Well, this is a sticky situation. But before we get into why Hiro’s practically cross-dressing, let’s start from the beginning.
— The kids are in the middle of another battle as soon as the episode starts. We don’t really know what’s going on, but it’s okay. This foe isn’t really all that important, and neither is all the action. This is why I don’t really see this as a mecha anime. It’s more about a group of friends coping in a dystopian world than it is a mecha anime. Sure, they climb into giant robots every once in a while, but the action is not the feature attraction. In fact, the action is kinda mediocre. Nah, we’re here for the children and the children alone. We’re here to understand what it must feel like to be pushed towards sex even though these kids have never been taught what sex is. So if you started watching Darling in the FranXX in the first place because you were looking for a fresh and interesting mecha anime, I’m not surprised that you would come away dissatisfied and unimpressed. It’s really a different type of show.
— On that note, these mechas aren’t very well sealed. Not only that, the blue liquid proceeds to eat away at the pistils’ bodysuits. Oh dear. Just their bodysuits, though. We wouldn’t actually want to hurt the girls; we just want to ogle them. It’s also interesting to note that the girls have no clue what’s going on right now within the cockpit. When they are piloting these mechas, they become the mechas. They have to put a lot of trust in the boys and vice versa.
— Mitsuru barely has a reaction to Ikuno’s body. At least he’s well composed.
— As soon as we’re ready to wrap this scene up, Strelizia goes and finishes the job out of nowhere. It makes you wonder why she didn’t do this in the first place. Again, mecha action is not the focus here. It’s just a vehicle to help drive the main story forward.
— Nevertheless, I wonder when we’ll finally get to see the other FranXXs have their moments in the spotlight. Strelizia always gets to deal the final blow, and we’re already eight weeks into the story.
— The basic girls are mad that the boys got to see them in a partial state of undress, but Zero-Two doesn’t really care. After all, she thinks parasites should actually be a little pervy. Unfortunately, Hiro thinks this explanation would help calm the girls down. He really is an idiot. Oh well, at least he can take solace in the fact that the best girl approves. Nevertheless, Goro’s right. If the girls are too embarrassed to fight, they could actually endanger the missions and themselves. It’s totally understandable why the boys didn’t say anything during battle. At the same time, however, the girls are allowed to be mad. They are allowed to vent. It’s just an unlucky situation.
— As a result of all this nonsense, Miku no longer wants to be around the boys. She goes to the extreme and draws a line right down their living quarters with tape. The three other basic girls seem to go along with it. Again, the show is just building upon a previously established theme. These kids are told to link up and have their souls deeply intertwined with each other. After all, you can’t have good combat efficacy if you’re not compatible like lovers. Yes, lovers. Just being close friends isn’t enough (see: Hiro and Ichigo). At the same time, however, they’re told to eat at separate tables, live in separate dorms, and are never taught anything that resembles sex education. This contradiction confounds not just the Darling in the FranXX universe, but a lot of our own societies as well. There are some cultures where nudity isn’t a big deal, but this is not one of them.
Here’s the thing, though: most children don’t grow up naturally feeling embarrassed or ashamed about sex. That fear has to be instilled in us. We have to be told that it’s wrong for boys to see girls naked and vice versa. You can’t shame sex and at the same time tell these kids that they must do it for the good of the nation. That makes no sense. It’s one or the other. I’m not saying that the girls don’t have a right to feel as though their personal space has been violated. That’s totally valid. At the same time, however, they shouldn’t act as though the boys had done anything malicious to them. Their knee-jerk reaction is due to growing up in a culture that shames sex. This same culture fills our minds with nonsense like how a girl’s purity must be preserved at all costs. As such, she is tainted if anyone sees her in the nude. That’s frankly ridiculous.
— Zero-Two doesn’t care, though. She’s going to be with her darling no matter what, which gets on Ichigo’s nerves. That’s why she’s the best girl. This shit is juvenile, and she knows it. It’s amusing, but childish nonetheless. Of course, that’s the point.
— Hachi: “It’s unprecedented for so many members of a squad to hit puberty at once.” Oh really? Too bad we have no point of comparison. Plus, Dr. Franxx tells Nana not to interfere because this is a test team. He doesn’t even want the Papa freaks to know about this situation. What are they testing? Why these kids and not any of the other squads? Something must currently be unsustainable about the current model if they feel the need to experiment, but I’m just speculating.
— Zorome’s not wrong. And apparently, it’s goody-two-shoes Goro’s idea. Ichigo notes that neither Futoshi nor Zorome would be clever enough to troll the girls. Harsh. Probably true but still harsh.
— Miku: “I wish the invisible caretakers would handle [cleaning the bath], like they do with our food and laundry.” Huh? I knew someone had to prepare their food for them, but I didn’t realize that the kids have literally met said person[s].
— Goro still has his heart in the right place. Too bad emotions are still running high, and as such, some girls are too stubborn to let bygones be bygones. Why do people even like Ichigo? She kinda sucks as both a leader and a friend. She’s maintaining this pointless feud for no reason.
— Although she refuses to pick a side, Zero-Two is in no rush to get everyone on the same page. She thrives on conflict, so this is all just an amusing diversion until the next klaxosaur strikes. Life is short, so she may as well have as much fun as she can. For someone like Zero-Two, it must feel as though death is always around the corner. Plus, this isn’t really her home. She may even feel as though she’s never had one. Maybe she’ll eventually grow close to the rest of her team as the story progresses — in fact, that is more than likely the case — but for now, she’s just here because her darling is here. And if Hiro could ever take a hint and run away with her, Zero-Two would probably be over the moon.
