I heard this episode is what will make or break Darling in the FranXX as a story but I didn’t expect to face so much stupidity packaged in just half an hour of content. This episode is so bad that it actually makes me wish I wasn’t curious in what answers lay ahead.
There is no way this show could honestly expect anyone to buy into the idea that magma is this omnipotent substance. Saying that it’s an alternative power source is one thing (and to be fair, believable at least) but saying that it’s the source of immortality is utterly incoherent. Even if I didn’t know that magma is an inorganic, molten substance hot enough to disintegrate human cells, I would laugh that explanation the fuck out over how absurd it sounds. It’s such a lazy and anticlimactic revelation, especially after how much care Darling has put towards generating intrigue in its own mythology. I’m also pretty sure that a loss in magma would mess up the Earth beyond just a shit ton of sand. And there’s other aspects of the Earth’s biosphere outside of its mantle too.
Even if I bought into the whole “magma powers and improves everything like it’s vibranium” explanation, I still have a harder time accepting a lot of other things happening in this episode. It seems almost too easy or at least too simple that APE would take over the world via magma in just the span of a few years. If we can’t make a complete switch to renewable energy for a variety of reasons, how am I supposed to believe that this group of scientists convinced entire governments and industries to switch to magma so easily and quickly. At the very least, surely I was not the only one who found it hilarious that APE wore the masks before they rose into power. I would’ve loved it more if it was a product of the cult of personality they’ve engineered.
Considering that this episode was focused on Dr. FranXX, I was hoping that maybe him getting the spotlight would be worth something. And to be fair, I thought his distaste towards magma immortality was kind of sound. In removing one’s own mortality, you also eliminate your need to sexually reproduce. You are essentially stripping yourself of two things that make you human. But on the whole, I don’t think this episode really makes him an interesting character. His lack of scruples in regards to his scientific studies boils down to him being an atheist which is such an old, overused, and plain dumb excuse to make him the way he is. You find out that he had a wife named Milsa but the romance is so brief, rushed, and non-existent that it seems like its only real purpose was to lead into the creation of the FranXX’s male-female piloting system. And now that I think about it, how did a scientist specializing in cloning become the lead engineer of giant robots? I mean, I saw it happen but I don’t really see how the dots connected.
I suppose the fact that Dr. FranXX meant the Klaxosaur princess is big news. That scene even reveals that Zero Two was cloned off of the princess and it makes sense given the resemblance and the former’s peculiar existence. What I didn’t need though is the really creepy vibe that Dr. FranXX is sexually attracted to the blue dinosaur loli princess. I know that explains why he created and experimented on Zero Two but no, it’s too gross for me.
Even the framing for the backstory feels underdeveloped. I’m not against Dr. FranXX narrating to us but it feels like a missed opportunity not having Squad 13 learn this information with us. Why not? It’s their story that we’re following. Instead, this episode occasionally cuts to everyone dealing with a confused Mitsuru and Kokoro and there’s no warning so it’s awkward when it happens.
Speaking of our heroes, I can’t believe Zorome actually tried to defend Papa and APE for erasing Mitsuru and Kokoro’s memories. Yeah, I’m sure they have their reasons, Zorome. That reason simply being that they’re adamantly against Kokoro wanting a baby (or getting married, I don’t know). Or maybe APE is just a bunch of assholes. It’d be as acceptable as magma being a liquid Philosopher’s Stone. The point is that Zorome is just an idiot. I couldn’t muster sympathy for him when APE refused to tell him how many Kalxosaurs he needed to kill to become an adult. One, he had it coming and two, it’s stupid that APE couldn’t just make up a number to make him happy.
Honestly, APE confuses me with how sloppy they are in keeping these kids indoctrinated. Last episode, I thought it was dumb to not erase everyone’s memories of the wedding and lo and behold, Hiro uses that knowledge to demand that the squad be set free after the next mission. I imagine APE is lying when they agree to the plea but had they just wipe everyone’s mind, they would’ve save themselves a lot of trouble. Do they even want child soldiers to expend in this world? They don’t seem fully invested in maintaining such a utility.
Maybe one of the last five episodes will elaborate or even fix what the fuck this episode had to offer. It’s a tall order but plenty of stories have bounced back at the final stretch so I’ll give Darling the benefit of the doubt. And even if it doesn’t, I made it this far. There’s little reason to drop it now.
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