DARLING in the FRANXX Ep. 4: The shameless couple

“Oh, darling, you will be good to me, won’t you? Because we’re going to have a strange life.” — A Farewell to Arms

Hiro’s speech isn’t the only cringe-inducing thing we get to hear this week. My god, I was practically dry-heaving (this is just hyperbole for anyone taking me too seriously) during this sequence:

But sex is pretty unsexy in a vast majority of contexts. When you’re not in the mood, sex is pretty damn embarrassing. Dirty talk is all hot and stuff in the privacy of our bedrooms, but if you’re busy trying to get stuff done at work, you wouldn’t appreciate your SO randomly sexting you. I mean, I suppose your mileage may vary, but I’m just saying… it’s not easy to write an API with a hard-on. No, you have to be in the right mindset. Otherwise, we wouldn’t have this meme. So yeah, I’m facepalming through this scene, but that’s because I’m not those kids. I’m not in the moment with them (and thank god for that). Of course I think what they’re saying is dumb, but who hasn’t said dumb shit during sex? Aw babe, your blank is so blank. Fill those blanks with any words you want, and the results will still be the same. Sex talk is lame, and yours is no exception.

But here’s the more salient question: is it such a bad thing that this exchange is so cringe-inducing? Is that not the entire point of the show? Are we not here because the show is embarrassing? When Hiro is training in one of those solo mechas, he practically has a fake ass to stare at. It’s obvious that the entire point of this show is literally not about being cool. Some stories inspire us. Other stories are profoundly sad. Why can’t we have a story that is so embarrassingly corny about sex that it loops back to being entertaining? And that’s what Darling in the FranXX is for me. Is it stupid? Hell yeah, but it’s so entertainingly stupid. I can’t look away. I wanna hear what dumb nonsense Hiro says next. I wanna now see Papa and his gang flip out over Zero-Two ignoring his orders. That’s why I like the anime. No one has to agree with me, but that’s fine. I’m here to embrace the camp. I’m just disappointed they didn’t lock lips this time.

I’m also really glad that we’ve finally broken out of the holding pattern. Ever since the first episode, Hiro hasn’t been allowed to go anywhere near Strelizia, and I was afraid the story would milk this subplot for far too long. Luckily, Zero-Two doesn’t mind breaking a few rules. After all, her existence probably breaks a few rules. I can’t not root for a character like her. I like strong girls that aren’t afraid to take the lead. I like strong girls who are willing to flout authority. At the same time, however, she isn’t annoyingly tsundere. She completely embraces Hiro from the get-go because she feels a kindred spirit in him. I would love to see more protagonists like her.

As for her partner, well, Hiro still embodies the generic anime protagonist to a tee, so there’s really not much to say about him. He’s like the control group, and every experiment needs one. His speech moves Zero-Two, but only because it has to. The speech itself is nothing special. He thinks of her as being the same as him, he wants her and just her, piloting a FranXX doesn’t even matter if it’s not with her, blah blah blah. But that’s love, isn’t it? Love is finding someone willing to say embarrassing things to you. I ain’t telling my friends any of that nonsense, because I don’t love them.

Ichigo is still bitter about Zero-Two, but this week, she at least tries to push her anxieties aside in order to become a better leader. I don’t think this will last. I think she’ll go back to fretting and whining about Hiro in next week’s episode especially after this look on her face. What was Zero-Two smirking about anyways? Trying to one-up Ichigo? Doing a little NTR herself? But for now, I appreciate the girl at least trying to whip her team into shape. She’s right, after all; they have to learn to be more self-sufficient without Strelizia. It doesn’t happen this week, but the squad is actually able to lend Hiro and Zero-Two a helping hand. While Strelizia probably still would’ve eventually the battle against the big, wormy klaxosaur, Delphinium and gang allow our heroes to penetrate through the beast to locate the core.

