DARLING in the FRANXX Ep. 23: Growing apart

With his friends’ help (and Nine Alpha’s sacrifice), Hiro eventually makes his way to Zero Two. Cue the same ol’ “I’m a monster and you’re not” drama. Luckily, Trigger and CloverWorks aren’t dumb enough not to go through an extended song-and-dance about this very topic again. Hiro simply has to reaffirm his love for Zero Two, and as a result, their relationship is quickly and thankfully back to normal. Kinda. The girl is now literally a gigantic mecha, but I mean, what man hasn’t fantasized about death by snoo snoo? He can even brag about how his girlfriend has the largest T&A in the entire universe. Unfortunately, Hiro didn’t come up here to drag the klaxosaurs’ MVP away from the battle. In fact, Strelizia can’t even operate anywhere close to its greatest potential without a stamen. It’s a wonder why Zero Two even bothered to leave without Hiro in the first place. But I’ll talk about this later in the notes below. Point is, Hiro and Zero Two have to go away for now. They’re going to keep fighting, and the rest of Squad 13 doesn’t get to join them. The teamwork ends here, because Hiro’s friends can no longer accompany him. Hell, they went as far as they could. They literally went into space for the guy. But leaving the solar system is apparently where we’ll draw the line. We hate to admit it, but friends grow apart all the time. And we don’t stop liking each other either. It’s just life, man. Life eventually sends us all in different directions, and there’s really nothing that we can do about it. Not without sacrificing some happiness, of course.

Our power couple have to make sure VIRM never threatens the peace again — anyone’s peace, for that matter —  so they’re going to bring the fight directly to those conformist assholes. With the spaceship serving as a giant bomb, too. This means, however, taking a warp gate that will send both of them far, far away from home. At the very least, they won’t be in the solar system anymore. More importantly, they’ll be far, far away from their friends. Will they ever come home? Will they even survive? Probably. After all, we still have one entire episode left. There’s no way we’re getting nothing but a peaceful time skip in next week’s episode. At the very least, something big and grandiose is going to have to happen. Otherwise, humanity will be screwed. Sure, the kids can retreat to Mistilteinn for now, but that tiny patch of fertile land cannot sustain an entire civilization. We also have way too many loose ends to tie up. For instance, one of the previous episodes made a big fucking deal about a certain giant spear, but we have yet to see it again. And didn’t VIRM say something about how the Star Child is too dangerous to exist? Too dangerous for the entire universe? Well, all I’m saying is that we have 24 minutes of plot left. As much as we want to joke about it, Hiro mounting Zero Two again is nowhere close to the series’ climax. Hold onto your butts, ’cause the story’s going to pull a lot out of its ass in next week’s finale.

Misc. notes & observations:

— Kind of a cool moment.

— Kokoro tells Mitsuru that he didn’t have to stay with her. He could’ve found another partner. He replies, however, that he wants to take responsibility. This must have been the wrong answer, because he’ll insist later that it isn’t about taking responsibility. Hm.

— At first, I really wondered what they were going to do with Zero Two’s human body if Hiro and the actual Zero Two are blasting off on their space journey, but the anime eventually takes care of this minor plot point. Good for them, too. One less mouth to feed. Plus, there’s the awkward matter of someone having to bathe and clean the girl’s body.

Another shot I kinda like.

— So most of the kids manage to find replicas of their FRANXXs on the spaceship? They just happen to be black? The klaxosaurs had this all planned out? They just knew that these exact parasites would want to join the fight? The show really, really glosses over this, and I don’t exactly buy it. Luckily, I like the show enough that I don’t really care.

— The Nines, of course, still have to pilot their old, shitty FRANXXs. Y’know, the ones that look exactly alike, because they are all clones of Zero Two. And for some reason, the Nines are all interchangable, i.e. Nine Alpha can operate as both a stamen or a pistil. So how come the Nines are all boys if they’re all clones of Zero Two? I mean, even if you say that they’re androgynous-looking — and I’d disagree about that — why do they nevertheless deviate so much from the girl? Then again, remember when the Nines confronted the kids about Kokoro’s desire to have children? They were super misogynist about it, so maybe whoever created the Nines just really hated women so much that they made sure Zero Two’s clones resembled the opposite sex.

