Anime of the Week: Darling in the FranXX

Darling in the FranXX tells the story of a group of students in the distant future in which male-female teams must pilot machines in order to protect...something?

A-1 Pictures, as usual has quality art work with pretty good animation. While the art style of this show is definitely subject to the individual's taste, it is objectively good. Personally, I adore the character designs (especially the wardrobe), but I'm not a huge fan of the designs of the FranXX robots. They vaguely remind me of Jenny from My Life as a Teenage Robot.

At first, it definitely feels like the plot is nothing special. We've got an underdog, plain, dark-haired protagonist who is definitely on the path to become swoon-worthy (Kirito Archetype), Hiro. Hiro meets super-hot and super-weird 002 under ecchi circumstances and it's a Match Made in Anime. One thing I do appreciate about the structure of the plot is the ongoing motif of the mythical Jian bird species which requires a partner to fly. This motif easily contributes to the key themes of the Anime: loneliness, balance, and the idea that compatibility can't be created, it simply is.

Since the anime has only aired through episode 3, it has yet to establish the history of the world it is set in, in favor of building up our core characters and the general social structure of the organization in which they are immersed. We have yet to receive a big-picture look at the setting.

So, do I recommend it? While it doesn't break out of the mecha genre archetypes as strongly as something like Code Geass, it does seem to prioritize the social elements over action sequences, which is refreshing. It is victim to anime tropes, and as a gender critic I can say I'm less a fan of the gendernormative always male-female combinations, but for some reason I still find the show unexpectedly endearing.  7.5/10 in my opinion so far.

-L. Dean