Miss my previous review? You can find it here!
The relationship between Hiro, Zero Two, and the rest of Plantation 13’s Children continues to evolve in the latest episode of Darling in the FRANXX.
The episode opens with more discussion regarding the “kissing” of Plantations 13 and 26. The process involves a transfer of magma that helps the mobile cities remain, well…mobile. This energy transfer has an unfortunate side-effect however: luring Klaxosaurs. The Children of Plantation 13 are officially charged with defending the transfer along with a similar unit from Plantation 26 to much fanfare from adults.
Meanwhile, despite Hiro being seemingly unfazed by his piloting experience with Zero Two, there’s still uncertainty regarding his future. Things are further complicated when Goro goes to wake up Hiro and is startled by his body temperature.
“Burning up”, Goro expresses concern regarding Hiro’s health, but is quickly dismissed. It’s decided that Zero Two will move into the dorms along with the other Children of Plantation 13, and is delighted to share another breakfast with her Darling, feeding him and joining him on a tour of the grounds.
Zero Two’s return to the dorms unsettles the larger group; Ichigo & Mitsuru in particular. Watching these relationships evolve has been fascinating, and at times it feels as though Darling in the FRANXX is borrowing a page from Kiznaiver’s handbook when it comes to structuring drama and compelling character dynamics. Granted, some of the Children are a bit more one-dimensional than others, but it largely feels as though all of them have their own unique experiences, and more importantly, we get to witness these experiences and take the journey along with them.
For example: Goro is burdened with not sharing Hiro’s situation with the larger group for the majority of the episode. With the knowledge that there don’t seem to be many adults around, and that piloting is really the only way any of these kids maintains value to larger society, we can appreciate that Goro doesn’t want to throw Hiro under the bus. If it turns out that Hiro actually can’t pilot after all, he loses his one chance of making something of his life. He would essentially be sentencing him to death.
On the other hand, Ichigo has concerns for his health, and Goro witnessing Hiro’s regression only confirms that something isn’t right. He wants to be able to come clean to his partner because they’re friends, and she’s also his superior. The tug-of-war is thrilling to watch, and is executed well in this case.
In the midst of all this, Ichigo does her best to bring Zero Two “in line” (insert sarcastic laugh here), which is of no interest to the horned pilot.
I have to say I particularly appreciate the tension between Zero Two and Ichigo, because I feel as though it’s not a dynamic that gets examined or executed well in most anime. Obviously we’re familiar with love triangles, but given the continuing metaphor of “connected” pairs, and the failed connection that she and Hiro experienced previously, it serves to rub salt in the wound of his childhood friend. It’s a button that Zero Two loves to push, knowing that her connection with Hiro rubs Ichigo the wrong way.
Following Zero Two’s arrival and tours, the adults share their latest plan on defending against the Klaxosaurs during the transfer. Ichigo and her squad are assigned to essentially be backup for Plantation 26, which consists of more seasoned pilots, though they’re all still kids.
However, the other squad is alarmed when it’s announced that Strelizia will also be taking the field.
The squad leader seemingly has a troubled past with Zero Two, and calls her out, stating that she left his squad to die and it resulted in him losing his partner. Zero Two dismisses this as essentially getting rid of “weaklings”, and before the squad leader has a chance to retaliate, Hiro puts himself between them, assuring him that he’ll keep Zero Two focused on the mission.
Later that night, Ichigo takes Zero Two out for a little “girl talk”, reminding her once again that she’s the squad captain and that Zero Two needs to listen to her orders. Not impressed, Zero Two begins to walk away, and that’s when Ichigo reveals her true intentions: to share her concern for Hiro.
Zero Two re-iterates that Hiro chose to pilot with her, and asserts her ownership of him on a few occasions. When Ichigo expresses her sincere concern that he may die, Zero Two seems dismissive, which sparks Ichigo to slap her, calling her “Not human.” Doing so knocks away the small band that was previously around her horns, and we get a glimpse at a creature beyond the traditional form of Code 002:
Ichigo, horrified by this revelation, returns to the dorm, where Goro is waiting. They both reflect on their respective helplessness as the operation draws ever closer.
Closing out the episode, Hiro and Zero Two return to the spot where they first met. Hiro thanks her for giving him the opportunity to pilot again, and Zero Two unzips his uniform to reveal a grotesque sight beneath.
Giving him one more chance to back out, Zero Two reminds him that typically people can’t pilot with her more than 3 times. Hiro doubles down, thinking to himself that even if he loses his wings in the process, he’ll essentially be happy to fly one more time.
What does this mean?! Well, I’m sure we’ll find out more soon enough, though a popular fan theory appears to be gaining more traction…
Stay tuned for more next week!
Behold! “Next Week” has arrived, and so has my review!
Darling in the FRANXX (Episode 5)
- The show manages to incorporate its many characters in a thoughtful and engaging way.
- The curtain being pulled back on Zero Two's true intentions is captivating.
- Goro does well to transmit the struggle of being caught between opposite goals and desires.
- The introduction of plantation 26 opens the door for some more world-building (which is needed)
- The ending...love it!
- While I love the inspection and time spent on the kids, the world-building as a whole still seems a bit delayed.