Series Review: Darling in the FranXX – Episode 13

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Episode 13 – “The Beast and the Prince”

DarliFra flips the script on the historically hexed number thirteen, re-finding the dark and macabre path it meandered from after episode five. The production staff sticks the audience with a Parasite-esque injection–a Jedi mind-trick, inducing us into a forgetful dream–a confabulated past in which the slice-of-life doldrums never happened.

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We gaze into Zero Two’s pensieve–penetrating her past as an adorable demon-child chained inside a stuffed animal mortuary. She eats fluff-slop from the hands of shadow-mommas, thumbs through picture books about damsels in distress, and daily endures torture/experimentation–a glimpse into Hornette’s troubled upbringing–simultaneously poignant, disturbing, and aww-inspiring.

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Meanwhile, Hiro continues to establish himself as sixteenth on the Parasite charts, a top three goody-two-shoes, and second-to-none in manicuring haremites (that boy can name). Yet Jian Junior’s labyrinthine encounters with his “best girl” bulls-eyes the feels target. Hiro’s rescuing of Zero Two from Papa’s cruel hands explains their magnetic attraction in the premiere episode–at least, the scenario legitimizes the pair’s relationship more than the prior, “Mm, I’m naked and you taste nice, so Darlings for life!”

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The previous twelve episodes characterized our protagonist-parasite-pair’s relationship as carnal, erotic, and dysfunctional–a lion/tamer dynamic. “The Beast and the Prince” humanizes their connection. Rather than remaining in their sex metaphor cocoons, the Pistil and Stamen break free and unveil their cores–two lost souls in pursuit of love and happiness. Of course, the writers wont stray too far from their foundational gender norms. As the picture book predicts, the witch will grant the girl a human appearance only if the beast princess “[rips] off her own wings”–i.e., submits herself to Hiro’s protection.

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As the origin story draws to a close, Hiro binds himself to his Darling by licking her bloodied knee–an altogether scientific and medically efficacious practice. Then, the daydream fades, the pre-pubescent pair steps back into the temporal realm, and our Main Stamen remembers. A chill-inducing revelation bound to steel the series against the pernicious threat of mediocrity–or have the injections already deteriorated The AniMessenger’s temporal lobe? Time will tell.

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As episode seven taught us, never trust Atsushi Nishigori–a ruthless director capable of derailing a hype train at the drop of a hat (or bikini). Yet the DarliFra forecasts looks clear and sunny from this vantage point–The AniMessenger Almanac predicts a full bloom for the series’ second half.

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Nevertheless, a reviewer can’t help but humor the apparitions on his shoulders:

AniMessenger Shoulder Devil: “Why did it take so long to get to this amazing backstory?”

AniMessenger Shoulder Angel: “Don’t think about it. Embrace the dystopia. Take your soma!”

Aldous Huxley: “A gramme is better than a damn.”

Shoulder Entities: “Who asked you?!”

The AniMessenger: “Uh, do I have a say in any of this?”

Shoulder Entities and Huxley: “No!”

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Rating: B+

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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8 comments

  1. An interesting take, as expected.
    I think “The Beast and the Prince” was overall the most well-composed episode yet. I liked the whole storybook motif. The narrative hops back-and-forth between our two main characters, but is written in such a way that both stories parallel one another. The background music also drives home the surreal, dream-like state of the episode.
    I don’t know if I entirely agree with your “lion/tamer dynamic”. Yes, the series blatantly pushes stereotypical gender norms, but I think they’ve been slowly working away from the simplistic, carnal connections initially suggested to pilot the FranXX’s. In episode 11, for instance, they explored trust as one of the factors involved in successful operation, so to speak. That was probably the only redeeming quality of that episode for me. I also didn’t interpret the “giving up the wings” metaphor as “submitting to the protection of another”. I perceived it more as giving up a large part of who you are in exchange for being able to masquerade as someone else. The beast didn’t need those wings to be able to kill the prince, Zero Two doesn’t need Hiro’s protection to routinely beat down the guards that try to keep her under control, nor did she need it to murder Klaxosaurs prior to linking up with him.
    Ep 13 also manages to go back and add some much-needed depth to other previously established backstories like Mitsuru’s. If they keep this up, A-1 may very well be able to redeem the series. Like you said, (hopefully) sunny skies ahead.
    I realize this is a pretty lengthy comment, but I think you offer a different interpretation of the series from Weeabro Shawn, or myself. Maybe we’ll have to try to get you onto the podcast to talk about DarliFra with us once it comes to an end.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for the thoughtful comment! I harp on gender role issues partly because we already know that Zero Two is capable of defending herself in battle and is overall smarter and stronger than Hiro, yet the writers still force the audience to accept that she requires a male partner to temper her. Not to mention the frequent and blatant assertions by the Stamens that they must “protect” (Hiro in particular uses that word at least once per episode) their Pistils and the females must learn to tolerate this dynamic (the thesis of episode eight). Whenever Zero Two suffers or goes off the rails, Hiro generally goes into “protector” mode–that being said, I totally echo your point that the writers also emphasize “trust” and “self-sacrifice,” but always under a patriarchal shadow. The writers went out of their way to demonstrate how Ikuno and Ichigo’s female/female pairing couldn’t “work”–that firms up the staff’s underlying loyalty to traditional, heterosexual relationships, but also frames the protagonists’ relationship in a certain light–namely, only male/female pairings “work,” but even these pairings can only be successful when the female “tears off her wings” (becomes tamed) and the male protects her to the point of his own death. Anyway–your points are valid and I will stop here so as to not inadvertently write a book in the comments section xD Thanks for reading!

      P.S. I’d love to contribute to a podcast (or whatever else) at some point in the future ^_^

      Liked by 1 person

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