This show was so close to being perfect for me it's agnozing how frustrating it is. I have a really hard time supporting shows with high sexualization of women or that contain crimes against women (i.e. Future Diary).
First off, the positive notes:
Now the negative:
Have you always dreamt about being a mech pilot who was suddenly forced into a romantic relationship with a hawt waifu because the power of love would make your mech the strongest one possible? Well fear not, the time has finally come for you to watch:
Eureka 7 DARLING in le FRANXX
(The X stands for nude scenes because nothing is more romantic than nude 2d waifus)
With the most generic MC possible, a harem of waifus who want his dick over that ripped 6'4 blonde guy, because our MC is such a niceguyTM, and an entire arsenal of plot armor asspulls, Darling in the Franxx crowns itsself as AOTS for many weebs who want to see their same beta ass fantasy wrapped in a slightly different jacket for the gazilionth time.
In this universe, MCmcGeneric is a weak soyboy without any powers. That is, until his destined waifu arrives, and he unlocks his inner SSJ9. Being suicidal he quickly realizes he'll never get laid, he shall throw his life away with passion for the people abusing him, because that's how the Japs do it.
In this very originally written story we find a pattern of the cast getting themselves into an emotional argument, lowering their fighting powers, however just when they are about to be crushed, or super amazing plot armor asspull heroes show up with le strelizia of doom and straight up wipe everything because that's never been done before. (wow strelizia omg le ebin lance so quick)
Hiro: A generic loser soyboy for you to insert your own persona into, so you can relate.
Zero Two: A girl who has more airtime being naked than clothed, but is somehow still the most loyal waifu you could possibly find. You guessed it: she's an alien
And a bunch of other sexually frustrated angsty teens who don't really matter
Because nothing is more relevant to weebs than wanting to get laid as a virgin teenager.
If you throw your entire budget at the fight scenes, be sure to sexualize the girls as much as possible even in normal scenes, and the weebs won't notice.
OP singer sounds like a tranny so
I couldn't find a single original character in the entire series. It's like trying to find Waldo but he's simply not there.
Just stick to Hentai.
~Why is Darling in the FranXX more than waifu wars and ecchiness?~
Yes, this anime is leaving so many different opinions in the anime community. It launched so many new memes and divided the world into two best-girl-teams and left us with questions how do those robots even work.
But regardless nobody really talks about its meaning beyond waifu wars and ecchi scenes. Because those scenes are really flashy it is difficult to see deeper meaning of this original anime. Its story is set up in the future, where people left the surface because of klaxosaurs - some kind of monsters which kill people. We meet main characters who are living in a big building which not only has houses but also environment similar to one humanity left behind. Therefore main heroes don’t know the beauty of the nature we are very familiar with.
What is more it seems like they don’t know much about human relationships. They don’t know kissing, love, romantic relationships and many more. It seems they were born for one purpose only - for killing klaxosaurs and defending adults which once lived on the surface. After seeing 7th episode of this anime it was clear to me - this anime has promissing post-apocalyptic story which is bringing me so many questions: Is it like that in the whole world or only in Japan? Who are the children fighting against klaxosaurs? Are they part of experiment (If that is true the ending will maybe be closer to Kiznaiver - original anime from same anime studio)? What is the whole point behind not telling them what we are being taught as children (for example: about kissing)? Why is half kloxosaur fighting against klaxosaurs? And who is Hiro (the lead character)? Why is he so different than other adolescents?
And if we are already talking about Hiro his story is in my opinion very psychological. He is different than others and he seems to know more than his friends. Because he talks about stars and rain and even names his team mates (they are given code names by adults) I imagine him living on the surface before, but I could be wrong. In adition he is an unique boy who is very friendly to others but when he grows up he for some reason can’t pilot his robot. This leaves him with emotional problems, stress and inability to control Franxx - robot. Since they don’t know counsuling this only leads to him training as hard as he can but doesn’t leave good results with his piloting. Somehow he losts purpose in life - because the only purpose of this adolescents is piloting Franxx and fighting those monsters.