— Hachi and Nana are astonished the spaceship’s controls are “so similar.” So Hachi goes, “Perhaps klaxo sapiens weren’t all that different from humans.” What a coincidence, huh? Two intelligent species developed on the same planet in almost the exact same way. Maybe there’s a stronger causal link between the two civilizations, but it’s not as if DitF has the time to explore this concept. As a result, it’s yet another plot point that the series has to gloss over. Would I watch 40-50 episodes of DitF? I think I would. Obviously, I can’t speak for everybody.

— Oh Nana, you know you have empathy.

— Space battles always look like a huge, chaotic mess. At least the main ship has a shield.

— Unfortunately, the animation isn’t too hot when things start getting kinetic. When the frame rate isn’t incredibly choppy, the “camera” often zooms way out, so we can’t exactly see the FRANXXs in action. This shot here is about the best that we can get from this episode.

— So when the kids get to the battlefield, they find Strelizia mostly motionless. Remember, the giant mecha can fire a massive fuck-off laser from its horn, but for some reason, it isn’t doing so. Nine Alpha speculates that Strelizia can’t really show off what it can do without a stamen. More importantly, Zero Two can’t fight without Hiro. So what was the point of leaving him behind? Could they really have won this war without Streliza operating at full capacity? So if she was likely to lose anyways, then VIRM would just return one day to fuck Earth up again. She’s not really protecting Hiro by ditching him. Sure, sure, she wanted to protect him and his humanity, and emotions aren’t always logical. But I dunno, as much as I like the show, this drama felt a little unnecessary. It’s like the time Ichigo kept Zero Two and Hiro apart just for the two lovebirds to reconcile in the very next episode. This just happened again, didn’t it? But instead of Ichigo, it’s Zero Two breaking her own promise to Hiro. After all they’ve been through, after fate’s numerous attempts to pull them apart, she still runs away from the guy just for them to reconcile in the very next episode!

— So ideally, what should have happened? Maybe they should’ve talked about it, then come to a mutual decision to leave Earth together. Then when the rest of Squad 13 go up into space to get Hiro and Zero Two back, they learn that those two have to go far, far away. Essentially, we’re getting the same desired result, but without Zero Two having to undo parts of her character development by breaking her promise.

— I can’t say I’m too impressed by this mass of VIRM units.

— Hiro’s about to reunite with Zero Two when this giant boy gets in the way. As a result, Nine Alpha forcibly ejects Hiro from the cockpit and self-destructs his FRANXX in order to prevent the enemy from interfering. Again, in a longer series, we could’ve explored the Nines and their conflicts a little better. Why are they so determined to help their sister Iota now? Don’t they want to reunite with Papa? We can all kinda infer the answers to these questions, but that’s my point: once again, the show glosses over something important. Unfortunately, they go from being Papa’s devoted children to going kamikaze in battle. It’s a lost opportunity to explore the mindset of both a clone and a child that has been abandoned by their father.

— Also, this line is just like… c’mon, you don’t have enough character development to say that.

— You really gotta love a girl if you don’t mind her being a mass of tentacles.

— Let’s hope this doesn’t inspire any vore doujins.

— So in Zero Two’s mind, Hiro finds the girl living in her favorite fairy tale. I kinda like that. We don’t stay here very long, however, so we don’t really get to explore what the rest of the world is like. Besides, could you really stomach the thought of Hiro chasing after the girl for an entire episode in a dream world? Had they not been pulled apart multiples time already, I probably wouldn’t mind that. But at this point, I just want the writers to make up their minds already. Either these two should stay together by now or just be torn apart from good. Then again, that’s why you’re often warned not to hook up with crazy. There are these hot-and-cold relationships out there. There are on-and-off couples all the time, and it’s usually because both individuals are a little unstable. I guess you could say the same about Hiro and Zero Two.

