On the 31st of October, during the year of 2018, I wrote my review on the infamous Trigger produced and Atsushi Nishigori directed tv-series ‘Darling in the Franxx’. I had written reviews on anime that I had completed before this point, but saying that I had a bad grasp on how to write a review and how to analyze a piece of fiction would be an understatement. Nevertheless, to summarize my review, my conclusion was that I was surprised at how good and interesting the characters and themes were (without an explanation of why this was) but that the ending sucked. And this was no controversial take by any means, the general consensus was that the show was at least pretty good until it became god awful. At least in the “I value writing above everything else” circles I was definitely a part of. And while I would still say I enjoyed it as a whole at the time, I couldn’t say I disagreed with anyone’s feelings towards the last third of the series. I was very mixed, but overall I enjoyed it and would never think about it ever again.
Well you’re obviously here to listen to me talk about why this show has been one my mind for the past one and a half years so I guess that wasn’t true
In the story of ‘Darling in the Franxx’, which I will be spoiling from now on, we follow Hiro (016) in a distant future as he has failed the final test in the “franxx program”. Living in a world that values him based on what he has just failed, he assumes the worst. But under certain circumstances, he meets a peculiar girl only known as 002 and is finally able to pilot a franxx module when he shares a kiss with her. And in the first episode of the show, it manages to establish a lot of the narrative and thematic elements of the show which really intrigued me. One of my favorite aspects of analyzing media is reading into small things, writing notes, and interpreting character exchanges. I think you can gain a lot of understanding of the media you consume by trying to understand why a creator put a specific line or direction in a show, and ‘Darling in the Franxx’ truly delivers in this regard. From how Hiro thinks he’s as good as dead without the ability to pilot a Franxx which says a lot about the society that has taught him this, to how a lot of characters deal with a poor understanding of their own happiness, which Ichigo does a great job in this regard. But if I were to strip it down to the core, what the show is really about to me, it would be the conflict between objectivity and subjectivity. Or if you will, wanting to understand the world or the people who have made it.
If we were to look at the world of ‘Darling in the Franxx’, we can see how everything it values is based on objectivity. Everything that isn’t required of a person to survive in this world is not to be given. From how individuality is stripped down from everyone but our main parasite group who only really works as lab rats, to their objective being to protect a lifestyle in the city they will never be apart of. It’s hard to unsee the conflict once you’ve seen it, even in small things like how Naomi is barely mentioned after being shipped out to an unknown place, showing how Hiro was right that she didn’t have a value to the objectivity obsessed society they’ve been taught to believe in. So it is fitting that the show so heavily explores love since it is a completely subjective issue. And it is here where we start to see the conflict begin in this experimental troop.
I would say that every member of the group showcases the effect of living in a world such as this, and no other pair would be better to exemplify this than Kokoro and Futoshi, and more specifically during their breakup. Before this point, the two mostly spend their time talking about how much they like each other without a real reason why. It’s a very effective way to convey the idea they want to sell through the relationship between these two characters. Futoshi is a product of the society he lives in and only values their relationship as pilots of the same Franxx. And while we don’t see anything contradicting this in the early episodes of the series in Kokoro, after she finds out about pregnancy and how it’s a necessity has run out, we see her question what being a franxx pair means and why she was paired with Futoshi in the first place. And this conflict has a climax in episode 11 when Kokoro decides to exchange partner with Ikuno. And what I find so interesting about this episode is how the fan reception has this constant need to throw the blame on either of the characters when I think their split up is inevitable in the world they live in. Futoshi is called creepy and possessive for having a claim on Kokoro, when the world they live in has never taught him what a good relationship would be. In contrast, Kokoro is equally not at fault for wanting something more out of her partner when she realizes that it’s a possibility. They’re opposites results of the world around them.
We see this same thing in Hiro and 002’s drama where she could objectively pilot her Franxx fine by herself, we see how the two pair up, not because they’ve been told that piloting is their one and only objective in life, but because they need each other to not be drained by emotional numbness. They are constantly separated either because one of them might be knowingly hurting the other for their own gain, or just because they had different colors streaming through their bodies. At the end of the day, they care for each other. Not because of an objective standard but because they just had similar experiences in the world they live in. And while I could give more examples here, I think this segment would be too long at that point and I hope you’ve gotten the point.
And I think this was the thing that kept me from forgetting about the show, or at least will be the reason why from now on. About a month ago I started reading Slaughterhouse-five for my English course, and I’d say it’s one of the few things I can compare to Franxx. From how interesting it is to write multi-paragraph notes about singular lines, to how it deals with objectivity. And while I’d say the book does a greater job at conveying this by giving you a false objective message at the end of the first chapter to then explore if this message is true or not, the fact that I can compare the two must mean something. Sometimes I’ll have these episodes where I’ll just think a lot about my life and come to conclusions that just make me feel terrible. I’ll get an objective sounding conclusion that makes me feel smart but equally sad. So it can feel nice to look at this show or a book like Slaughterhouse-five to know what even though technically there is nothing good or bad and that objectively something I’m thinking about doesn’t matter, I can still enjoy the moments in life that are nice and like the things I like because I just do.
I still can’t disagree that the ending of Franxx kind of ruins everything the show has going and pissed me off when I first watched the show. It is undeniably a really bad resolution to the show (not to say that anyone who liked it wrong). And if I were to look at the show as the world of Franxx would, maybe it is ultimately a bad show. One that sets up its themes and characters really well and then throw them out of the window. One of the few objective things I could say about the show is that the episodes between 16 and 26 are a part of the show undeniably. But if I’m honest, I couldn’t care less. Now that I have appreciated what the show has to say, I can’t just throw that out of the window either to say that it’s an objectively bad show because almost half of it is awful. Cause I still absolutely love it. The point here is that I can’t and won’t base my opinion on a piece of fiction based on the number of bad and good things it does. That at the end of the day, what I take out of it will be the number one reason why I like or dislike something. And at the very least, this show has made me think about my own life and my philosophy and thoughts more than most “masterpieces” out there.
So at the end of the day, the ending of ‘Darling in the Franxx’ is absolutely terrible but as far as I’m concerned it doesn’t exist.