Darling in the Franxx (2018) Review: Puberty Wrapped in Giant Robots Battles

Darling in the Franxx is different because it has unique and unconventional robots comparing to other anime in its genre. The giant robots resemble kawaii girls in high heels. However, it is not the robots that make the anime interesting, but the stories of each character who is about to hit puberty and overwhelmed by curiosity.
darling in the franxx explained
Via Funimation
Darling in the Franxx sets in a post-apocalyptic world where humans have to survive under constant threats from giant monsters named Klaxosaur. To fight these monsters, Franxx, a powerful female robot is created. The pilots have to be a pair of children who are about to enter adolescence. These children who are called 'parasites' are the last hope and stand on the frontline for the sake of humanity, at least that is what their rulers said to them.

The story revolves around Hiro, one of the parasites. He accidentally becomes Franxx's pilot with a mysterious horned girl named Zero Two as his partner. Even though Zero Two is famous for mysteriously killing her partners, Hiro still desires to stay as the girl's partner as long as he can become a Franxx pilot because this is the only way he can be useful to humanity.

In 24 episodes, this anime not only offers huge scale battles between cute female giant robots against giant monsters but also stories about friendship and romance between the parasites with all the conspiracies surrounding their world.

You can say that Darling in the Franxx is very lucky because it's visually well made. Drawn by A-1 Pictures, Trigger, and Cloverworks studio animators, the attractive character designs are brought to life in fluid animations. Various battle scenes of robots against monsters are never disappointing.

Franxx
Not only the animation that will make you hooked but also the opening theme by Mika Nakashima and Hyde (L’Arc-en-Ciel) which is very pleasing to the ear. The title, "Kiss of Death," perfectly describes Hiro and Zero Two's relationship.

Darling in the Franxx is not always about human fighting monsters with giant robots. One of the most interesting aspects this anime brings to the table is the romantic drama, especially the triangle love between the parasites. Viewers who are in puberty might relate to the romance.

Darling in the Franxx has something in common with other anime in its genre. When the protagonists' relationship starts to be good, a third party will come up with new conflicts. It reminds me of the mysterious Kaworu Nagisa in the Neon Genesis Evangelion, only this time the new character feel less important.

Teenagers and puberty

There are several reasons why only children on the brink of puberty can become Franxx pilots. One of them is that the giant robot can only be controlled by a couple of children with good chemistry. It would be even better if they are attracted to each other emotionally or sexually which often leads to more intimate and ecchi moments.

Even the cockpit also requires the pilots to sit in a provoking and sensual manner. Therefore, Franxx's fighting ability will be more optimal if the pilots are attracted to each other.

darling in the franxx ending explained
Via Kotaku
The theme of teenagers and puberty is also apparent from the characters' development. They have their own problems when hitting puberty. There are those who are involved in love of triangle relationship, whose love is unrequited, curious about human reproductive system, and of course, there are those who are in the rebel phase.

The rebel phase in puberty is obviously illustrated in Hiro and Zero Two characters. His erotic encounter with Zero Two brought Hiro to the world he desires the most, to become a Franxx's pilot. Ever since the deadly kiss they did when they first became partners, Hiro seems to be increasingly addicted to Zero Two even though he knows his relationship with the half-monster girl could erase his humanity.

The Zero Two rebelliousness then spreads and triggers changes to other parasites like how the environment influences teenagers' behavior. Those who are usually obedient to a character so-called "Papa" slowly begin to rebel.

There are several episodes where all parasites are left without adults supervision, for the sake of science they say. This experiment then gradually triggers the teenagers who're hitting puberty and curious about everything to fulfill their "primitive needs" as humans. It then leads to severe punishments as the parasites violate a specific rule.

Maybe for some people, how the series depicts how puberty hits the parasites will be a bit inappropriate because the character design, especially when they are wearing their daily uniform, makes them look like kids. Fortunately, thanks to the context that they are teenagers who have just hit puberty and also some mature-looking characters the discomfort is slowly diminished as the series goes on.

Lastly, there are some issues I found when watching this series. Some episodes have a slow and draggy pace and felt like anime fillers. Then, the ending of the Darling in the Franxx anime feels rushed.

Rating: 3.5/5

This review was previously published in Indonesian on Mariviu.com

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