He could be seen as an example of anyone of us who suddenly lost purpose in life or is in very difficult emotional and stressful stage of their lives (for example: ending school and starting a job). And so he clings on the only person he can give him purpose he is searching for - Zero Two. She has kloxosaur’s blood and acts very differently than other girls. I persume she is far older than those adolescents, because she has a lower code name and has seen the humanity before it got almost extinct. She is the one who is leaving Hiro with many philosophical questions about life and humanity and gives him purpose again. But for what prize?
So if I summarise my thoughts, Darling in the FranXX sure is centered on relationships and romance but it is more than that. It shows us what could our world be in the future. Apocalypse might not happen because of sudden appearance of monsters but because we are destroying our environment. We also could leave the surface of the Earth and run away in order to survive. And whoever comes after our time could forget what we knew, saw and did and like main characters in this anime be suprised by stars, sea, old buildings and an old book about having a baby (which was in my opinion the best symbolic object shown in the 7th episode).
So overall its has a very good post-apocalyptic story but it's sadly hiddend behind the relationships which some find exaggerated or meaningless.
Darling in the FranXX is a fine example of what modern anime have become and why they are throwaway trash. They are doing nothing but reusing older ideas, instead of having new ones. And on top of that, they don’t even do a good job at rehashing the same ideas. They are not trying to improve or refine them. They just make them more creepy, sexual, and edgy.
They also ride on the name of who made them, instead of how good they are on their own, and do their best to keep you interested with how absurd they are by constantly making up memes and crazy situations, without actually caring about the quality of the script or good characterization.
The show does its best to make hate everything from the very beginning. You get the scene where they establish the main character, and all you get is a bland self-insert who recited emo poetry and there is an injured bird that symbolizes something. First impressions are crucial for getting to like a character, and instead of giving you an interesting personality, or a cool design, or a sad backdrop, they throw in stolen quotes and symbolism, which have nothing to do with him as a person you are supposed to like for being a person.
This is all nothing but pretentious overthinking replacing characterization. How can you still care after that? Same thing with the main female character. The establishing scene is about her being naked and crazy. What is there to care about her after that, besides the doujin you will look for when you want to masturbate?
The funny part is that the majority of modern anime fans are fine with this trash, because they gave up on expecting to watch something good. Most of the community was calling this abomination the best title of the year, just so they can be part of the seasonal hype, write essays about symbolism, make theories about what might happen, only to lose interest as soon as it’s over, so they can move to the next trash that is about to come out.
But until that happens, they will be kept preoccupied with two seasons of boring one-dimensional characters, each one defined by type rather than an interesting personality, as they spend their time trying to understand sex. Just by this set-up, you know this is bad from the get-go, since everything is defined by numbers and percentages instead of, you know, personalities.
The characters have nothing to do outside of piloting waifubots by doing doggy style sex. This gets old very fast, since you don’t give a shit about action scenes that involve awful mecha designs and sex metaphors. Plus, the characters have no backdrop story since they haven’t done anything interesting in their whole lives. Their social interaction is limited to talking to equally flat people like themselves. Also, there are so many of them it becomes a snorefest to tolerate an episode dedicated to each of them; especially when you know only the main two characters matter in the story. Most others don’t contribute to the plot in any way; they are just there to waste episodes on sexual innuendos.
It could have been a decent watch if it stayed that way and didn’t try to have a plot or deeper meanings, but it did and it backfired horribly. For most of the episodes, there were no explanations for why they are fighting monsters or why the world looks like a huge desert. The writers were constantly teasing an answer to all that, and to the most part did nothing to prepare the audience for it, since most of the episodes were wasted on the sexual frustrations of inept waifubot pilots. All the emphasis was placed on vapid love triangles, cheating, cuckholding, and shameless references to older mecha. That became the only thing the audience of this abomination was caring for.
Evidence for how little thought was placed into the making of a cast, can be found when observing what happens to them once they manage to resolve the conflict they were written with during their inception. The single trait that was defining them ceases to exist, and they become black pieces of paper, since whatever specs of personality they had was defined by their conflict. Essentially, the moment their emotional baggage is lifted, they stop having a personality.
Eventually the explanations for the mystery arrived in a rushed and retarded way, completely changing the atmosphere of the show, and as if by magic made everybody to realize the show was crap all along, despite that being obvious from the very beginning. After that, everybody was calling it a trainwreck and left them wondering how did Trigger, the savior of anime, ruined the potentially best anime of the year (lol).