— No point telling the guy to remain a human. It’s already too late for that.

— The rest of the Nines soon follow their leader into their deaths. I don’t think we get to see their demise onscreen, but I doubt anyone could escape from this sticky situation. Again, the Nines’ character development simply never went anywhere.

Hachi and Nana accompanied the kids all the way into space, but in the end, they really didn’t do much of anything. We just don’t have time for them, I suppose. All we really got was Nana talking about how she wants to mamoru the kids. Before you know it, they have to escape from the spaceship and hop onto an inelegant-looking escape pod. Anyways, I also thought the guy might bite it, but luckily, the woman convinces him not to give up (’cause he didn’t give up on her or something). These two should just kiss already. Plus, when Hachi returns to Earth, he’ll probably get to wear a gnarly eyepatch to cover up that injured eye.

— So VIRM just magically appears in the middle of space and starts talking to everyone. They don’t really have anything new to say either. Don’t resist it. Just become a hivemind with us, and enjoy a peaceful slumber. Essentially, they want the kids to grow up and conform like the adults. I think this is a big deal for Japan. For the longest time, the culture has always been about conformity and homogeneity. But the new generation is growing up, and they want to decide their own future. This culture clash often results in art that outsiders might find childish or corny. There’s no doubt that DitF is very childish and corny from a certain vantage point. Still, I like it all the same. A lot of it resonates with me even if these same themes have been better executed in other stories. I like the overall package. Over the course of the season, people have been chomping at the bit to call the show derivative (especially in relation to Neon Genesis Evangelion), but you don’t have to throw out the Rolls Royce and invent a whole new vehicle. You just want an updated model that reflects its time period.

— Yeah, Mitsuru and Kokoro have their own battles to fight! Like protecting Kokoro and her unborn baby from the rain. No, I get it. These two have their own personal conflict to tackle. I just find it funny, because I would never compare their melodrama to literally going up into space to battle an alien hivemind.

— Why does it look like Miku and Ichigo clones are standing back there?

— It cracked me up when I saw Hiro like this. I really wish he could’ve been immortalized as his own shitty drawing forever.

— We have so many different versions of Zero Two. Red-skinned Zero Two, human-form Zero Two, black-skinned Zero Two, giantess Zero Two… shit, what’s next?

— Aaaaand they’re naked. Just another classic anime trope.

— So like… did Streliza’s body just turn into flesh for some reason? And Hiro still has to pilot her on the inside, which is not organic? Whatever, it’s anime.

— Finally, we get the giant, fuck-off laser. Where’s our spear, though?

— All of a sudden, stuff happens on both Phobos and Deimos, and a giant warp gate appears before the kids. The klaxosaurs thought of everything. They built the warp gate, they built a giant Star Child to do battle with VIRM one day, they even included FRANXXs on the spaceship for Squad 13. It would be hilarious, however, if they didn’t include the Genista, because — again — they just knew Kokoro and Mitsuru wouldn’t be going up into space. Hell, what didn’t they know? How to survive as a species, I guess.

— Zero Two promises her friends that she and Hiro will return one day. Unfortunately, she’s been known to break her promises!

— Back on Earth, Zero Two’s human body turns to stone, but it doesn’t shatter. It could’ve easily done so, because that’s a common trope in fiction. So even if Zero Two and Hiro do return, will she be stuck as a giant, space-faring mecha? Eh, probably not. If there’s a happy ending, I’m sure she’ll be human-like again. After all, it’s anime, so we can always pull some magical bullshit out of our ass.

— And if there isn’t a happy ending, crazy DitF fans can just riot and prove why it’s still embarrassing to admit that you’re an anime fan in public.

