With Darling in the FranXX, I’m at that point where I’m not liking how this show is ending but since it is the ending, I might as well keep watching it. I can’t deny it’s getting harder to care though and that’s in spite of the promise that the final battle will take place in outer space. Normally that shouldn’t sound empty and vapid but this show found a way.
Let’s first dial things back to Earth. It’s not directly stated but I think I get why Dr. Franxx had Squad 13 live on their own a few episodes ago. It was so that in case they would have to live self-sufficiently, they’d know how. There’s some other contingency plans Franxx apparently had lying around such as giving Hachi and Nana (the original, not the new Joo Dee we met a little while ago) access to his programs and facilities and having Mistilteinn bear fertile soil for crops to grow on. It’s even revealed that he kept the kids APE rejected in cryosleep which also explains where Naomi went. I presume this is because all the subjects retain their reproductive organs and, well, how else do you repopulate a planet?
When I think about it, this episode does address a lot of the show’s loose threads which is a little satisfying, especially since it doesn’t directly connect to magma and aliens. From a logical standpoint though, it seems a bit too convenient that Dr. Franxx possessed this much foresight. I mean, if he didn’t consider Papa rigging Star Entity, how am I supposed to believe that he assumed the worst possible scenario for the kids? For that matter, I’m surprised the man even cared this much about his test subjects to leave all this useful stuff behind. It’s almost like this show had no idea how to write this character but maybe I’m getting ahead of myself.
How come it’s just Squad 13 that went through with the self-sufficiency experiment? Frankly, I just chalk it up to weak writing since Squad 13 is by the default, the heroes of this story and it wasn’t like we were going to get to know any of the other squads. Maybe Dr. Franxx knew they had plot armor to keep them alive, hence why he only pulled the experiment once.
To be fair, the squad is impressively organized and efficient with getting things running in a Papa-less world. They keep lists on all the remaining supplies and have even done the math on how long it’ll last them. Some of the roadblocks they face are a bit silly though. Joo Dee saying that repairs are prohibited because Papa didn’t order it is really dumb. Did she really not catch that the man was an alien overlord who planned on killing us all? And I get that they need the fertile soil from Mistilteinn but can this show stop saying that removing magma led to a lot of bad dirt and sand?
As this is all going, it’s finally confirmed that Kokoro is pregnant and despite still being an amnesiac, Mitsuru correctly deduces that he’s the father. Conveniently, these two will be sitting out of the final battle so Darling has a good setup for them to rekindle their romance and raise their kid. I genuinely hope that they get a happy ending because I really miss Kokoro being independent and kind to Mitsuru. I also just don’t want the show have her contemplate abortion which it did hint towards. I’ve seen how this show addresses eating disorders and homosexuality. I really do not want to see it try to discuss abortion.
Now onto the character that actually matters. As it turns out, Zero Two survives the battle but her body is unresponsive to everything around her. Hiro soon discovers via telepathy (which I guess he can do?) that Zero Two’s mind is actually in Strelizia Apath and she’s leading the charge against VIRM. To be fair, this plot point makes a strong parallel to the “Beast and the Prince” where the Beast is no longer human and must leave the prince for all that is good. What would’ve made the parallel even stronger though is if Strelizia Apath was in Stampede mode. You know, as a beast? I know she’s not piloting it physically but I would’ve liked that detail.
I would ask how Strelizia’s injures also occur on Zero Two’s human body but I did think it was an effectively eerie cue on what’s truly going on. Besides, I don’t exactly get how her mind got in the damn robot anyway.
So with Strelizia out in space (around Mars to be exact), Hiro decides that he’ll go there to stop VIRM and reunite with his girlfriend. Everyone protests this, Gorou especially thinks Hiro is ditching his friends, but considering that VIRM will destroy Earth anyway, they decide to tag along. Thus, that entire scene of everyone being mad at Hiro was brief, contrived, and entirely pointless. Also, the Nines are now good guys so that they can join and obviously sacrifice themselves in the fight. I care so much about them right now.
I’ve made one or two comparisons to Gurren Lagann before and this episode of Darling in the FranXX probably makes the most overt callbacks to the Gainax classic. You have an alien threat that threatens humanity, a team of heroes taking the fight to them, and the main protagonist rushing to rescue his girlfriend. It all reminds me a lot of how Gurren Lagann‘s final battle was set up though it’s nowhere as well as the precedent. Because Darling takes itself so seriously, the idea of a fight in space just sounds absurd and that’s after you ignore the fact that they blamed a lot of its in-universe problems on aliens. All these callbacks really do is just make me want to rewatch Gurren Lagann and to be honest, I’m wondering if that would’ve been a better use of my time than watching Darling in the FranXX.
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