But that is such a strange fight, isn’t it? Animation-wise, the battle against the klaxosaur is not very impressive. It’s actually pretty bad at times. It feels as though Trigger and A-1 Pictures dropped the ball a bit in this week’s episode. But the fight itself still fits in with the rest of the show’s themes. At first, the kids have a single wormy, phallic beast to tango with, but then another wormy, phallic beast shows up. In the end, the kids realize that they’ve been fighting one really long wormy, phallic beast all along. And in order to beat it, however, they have to stretch one of its orifices wide open, which then allows Strelizia to penetrate right through the gaping maw in order to find the core. Like the FranXXs, the worm exhibits both male and female qualities. There are two sides to everything, and only when there is harmony between those two sides can you achieve success.

We see the same thing happening with Ikuno and Mitsuru. He is able to connect to her this time, but she was never the sole problem of their dysfunction. Notice how she grabs her shoulder right before he connects with her. This is the same shoulder that he had grabbed onto when he leaned on her for support just moments earlier. Mitsuru is foolishly proud and probably thinks he’s better than her. On the flip side, Ikuno is probably seen as a cold and reserved person who doesn’t exactly exude warmth. Ichigo is the leader, so she’s somewhat matron-like. On the other hand, Miku can seem immature, but she’s often just out-spoken and open with her emotions. Kokoro represents the softer side of motherhood. Compared to those three girls, Ikuno probably feels as though she doesn’t offer the strongest foundation for her partner. The fact that he needs her this time, however, proves otherwise.

Anyways, like we saw last week, the adults are perfectly okay with letting this squad die. They have to know that those kids wouldn’t survive against the giant worm klaxosaur without Strelizia’s help, and yet, they continue to deny Zero-Two and Hiro permission to sortie. In fact, they wanted to use this battle as a distraction to safely recall Zero-Two and Strelizia to the front lines. I’m not saying that the entire squad would’ve gone down, but at least one or two of the FranXXs were likely to become piles of junk had Strelizia not shown up. Papa and his gang keep going on and on about how they can’t allow Zero-Two to associate herself with tainted blood. And yet, is she not the one who contains klaxosaur blood? Are the other kids not “normal?” Clearly, normal for them is not the same normal for the rest of cast.

For now, however, we can only sit and wait for the rest of the story to catch up and provide us with the information we need. If the potential loss of Ichigo’s team is considered acceptable collateral damage, then I can’t help but wonder how these kids are “created.” How many kids are standing by at that orphanage, just waiting to replace dead ones? Are these kids treated like fodder simply because they’re “tainted?” Tainted with what? What is up with this civilization? How exactly does it function? We’re obviously going to run into other squads. We’ve only scratched surface, and I’m not going to throw in the towel over some silly sex talk.

Misc. notes & observations:

— You know, seeing Papa and his gang oddly reminds me that we haven’t seen Dr. Franxx since the first episode. The story kinda just dropped him for now. In fact, this show lacks colorful side characters to embrace — side characters that would often steal the spotlight are conspicuously absent. None of the squad members are endearing outside of Zero-Two. Likewise, Hachi and Nana are incredibly dull and dry characters since they insist on doing everything by the books.

— Mitsuru appears to be suffering from some form of PTSD: “That girl tried to devour everything I had. My blood, my flesh, and my soul… All of it!” I mean, if you’re not willing to give everything you have to your partner, maybe you don’t deserve them. He goes on to say to Hiro, “You’re out of your mind if you think you’re the sole exception.” But aren’t most of us the sole exception for somebody out there? I mean, I’m obviously not referring to polygamists. Some of us are destined to be loners, too. But for the vast majority of the human race, we’re all sole exceptions to someone out there. It’s not a stretch of an imagination to think that Zero-Two would have one as well.

— Futoshi: “Maybe I should eat [Mitsuru’s food] so it doesn’t go to waste.” Jesus, dude, you’ve got an addiction.

— Again, Ichigo refers to the partner-killing rumor. Again, I wonder where the rumor even originated. These kids seem isolated from the rest of society. Where are they getting their information?

This is what I mean by Hachi and Nana. Why are they spouting these boring ass facts to her like she would care? I don’t even care. I like the show, but these two feel terribly written at the moment. They’re just so boring. They simply serve as obstacles to the two main characters.

— Futoshi says he didn’t imagine that Hiro would be so hard-working. Why not? Didn’t they think he was going to be their leader?

— Speaking of Hiro leaving the squad if he doesn’t have a partner, did that girl from the first episode ever recover from her injuries?