18 thoughts on “DARLING in the FRANXX Ep. 23: Growing apart

  1. Karandi

    There’s absolutely zero chance of this anime ending in any reasonable way at this point. It just keeps throwing new stuff at us without addressing any of the old stuff and expects us to just keep going along with it because pink haired girl with horns or something. Glad there’s only one more episode to watch.

    1. Sean Post author

      Once VIRM was revealed, I lost any hope in the overall story pulling itself together. I’ll still be relatively pleased if Hiro and Zero Two get a happy ending, quality notwithstanding.

  2. Advaris

    Damn… what happened to this anime when I’m not watching it. This is a mess… This is what I’m afraid of back then when I sense that Hiro and Zero-Two relationship feels too slow and more like a padding than what drive the story forward. I mean magma energy? Klaxxosaur? Klaxxosaur princess? VIRM? What the f*ck is going on?! It’s like the writer gave up here and chose not to give a damn. I know that those things aren’t the focus of this story and can be ignored I guess. The thing is I think they also mess up on things that they shouldn’t.

    Before I get to that part, I really have to say that I’m disappointed at Hiro and Zero-Two to a less degree. I mean their romance is pretty much just your standard romance fare where a boy and a girl bound by fate in this case they are “childhood friendship.” And as usual, the boy is your standard nobody with no personality, so his love interest, the girl, has to carry the entire thing herself.

    I expect that after the last episode I watched where Hiro remembered his past, he would change and gain a personality like he could rebel like normal boys at his age. But nooooo… He just realized that he love Zero-Two like your average romance anime protag at this stage. I mean that is lame… This show seems to be meant to be a matrimony of Evangelion and Gurren Lagann, but what actually happens is that this anime seems to be created by someone who want to combine those two anime without knowing what make those two anime work.

    I mean Hiro sucks compared to Simon or Shinji. Those two change and respond to everything that happened around them, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse. Something that Hiro just don’t do or when he does do it, not good enough. So, Zero-Two has to pick up the slack again and ends up like she has some serious memory or mental issues (which she may does, but that is still not good.) I thought romance is supposed to be a two-way street?

    Back on topic, this anime sets up multiple plot lines, but unable to do it simultaneously. So if one plot line is in a jam, all plot lines are unable to move forward with all the withholding information stuff that is stupid because that isn’t the focus of this anime. I mean what’s the point of keeping it a secret to the point that there are still things unanswered or even glossed at this point when it’s just evil aliens want to invade earth?

    If we simplify things a lot, this anime just has three main plots. Evil aliens want to invade earth, deliver some social messages about the older generation oppressing and exploiting the younger generation, and Hiro and Zero-Two love each other. The first plot is pretty much window dressing. The second plot is a mess and feel tacked on sometimes due to the fact all the time that can be used to develop it being eaten by the third plot. (Most of the team and all the Nines are pretty much a waste of potentially good characters.) The third plot is pretty much the good old romantic plot tumor, padding the flow of the story like a black hole. *sigh*

    I’m not going to call this anime outright bad yet, but it’s pretty much mediocre to me at this point. If the ending is good, it might become good-ish, but I’m not seeing it. And some people in the internet claim that this is going to become the new Evangelion, a new classic. Heh. Disappointed.

      1. Advaris

        It isn’t exactly hate for me. It just he doesn’t live to his potential and become just your standard romance anime protag. It’s just lame. I just want to see something more out of the main character, you know? Not to mention that it’s funny or lame with all the non-conformist message that Hiro is as safe as f*ck.

        1. Sean Post author

          He’s ditching the only family he’s ever known to leave home and fight a war with his mecha girlfriend. I’m not going to praise the guy’s personality, but I wouldn’t necessarily call him conformist.

          1. Advaris

            I guess you’re right. i just expect him to be more open and forward about it than what I’ve just watched so far. As I’ve said before, I just expect more from him after waiting this long for his character development. Let’s hope that the studio at least don’t mess up the ending.

