Will Your Lips Taste the Kiss of Death?

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Illustration by Gabriel Heater

Gabriel Heater, Sport's Editor

Darling in the Franxx, has put a unique twist in the sci-fi-mecha genre with an added touch of romance and themes of relationship. Despite the questionable final act of the anime, Darling in the Franxx remains one of my more enjoyable watches due to the rich and deep plot, the memorability of the show, the quality of the characters and their development, and the stunning animation.

In a post-apocalyptic future, mechanical abominations called Klaxosaurs (robotic creatures) roam the earth as the remnants of humanity have abandoned cities, the remaining people take shelter in plantations (enormous mobile domed cities). These plantations are run by APE (A political organization) who govern the human population as well as control civilian and military organizations. These plantations are protected by parasites who are teenagers whose only purpose in life is to pilot a Franxx (Robot mechs). In order to successfully pilot a Franxx, there must be two compatible male and female partners. Throughout the show, you follow Hiro and Zero-Two along with the rest of squad thirteen. As it is established early, Hiro has lost his purpose in life due to his inability to pilot. However, he soon finds someone he is compatible with who ends up being Zero-Two as he breaks the curse in which no other parasite was able to pilot with her more than three times and survive.  As squad thirteen fights to protect humanity they begin to create bonds and relationships and pursue the now taboo ideas of love and expressing their feelings.

What makes the plot so rich is the slow build-up as each episode passes, you begin to slowly unravel the true meaning of the series. The significance of relationships and love separate Darling in the Franxx from any other mecha anime. In fact, the whole reason I enjoyed the series so much was not the action and fighting but how the series became more focused on the drama aspect of relationships which was further pushed out and developed as the growth of each character and their relationships either grew or became more complex as each battle was fought. The development of friction between the characters also begins to drive the narrative as the idea of love heightens the drama. As the plot continues to develop, each episode began to resemble a piece of a puzzle that just made the show addicting as you don’t want to stop watching in order to see how the plot plays itself out.

Darling in the Franxx has arguably one of the best climaxes I have ever seen in a series. The slow pacing for the plot complimented the climax as the shift in pacing creates a shock factor as the story finally reveals the final pieces of the puzzle. We are finally revealed a backstory that created an even deeper understanding of Hiro’s and Zero-Two’s connection as lost memories had been restored. As this happened it just opened my eyes to the symbolism of the picture book and the one-winged bird representing the relationship in which Hiro and Zero-Two shared. It revealed that they were two sides of the same coin which was beautiful in itself. When accounting for these factors episode thirteen can be considered a masterpiece.

While Hiro and Zero-Two are the main focus of the narrative, Darling in the Franxx acknowledges the other characters in the series such as the other parasites in squad thirteen. The series also made sure to go into depth for each of the characters in squad thirteen, besides Hiro and Zero-Two are faced with their adversity as they are treated poorly in their social hierarchy by disregarding their feelings and relationships as they are essentially forbidden to love and are molded to become mere tools of war for their government. Also, the parasites of squad nine who serve as an antagonist to squad thirteen were used perfectly. Their intentions were slow to build up but had displayed hints of creating friction between the two squads as squad nine blindly obeyed their orders while squad thirteen slowly grew to think for themselves.

As expected the series had beautiful animation as to be expected as Studio Trigger and A-1 Productions have had a reputation to release anime with quality animation in series such as ‘Kill La Kill’ and ‘your lie in April.’ Although the main focus of the series is not on the fight scenes the quality of the animation raises the bar as the action sequences are visually pleasing. The animation was not only great during several battles but in the world’s layout in general. Throughout the series, we see three different settings that the animation elevates.  Inside the parasite’s headquarters, we can see the vitality and life through the various bright colors being used as the enclosure is artificially maintained to support life. As they step outside of their headquarters the animation does an amazing job at sucking life out of the atmosphere as it reminds us of the post-apocalyptic state of the world. Lastly, we are experienced with the futuristic vibe of the cities inside the plantations as the use of luminescent lights create an almost alien-like world.

Sadly, with all the amazing aspects of this series, there remains a fatal flaw that has become one of the most disappointing that could have happened to this series. In the final act, the story disregards everything that made this series great. The slow progression of the plot which made it rich in quality had an immediate change of pace. Throughout the final act, the narrative seemed to forget about the drama in exchange for an action-packed finale that just felt out of place which will forever alter the amount of enjoyment I had while watching this series.

Despite the final act, the true last moments of the series took another turn and somewhat redeemed the sins of the final act although it was not the ending I was hoping to see. The final moments were nothing but bittersweet and emotional.

Darling in the Franxx is not something that I would recommend to everyone. I would have to rate this series a solid 7.5/10, despite its flaws. However, if you can get behind the fact that drama is the main narrative of the series I believe that this is a series that you would enjoy and admire after watching, but be cautious its rated TV-14 for sexual undertones and references.