Darling in the Franxx is without a doubt one of Winter 2017’s top shows. A co-production between Trigger and A-1 Pictures – two hugely respected studios; Trigger putting out cult shows such as Kill la Kill, Little Witch Academia, and it’s founders Hiroyuki Imaishi and Masahiko Ohtsuka, coming from Gainax, with shows like Gurren Lagann under their belt. A-1 Pictures having a fairly massive roster: Your Lie in April, Interviews With Monster Girls, Anohana and Erased being among the best.
But what makes Darling in the Franxx stand out this season?
It is more than its mecha genre.
It is accurate to say a great deal of attention surrounding Darling in the Franxx, is because of the character, Zero Two. To describe the kind of character Zero Two is would be… challenging. I don’t want to attach a ‘dere’ character archetype to her – though I suspect someone more knowledgable in the ways of the ‘dare’ certainly could do. The thing you can say about Zero Two, is the aura of mystery that surrounds her. Of course, this is intentional – we want to know why she is the way she is, and what her motivations are.
Zero Two herself is a narrative device driving forward the plot. From the first two episodes little is revealed of the plot, and of where it might be going. Singular focus on the characters. Of course, the world is revealed, as are the Franxx (the mecha). It turns out the world itself is as mysterious as Zero Two: with moving cities/outposts, and monsters (which may be mecha themselves). All of this is for good reason – as a viewer it would be incredibly dull to know all – or even a significant amount – in the first few episodes. The suspense and mystery are what get us clicking on the next episode.
Trigger are no strangers to fan-service, Kill la Kill being what it is. Though, unlike many other shows, I don’t think this is a detriment. Trigger have a very distinctive, vivid style – one that is outlandish, eccentric to the max. Their use of fanservice is not… excessive or overindulgent; it does not exist to simply bolster viewer numbers. It’s there because it is an inherent aspect of Trigger’s style. Still, if fanservice is a fundamental detriment to a person’s viewing experience, this will not change. However, it is done in what I consider to be in a more tasteful manner (keeping relevance in mind). Also, fanservice can simply be in addition to a show – as long as it is not the show. Darling in the Franxx, quite clearly is not only fanservice. There is character, there is a defined narrative, and setting.
Not only this, but it can be argued that the implementation of fanservice is completely relevant to the plot – though of course, it’s up for questioning how integral this is… The Franxx do require two people to be piloted safely – with the exception of Zero Two (but she is a ‘Demon’ so…) Now, the positioning of the pilots inside the Franxx may be up for question. However, one could also argue that this adds to the necessity of the characters being close – both intimately, and in the mind; leading onto my next point…
Character interactions are a crucially important aspect of Darling in the Franxx; and meaningful ones, even more so. This is because an entire narrative has been built around character interactions, and the ways in which they affect the world of Darling in the Franxx. Without what can be considered a symbiotic relationship. After all, the Franxx can almost never be piloted with efficiency. With this in mind, it is evident the interactions between the characters will come to play a large role in the plot, and in which direction it takes.
The pairs that pilot the Franxx are called ‘parasites’. Boy/girl pairs specifically bred for this purpose; in order to repel then advances of monsters called ‘klaxosaurs’. A pair must work in tandem – they literally have to be connected to each other. Naturally, whatever the situation, this must require a great deal of personal bonding, on the behalf of both people. Hopefully this will bring something relatively unique to Darling in the Franxx – a reliance on each other, a reliance on all their compatriots in the face if adversity.
To a person like myself who loves character, this is something I’m always looking for in anime, more so than any other medium. So, I’ll be crossing my fingers on this one. And, if it pays off, expect more writing regarding Darling in the Franxx!
What do you think about Darling in the Franxx?
Thanks for reading, as always!
-Chris (Follow me on Twitter, and consider supporting Peach’s Almanac on Patreon. I post every Wednesday!)