            1. Sean Post author

              Most heroes usually save the day. Hiro can’t really do anything on his own. He needs Zero Two to become a pilot. He needed his friends’ help to get to her back in episode 15. He needed Zero Two to save him from dying in episode 22. And now, he needed his friends’ help again to get to her in this week’s episode. Yeah, he looks and sounds like a generic protagonist, but he’s especially useless compared to the average hero. If we’re judging the guy by his efficacy, the only thing he has going for him is his ability to “tame” Zero Two. I don’t love the guy, but I like his relationship with Zero Two as a whole.

    1. sonicsenryaku

      I’m right there with you Advaris on the whole Hiro basically being an insufferable male lead. As a matter of fact, your base complaints are similar to a youtuber named E-kon who sagaciously articulates why Hiro is such a bland, flaccid, unassuming, indolent, and tritely written character. Uuggghh; and the fact that some people are calling this show the new Evangelion is, at least to me, laughable. I don’t find the people themselves laughable, just the notion itself. It’s so clear how much Atsushi Nishigori is trying to homage a plethora of classic anime in the mecha genre that changed people’s perception of said genre and the medium as a whole.. Unfortunately he lacks the talent to pull off what the auteurs of those shows did back then, consistently demonstrating with DITF of a lack of understanding regarding what made those shows he’s aping from the success they were, or at least struggling to emulate the fundamental tenets gave those shows their quality. And yea, i didn’t expect Franxx to be a showstopper (as much potential as it had to be that) but i at least wanted it to be pretty damn good or great. Hell, back in the day i at least found the show to be an average narrative effort with some charming moments that made the whole ordeal easier to digest despite my incessant complaints with the show. But now, this last third of the series has just sullied whatever appreciation i had for the show’s attempts at sentimental and topical storytelling

      This show is as mediocre as they come, with this ep in particular being endemic of most of my major issues with this series. How many times are we gonna have to go through Hiro and Zero-two affirming their love with almost no change to the way that information is being presented on a fundamental level? Forget being beaten over the head with it; Nishigori and his team has practically dropped ten anvils in blistering succession on top of our heads with in the same treacle, cloying fashion it always has. Welp, the finale is next week; we’ll see how this all comes together but at this point i don’t think there’s much this finale can do to change anyone’s mind who’s never really been on board to begin with.

        1. Sean Post author

          More specifically, having read your comments over the years, it’s interesting to see what you can tolerate versus what you can’t. We differed greatly on Rex from XC2, and we differ greatly again on Hiro. I’m getting to be too old for internet debates over TV anime, though. I hope I didn’t just tempt you into writing an essay to refute me, but if I did, I apologize ahead of time for not responding to it. I know I won’t.

          1. sonicsenryaku

            Hahahaha oh no you didn’t tempted me to write anything (I’m amused by how “polite” you’re being). Besides, I’ve known you long enough to know what conversations you’re willing to indulge in versus what you’re not so I’m not going to waste your or my time on trivial discussions.

            And heeeeeeeeey, while our takes differed on Rex, at least i genuinely understood where you were coming from and didn’t go out of my way to give you a headache about it. On the subject of character writing, I’ve always said that even if a show does the bare minimum with its characters, if they’re very action-oriented, I will resonate with them more positively than a narrative that tries to endear me to a character by reading off a laundry-list of their characteristics and concerns, expecting me to emotionally connect with it through blatant manipulation. Characters like Rex at least do stuff and have their characterization evolve through action. It’s because of that reason why even though he was a pretty generic protag (which bothered me a bit), I had a more positive interpretation of him unlike a character such as Hiro where the guy is so inert as a lead as a result of the faulty writing that it makes it hard for me to be in his corner. But yea, that’s pretty much all i would want to say on a subject like this.

