. What’s the big deal about it anyway? Not in general obviously, just in the context of this show. Love, sex, procreation are all things that have been rendered obsolete by this ‘new world’. As the previously mentioned flash back episode explains, Dr Franks discovered a way to make humans immortal but at the cost of their reproductive capabilities. So not only are these concepts of “love” and “relationships” and “sex” and “procreation” completely unheard of ideas to the young cast of characters they’re also actively downtrodden by the powers at be—which serves as a central conflict for these episodes.

The overarching theme of love lost is foreboding.

How so? Well way back in Episode 7, in the infamous ‘beach episode’ while exploring the ruins of an ancient city Kokoro found a book about human reproduction, something that’s never taught to the Parasites (children) of any of the plantations. Ever since then Kokoro’s been slowly getting more and more enamoured with the idea of having children and so when she finally grows closer to Mitsuru they kiss, they have sex(!) and they decide they want to get married.

It was a very sweet wedding episode, of course to be completely ruined by meddlesome adults!

Well that escalated quickly! On paper, yes. But in the show it’s very organic and gradual I really appreciated what they did with this plot line—even the wedding episode—which are usually obnoxious affairs (if American sitcoms are anything to go by) is genuinely sweet and heart-warming. Until of course it’s broken up by PAPA’s armed forces and torn asunder by evil brain washing.

And what about the love between Ichigo and Ikuno, they’re both girls aren’t they? Doesn’t that clash with this show’s “heteronormative agenda”—your words, not mine! Ugh, I’m going to regret those words for a long time it seems. Yes, this show has been staggeringly heteronormative to this point, but they address it here too! Ikuno, who’s been not-so-secretly closeted gay since early on finally confesses her feelings to Ichigo and it’s equally sweet as it is heart-breaking! Here’s a girl, whose whole life is surrounded by ‘boy x girl’ partnerships and burgeoning relationships and feelings between hormonal boys and girls, but she feels nothing for the boys, she “only has eyes” for Ichigo.

She couldn’t be any more gay.

I’m guessing those feelings aren’t returned? Not as such. But Ichigo is at least sensitive enough to Ikuno’s feelings to not recoil or pull away or even say a negative word against her love confession instead is content to listen and sympathise with her “complicated” feelings.

Hmm, fair enough. So are you happy about that plot line? I’m happy Ikuno’s sexuality was addressed and not either swept under the rug or made to feel invalid, I just hope the shows gives her some decent closure by the end of it and not leave her as some smiling bystander as all the other happy couples get their chance to live their lives as they walk into the sunset…

Ikuno deserves love too.

Speaking of the “other happy couples”, what about our star duo? Hiro and Zero Two. It might be obnoxious to say because they are the ‘main attraction’ as it were, but I really do love watching these two… well be ‘in love’, more than anything Zero Two deserves love and the love Hiro gives her is just so tangible and connected and intimate and special I just can’t even.

“Can’t even” what? I can’t even!

Right, this is one of those ‘millennial’ memes, yeah? So, wrapping this review up what do you foresee going forward and what do you want to happen? There’s going to be sex and betrayal and drama and a SURPRISE PREGNANCY and ~feels~ and everything else you’d expect from a soap opera starring a bunch of horny teens! What I want to happen is for them all to go off and live ‘Happily Ever After’ on a cliffside town overlooking a nice beach somewhere… whether we’ll get that is another matter entirely.

♪ “Will your lips taste the kiss of death?” ♪

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5 comments

  1. It’s nice you are being so positive about the show. It’s too illogical at this point (or too not filled in with regards to some of the world building) for me to really go with the whole suspension of disbelief and every new bit of information it reveals is now met with me throwing up my hands and basically saying ‘why not’. It kind of matches up with Record of Grancrest War in that regard. It is a shame because I started Darling in the Franxx very much wanting to like it and its just kind of chipped away at my ability to hope it will meet any of my initial expectations. The aliens really pushed it over the line though.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I find illogical in stories kind of a problem though. I like stories because they are supposed to have an internal logic. Unlike reality where people do in fact act randomly. So when plots start just doing stuff for no clear reason I end up losing a lot of my care factor.

        Like

  2. As far as the actual show, I find it ok, but as far as the ambiguity that the show has, I love it! Not everything needs to be explained. The show has been saying enough about the world to know it’s Crapworld, and do the details really matter at that point? Plus, it fills things in as it goes (as they are important), which is a fine directorial decision, if you ask me.

    And did people really not figure that APE was space aliens? I mean “A shadowy organization with a lot of mysterious funding shows up and takes over humanity via some amazing energy technology, but they all wear robes and masks and hang out in a space station” and people don’t figure they’re aliens? “Eh, they’re just kinda weirdos.” And then when the one gets killed by KlaxoGirl, and it’s an empty shell, didn’t the audience realizes these guys are aliens? The giant space battle was definitely unexpected, but sure why not!

    The other thing that makes me grimace (in a good way) about this show has been Hiro and Zero Two’s naivety. “This is the last time we’re listening to you.” “We’ll be together forever” right as they’re going into a major fracas. I know it’s what you say when you’re a kid in love, but geeeez, could you put up more death flags? The show loves crushing people’s feelings (did they really need to have the big raid right in the middle of the wedding ceremony? Of course they did!), although it might be worth it if that smug nines jerk gets his comeuppance.

    Liked by 1 person

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