Some tried to defend this horseshit by saying previous Trigger and Gainax series were also becoming bizarre as time went on, and that it’s unfair to hate Darling when it was constantly reusing ideas from them. Those defenders are of course idiots who don’t see how said older anime had far fewer characters, with far more personality and backdrop stories, and had much smoother transitions by not wasting as many episodes on worthless characters, thus being left with enough duration to work things through a lot better.
But hey, this is a modern anime, so who gives a shit about any of that? The point is to forget it the moment is over and move to the next trainwreck.
“How can I become popular?”
Darling in the FranXX is a sad attempt at creating, or rather, replicating a legacy act. It took inspiration from what popular shows like Evangelion and Gurren Lagann did, without understanding thing one about what made them work. It tries to expand on ideas, without understanding how to sell them, let alone incorporate them meaningfully. It wants to craft a setting to draw us in and make us remember it, but instead, FranXX falls flat on its hormone-driven face. It’s a brilliant showcase on why the insular nature of anime writers & directors is detrimental. It is the definition of an anime that tries to pander to the entire anime fan demographic. As a result, Darling in the FranXX lost the chance to craft a work of art and soul to be remembered, instead creating a vulgar yet ambitious mess whose only remarkable features are its volume of ineptitude and its interesting but horrendously executed aesthetic.
Speaking of which, what does FranXX’s sex aesthetic contribute to the narrative beyond signposting the symbolism and themes? It leads to awkward world-building and theming all while leaving the narrative to fend for itself in one primary location for most of its run. Yes, major inspiration Neon Genesis Evangelion did the whole symbolism for mechas and world-building too, along with a Gendo Ikari type backstory and a shady organization at the helm of the cast’s operations, but then we get to what separates the two: humanity and focus.
Neon Genesis Evangelion is one of the most human anime ever made, constantly delving into the psyches of each character in a way that feels both relatable and real, while exploring their hobbies and how these people bounce off each other and affect each other personally. They were in the face of a war against deadly creatures, and the focus was placed on how this, their upbringing, and their forming & storming affect each other. It was written and directed by a legendary man and nerd who went outside, talked with people a lot and had a social life with them, and suffered through personal, relatable problems. The director and writer also had a sense of focus, making sure each world-building element made sense and retained consistency in the logic of the show, and that each character was consistent, with gradual mental declines that felt natural.
Now look at this show, made by an unknown with no clout, who no doubt worked to get here but is as much an unknown figure as most other directors in this insular, borderline unsustainable industry. While we do delve into their upbringings, no one is written well enough for us to care. Part of why is because instead of relying on substantial interactions and meaningful introspections, FranXX takes the Re:Zero route of letting these autists shout their pathetically written and constructed feelings to each other Light Novel monologue style while letting flashy directing choices do the rest, often during contrived scenarios meant to incite drama with the most hideous of dialogue. To put this into perspective, episode 1 does this 5 or 6 times with its main character. However, unlike say: Fate/Extra: Last Encore, this show isn't oozing with the kind of style to make it feel natural, instead only busting out the interesting presentation as a means of signposting and a thinly-veiled attempt at enhancing or explaining emotions. LE also delves into the introspection aspect far better and shows a far better portrayal of broken people raised by a disturbed, sheltering system that sends its inhabitants to fight for their lives, and how it affects several of them once they’re out fighting and when they’re part of the system. There are thankfully a few characters here that are more watchable than others, but rocks in a pile of manure mean little given how little respect both this show and I have for several of its characters. Case in point, Hiro is a mediocre at best protagonist with little going for him, and the closest thing to a human being in the show other than maybe Goro and Kokoro, is our mascot Zero Two, one of the two characters in the show who are canonically not human.