— Kokoro bumps into Mitsuru at the greenhouse, and she goes, “Hey, do you really not mind chatting with me like this?” He’s not chatting, though.
— Of course, everything is beneath Mitsuru. He’s the typical arrogant prick that every team needs (not really). Still, Kokoro finds his non-conformist nature courageous. How come she doesn’t say the same about Zero-Two? Plus, what is there to be scared of? What would the other girls do to her if she didn’t play along? I guess peer pressure’s a thing, but it’s not as if anyone’s a bully here. She fears retribution that doesn’t really exist.
— Kokoro still has that book about childbirth with her. Is it really something to hide and conceal? Is it considered forbidden by Papa and his goons? Or is she just embarrassed to take an interest in something can only result from sex?
— Ichigo wonders how long this fight will last, but she’s the one who held Miku back from joining the boys in the dining room. What does she even want from this? Does she want the boys to get on their knees and grovel? On the other hand, seeing as how Ikuno probably has a crush on Ichigo, she doesn’t mind maintaining this separation from the boys at all.
— This is getting stagnant fast, so Zero-Two decides to play both sides like the chumps that they are. She wants to shake things up, so this leads to an age-old anime trope. Y’know, the devil is also considered a trickster.
— Zero-Two would later explain her motives: “If you keep half-assing things like that, you’ll even up like the adults one day.” Her words can only fall on deaf ears, though. After all, these kids are raised to worship the adults. She’s the only one who doesn’t respect them, so they can’t possibly understand where she’s coming from. It’d be like me walking into a church and badmouthing Jesus. In any case, she then goes and throw in something ominous: “Because you’re all going to die sooner or later.” Welp.
— That girl is too dexterous with her feet. Hm, would you even call it dexterous at that point? In the end, however, even Hiro goes along with his partner and finds the whole thing amusing. At least there’s that, I suppose. In the end, Hiro always steps up for his girl. He just needs a lot of encouragement from her, which she seems to have an endless supply of.
— The girls wanted Zero-Two to join their side, and this is the latter’s way of feeling included. After all, they still treat her like an outsider if last week’s episode is anything to go by. Remember how Ichigo officially welcomed both Hiro and Zero-Two to the squad, but she conveniently did so while pink-haired girl was busy swimming in the ocean? That was no innocent mistake on Ichigo’s part. The childhood friend is hella passive-aggressive. And now, she and her posse only want Zero-Two’s help when it’s convenient to them. As a result, Zero-Two has no particular loyalty to anyone but Hiro. The resulting confession from our heroine is both amusing and sad; the girl is both independent and vulnerable. She belongs to a team, but at the same time, she kinda doesn’t. She tries to seem human, but can only do so at the expense of both groups.
— Nana has finally had enough, so she intervenes and scolds everyone. I guess even Dr. Franxx couldn’t hold her back forever. Of course, she’s not wrong. What would happen if klaxosaurs had attacked? But maybe this is a missed opportunity. Maybe the story should’ve done just that: pit these embattled kids into a sudden life-or-death fight to teach them a lesson about how petty their squabble really is.
— These kids aren’t even taught basic teamwork:
Hiro: “I’ve never spared much thought for how girls felt before now…”
Zorome: “Why bother? They’re weirdo whack jobs.”
How are you supposed to be a close-knit squad when there’s such a dividing line right down the middle of the group? Boys, girls, what does it really matter?
— Mitsuru: [Zero-Two’s] the ultimate pistil. She doesn’t need your support.” Nobody really needs anybody. We can all live on our own. It’s fucking hard as shit, though. We are all better with other people’s support. This isn’t rocket science. Mitsuru should be smart enough to know that.
— But of course, the running theme here is that a “monster” like Zero-Two is really just as human as you or me. As such, Hiro argues that she’s just “a normal girl.” Blah blah blah, the girls bear the brunt of the punishment in the FranXXs, and they entrust the boys with the piloting. The girls are always giving it their all. As a result, most of the boys agree with Hiro: they should do their best to protect their respective partners. Only Mitsuru stays silent, because there’s no love lost between him and Ikuno.
— Meanwhile, inspired by the book on childbirth, Kokoro plays peacekeeper on the girls’ side. Unfortunately, Miku is back to being stubborn. This is really quite silly of her, but someone has to cause a scene. Someone has to go run and hide, and as a result, stumble upon a photo of the previous Squad 13, kids who have all been wiped out. This cements the idea in the current team’s minds that their lives are precarious. Kids are supposed to live carefree. Kids are supposed to shoot for the stars and achieve their dreams. Not our kids, though. Squad 13, like every squad before them, are born and raised to die for the sake of the adults. They’re sacrificial lambs. Blind followers like Zorome can only hope to one day grow up to be an adult. How silly does that sound? But that’s their reality. They are children with no future.
— Everyone eventually agrees to make up because they don’t want to die. They have to suck it up and become better teammates so that they can’t let each other down in battle. Sure, the feud is finally resolved, but this is not exactly the most ideal outcome, is it?
— Things remain frigid between Mitsuru and Ikuno, but at the same time, he was a non-participant anyway. They just go back to square one.
— Hiro and Zero-Two never feuded in the first place, but they end up growing closer to each other anyway. Good ol’ teamwork. Take notes, Ichigo. Hiro should also be commended for taking active steps towards becoming a better, more supportive partner. He’s not being told what to do; he’s doing this himself.
— Damn, are we getting a new ED every week now? I still prefer the original one best.