After finishing Darling in the Franxx I find myself at a loss. The final episode left a bad taste in my mouth. However, many of the parts of the story leading up to it were enjoyable enough. I will be taking how I felt through the whole thing into account for this review. Anyway, here we go.
Darling In the Franxx has a plot that many Anime viewers have seen before. Giant robots are piloted by children and these kids face off against weird monsters called Klaxosaurs. Controversy for this Anime appeared in the form of the hypersexualized aspects even by normal standards. The robots are piloted by pairs: One male and the other female. The way they sit in these robots and the fact their bodies “meld” leaves little to the imagination.
Quickly we meet our two protagonists. Hiro is a young boy with little character at the start. As usual for romance style Anime, the male lead exists as a self insert for the viewers and as a result I was not as caught up on the dry character. The second lead is the most famous character in the show. Zero Two is a snarky and edgy female character with horns coming out of her head.
As someone who has watched a lot of Anime in this style, the plot points were hardly surprising. Normally, this would be a point against the Anime, but Darling in the Franxx is much more about becoming attached to the characters than anything else. Despite what some other reviews would say, I believe this is actually a strong point of the show. Hiro aside, the other major characters are much easier to associate with. While many of them play stereotypes ridiculously straight, this is fine and story wise, there is a good reason for these tropes to be in play.
Another major criticism of the show which I got over fairly quickly, was the appearance of the mechas. I did not mind the more humanoid approach that reflected the female pilot. Indeed, I felt this was a fresh perspective compared to many other shows. While they may look cooler in something like Gundam Wing or Gurren Lagann, their appearance in Darling is fine by me.
There are many themes addressed in Darling in the Franxx. I cannot talk about these themes lest I spoil much of the show, but those are the high points. Many times after viewing, especially in the middle part of the Anime, I was left thinking about the importance of many different ideas. This is another serious positive since that is what kept me engaged in the show. I watched each episode in hopes that I would learn something new and gain another topic to think about.
With all the positive out of the way, lets talk about the bad. There is a serious elephant in the room, and I intend to discuss this point first. I refer to the fact that this show attempts to do way too much in too little time. Darling suffers in the same way that Magical Girl Raising Project did. They tried to have so many themes happen that the story seems broken apart and makes little sense.
This serious problem comes to a major head in the last episode. Without giving anything away, way too many plot holes are created by the end of the show. This lack of resolution of so many points left me feeling upset when the credits finally rolled at the end. I understand that not every story will reveal all the answers, but I feel that Darling in the Franxx was very disingenuous in this regard.
This problem is significant in the final episode. The End of Darling in the Franxx feels incredibly rushed. I had read reviews on the Anime as it continued to air that stated that the developers could not figure out what they wanted. By the end, I feel that this is the truth. The ending episode could have been an entire show in its own right in my opinion. There was such a rich world to showcase in Darling, but instead it was all ignored for many reasons. I understand that in a 24 episode show a lot of things have to be glossed over, but not like this.
Another strike against the show was the corny way that the final conflict was resolved. I understand that Darling in the Franxx is ultimately a love story that happens to have giant robots in it, but I could not help but cringe at the end. Not to mention, I had to watch a couple scenes a few times just to make sure I understood them properly.
All in all, while it is certainly not the worst Anime of all time, nor the worst Anime of the year, it certainly was far more disappointing than I would have hoped. Darling in the Franx had great potential, but I think it could not figure out what it ultimately wanted to be. Ultimately, I think this caused the show to spark and then sputter out.Tweet