Sadly, this is typical for bad post-Eva, if you’re familiar with works such as Brain Powerd or De;Vadasy and the like. Another common post-eva trait is the ability to have a general idea of what to explore without any idea on what to do, and having absolutely nothing make a lick of sense. Brain Powerd focused on trying to do the concepts and relationships of Eva backwards, and did so incoherently and laughably, with a script to reflect that as they had to make up new terms and ideas out of nowhere that do not fit or make any sense. This show decides to copy the actions of Evangelion and the narrative structure of Gurren Lagann, whilst shoving badly executed symbolism and whatever else in to ensure that it fails to live up to either show. The absolute disaster that was the second half more than cements this fact in several ways. Additionally, this anime’s inability to show us necessary information for certain events to have possibly taken place have resulted in monumental plot holes in the writing of FranXX’s world. The FranXX mechs make no sense in literally any aspect, and the implications in them manage to assassinate the already badly executed relationship between Hiro and Zero Two. The world-building in FranXX is among the worst I have ever seen, delving into its symbolism with little regard as to how it can make sense in context beyond vague setup, much like with the direction of the narrative as a whole. So much about the setting and lore counters itself, even outside of the parts that already make no sense. Let’s not even mention how hideous the final 11 episodes were. Even then, the beginning was atrocious too, what with the awful love triangle, episodes 6 and 8, the aforementioned world-building, and the fact that most of the characters are obnoxious, worthless, needlessly hateful, and surprisingly inconsistent caricatures at best. The show has such little respect for them that its primary mascot character Zero Two, constantly switches on a dime simply for the sake of creating drama and steering the show in a planned direction.
Before we wrap up, we best look at the audiovisual side of things, as this show still manages to trip over itself in this regard, though it doesn’t do so as hard as it does with the writing. The fembot designs are all around the passable range with nothing being truly awesome or toy-worthy. The creatures and settings have nice colors but nothing is particularly well designed, from creature to character -with the possible exception of Zero Two-. Hiro’s design is especially awful for obvious reasons, and several of the supporting cast designs are eerily similar to certain Eva characters. The outfits are also mediocre to bad, often with awkward “X” and “Y” logos for no good reason, and whenever the show tries to do something with dynamic cameras -sometimes even when they don’t- the frames get cut in half, from a normal amount to what feels like half, if not less. The premier episode alone is the perfect indicator. It thankfully doesn’t happen too often when it does, the viewing experience becomes a rough one. As mentioned, the directorial idea of messing with the aspect ratios haphazardly or for the sake of emotion and whatnot is borderline laughable as well. Additionally, there are several scenes where no one has any facial features, and the luckily infrequent CGI here is subpar at best. This collaboration between A-1 Pictures, Studio “saving anime” Trigger, and eventually A-1’s new subsidiary, Cloverworks, was definitely shaky, even from a visual standpoint. It’s not like the show was badly animated or anything, and the environments were done rather nicely. There were just several variables that kept this work from functioning greatly on a visual level. One last one to mention is how the fight scenes manage to be completely unexciting, with little real flow or impact to anything, or many truly good bits of animation or spectacle.
In regards to the music, none of the background tracks stick out, even if none are necessarily bad or ill-fitting -outside of one rap song at the start of episode 8-. There are some triumphant tracks in the first quarter that are good, but that’s as far as that goes. The opening theme "KISS OF DEATH" by Mika Nakashima x Hyde, is certainly unique, even if not to my taste. The ending themes are all numerous, and none of them are particularly good or memorable. Sure, some are better songs than others, but none of them are really going to stick with you in the same vein that Gurren Lagann ED 2 or Neon Genesis Evangelion’s ending themes did. Somehow, all of this makes the music the most competent part of the entire show, which is mortifying.
The most embarrassing things is that the show not only tried its best to become popular and cool whilst having its staff being treated like shit by its “loyal fans” like it was the second coming of Re:Zero. There was ambition here but little thought beyond popularity and mimicry with a spin. One could argue this is propaganda for the Japanese to have kids and fix their under-population problem, but that doesn’t exactly fix anything, or even help give the show any real identity. Such a shame since, again, the ideas present here, if given more thought, could have turned into a fun dystopian action show that explored its characters in interesting ways while being a meaningful allegory for sex and puberty. It isn’t like the show doesn’t have its moments of sincerity or even a visible narrative through-line either, so the didn't was obviously there. It's just that so much of what it did would require a complete and utter reworking in order to even become salvageable. Alas, we get this broken, tiresome replica to forget about once the memes are over.