— I still wanna see what it looks like for two Plantations to kiss. The show’s been holding out on us.

— Hiro’s an idiot if he thinks he can gawk at Zero-Two for a good five seconds and still hide from her.

— You’re rubbing nothing. Anime characters aren’t allowed to have nipples.

— I wonder whose idea was it to change into their jumpsuits. If I had to bet, I would guess Zero-Two. Hiro’s too passive to be this forward-thinking.

— The consistency is just really poor this week. This shot suggests to me that the FranXXs aren’t that small compared to the worm’s width. But this shot shows them being completely dwarfed by the klaxosaur.

All these guys just for one girl. But then when we see her being escorted later, most of them have disappeared. There are just three of them left! Huh? In any case, our heroine can apparently send a grown man flying across the room with one swipe of her hand.

— You’ll get a cool shot like this, then the anime ruins it by cutting to this.

— What’s with the black bars on this scene, though? Just a stylistic choice like in the Nier games? And yet, during Hiro’s confession, we don’t get the letterboxing.

— So these escorts all have guns, but they don’t even bother to use it when Zero-Two goes and makes her escape. Either they’re incompetent or using deadly force against our girl was never an option. It is just a show of force.

— It doesn’t look like he’s doing much, but hey, your waifu’s gotta support you, right? Find someone who believes in you the way Zero-Two believes in Hiro.

— Ah, what a letdown. Even the money shot isn’t very impressive.

— Hiro isn’t injured, but he sure got a helluva workout. Sex burns a lot of calories.

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11 Replies to “DARLING in the FRANXX Ep. 4: The shameless couple”

  1. So what would you say this show does so well to provoke you ignore its derivative nature and lack of compelling writing whereas another show might have been chewed out for making similar mistakes? Just curious as i find it interesting how positively you’ve respond to this series. That’s not to say that it has nothing to like; it certainly has a particular G factor, however i’m really intrigued by what you find so engaging about it. I do agree by the way that there’s nothing wrong with a show being so embarrassingly stupid that it loops back to being entertaining (there are quite a few shows that do that for me). I’m just curious as to what part of this narrative’s formula makes this whole premise work for you.

      1. Pop Team Epic has all of the aforementioned. It’s more worthwhile than Darling in the Buttsexx IMO. Why did you stop blogging it?

          1. Haha, I agree with Sean. For a long time, many people turn into anime & manga mainly because they want some crazy, weird and hilarious dose of fun that they can’t get in other media. Something like Franxx can really fit that role. Especially for those who aren’t easily offended by things in this era of easily-offended viewers.

            PS: I also like the ED theme.

  2. People seem to complaint about all the stupid, cringe-inducing sexual innuendo in this anime. Those things aren’t my cup of tea, but at the very least this anime is camp enough to make those things fun and interesting enough to watch for now. I’m more irked at all the conservative spiel in this free pseudo-sex anime. It makes me feel like I’m watching my conservative relatives trying to young themselves up like by saying: “Whassup, my homies!” Sure, it’s a mess that is fun and interesting to look at, but it’s also an abomination that no righteous god would allow to exist. Lol

    On another note, the quality of the animation sure fluctuates wildly.

  3. “This is the same shoulder that he had grabbed onto when he leaned on her for support just moments earlier.”

    I think what Ikuno remembers more about the shoulder is when Ichigo touched it gently while encouraging her before the Klaxosaur appears. It’s the exact same spot.

    Also, when it comes to animation consistency, well, I truly never expect that from Trigger-team ever since Gurren Lagann. At this point, lack of consistency has become one of their animation traits. I’m not suggesting that everyone have to like it, but that’s just how it is AFAICS.

  4. I think you may have found a waifu in 02, since she’s the one thing you actually praise about this show. She does seem charming but the rest of the cast is too boring from what I’ve seen before dropping. I like my campy mecha shows like valvrave, gundam seed or code geass but this one isn’t nearly crazy or campy enough to entertain me. You might like C.C of Code Geass, if you’re liking 02’s forward/confident/non-tsundere archetype so much.

    1. I’ve already seen Code Geass. I didn’t hate CC, but I didn’t care for her either.

      since she’s the one thing you actually praise about this show.

      That’s not true.

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