Miss my review last week? You can find it here!
Things get interesting this week on Darling in the FRANXX as we get a glimpse into the pilots’ past and witness an interesting reversal.
The episode opens with a flashback to when the pilots were all small children. Hiro appears to be assigning names to the kids, and one by one they all go to him to obtain an alternate identity of sorts.
This reveal was interesting to me because it illustrates just how far Hiro has fallen in the eyes of his peers. He went from an influential and exceptional candidate, to a failed Parasite. Some of his comrades can’t help but share their disgust – we saw it last week with Zorome, and this week Mitsuru takes a dark turn.
Following Hiro’s unsuccessful connection with Ichigo, the two exhibit an awkwardness and tension that’s reminiscent of a couple following a heated argument. Despite Ichigo’s frustration that Hiro was unable to connect with her, she still comes to his defense when the other pilots openly question whether he will be allowed to stay.
While the other pilots discuss Hiro’s merits (or lack thereof), our protagonist seeks out Zero Two in an attempt to re-connect with her and get back into the cockpit of Strelitzia. (And no, it’s not lost on me that Sterilitzia sounds very similar to sterilization or sterile, looping back to Hiro’s lack of value because he’s unable to “connect” or pilot other FRANXX machines)
Zero Two takes Hiro on a little walk, leading him to a seemingly breathtaking view of the underground “Plantation” that they call home.
While on the balcony, Zero Two laments the lifeless city that they live in and fight to protect. She offers Hiro the one thing he’s been alluding to from the start: a chance to escape. A means of “flying free”.
She then executes an impressive acrobatic feat of numerous backflips back onto the balcony and dismisses her invitation with a “Just kidding!” Of course, there’s always truth in jest.
Meanwhile, the other pilots are dispatched on a mission to kill off some low-level Klaxosaurs that are plaguing the mines. You know, standard low-level RPG fare. Ichigo/Goro, Miku/Zorome, Kokoro/Futoshi and Mitsuru/Ikuno are sent out in their respective pairs – except as they’re preparing to launch, Mitsuru & Ikuno have difficulty connecting.
Mitsuru blames Ikuno, and when the mission goes south and Strelitzia is being mentioned, Mitsuru eagerly volunteers to join Zero Two in the cockpit to show up Hiro and prove that he could pilot it far better than the failed Parasite.
Zero Two disagrees initially, until Hiro tells her that it’s okay, which triggers the following red alert innuendo response from the horned pilot:
Indeed Zero Two…he wants you to “ride with someone else” for the good of his friends.
Strelitzia soon comes to the rescue, Mitsuru drunk with power after realizing what it can do, though he seems utterly exhausted as soon as he arrives on the scene. Sensing that he was getting a bit too confident, Zero Two casually decides that she’s going to “go all out” for a bit.
The scene wraps up with Strelitzia being lifted out of the mine – Zero Two completely unharmed, with an unconscious and bloodied Mitsuru in the cockpit.
With a renewed dedication to Hiro, Zero Two seems intent on riding with him once again. What will the brass think of this latest incident? Will Ichigo ever get over her crush? What’s the deal with these underground “Plantation” cities? A few answers, but a lot more questions…and that’s a good thing to have at episode 3!
Overall, I really enjoyed this episode. I appreciated the pilots general “How do you solve a problem like Maria?” approach when discussing Hiro and what he could offer the larger team. While Mitsuru takes an extra large helping of douchebag this episode, we do get to see a glimmer of redeeming light from our “token loudmouth” from last episode: Zorome. After the mission in the mine goes bad, Miku is hurt and this really freaks him out.
He owns up to his mistake and is apparently shaken by seeing his partner injured – so I hope this helps to temper his haughtiness in future episodes. I won’t hold my breath though.
Of course, there’s still quite a bit of innuendo, but to be honest I’m really starting to see how the correlations make sense when discussing piloting a FRANXX. While the early episodes make it seem like a male-centric or male-dominated endeavor, Goro, Zorome and Mitsuru all learn that the real power in piloting the robot lies with their partner. Unless the two of them work in tandem, the machine will be unable to function properly. Therefore, an earnest and intimate connection between pilots will no doubt result in a much more powerful FRANXX – which is the glimpse we saw of Strelitzia in episode 1.
We also get a confirmation that these kids are basically born and bred to pilot the FRANXX. Another thread of storyline that I’m curious to follow back to its origin.
Great episode! Solid pacing, stellar animation, and a tempered approach to the innuendo they’ve interjected so far. Looking forward to next week!
Episode 4 has arrived, and so has my review! You can find it here!
Darling in the FRANXX (Episode 3)
- Seeing Zorome and Mitsuru's respective shifts in this episode was refreshing
- The innuendo is beginning to fade and transform into a more fitting allegory for piloting the FRANXX
- Really digging Zero Two's character
- Ichigo's hang-up on Hiro might be a bit too dragged out/dramatic