For the past four or so months there has been one anime that I was truly over the moon looking forward to for this Winter 2018 season. ダーリン・イン・ザ・フランキス or ‘Darling in the FranXX’ is the latest work born from the combined effort of Studio Trigger ( Kill La Kill, Kiznaiver, Little Witch Academia, Ninja Slayer) & A-1 Pictures (Sword Art Online, Magi, Asterisk War, How to Raise A Boring Girl Friend, etc). These two studios have held such a huge place in my heart for creating some of my most cherished anime. So with the news of both powerhouses teaming up for this project made the otaku within me scream with joy.
Normally, I am not a fan of the mecha genre in anime but I wanted to give this anime a shot at changing my mind. At first glance, putting aside the mecha aspect, the visuals in this project are simply breath-taking. As to be expected from these two studios. The colors and palate choices were so stunning, doing an amazing job of catching the viewer’s attention right from the start. The character design and animation was something I had recognized from Masayoshi Tanaka , whose work as a character designer I recognized from world-wide film success ‘Kimi No Na Wa (Your Name.). This is one of the main reasons why I’m vouching for this anime, even if you are not a fan of this type of genre, the art and animation alone with keep yu watching.
Although, artwork and animation style cannot hold an anime together by themselves. The main question people will be asking themselves is “What is it about?”. Well, Darling in The FranXX is about a group of gifted young people, dubbed ‘PARASITES’. These kids are tasked to pilot machines called FRANXX. They were raised in a place called the ‘Birdcage’. They know nothing of the outside world or even know what freedom actually means. Their only purpose is to carry out their missions. If they fail, meaning they are not compatible with their partner, then they are shipped off and are never seen again. So for them, failure is something they can never afford.
RIght away I found myself becoming interested in the premise of this story. Although it was the first episode, not a lot was explained to us. Leaving our questions unanswered but also leaving us satisfied instead of upset. The main character, Hiro, is one of the chosen pilots. But since he and his partner are no longer compatible both of them are given the choice to stay at the orphanage or leave the birdcage. At first I saw the main character as boring and a typical, depressed main character we often see if anime such as this. But after seeing him interact with the other main character Zero Two (who I fell in love with instantly) my opinion began to change. Zero Two is a pink haired, horn having, sharp, strong and beautiful character. She is mix of human and something else. Her first interaction with Hiro is while she is bathing in the lake and Hiro becomes embarrassed while she stands naked in front of him, with a fish in her mouth. She claims that she likes him after speaking with him and that he should be her ‘Darling’ or partner to pilot her FranXX.
The highlight of the opening episode is the fantastic fight scene at the end of the film. Zero Two and Hiro pilot their FranXX together. Despite everyone originally thinking that Hiro was hopeless. The two of them fight the threat that tries to destroy the ‘Birdcage’. In typical Trigger fashion, the robot herself was animated beautifully. Almost as if it were an actual woman in the anime. That entire sequence was just done so wonderfully. This episode left me with a feeling of excitement and wanting more. Which is something a lot of anime lately have been lacking in their opening efforts.
I would highly recommend giving this anime a spot in your rotation this season. Luckily for us it looks like we’ll be getting 26 episodes of this beauty. Darling in The FranXX is gearing up to be one of the best anime of WInter 2018, maybe even taking the number one spot by the end of the season. So if you like dramatic robot fights, beautiful art styles and colors, along with characters and a story that you can sink your teeth into, then this is definitely the series for you.
Darling in The FranXX airs every Saturday on Crunchyroll & VRV. Subscribe to either of these websites for $6-10 a month for all of your anime needs and in turn support the anime industry.