Series Review: Darling in the FranXX – Episodes 11-12

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Episode 11 – “Partner Shuffle”

“If you place your hopes in anything, they will be betrayed. Promises will go unfulfilled, and faith will be let down”–Mitsuru’s words–a reflection of this reviewer’s experience with the show–a foreshadowing of the unceremonious end awaiting those who place their hopes in Trigger and A1’s unfulfilled potential–promises of deeper territory left unfulfilled, turning viewers into lifeless husks.

We open with the Parasite Pals enjoying their “simultaneous puberty” and bragging about their kill counts until, suddenly, a gaggle of klaxxies threaten to send them back into the world of un-sex.

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The short-lived battle sets the stage for “The Partner Shuffle”–a thought experiment setting our characters adrift in the ocean of homosexuality. DarliFra’s mad scientist writers jolt their slumbering metaphors awake once more. The staff soften their adherence to normative gender roles–Mitsuru has the hots for Hiro and Ikuno for Ichigo. Yet rather than acknowledging sexual fluidity, the writers re-pledge their allegiance to heterosexuality by depicting the two Pistils unable to pilot the FranXX together, or, as Ichigo summarizes, “I knew it wouldn’t work without a boy.”

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Ikuno: “Ya gay yet?” Ichigo: “Nope.”

Meanwhile, Mitsuru loses his mind over a broken pinky promise. Since the writers refuse to allow any character to verbally express their affections towards someone of the same sex, Mitsuru’s problems derive no sympathy from the audience. By shying away from his true struggle, DarliFra censors the well-quaffed boy’s plight–degrading it to frustration over Hiro’s annoying smile and forgetfulness.

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In the end, Kokoro rescues Mitsuru from his dangerous dive into the gay psyche, re-balancing the tipping scales of sexuality and assuaging all fears of a disturbance in the macho man/submissive woman Force. And, of course, Zero Two continues to establish herself as either hopelessly aloof or creepily affectionate, draping her arms over Hiro and moaning into his ear, “we’ll be together until we die”. Our Jian, of course, responds with a smirk, willing to enable the beast-woman’s serial killer instinct to pin down his source of poontang.

Rating: C-

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Episode 12 – “The Garden Where It All Began”

The 13s travel to their childhood spawning ground, the dystopian orgy-porgy palace, home of the Papa Experiments and the blonde boy. In other news, Zero Two rifles through the Public Flower-Sex Library but can’t find any picture books. She also tries to bite-kiss Hiro’s face.

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Hiro: “Worth it.”

The Perpetually Pubescent Posse have a serendipitous habit of happening upon sensitive information and reaping no negative consequences. They bumble around the Garden Laboratory, ogling its inner-workings, gawking at the test-tube children, all while conveniently-located employees freely offer them information about government practices and conditioning systems.

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“You aren’t supposed to be here, but, before you go, please listen to this top secret information.”

DarliFra starves viewers with haphazard character development, hooking the audience up to an exposition drip-feed. Indeed, the Parasites wander around confused and ignorant unlike everyone else in the FranXX universe. At least Ichigo has another male suitor in the wings.

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“So many boys, so little time!”

Zero Two enters “saurification” (klaxxosaur puberty)–in other words, her horns and fangs grow, her top vanishes, and she hyperventilates in the shower more. DarliFra’s entire cast of characters (except the 13s, of course) intuitively understand our horny heroine’s motivations and desires–she thinks killing klaxxosaurs makes her human and she sometimes morphs into a hooded girl with “red skin and blue blood.” Also, she invents a new sport:

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Trigger and A1’s love child blasted out of the gate with a fresh (albeit flawed) premise, but squandered its first half with boring, formulaic tripe. Episode 11 offers more of the same, but 12 saunters in with a jar full of the long lost special sauce. An optimistic reviewer might hope that DarliFra‘s second half could right the ship. Yet we must heed Mitsuru’s words and chase our fledgling optimism with a swig of cynicism–“If you place your hopes in anything, they will be betrayed.”

Rating: B+

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And, please remember:

~ Don’t Shoot the Messenger

 

 

All screenshots and promotional images are the property of A1 Pictures, Trigger, and Funimation. The AniMessenger does not claim ownership.
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16 comments

  1. I intend to watch from where I left off (episode 8 is where I jumped ship for a much needed reprieve) and do a review of 7-12 soon. I can’t say I’m looking forward to episode 11, because that REALLY pisses me off that somehow two women can’t pilot a FranXX. But no matter how much I rail against this show’s negatively skewed take on gender and sexuality I do still want to like it. Great review as always!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I don’t blame you for needing a reprieve from the DarliFra madness (this combined review was my mini-reprieve)! And yes, I was stoked when Ikuno and Ichigo got in the FranXX together, but the way they handled it was a proverbial slap in the face. Episode 12 feels like the beginning of a “new arc,” if you will. I’m with you–call me a glutton for punishment, but I still want to like the show! Thanks for reading ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

  2. wait, wut? 😂😂😂 this is one of those posts that absolutely enjoy, even if the anime is not my style and couldn’t care less about it XD You and Irina are now my healthy dose of giggles :3

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Having heard of the name before, I got curious, so I read the review. Don’t worry, no spoilers, because if you’re like me who just passed by, you’ll have no idea what’s going on. I think Tiny Tim might have been a better composer for those crazy quadrupadle starfish leeches. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I totally agree with you on episode 11. Partner Shuffle had the potential to be really good, and it just wasn’t. I like that there’s an attempt to give some story and screen time to everyone in the ensemble cast, but it really does feel like lazy writing at times.

    Writing off the whole Ikuno-Ichigo thing with basically was line was weak. I would have liked to at least see some of their experience in the cockpit. Like, did Ichigo even try to make it work? They also didn’t really explain why Kokoro ghosted Futoshi. We all had a feeling that her and Misturu were going to have an arc of some kind, but her character seems underdeveloped in all of it. I’m glad, though, that the series rebounded in episode 12. I’ll choose to be the optimist here, and hope that’s a sign they’re somehow “righting the ship”.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the great comment. You’re right, Ichigo didn’t even try–the whole situation felt like the writers saying, “this won’t work, so stop thinking about it.” A lot of the choices the staff made in episode 11 seemed arbitrary/unnecessary. But 12 felt more like episode 5 (my favorite episode so far), so fingers crossed!

      Like

  5. It really bugs me to have a collection of kids at the beginning of the horniest period of their lives written in such a sterile way. I had considered dropping the show around episode 3 but stuck with it and 5 saved it. Of course, Ichigo is clueless about sex and love (like every other boy hero trope) but in 12 he seems to have taken an important step forward in developing his sexuality. Maybe next ep he’ll get his first hard- er, uh, bloody nose. (He’s still several years behind Zero Two.)

    Liked by 1 person

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