  3. Leivinia Birdway

    And now references to Gunbuster 2, if there is something that no more mentions is its constant reference / imitation to the old series of gainax, I know that part of the staff is the same, but it is shameless that they are literally the same scenes and ideas, it is not same use a topic or cliche popular because it is a crutch for beginners to start writing their history, but here is only copied, I do not see identity or personality in this anime that is constantly using them, but only used superficially since that alone is enough to that the public automatically to compares a new EVA or Gurren lagann.
    Oh well I do not know? maybe Darlingfranxx is remembered with equal affection in 5 or 20 years or at least will be remember it for October … I have just been told that Trigger already has another anime about colorful teenagers who are piloting Mechas and fight with monsters? Yada Yada there we go again.

  4. BarryN_336

    RE: Zero-Two … I’m sure she’ll be human-like again.

    Personally, I think it would be a neat twist if Zero-Two and Hiro “rekindled” the Klaxo-sapiens presence on the planet…. My take on the Klaxo-sapiens is that their technology went well beyond “this dimension” and our Quantum Physics. Their civilization was probably capable of Telepathy (just like “Princess” speaking directly to human brains), and Physical Transformations (essentially “Princess” did not have “tentacles” when she was 21 years old … she chose to have them, and could change them at will).

    RE: Zero Two’s human body turns to stone

    I would put this in the category of “Zero-Two-Is-Now-Klaxosaur-Princess”, and she’s put her “entire” mind in “Star Entity” while making her human form go into stasis…. It is VERY likely that this change means her body CANNOT get cuts (which would be a pretty neat trick).

    RE: VIRM just magically appears in the middle of space and starts talking to everyone.

    I treat that like a Giant Hologram, and similar to the capability of the “Princess” to speak “directly to brains” (same thing as “open a hailing freqency” in Star Trek in terms of story telling).

    Besides, the VIRM are “completely” Energy as their natural form. Meanwhile, I would say Humans are completely “material” as a species. Finally, I’m going to say Klaxo-sapiens were hybrid, having physical bodies (Metalo-Organic) and having “Energy” which could extend beyond their physical bodies.

    This would explain the “Red-Zero-Two” choking Hiro (episode 12?) while her body is physically in the pilot position, because (in theory) the “Princess” could probably choke someone with the exact same technique. (They are clones, and have the “Klaxosaur Blood”, but the “Princess” would have a blue energy-form extension of her body.) In all likelihood, the “Nines” are probably limited to their horns as their “energy-form extension of body” due to their lack of “Klaxosaur Blood” (which could appear for any FranXX Pilot once a particular level of development was reached).

    RE: One last thing on “being human”….

    The exact nature of the Klaxo-sapien species has not been developed. For example, how many stages of “maturity” do they have? What does their “adolescence” look like? … Here’s the scene I imagine:

    Zero-Two and Hiro have a little girl, and her appearance is almost identical to Zero-Two as a child (red skin and significant horns).

    Zero-Two (speaking to child): “Now honey, make your skin look like mommy’s.”

    … and then you see the little girl’s skin getting less and less red.

    Just speculating on the Klaxo-sapien species….

  5. whentheloliscry

    I wanted to see them drop the environmentalism Japanese love, and move to mars to start anew where the soil might have life. I want to see the giantess doujin, with Hero penetrating her from within.

  6. Cozy

    This went pretty much as expected. I thought the two main overseers would be the obligatory heroic sacrifice, but looks like they randomly brought in the redshirt nines to fill that role instead. Nobody cares about them, so ‘s fine.

    ~le sigh~

    Well, I’m predicting a time skip in the next episode. 02/Hiro blow up the Virm, but cannot take the portal back for some reason so they need to fly back manually, which takes a long time. By the time they get back Kokoro’s child has been born, what’s-her-face Hiro’s old partner from episode 1 is awake again, Earth is being revived, and once all those pesky loose ends are tied up 02/Hiro will make a grand homecoming.

    Seems like it’s either that or they die/are lost forever in space, and their friends wait eternally for them to come home… and I see no reason whatsoever for a writer to choose that ending over the happy one at this point.

    1. Cozy

      PS: Oh and speaking of that Klax spear… my prediction is that it can be used to revive the klax as a race, and that human/klax will start fixing Earth together.


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